Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dangerous Rise of Carbon Fundamentalism

The article below from a Greenie source makes an excellent point but is wrong in one respect -- in saying that there are few scientists left who deny anthropogenic climate change completely. There are hundreds of them and more shifting to the skeptical camp almost daily

* A professor writing in the Medical Journal of Australia calls on the Australian government to impose a carbon charge of $5,000 on every birth, annual carbon fees of $800 per child and provide a carbon credit for sterilization.

* Another recent article in the New Scientist suggests that the problem with obesity is the additional carbon load it imposes on the environment; others that a major social cost of divorce is the additional carbon burden resulting from splitting up families.

* A recent study from the Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development argues that males have a disproportionately larger impact on global warming ("women cause considerably fewer carbon dioxide emissions than men and thus considerably less climate change").

* The Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that those who suggest that climate change is not a catastrophic challenge are no different than Hitler (he now claims that his words were taken out of context, but the reporter who conducted the interview, Lars From, stands by it).

* E. O. Wilson calls such people parasites. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman writes that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers."

There are always fringe articles and unfortunate comments in areas of active public debate. But the sheer volume of articles, the vicious language and the retranslation of so many social and cultural trends -- divorce, obesity, gender conflict and much else -- into terms of carbon footprint suggests that something more fundamental is going on. Most obviously, the extreme language -- comparing academics who disagree about interpretation of data to Hitler or to Holocaust deniers -- is indicative of a profound if subtle reframing of climate change. One does not debate Hitler: the use of such language indicates a shift from helping the public and policymakers understand a complex issue, to demonizing disagreement, especially regarding policies favored by the scientific community.

The data driven and exploratory processes of science are choked off by inculcation of belief systems that rely on archetypal and emotive strength. Importantly, the extreme language is directed not against those who deny anthropogenic climate change completely, for there are few of those left (a credit to the traditional scientific debate process while it still existed in this area), but those who, while accepting the existence of the phenomenon, do not believe it is an existential and immediate crisis.

The authority of science is relied on not for factual enlightenment but as ideological foundation for authoritarian policy prescriptions which might otherwise be difficult to implement. This is reinforced by the number of articles, some verging on self-parody, that redefine more and more social and cultural phenomena in terms of carbon footprint.

It is not that each assertion may be wrong; indeed, since life at base is creating order, it is not surprising that changes in individual, social and institutional networks will have concomitant implications for coupled natural systems -- especially energy and material consumption and thus the carbon cycle.

Defining complex human behaviors and states, such as obesity or having children, in terms of carbon footprint, however, enables a new structure of good and evil to be imposed on society. Obesity is now morally questionable not for health reasons or Calvinist theology, but because it is evil in that you are destroying the world through your carbon footprint-generating gluttony. A complex public health problem is nicely converted into a simplistic moral mapping. Similarly, the Swedish article uses climate change to reinvent the ecofeminist condemnation of males as evil destroyers of the environment (the New Scientist lead on the news item read "Male eco-villians").

The campaign to create a moral universe predicated on carbon footprint, which began with anti-SUV initiatives, is now extending across society as a whole. Climate change science and policy is rapidly becoming carbon fundamentalism, an over-simplistic but comprehensive structure of moral valuation that can be applied to virtually any individual or institution. As the IPCC Nobel Peace Prize and perusal of journals reveals, many scientists are active participants in this process.

But fundamentalism of any stripe is dangerous because it oversimplifies complex problems and because it facilitates "good" versus "evil" framing that cuts off dialog and thus tends to be profoundly anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-rational -- and anti-scientific.

Because science is for many people an important source of information, guidance and truth, in the short run it can provide substantial authority for carbon fundamentalism. Converting science into an authoritarian belief system is, however, dangerous not just to those whom it demonizes but, eventually, to the health of the institution itself.


Is climatology a pseudoscience?

By climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review.

The short answer, I will disappoint many of you by saying, is no. Like I wrote before, climatologists are generally nice people genuinely struggling with understanding the immense complexities of the oceanic-atmospheric (and space!) system. It might be that many of them are misleading themselves by custom tailoring models to show them what they expect (or desire?) to see, but this has not reached a level where it is done with intent. Most mistakes that are made are honest ones. And it is also true that much has been learned while examining climate models. Still, while scientists are in general noble creatures, there does exists the possibility of them sliding into the abyss.

So suppose, if you are able, that significant man-made climate change is false; further, that it cannot happen, and that all changes to the climate system are due to external forcings, such as those caused by changes in solar output. Just suppose all this is true for the sake of argument.

Now put yourself in the place of a climatologist, one of the many hundreds, in fact, who was involved with the IPCC and so shared in that great validator, the Nobel Peace Prize*. You have spent a career devoted to showing that mankind, through various forms of naughtiness, has significantly influenced the climate, and has caused temperatures to grow out of control. Your team, at a major university, has built and contributed to various global climate models. Graduate students have worked on these models. Team members have traveled the world and lectured on their results. Many, many papers were written about their output, and so forth.

But something has gone wrong. The actual temperature, predicted to go up and up, has not cooperated and has instead stayed the same and even has gone down. What do to? Let's take a "What would a scientist do" quiz and find out. Your model has predicted that temperatures will go up because CO2 has, but unfortunately temperatures have gone down. Do you:

1. Abandon the model and seek a new career

2. Discover where the model went wrong; publish results admitting why and how you were wrong

3. Sit and wait: after all, the temperature is bound to increase sooner or later, hence validating your model

4. Believe that the model cannot be wrong, else so many people wouldn't believe it, and so posit some new source that is "holding back" warming, and only if that new source weren't there, your model would be perfect.

The correct answer, it should go without saying, is (2), though (1) is not a horrible option for the shy, but it is really only open for beginning graduate students or professors reaching emeritus status. And if you do go for (2), as you should, option (1) naturally follows from it. (I must remind you here that significant man-made global influence is an impossibility by assumption.)

Would anybody opt for (3)? Certainly, because it's the easiest thing to do, though not as many as you would think will go this route mostly because it would be too difficult to answer critics with a "Just wait and see!"

The slide begins with choosing (4). Nobody would, or should, abandon a well-developed model because an observation or two is not consonant with that model. Some time has to pass for enough failed predictions to mount up. How much time? That's always difficult to tell. If the best climate models over-predict global temperature for a year, this is not cause for concern. For two years, no big deal. Even three to five years would not cause undue suspicion. But more than that, then something has gone wrong.

That is the state of the art today: climate models regularly over-predict temperatures; certainly the IPCC "scenarios" are too high, and they have been for more than five years. No climate scientist yet has gone to the quiz and opted for answers (1) or (2); several, of course, have opted for (3), saying five to ten years isn't enough and that "more time" is needed. Nobody, that I know of, has said how much more time.

Has anybody gone for answer (4)? Yes. Already we are seeing papers-peer-reviewed, to be sure-that posit sources that are "masking" the true warming. So far, these papers are concentrate on aerosols, which are particles, caused by mankind naturally, that can, through various mechanisms, block incoming solar radiation and lead to cooling. Aerosol cooling only gets you so far, however, because aerosols are heavy, short-lived particles whose effects are actually easy to measure. So if models continue to over-predict, even after accounting for aerosols, some other source that "masks true warming" will have to be found.

Bob Park, physicist and resident curmudgeon at the American Physical Society, writes regularly on pseudo-science, and has identified "The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science." Not all of these signs now apply to climatology, but number [3], "The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection" is most relevant.

Since we haven't detected the predicted warming, it must be masked or otherwise held up by something. Aerosols were one source, but an inadequate one, so another is needed. What will this source be? Of course, we cannot know for certain, but I can guess, though I blush when I do so: I predict it will be statistics.

Yes, it will not be long before we begin to hear arguments like the following: "The predicted warming cannot, of course, be detected with the naked eye. You have to use our extra-special statistical model which accounts for various factors and which shows a statistically significant warming has indeed taken place, thus our models are accurate. Oh, yes, we have a low p-value, too." These models will, in the course of things, be criticized, then modified to become more complex and opaque, but they will always lead to the same conclusion: the models, though they appear wrong, are actually right.

Not all climatologists will fall prey to these temptations; many or most will modify their models, will see that mankind is not as much trouble as originally thought, and move on to explaining, for example, the Indian monsoon. But others, because they cannot admit to being wrong or because they want it to be true, will stay the course and claim that only they and their models can detect the true warming. Here is where Park's six other signs will be found. These scientists will [1] pitch their "claim directly to the media" and say [2] "that a powerful establishment [big oil] is trying to suppress his or her work." They will [6] work "in isolation", and offer [4] "anecdotal evidence" in the form of temperature anomalies from select locations. They will claim that it was [5] always known that mankind has a harmful effect on the environment and they will propose [7] ever more complicated "new laws of nature to explain" the apparent lack of warming. And it will be at that point that climatology becomes a pseudo-science.

Don't laugh, because this sort of thing happens all the time. Some readers will be old enough to remember when paranormal research was the rage in the early 1970s. Peer-reviewed papers appeared on the subject, even in prestigious journals like Science. Just around the corner, mankind would be able harness untold power by just using his mind. Goats, for example, could be killed just by staring at them (yes, really). It was an exciting time. Early on in the work, it was obvious that man only used 10% of his brain, and that psychic events were real. Experiments were run, but most failed. New experiments, toning down the original claims were run, but these failed too. Various physical and biological mechanisms to explain psychic abilities were proposed, but none could be validated.

Test after test failed, until the number of failures was so huge that, by the mid-1980s, most people wised up and left the field. But not all did. Some claimed, through the use of "sophisticated" statistics, to find the signal that nobody else could see. Most of these statistical methods were poorly or improperly executed, and to those of us who know something about these statistical models, it was obvious that paranormal researchers were just fooling themselves (I wrote a book on this topic).

So did the parapsychologists take the scientist quiz and opt for number (2), admit they were wrong, say so, and then move on? Do I even need to answer? The idea, the allure and promise, of paranormal powers are just too powerful for some people to fight against, and so they seek patches to the theory instead of pitching it. Psychic abilities just have to be real, and it is this desire instead of empirical observations that drives current research (such as it is).

We are only just starting to see parallels with parapsychology and climatology, the most prominent now is model patching. Of course, it might turn out mankind really does significantly influence climate, so the fact the we now see model patching is not proof that mankind has no influence. But it should give us pause and should lead us to examine, in a systematic way, the deviation of model forecasts from actual observations. And remember the old saying, there's nobody so easy to fool as yourself.

*No Arafat jokes, please


Morano has another shot at the egotistical Pierrehumbert of

I am surprised you are still engaging in your smear campaign after the embarrassment of having your tactics so well exposed at the hands of the non-scientist Alexander Cockburn. But I guess you are still hopeful that one of your voluminous critiques will actually have an impact.

Your tiresome and predictable "swift-boating" of atmospheric scientist William R. Kininmonth follows your same failed critique methods. You reject Kininmonth as "unqualified" to have an opinion on man-made climate fears because he does not meet your arbitrary rule that "peer-review" is the "sole" means of determining whether a scientist is "qualified."

Maybe Kininmonth was too busy heading working as Australia's National Climate Centre chief or too busy coordinating the scientific and technical review of the El Nino event for the World Meteorological Organization to meet your criteria to be "qualified." Perhaps Kininmonth should have consulted with you first to find out what "rules" he needed to follow and what criteria he needed to meet to be "qualified" to hold an opinion on climate change.

You set all the rules of the game, serve as sole judge of which scientist is and is not "qualified," based only on your criteria, and then you declare victory. I am happy for you that you feel your critiques are "winning." I would be alarmed if you felt you were losing, given that you control the rules of YOUR game.

It must be frustrating for you. When faced with a Senate report featuring well over eight times the number of scientists who participated in the UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers, you have no option but to invent any means necessary to besmirch the skeptical scientists and their reputations. Alas, until you spend time analyzing the UN IPCC scientists' credentials with the same zeal and criteria, you will just be continuing your selective "research."

As previously requested, please take some time and really try to find an effective way to challenge the Senate report of 400-plus skeptical scientists (and growing - well over 450 now). After the years you have spent invested in activism on this issue, you owe it to yourself to craft critiques with more impact. I leave you again with Cockburn's dead-on critique of your tactics. Enjoy!

Cockburn Excerpt: Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus. End Excerpt.

For Cockburn's full essay see here. By all means, continue with your little "qualification" games, Mr. Pierrehumbert. All I ask is that as you continue (in the words of Cockburn) to "witch-hunt" scientists please don't run for cover when your tactics are so easily stripped bare.

Source (Comment 415)

Global Warming Hoax, Just How Crazy Is Al Gore?

Just how crazy is Al Gore? That was the question that popped, once again, into my brain as I read a January 24 Agence France Press news story out of the Davos meeting of business and political elite. Gore asserted that, "the North Pole ice caps may disappear entirely during summer months within five years." I was instantly reminded of the story that ran in The New York Times in August 2000 claiming that the Pole was free of ice for the first time in 50 million years. It wasn't, of course, because people who have actually been to the Arctic quickly noted that, in the summer, some ice actually does melt there. The Times retracted it three weeks later.

This kind of apocalyptic nonsense has been ratcheting upward ever since the new century began and my theory is that lunatics like Al Gore know that they are running out of time when it comes to imposing draconian restrictions on the use of every form of energy known to mankind. This is the purpose of the global warming hoax.

The Times later published another story about Arctic ice loss, adding the equally bogus issue of polar bears dying as the result. Currently, Greens are trying to get polar bears declared an "endangered species" in order to close off all of Alaska to any exploration or the extraction of the billions of barrels of oil known to exist there. The problem with this latest ploy is that the polar bear population has risen from approximately 5,000 in 1950 to around 25,000 today as documented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is the same agency being asked to declare the bears endangered and, for good measure, a species of loon as well.

Speaking of loons, Gore has been spewing forth his insane forecasts since the early 1990s during which time he published "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit." In fact, Gore blames everything that happens on Earth or in its atmosphere on humans. "Human civilization is now the dominant cause of change in the global environment."

This must surely come as news to people who pursue volcanic, oceanic, solar, and atmospheric sciences. Then there are all those large and small earthquakes going on as tectonic plates shift. What have I left out? Oh, yes. There's the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that devastated islands and parts of the mainland.

How about Hurricanes like Andrew and Katrina that rearranged the landscape enough to destroy big chunks of the human communities on it? Forest fires, anyone? Ask any Californian about them and, while you're at it, ask about the mudslides, and.well, you get the picture. These are not man-made phenomena.

Back in 2000 when the global warming folks were getting into high gear to further their theory, Dr. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist and Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, paused to pen a commentary for The Wall Street Journal. Responding to The New York Times fantasy of a melting North Pole, Dr. Singer asked, "Do we believe theoretical models of the atmosphere or the atmosphere itself?"

He might as well have asked, do we believe the bloviations of Al Gore or do we take note of his lifestyle that includes a house large enough to burn through more energy than twenty average homes, the use of private jets and limousines, or any other aspect of his life that suggests he is not into bicycles or walking.

Dr. Singer stated that "It is warmer now than it was 100 years ago" at the end of the last mini-Ice Age and that "This has had an influence on polar ice, which has been slowly thinning, as it melts from beneath. And the ice will continue to thin for some time to come even though the climate is no longer warming. Moral: It takes a lot of time to melt ice."

No longer warming? Yes, that's another inconvenient truth that Al Gore ignores. When you add in the fact that the earth is at the end of a well-known interglacial cycle of 11,500 years, large portions of the planet are likely to get a lot cooler with the advent of a new Ice Age. Then Al Gore will not have to worry about a barren, rocky, ice-free North Pole. He will have to worry about a huge new glacier headed for Tennessee.


Australian government again told by adviser to relax greenhouse cuts

The Rudd Government will have to abandon plans for rigid interim targets for greenhouse gas cuts to allow its emissions-trading scheme to work properly, a senior economist has said. Warwick McKibbin, whose economic models on climate change are being used by Treasury to calculate the costs involved, yesterday added his voice to concerns that mandating a specific cut for 2020 could lift the cost of tackling global warming. "That's the problem with politicians who make promises that can't be sustained," Professor McKibbin said. "I think the Government will realise they can still be credible enough, even if they drop a few things."

Kevin Rudd has said Australia needs interim targets for emissions cuts, beyond its existing pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. The Prime Minister commissioned Australian National University economist Ross Garnaut to advise the Government on how the targets should be set. Professor Garnaut suggested yesterday it would be more efficient to use targets as a guide for allocating carbon permits, rather than as exact and enforceable cuts for specific years.

Professor McKibbin agrees, saying business should in some years be allowed to exceed the target for emissions. "It can't be all or nothing," he said. "There has to be a balance between the environmental benefit and the economic costs, and that's what's missing."

However, a spokesman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the Government would not abandon its election commitment on targets. "The Government expects (Professor Garnaut) will raise a number of interesting questions and ideas for consideration," Senator Wong's spokesman said. "Of course, given Professor Garnaut is independent, his ideas may not necessarily reflect government thinking."

WWF climate program director Paul Toni warned that some companies would risk doing nothing to cut emissions if there were no binding interim targets, in the hope they could lobby future governments to soften the rules later. "Instead of the crunch coming in 10 years or five years, there will be some industries that will be asking for further support and will be able to exert pressure," Mr Toni said. "It will just postpone rent-seeking to a date further in the future." Australian Industry Greenhouse Network chief executive John Daley said he favoured less government interference and more market freedom in an emissions-trading system.

More here


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bush holds the line

He has always insisted that all the USA should do is invest in research

THE US will commit $US2 billion over the next three years for a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, President George W. Bush will tell Congress today in his annual State of the Union speech. "Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive," the White House said in a fact sheet on Mr Bush's speech.

Mr Bush plans to reaffirm the United States' commitment to work with major economies and through the United Nations to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride," the White House said.


Another Greenie censorship attempt -- from Britain's red heart

A senior mayoral adviser ordered the authors of a report on road safety to rewrite it so it was politically acceptable, it was claimed today. His alleged intervention came after a three-year study by Transport for London into whether motorcyclists should be allowed to use bus lanes. A trial had found that accidents on two routes where motorbikes were allowed into bus lanes were nearly halved. But aide Kevin Austin allegedly ordered the rewrite to avoid the loss of the "green vote", because cycle groups opposed sharing bus lanes with motorcyclists.

Now the authors fear the new version will be a whitewash and conceal the road safety benefits shown by the trial, which took place in Brixton Road and Finchley Road. It found the bus lanes were much safer for pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers and motorcyclists when motorcycles were allowed access, with a 42 per cent fall in the rate of collisions. The report, presented to the Mayor in September, stated this, but officials claim they have been told to "bury" the findings and rewrite key sections to show the trial produced no safety gains.

City Hall insiders allege the order came amid fears that opening up bus lanes would alienate thousands of cyclists opposed to the move. A source told the Standard: "We have been told to cook the books and expect the new report to be a whitewash. The original report showed that the trial sites were far safer than on other 'control' roads, including for cyclists. "It meant the Mayor would have to open up bus lanes across London, followed by other regions closely watching the experiment. Now it has to be rewritten to appear the trial sites are no safer, so the Mayor can announce he will not proceed."

The study of the trial routes found accidents directly involving motorcycles fell by 45 per cent, compared with 19 per cent increase on a nearby 'control' route. Pedestrian casualties fell by 39 per cent against a three per cent rise on control routes. Collisions between cyclists and motorcyclists fell by 44 per cent. The draft report said: "These figures demonstrate that crashes involving powered two-wheelers and other vulnerable road-users become more infrequent even when considering the increased concentration of riders."

Cycling campaign group CTC said "noisy" motorcycles travelling at higher speeds would intimidate cyclists, threatening the increase in commuters turning to bicycles. But the draft report said: "The measure has no tangible adverse consequences to cyclists. In contrast to the level of concern... the number of casualties from collisions between cyclists and powered two-wheelers users is remarkably small."

A spokesman for the Mayor said: "There are serious issues of safety and efficiency involved in this issue so it required proper consideration based upon the collection and analysis of the relevant evidence. "Transport for London had concerns about the validity of some of the early results of the study. These concerns were shared by GLA officials. TfL therefore undertook further work. "All the results will be included in a final report, which will be submitted to TfL senior management and the Mayor. A decision will be made on the basis of full consideration of all of the evidence and this will be made public."


Global cooling hits China

Driving sleet, freezing temperatures and a blanket of snow across southern China have paralysed trains and aircraft, stranding tens of millions of people trying to get home for the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar. The worst weather in 50 years pummelled swaths of central, southern and eastern China as migrant workers and students, business travellers and officials assigned to provincial postings battled for tickets to join their families for the lunar new year holiday.

The human tide strains public transport every year even though the authorities pull dozens of extra trains into service and lay on additional flights to try to cope. With new year's day falling on February 7 this year, the bad weather has swept China just as the number of travellers is reaching its peak.

The China Meteorological Administration issued a red alert warning of more snowstorms and blizzards in central and eastern China, particularly around Shanghai, the country's commercial hub. It placed a notice on the central forecast website that said: “Cut unnecessary outdoor activities.” Among the worst-hit cities is southern Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province that borders Hong Kong. The province is one of China's most important manufacturing regions, with thousands of factories making everything from T-shirts to electronics staffed by millions of migrant workers from poorer inland provinces. Hundreds of thousands of those workers, many with young children, found themselves stranded at the Guangzhou railway station after snowstorms snapped power lines to passenger trains from neighbouring Hunan province, an important hub for trains on the main line between Guangzhou and Beijing.

Officials struggled to control an estimated 200,000 travellers at the station — a number expected to swell to 600,000 over the next couple of days. Temporary shelter was being arranged for the migrant workers in schools and conventions centres. Soldiers were deployed to stand guard around the station and police barked orders through bullhorns to try to maintain order. Notice boards inside the station were a sea of red, showing that almost every train had been cancelled. Radio announcements urged people not to go to the station since most trains had been cancelled and tickets were no longer being sold until new year's day.

Liu Si, who hoped to travel back to the western metropolis of Chongqing, had been stuck at the station for days. “The number 1059 train to Chongqing didn't go on the 26th, it didn't go on the 27th and there's no way it's going today on the 28th.” With officials warning that it could take until the end of the week to work through the backlog of passengers, Mr Liu was not optimistic of spending the festival with his family. “I've been in Guangdong a decade. I've never spent a Chinese New Year here. This year I might have to. It just won't feel right.”

The freakish weather has already affected 67 million people and economic losses so far have been placed at 18.2 billion yuan ($2.6 billion). Chinese New Year sees the biggest human migration on earth, with an estimated 2.47 billion journeys over the holiday season this year — almost double the entire population of 1.3 billion. More than a dozen airports around the country were closed because of icy conditions, including one of China's busiest airports — the Hongqiao hub for domestic flights serving Shanghai. In a sign of official anxiety that the travel chaos could trigger social unrest, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered local officials to mobilise all possible resource to ensure people get home. He said: “More heavy snow is expected. All government departments must prepare for this increasingly grim situation and urgently take action.”



It was appropriate that, just as our MPs were voting last week to hand over yet more of the power to run this country in the EU treaty, the EU itself should be unveiling easily the most ambitious example yet of how it uses the powers we have already given away. The proposals for "fighting climate change" announced on Wednesday by an array of EU commissioners make Stalin's Five-Year Plans look like a model of practical politics.

Few might guess, from the two-dimensional reporting of these plans in the media, just what a gamble with Europe's future we are undertaking - spending trillions of pounds for a highly dubious return, at a devastating cost to all our economies. The targets Britain will be legally committed to reach within 12 years fall under three main headings. Firstly, that 15 per cent of our energy should come from renewable sources such as wind (currently 1 per cent). Secondly, that 10 per cent of our transport fuel should be biofuels. Thirdly, that we accept a more draconian version of the "emissions trading scheme" that is already adding up to 12 per cent to our electricity bills.

The most prominent proposal is that which will require Britain to build up to 20,000 more wind turbines, including the 7,000 offshore giants announced by the Government before Christmas. To build two turbines a day, nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower, is inconceivable. What is also never explained is their astronomic cost. At 2 million pounds per megawatt of "capacity" (according to the Carbon Trust), the bill for the Government's 33 gigawatts (Gw) would be 66 billion (and even that, as was admitted in a recent parliamentary answer, doesn't include an extra 10 billion needed to connect the turbines to the grid). But the actual output of these turbines, because of the wind's unreliability, would be barely a third of their capacity. The resulting 11Gw could be produced by just seven new "carbon-free" nuclear power stations, at a quarter of the cost.

The EU's plans for "renewables" do not include nuclear energy. Worse, they take no account of the back-up needed for when the wind is not blowing - which would require Britain to have 33Gw of capacity constantly available from conventional power stations.

The same drawbacks apply to the huge increase in onshore turbines, covering thousands of square miles of countryside. They are only made viable by the vast hidden subsidies that wind energy receives, through our electricity bills. These make power from turbines (including the cost of back-up) between two and three times more expensive than that from conventional sources.

This is crazy enough, but the EU's policy on biofuels is even more so. The costs - up to 50 billion by 2020 - would, as the EU's own scientific experts have just advised, "outweigh the benefits". To grow the crops needed to meet the target would require all the farmland the EU currently uses to grow food, at a time when world food prices are soaring. Even Friends of the Earth have called on the EU to abandon its obsession with biofuels. Yet the Commission presses on regardless.

As for the "emissions trading scheme" (a system originating with the Kyoto Protocol, whereby businesses can buy or sell "carbon credits", supposedly to allow market forces to ensure that targets are met), the Commission last week predicted that by 2020 this could be raising 38 billion a year from electricity users. Of this, 6.5 billion a year would be paid by the UK, equating to 260 pounds for every household in the country.

The Commission itself predicts, in recently leaked documents, that this will have major consequences for the EU's economy, and that heavy industries, such as steel, aluminium, chemicals and cement, will have to raise their prices substantially, some by as much as 48 per cent. Yet when it was pointed out that this will put EU industries at a competitive disadvantage, the Commission's only response was to suggest tariffs on imports from countries such as China or America that are not signed up to Kyoto.

It looks like the most expensive economic suicide note in history. But just as alarming is how little this madness has been exposed to informed analysis. It seems, finally, that the price we pay for membership of the EU and the price of our obsession with global warming are about to become very painfully synonymous. And no one seems to have noticed.


Australian government told "Manyana" on greenhouse targets

("Manyana" is Spanish for "tomorrow" and is often used to refer to not worrying about the future)

The economist advising the Rudd Government on climate change has warned nations against locking in to strict interim greenhouse-gas reduction targets in their zeal to tackle global warming. Professor Ross Garnaut is examining the economic costs of tackling climate change and is due to deliver his report to the Federal Government in the second half of this year. At December's international climate talks in Bali, the Rudd Government refused to commit Australia to interim emissions-reduction targets until the Garnaut review was complete.

Prof Garnaut said it was more important to achieve an overall greenhouse-gas reduction target longer-term - for example over 40 years - than to meet short-term targets in particular years. Instead, the market should decide how quickly to cut emissions, he said. "By focusing on a particular date you may diminish the environmental impact of what you're trying to do and you may increase the economic costs of it," he told ABC radio today. "We're trying to address the question of how we can meet the strong environmental goals in a way that minimises cost. "You have to ask a question about how strongly you focus on particular dates and how much you look at the overall impact over a number of years."

He denied this amounted to a recommendation that governments set looser rather than tighter emissions-reduction targets. "You're looking at a binding total amount of emissions over a long period of time," Prof Garnaut said. "If you just focus on one year or particular years then you can do an awful lot of emitting in other years and so you don't meet the environmental objective that's absolutely crucial - and that's the total amount of emissions going into the atmosphere." However, he acknowledged there was a danger that countries could leave it 10 or 20 years before doing anything if they refused to commit to interim emissions cuts.



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, January 29, 2008

Response to Critiques of U.S. Senate 'Consensus Busters' Report by Eli Rabett, Andrew Dessler and Raymond Pierrehumbert

The following comments by Marc Morano appeared on the NYT climate blog -- as comment 264. As Marc says, their nitpicking really is pathetic. In true Green/Left style, they are reduced to "ad hominem" attacks rather than addressing any of the substantive issues involved. A true scientist would say "X is wrong because...". All these guys can say is "X does not meet with my personal approval". And even then they confine their attacks to just a few people in the report -- ignoring the large numbers whom they cannot find any grounds to attack. It is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. They are pushing a barrow rather than being seekers after truth.

Simply stated: By focusing your attack tactics on picking out a few members in the Senate report and smearing them and raising the most trivial of issues, you have implicitly acknowledged defeat.

First, sorry to disappoint you Rabett, but your basic problem with your latest critique is your poor math skills. There are well OVER 400 scientists in the Senate Report. In your zeal to throw as much mud at the report as you can muster, you tripped up on simple arithmetic. Even if YOU disqualify one scientist in the report, the number does not drop to "399" as you erroneously claim. We will forgive your little embarrassment for now.

Second, you mentioned the Senate report had "TV garden show guys." Once again, you reveal more basic mathematical woes. Is there more than one individual that you denigrate as a "TV garden show" guy in the report? It appears you have serial addition deficiency. Let's examine your "TV garden show guys" charge carefully. By calling someone a "TV gardener," I gather that is your low brow way of mocking them?

It appears you are referring to Alan Titchmarch, a prominent award winning UK horticulturist/naturalist in the Senate report. Oh, and he also hosts a TV show. Using your tactics, you could downgrade anyone you wish. If any scientist hosted a weekly TV show on climate, would you refer to him as a "TV Host" only? (the answer is obviously yes if their views differed from yours). Understandably from your point of view, you would not want to highlight anything but a horticulturist's "TV" work.

By your condescending tone, you also seem to think climate science can have nothing to do with horticulture. But let me quote atmospheric scientist William R. Kininmonth. (His short bio: He headed Australia's National Climate Center from 1986 to 1998 and coordinated the scientific and technical review of the 1997-98 El Nino event for the World Meteorological Organization and its input to the United Nations Task Force on El Nino.) (Quick, Rabett, Dessler and, Pierrehumbert, you have another scientist to smear!)

Kininmonth explained the research horticulturists have conducted as it relates to CO2: "CO2 is an essential component of photosynthesis: Increased CO2 in the atmosphere is an effective fertiliser of the biosphere as shown by horticulturalists artificially increasing the CO2 content within glasshouses. CO2 is NOT a pollutant," Kininmonth said in a May 30, 2007 article." End excerpt. Including a horticulturist/naturalist in the Senate report to comment on his area of expertise makes perfect sense. Titchmarch is quoted in the Senate 400 plus report discussing his views on climate change as it relates to vineyards and the potential impact on the natural world.

Rabett, you are so desperate to ridicule and foment your brand of nastiness that you do not tell your web readers any of this basic information. Why don't you give a complete and accurate picture Rabett?

Rabett, and Andrew Dessler have both also attempted to ridicule meteorologists included in the Senate report. Once again they use the obvious tactic of they are on "TV" as a way to denigrate them and imply they cannot understand atmospheric science. What Rabett - the math challenged critic - fails to note is the meteorologists are certified by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) or the National Weather Association. (Yes, the AMS, the same group so many in this forum hold in such high esteem) Many of them have masters degrees or PHD's in meteorology.

The meteorologists in the Senate 400 plus report stand out as prominent skeptical members of the AMS, in stark contrast to the two dozen or so governing board members of AMS who approved the so-called `consensus' statements.

The attempts to discredit the Senate report are growing more bizarre. We even have the hilarious scenario of Andrew Dessler trapping himself by his own logic. Dessler in his blogs at rejects broadcast meteorologists as unqualified. But when Dessler erroneously thought he found one TV weatherman who agreed with his climate views, Dessler proclaimed that the TV weatherman was now suddenly qualified to have an opinion on man-made climate fears. How convenient Dessler.

Dessler's "research" of the Senate report has also uncovered a meteorologist who believes in God. Dessler attempted to besmirch the meteorologist for his religious comments. But Dessler never once printed the meteorologist's scientific reasons for rejecting claims of a "climate crisis."

Rabett also wrote that the Senate report contained "web site owners who think they know everything about climate." Now Rabett, no wonder your critiques have gained no traction. The "web site owners" you refer to are scientists who happen to have a website. Once again, you are caught in grade school level intellectual bullying.

Rabett also singles out the signers of the German Climate Manifest as being "totally clueless." Rabett, have you even read the Senate report? The signers of the German Manifest include: Physics Professor Hubert Becker; Professor of physics Dr. Ludecke Horst-Joachim; Peter Martin; Chemical and environmental engineer Donald Clauson; Physicist Dr. Theo Eichten; Biochemist Flick Hendrikje; Chemist Dr. Hauck Guenther; Professor of environmental and climate physics Dr. Detlef Hebert; Astrophysicist Dr Peter Heller; Chemist Dr. Albert Krause; Chemist Dr. Hans Penner; Mathematician Dr. Paul Matthews; Chemist Dr. Wuntke Knut; and Meteorologist Klaus-pulse Eckart.

Mr. "Eli Rabett", it may be easy for you to label all of the above scientists "totally clueless" as you hide behind your pseudonym. But anyone who actually uses their real name in public and has to be held accountable for what they write would not make such baseless comments. Rabett also claims that one of the 400 plus scientists "sent a clear email asking to be taken off the list." Really Rabett. Where is your proof or do we have to just take your word for it? The scientist in question never responded to multiple emails or a voicemail trying to confirm he actually did send an email. Here (comment 185) is the full story behind Rabett's claim.

Rabett's desperation to find ONE scientist he can claim does not want to be in the Senate report out of WELL OVER 400 provides endless humor. Go ahead Rabett, hang your hopes on your ONE scientist to discredit the entire report of over 400. If you actually do find ONE scientist out of over 400, by all means, pop the champagne corks!

Rabett also brings up my challenge to Andrew Dessler to name the names of the only "two dozen" skeptical scientists that Dessler deems "qualified' to comment on climate change. It is a fair challenge. The U.S. Senate released its report detailing the 400 plus (and growing) skeptical scientists for public scrutiny (and derision by you three.) Why won't Dessler name the names of the only "two dozen" skeptics he deems "qualified" to have an opinion? It's very easy for Dessler to bloviate about who is "qualified", but when publicly challenged to name names, he predictably shrinks away and suddenly goes silent. Dessler knows once he lists his "two dozen" skeptical scientists he deems "qualified;" he will be further ridiculed for his baseless and absurd assertion. Alas, that is the reason we will continue to hear nothing but the sounds of crickets chirping as we await Dessler's response to the public challenge.

The Senate list of 400 plus scientists (and growing) has the same make up of scientists as your fabled UN IPCC "thousands" of scientists. Again, read this report to find out about the backgrounds of scientists who make up the UN IPCC.

The Senate 400 plus report has many current and former IPCC scientists from all types of disciplines. Excerpt from Senate `Consensus Busters' Report : The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Gore.. Have you ever spent any time researching whether IPCC scientists meet your "standards?"

Pierrehumbert, you wrote to me: "You seem to be saying that peer review is worthless." Once again Pierrehumbert, this is another example of your failed attempt at distortion. I used Cockburn's writing to expose your tactics of claiming peer-review is the "only" standard by which to judge a scientist. Please take the time to actually read what is being written before you shoot from the hip.

As I have written, you seem to believe that unless someone published a study in a publication of your approval, they are not qualified to have a view on climate change. What about field research, university research, professional papers, advanced degrees, certifications, real world observational data? None of these criteria seems to matter to you if the scientist does not meet your arbitrary criteria.

The Senate `Consensus Busters' report embraces the latest peer-reviewed studies. Our award winning Senate website (thanks National Science Foundation and JFK School of Government at Harvard U. for making award possible!) is chock full of recent peer-review scientific studies debunking man-made climate fears.

Excerpt from August 20, 2007 Senate report: An abundance of new peer-reviewed studies, analyses, and data error discoveries in the last several months has prompted scientists to declare that fear of catastrophic man-made global warming "bites the dust" and the scientific underpinnings for alarm may be "falling apart." The latest study to cast doubt on climate fears finds that even a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would not have the previously predicted dire impacts on global temperatures. This new study is not unique, as a host of recent peer-reviewed studies have cast a chill on global warming fears. Recent scientific studies may make 2007 go down in history as the "tipping point" of man-made global warming fears. See weblink here. The Senate `Consensus Busters' report also has an entire section detailing the new peer-reviewed studies.

The 400 plus scientists Rabett labeled "sad souls" (getting a bit close to sounding theological there Rabett) must really be troubling you three. The bottom line: Rabett, Pierrehumbert and Dessler - you gentlemen are spending literally hours of your life poring over every name in the Senate report looking for any angle to smear and belittle the scientists. Mr. Pierrehumbert, I believe the appropriate term you would use to describe your attacks on these scientists would be "swiftboating."

It is obvious that you all are very worried that your huge personal investments in climate activism are being seriously threatened by the mere existence of the Senate 400 plus report. Your previous claims that the "debate is over" and there are only "two dozen" skeptical scientists have been exposed for the world to see. When faced with a Senate report featuring eight times the number of scientists who participated in the UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers, you have no option but to invent any means necessary to besmirch the scientists and their reputations.

Your attacks were expected. What was not expected was how weak and petty your challenges to the Senate report have been thus far. My only request to the three of you is please take a bit more time and actually do some real research before you post again about the Senate `Consensus Busters' report. Spending more time and crafting thoughtful responses would go a long way to making your attacks effective. I leave with a quote from Alexander Cockburn (yes, not a scientist, but he does not need to be one to refute the activist attacks of Rabett, Dessler and Pierrehumbert.)

Cockburn Excerpt: There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus.

For more rebuttals to critics of Senate report: see: here (Comment 96) & here (Comment 72)


Last March, global warming fanatic Al Gore used a picture of two polar bears purportedly stranded on melting ice off the coast of Alaska as a visual aide to support his claim that man-made global warming is doing great harm to Mother Earth. The one he chose, but didn't offer to pay for right away, turned out to be a photo of a polar bear and her cub out doing what healthy, happy polar bears do on a wave-eroded chunk of ice not all that far from shore in the Beaufort Sea north of Barstow, Alaska.

The picture, wrongly credited to Dan Crosbie, an ice observer specialist for the Canadian Ice Service, was actually taken by Amanda Byrd while she was on a university-related research cruise in August of 2004, a time of year when the fringe of the Arctic ice cap normally melts. Byrd, a marine biology grad student at the time, was gathering zooplankton for a multi-year study of the Arctic Ocean.

Crosbie, who was also on the trip, pilfered the polar bear photo from a shared computer onboard the Canadian icebreaker where Ms. Byrd downloaded her snapshots; he saved it in his personal file. Several months later, Crosbie, who is known as an avid photographer, gave the photo to the Canadian Ice Service, which then allowed Environment Canada to use it as an illustration for an online magazine.

Today that photo, with credit given to photographer Dan Crosbie and the Canadian Ice Service, can be found all over the Internet, generally with the caption "Two polar bears are stranded on a chunk of melting ice".

It's a hoax, folks. The bears, which can swim distances of 100 miles and more, weren't stranded; they were merely taking a break and watching the boat go by when a lady snapped their picture.

On Feb. 2, 2007 Denis Simard, a representative of Environment Canada, distributed that lady's photo to 7 media agencies, including the Associated Press, and timed it to coincide with the release of the United Nations' major global warming report in Paris, France on Feb 3rd. When the press called Simard in Paris to ask if it was his picture and could they print it, he says, "I gave them permission because Dan said it was his picture."

Al Gore saw the picture shortly thereafter and contrived to use it in a presentation about man-made global warming that he staged at a conference of human resource executives on March 22, 2007 in Toronto, Canada. With an enlarged version of Amanda Byrd's polar bear picture on the screen behind him, Gore said, "Their habitat is melting. beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet. They're in trouble, got nowhere else to go."

Of course, after those words were spoken, the audience, being under the impression that polar bears are in imminent danger, gasped with concern and sympathy for the plight of the poor, pathetic polar bear population, whose diet, by the way, can include convenient humans, though attacks, like wolf-human attacks, are said to be rare.

According to Ms. Bryd, when she took the picture, the mother bear and its cub didn't appear to be in any danger and Denis Simard seems to have backpedaled when quoted by Ontario's National Post as saying that you "have to keep in mind that the bears aren't in danger at all. It was, if you will, their playground for 15 minutes. You know what I mean? This is a perfect picture for climate change, in a way, because you have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die with a coke in their hands. But they were not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim." (The "Coca Cola Polar Bears" were introduced in 1992, and it would seem that Mr. Simard believes polar bears drink it after a swim.)

Al Gore, who was awarded a 2007 Nobel Prize for drawing the world's attention to the dangers of global warming, as well as a coveted Hollywood Oscar in `07 for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", stands to make millions of dollars selling carbon offsets through his London based corporation, Generation Investment Management.

Gore, who apparently can't tell a polar bear with nowhere to go from one that's playing on an over-sized and wave-beaten ice cube, offered to pay non-Canadian Amanda Byrd for the use of her photo after the fact. Perhaps the former University of Alaska-Fairbanks grad student and managing editor of "Mushing Magazine" let the world's Global Warming Czar off the hook for super-sizing her photo, but others who used it without permission may not be so lucky. Though she now charges from $500 to $700 for its use, Canadian courts will award photographers as much as $20,000 for each time one of their photos is published without permission, and it's almost certain that Simard and Crosbie will be paying off Amanda's school loans.

So there you have the real story about Gore's endangered polar bears, but there's more balderdash to come.

It's predicted that during his January 28th State of the Union address, Pres. Bush will mention the plight of the polar bears whose habitat is purportedly melting due to man-made global warming. Perhaps he'll surprise the environmentalists and claim otherwise, but either way, shortly after his address, Sec. of the Interior Kempthorne stands ready to announce his decision about whether or not to list polar bears as "threatened" according to Endangered Species Act (ESA) guidelines.

You may think what happens in the artic won't concern you, but if polar bears are listed as threatened, as the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned them to be, it will substantiate the global warming claim and adversely affect the lives of everyone in the United States. The claim that global warming is largely man-made is based on computer modeling and supposition, and it's being used as a manipulative tool to force us to restructure our nation's industriousness and greatly curtail our personal energy consumption. Moreover, because other countries, i.e. China and India, won't have the same onus, US citizens will have to mitigate bogus man-made global warming for them, too.

According to information from the American Land Rights Assoc., under the ESA any activity regulated by the Federal Government (i.e. air or water quality) would be subject to further regulation because of claims that "greenhouse gas" emissions have a potentially adverse effect on polar bear habitat.

Virtually everything people do involves fossil fuels and greenhouse gases, and since 85% of our energy comes from fossil fuels, almost every heating, cooling, transportation (including shipping) and electricity decision will be affected. Utility and manufacturing companies will be required to slash CO2 emissions, forcing an increase in prices to cover escalated new costs.

But it won't stop there. All other sources of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases will also be regulated and restricted by environmental alarmists; bakeries, breweries, chicken and dairy farms, cattle ranches, dry cleaners, auto manufacturers, cement and other industrial facilities, and on and on, ad nauseum. As their costs go up, so will consumers' costs to heat and cool homes, drive cars, and clothe and feed their family. And, as costs go up, companies may further reduce their workforces or outsource jobs to other countries so as to stay in business.

Blue collar, poor, and fixed income families will be hit the hardest, but everyone's jobs and cost of living will be affected. However, the likes of Al Gore and other elitists will still be flying around in private jets and cashing in on their investments in a newly created multi-billion dollar alternative energy industry and carbon offset scheme designed to supposedly mitigate the man-made global warming scam.

Just as Gore's endangered polar bear picture was a hoax, so is the assertion repeated by politicians and global warming/climate change criers that "2,500 scientists of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that humans are causing a climate crisis". According to an article authored by John McLean and Tom Harris, published in the Dec. 14th Canada Free Press, only 600 of the 2,500 IPCC scientists reviewed the specific multi-chaptered report related to the possibility of man-made global warming adversely affecting the environment. Of those 600 scientists, 308 made comments, but only 62 reviewed and made comments regarding the critical Chapter 9 related to man and his activities being the primary cause of climate change. Of those 62, fifty-five are said to have a serious vested interest, which leaves very few credible IPCC scientists out of the 2,500 who supposedly agree that global warming is man-made.

Virtually hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified and well respected scientists who have studied global warming and its causes and effects disagree with the IPCC scientists who were hand-picked by the notoriously corrupt United Nations organization to come to a consensual agreement regarding global warming. However, for the most part, those who disagree are being ignored by mass media, appointed bureaucrats, and our elected government officials.

The truth of the matter is that the man-made global warming fear factor is based on little but computer modeling, conjecture, hype, contrived hysteria, and the desire of bureaucrats, politicians and radical greenies to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and gain control of people's lives. Regardless, SB-2191, a bill to lower the boom on "greenhouse gas" emissions and people, is pending in the Senate.

It's you or the polar bears, folks, and you're out of time. Call the White House, the Interior Department and your Congressmen now and politely tell them you do not believe man and his activities are the principal cause of global warming; that you do not want polar bears listed as threatened and do not want regulatory Senate Bill-2191 passed.


Research shows heightened CO2 boosts tree growth

Fall color may start later, but trees may grow faster, as the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases. Results of a decade-long study on primarily aspen trees near Rhinelander, Wis., suggest that elevating carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may prolong the growing season for northern forests. Additionally, projected 2050 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels appear to speed trees' rate of growth. "We're seeing about a 30 to 40 percent enhancement in growth and that's been maintained pretty much throughout the 10 years of the experiment," Michigan Technological University Forestry Professor David Karnosky said.

Karnosky is the director of the Aspen FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) study. At a facility outside Rhinelander, Wis., he and other scientists have been simulating projected 2050 atmospheric CO2 levels by infusing the air at trees' canopy level with the gas. The CO2 is added through rings of vertical vent pipes encircling stands of aspen, paper birch and sugar maple. "We've noticed that basically all 10 years of the experiment, trees in those rings keep their leaves longer into the fall," Karnosky said. "They also grow faster and photosynthesize at a greater rate than the control rings."

He and 13 other researchers, including scientists doing research at a similar facility in Tuscania, Italy, published a paper documenting these findings in the current issue of the journal Global Change Biology. The title is "Future Atmospheric CO2 Leads to Delayed Autumnal Senescence." "Senescence" is the scientific term for the fall cessation of photosynthesis and color change in leaves. Karnosky said while the study shows increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will make the color change start later, it doesn't appear it will affect the extent or duration of color change.

Increased CO2 in the atmosphere could be beneficial for the forestry industry. Stands of trees may grow to a harvestable stage at a greater rate. "The rotation age may be reduced by a number of years," Karnosky said, referring to the interval of time between harvests within a stand of trees. But he cautioned the results of the experiment may not apply to more mature forest types. "The work we report in this paper is done with very rapid-growing, early-forest-stage trees," Karnosky said. "How that translates into a 30- or 40-year forest is much more difficult." He also said the increased rate of growth increases the forests' nutrient demands, so the impact of boosted CO2 levels may vary regionally depending on local soil types.

The study will continue in Rhinelander. Karnosky said the final harvest of the trees there is slated to begin in 2009 and 2010. The harvest will allow scientists to assess the impact of heightened CO2 on the forest's processes underground.


Hatred of plastic bags

They are so convenient to so many people that the Greenie elitists HAD to be "agin" them

Eradicating those unsightly plastic bags that hang in trees and clog landfills may not be in the bag just yet but the idea is reaching a fever pitch in Canada and around the world. On Tuesday, Whole Foods Market, the world's largest natural-food retailer, announced it would stop giving out disposable plastic bags at the checkout counters. All of the retailer's 270 U.S., Canadian and U.K. stores aim to be free of bags by Earth Day on April 22 of this year.

And earlier this month China launched a countrywide ban barring shop owners to hand out single-use bags. Slowly ideas are changing about the need for plastic bags. But could they go the way of the VCR or at the very least become taboo like cigarettes?

"There is a shift in perception," says Tracey Saxby, a 30-year-old environmentalist who lives half of the year in Rossland, B.C., and the other half in Whistler, B.C. "We just don't need them." [We don't need clean clothes every day either. First they came for the plastic bags, then they came for daily clean clothes. Think of all the energy we would save by washing less!]

Saxby, an Australian native, was one of the first people in North America to champion a ban in her adopted home of Rossland. About 10 years ago, the budding environmentalist worked in a retail store in Australia, where incidentally the federal environment minister is currently seeking to ban all ultra-thin plastic bags by the end of the year.

She said she would question why she had to give customers a bag even for the tiniest item. It was on a trip to Coles Bay in Tasmania that she became really passionate about doing something about the problem. "It was really cool what was happening there because it's such a tourist attraction and all of these thousands of tourists who came to see the national park were also witnessing a town without plastic bags and really seeing it work, she said by phone from her family home in Brisbane.

The village of Coles Bay, which attracts about 25,000 tourists a year, became the first community in Australia to ban the bags in 2003. The move was copied by dozens more communities in Australia and across the globe. So Saxby brought the idea home. She took the idea to city council last year in Rossland. "I said Rossland, let's do this and the whole town got excited," she said. "There was an overwhelming fervour."The town vied to be the first town in North America to go bag free, but that honour landed in the lap of the small community of Leaf Rapids, Man., on April 2, 2007.

With just over 500 residents, city officials handed out more than 5,000 free cloth bags. Leaf Rapids is about 980 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

San Francisco became the first U.S. city to adopt a ban in March after efforts to impose a tax failed, while New Jersey is seeking to be the first state to phase out bags after government implemented a bill in November. Large global cities are also jumping on board. London's 33 municipal authorities are pushing for an outright ban on plastic bags, and city council in New York trying to pass laws to bar the so-called white pollution. "It's happening everywhere now," says Saxby, "Vancouver, Toronto, Whistler - all these places are looking at options and are committed to reducing or eliminating them. Reusable bags are everywhere."

The idea is gaining worldwide momentum. There are now restrictions or bans in Ireland, Taiwan, Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar and South Africa, among others.... The tricky part of the equation for many Canadians is the perennial question: plastic or paper? But environmentalists say using paper isn't the answer either. Opponents say they use too many trees, create more greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing and take up more space in landfills.

Environmentalists argue that consumers must look at other options."We wouldn't oppose a ban, but we currently propose a tax," said the leader of Canada's national Green Party Elizabeth May, noting a federal ban is highly unlikely in Canada. "We need to convince consumers that, on so many levels, these are not essential products," she says. "It's a created false need."

More here


One in six British households is living in fuel poverty, the highest for almost a decade, according to new figures that threaten the government's target to eradicate the problem in England by the end of the decade.

Fuel poverty is defined as when a household spends more than a tenth of its income on utility bills. The consumer group Energywatch said yesterday there are now about 4.4 million of these in the UK, with just over 3 million in England alone.

Charities and other groups, led by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, are preparing a legal challenge in the next few weeks to force the government to meet the 2010 target, to which it is committed by law.

The figures came at the end of a week in which the UK's largest energy supplier, British Gas, said it was increasing bills by 15 per cent. This month EDF Energy and Npower raised prices by up to 27 per cent, and two-thirds of British households will have to pay higher tariffs. Other suppliers are likely to follow suit soon.



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, January 28, 2008


Below is what passes for high-powered intellect among Australian Leftists. It is from the blog of the "Lowy Institute for International Policy" which seems to have high pretensions.

No mention of scientific facts is made but "feel" is given prominent mention. Once again it is nothing but ad hominem argument and abuse -- which is totally disreputable intellectually. I suspect in fact that our poor old Leftist did not have a clue about how to address the scientific issues involved and thought he could get away with bluff. I think that Frank Lowy, the magnate who founded the Lowy Institute, should be looking for more high-powered employees.

I follow the spurt of superciliousness below with a reply that DOES address the facts. I suppose it is something that they published the reply. The reply is by Alex Avery, son of skeptical author Dennis Avery, mentioned below. Alex is Director of Research at the Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute. He hits the poor old Lowy lamebrains with an actual journal abstract -- almost unfair to such simpletons -- who probably would not even know which way up to hold an abstract, let alone being able to make anything out of it!
Climate skeptics tilting at windfarms

A few weeks ago I, along with most of my colleagues on the staff and the board of the Lowy Institute, received a complimentary copy of a book called 'Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1,500 Years', by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. When I arrived at work there was an enormous pile of these tomes sitting at the Institute's reception.

The book appears to be a fairly standard example of the `climate change skeptic' genre. Contrary to the overwhelming scientific consensus captured in the most recent report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authors argue that most global warming is not caused by human activities but by a natural 1500-year climate cycle, and that it is not nearly as dangerous as the Al Gores of this world make out.

I regret to say that this book does not have an authoritative feeling about it, starting with the spelling error in the publisher's name on the title page. A search of the authors' names by my colleague Kate Mason took us to the far-right reaches of the Internet, including links to research questioning the link between passive smoking and lung cancer, jeremiads against organic food, and the websites of various American think tanks with the word `freedom' in their title.

Anyway, people can write whatever nonsense they like; I'm more interested in the fact that someone, somewhere is sending out thousands of copies of this book to anyone they can think of who may be in a position to influence the public debate. The book's Preface states that: `A public relations campaign of staggering dimensions is being carried forward to convince us that global warming is man-made and a crisis.' It looks like an expensive campaign is being run against those propositions, too.

I doubt whether it is a very effective campaign, though. The sheer oddness of the whole exercise - both the message and the means of communicating it - leaves the distinct impression that history has passed these people by.


A climate sceptic replies

Your comments about my father's book are lacking in any substance whatsoever. Spelling errors and perceived lack of 'authoritative feeling' aside, where is any mention of the reams of cited peer-reviewed research indicating exactly what the title of the book states: global temperatures today are not historically unusual in comparison to relatively recent times (i.e. most recently the Medieval Warm Period) and the existence of a natural, roughly-1,500-year climate cycle?

By all means, let's ignore any and all substance and impugn motives instead. How noble. How enlightened. How . . . sad.

Just so you're not completely in the dark: Dr. Singer's most recent peer-reviewed scientific paper on climate change was published last month (Dec. 2007) in the International Journal of Climatology published by the Royal Meteorological Society. Does that lack an 'authoritative feeling' as well?

As the abstract of the paper states, the authors examined 'tropospheric temperature trends of 67 runs from 22 "Climate of the 20th Century" model simulations and try to reconcile them with the best available updated observations (in the tropics during the satellite era). Model results and observed temperature trends are in disagreement in most of the tropical troposphere, being separated by more than twice the uncertainty of the model mean. In layers near 5 km, the modeled trend is 100 to 300% higher than observed, and, above 8 km, modeled and observed trends have opposite signs. These conclusions contrast strongly with those of recent publications based on essentially the same data.'

Oh, and here is the latest peer-reviewed scientific paper supporting the argument that current temperatures are not alarming and not unusual:

Loehle, C. 2007. A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree-ring proxies. Energy & Environment 18(7-8): 1049-1058.


Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3øC warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.


Isn't all this talk of an apocalypse getting a bit boring?

This year is the 40th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich's influential The Population Bomb, a book that predicted an apocalyptic overpopulation crisis in the 1970s and '80s. Ehrlich's book provides a lesson we still haven't learnt. His prophecy that the starvation of millions of people in the developed world was imminent was spectacularly wrong - humanity survived without any of the forced sterilisation that Ehrlich believed was necessary. It's easy to predict environmental collapse, but it never actually seems to happen.

The anniversary of The Population Bomb should put contemporary apocalyptic predictions in their proper context. If anything, our world - and the environment - just keeps getting better. Ehrlich was at the forefront of a wave of pessimistic doomsayers in the late 1960s and early '70s. And these doomsayers weren't just cranks - or, if they were cranks, they were cranks with university tenure.

Despite what should be a humiliating failure for his theory of overpopulation, Ehrlich is still employed as a professor of population studies by Stanford University. Similarly, when George Wald predicted in a 1970 speech that civilisation was likely to end within 15 or 30 years, his audience was reminded that he was a Nobel Prize-winning biologist.

These predictions were picked up by people eager to push their own agendas. And a subgenre of films arose to deal with the "inevitable" environment and population crisis. Soylent Green (1973) depicted a world where all food was chemically produced, and other films imagined dystopias where amoral bureaucrats strictly controlled the population - just the sort of things advocated in The Population Bomb.

In retrospect, these fears seem a little bit silly. The green revolution that was brought about by advances in agricultural biotechnology came pretty close to eliminating the problem of food scarcity. Nor did the alarmists expect the large changes in demography and fertility rates that have occurred during the past few decades.

Nevertheless, for people in the 1970s, predictions of apocalypse through overpopulation and famine were just as real as the predictions of an apocalypse caused by climate change are today. And, just like today, environmental activists and their friends in politics were lining up to propose dramatic changes to avert the crisis. For instance, the vice-president of the Australian Conservation Foundation wrote just last week in The Age that we needed to imagine global suffering before we can tackle climate change through "nation-building" - whatever that is.

But there are substantial grounds for optimism - on almost every measure, the state of the world is improving. Pollution is no longer the threat it was seen to be in the 1970s, at least in the developed world. Changes in technology, combined with our greater demand for a clean environment, have virtually eliminated concerns about pungent waterways and dirty forests. Legislation played some role in this, but as Indur Goklany points out in his recent study, The Improving State of the World, the environment started getting better long before such laws were passed.

Goklany reveals that strong economies, not environment ministers, are the most effective enforcers of cleanliness in our air and water. Indeed, the world's 10 most polluted places are in countries where strong economic growth has historically been absent - Russia, China, India and Kyrgyzstan have not really been known for their thriving consumer capitalism.

Other indices, too, show that humanity's future is likely to be bright. Infant mortality has dramatically declined, as has malnutrition, illiteracy, and even global poverty. And there are good grounds for hope that we can adapt to changing climates as well. History has shown just how capable we are of inventing and adapting our way out of any sticky situation - and how we can do it without crippling our economies or imposing brutal social controls.

Environmental alarmists have become more and more like those apocalyptic preachers common in the 19th century - always expecting the Rapture on this date and, when it doesn't come, quickly revising their calculations. Optimism is in too short supply in discussions about the environment. But four decades after The Population Bomb, if we remember just how wrong visions of the apocalypse have been in the past, perhaps we will look to the future more cheerfully.


Leftist climate skeptic getting a barrage of abuse and attempts to silence him

Yes. There ARE some Leftists who are not taken in by speculation that the future will be catastorphic. And Alexander Cockburn is probably chief among them. He says that for his troubles he has been punished by a tsunami of self-righteous fury. It is time for a free and open `battle of ideas', he says below:

While the world's climate is on a warming trend, there is zero evidence that the rise in CO2 levels has anthropogenic origins. For daring to say this I have been treated as if I have committed intellectual blasphemy. In magazine articles and essays I have described in fairly considerable detail, with input from the scientist Martin Hertzberg, that you can account for the current warming by a number of well-known factors - to do with the elliptical course of the Earth in its relationship to the sun, the axis of the Earth in the current period, and possibly the influence of solar flares. There have been similar warming cycles in the past, such as the medieval warming period, when the warming levels were considerably higher than they are now.

Yet from left to right, the warming that is occurring today is taken as being man-made, and many have made it into the central plank of their political campaigns. For reasons I find very hard to fathom, the environmental left movement has bought very heavily into the fantasy about anthropogenic global warming and the fantasy that humans can prevent or turn back the warming cycle.

This turn to climate catastrophism is tied into the decline of the left, and the decline of the left's optimistic vision of altering the economic nature of things through a political programme. The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice.

This is a fantasy. In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests. The nuclear industry is benefiting immeasurably from the current catastrophism. Last year, for example, the American nuclear regulatory commission speeded up its process of licensing; there is an imminent wave of nuclear plant building. Many in the nuclear industry see in the story about CO2 causing climate change an opportunity to recover from the adverse publicity of Chernobyl.

More generally, climate catastrophism is leading to a re-emphasis of the powers of the advanced industrial world, through its various trade mechanisms, to penalise Third World countries. For example, the Indians have just produced an extremely cheap car called the Tata Nano, which will enable poorer Indians to get about more easily without having to load their entire family on to a bicycle. Greens have already attacked the car, and it won't take long for the WTO and the advanced powers to start punishing India with a lot of missionary-style nonsense about its carbon emissions and so on.

The politics of climate change also has potential impacts on farmers. Third World farmers who don't use seed strains or agricultural procedures that are sanctioned by the international AG corporations and major multilateral institutions and banks controlled by the Western powers will be sabotaged by attacks on their `excessive carbon footprint'. The environmental catastrophism peddled by many who claim to be progressive is strengthening the hand of corporate interests over ordinary people.

Here in the West, the so-called `war on global warming' is reminiscent of medieval madness. You can now buy Indulgences to offset your carbon guilt. If you fly, you give an extra 10 quid to British Airways; BA hands it on to some non-profit carbon-offsetting company which sticks the money in its pocket and goes off for lunch. This kind of behaviour is demented.

What is sinister about environmental catastrophism is that it diverts attention from hundreds and hundreds of serious environmental concerns that can be dealt with - starting, perhaps, with the emission of nitrous oxides from power plants. Here, in California, if you drive upstate you can see the pollution all up the Central Valley from Los Angeles, a lot of it caused, ironically, by the sulphuric acid droplets from catalytic converters! The problem is that 20 or 30 years ago, the politicians didn't want to take on the power companies, so they fixed their sights on penalising motorists who are less able to fight back. Decade after decade, power plants have been given a pass on the emissions from their smoke stacks while measures to force citizens to change their behaviour are brought in.

Emissions from power plants are something that could be dealt with now. You don't need to have a world programme called `Kyoto' to fix something like that. The Kyoto Accord must be one of the most reactionary political manifestos in the history of the world; it represents a horrible privileging of the advanced industrial powers over developing nations.

The marriage of environmental catastrophism and corporate interests is best captured in the figure of Al Gore. As a politician, he came to public light as a shill for two immense power schemes in the state of Tennessee: the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory. Gore is not, as he claims, a non-partisan green; he is influenced very much by his background. His arguments, many of which are based on grotesque science and shrill predictions, seem to me to be part of a political and corporate outlook.

In today's political climate, it has become fairly dangerous for a young scientist or professor to step up and say: `This is all nonsense.' It is increasingly difficult to challenge the global warming consensus, on either a scientific or a political level. Academies can be incredibly cowardly institutions, and if one of their employees was to question the discussion of climate change he or she would be pulled to one side and told: `You're threatening our funding and reputation - do you really want to do that?' I don't think we should underestimate the impact that kind of informal pressure can have on people's willingness to think thoroughly and speak openly.

One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring `peer-reviewed science'. Yet oftentimes, peer review is a nonsense. As anyone who has ever put his nose inside a university will know, peer review is usually a mode of excluding the unexpected, the unpredictable and the unrespectable, and forming a mutually back-scratching circle. [Hear here! As someone who fought through all that to become a much-published academic, I know all about the frailties of peer review -- JR] The history of peer review and how it developed is not a pretty sight. Through the process of peer review, of certain papers being nodded through by experts and other papers being given a red cross, the controllers of the major scientific journals can include what they like and exclude what they don't like. Peer review is frequently a way of controlling debate, even curtailing it. Many people who fall back on peer-reviewed science seem afraid to have out the intellectual argument.

Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted. I wrote a series of articles on climate change issues for the Nation, which elicited a level of hysterical outrage and affront that I found to be astounding - and I have a fairly thick skin, having been in the business of making unpopular arguments for many, many years.

There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I sometimes think to myself, `Boy, I'm glad I didn't live in the 1450s', because I would be out in the main square with a pile of wood around my ankles. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus.

This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism. That is clear in the use of the word `denier' to label those who question claims about anthropogenic climate change. `Climate change denier' is, of course, meant to evoke the figure of the Holocaust denier. This was contrived to demonise sceptics. The past few years show clearly how mass moral panics and intellectual panics become engendered.

In my forthcoming book, A Short History of Fear, I explore the link between fearmongering and climate catastrophism. For example, alarmism about population explosion is being revisited through the climate issue. Population alarmism goes back as far as Malthus, of course; and in the environmental movement there has always been a very sinister strain of Malthusianism. This is particularly the case in the US where there has never been as great a socialist challenge as there was in Europe. I suspect, however, that even in Europe, what remains of socialism has itself turned into a degraded Malthusian outlook. It seems clear to me that climate catastrophism represents a new form of the politics of fear.

I think people have had enough of peer-reviewed science and experts telling them what they can and cannot think and say about climate change. Climate catastrophism, the impact it is having on people's lives and on debate, can only really be challenged through rigorous open discussion and through a `battle of ideas', as the conference I spoke at in London last year described it. I hope my book is a salvo in that battle.


British road hump panic!

In the end, NOTHING suits the Greenies

They damage cars and give drivers a nasty jolt, but now speed bumps have been found guilty of an even worse crime - they are helping to destroy the planet. The traffic-calming measures double the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by forcing drivers to brake and accelerate repeatedly, according to a study commissioned by the AA. A car that achieves 58.15 miles per gallon travelling at a steady 30mph will deliver only 30.85mpg when going over humps.

The AA employed an independent engineer who used a fuel flow meter to test the consumption of a small and a medium-sized car at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. The results, calculated by averaging the performances of the two cars, also showed that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph resulted in 10 per cent higher emissions. This is because car engines are designed to be most efficient at speeds above 30mph. A motorist who observed the speed limit on one mile of 20mph road during a daily journey would produce an extra tonne of CO2 in a year compared with driving at 30mph on the same stretch.

In an unusual move for a motoring organisation, the AA called for the introduction of cameras that detect average speeds to replace humps. Edmund King, the AA's president, said: "Humps are a crude, uncomfortable and noisy way of slowing people down and this research has shown they are also environmentally damaging. We accept that traffic speed needs to be controlled in residential areas where there is a problem with accidents and children are playing. We think motorists are more likely to accept average speed cameras than humps."

But he added that drivers would not support a proposal in London by the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, to make 20mph the default speed limit on all residential roads. "The AA accepts that targeted 20mph speed limits in residential areas are popular and improve safety. However, a 30mph limit on local distributor roads may be more environmentally friendly."

Previous research by the Transport Research Laboratory found that air pollution rose significantly on roads with humps. Carbon monoxide emissions increased by 82 per cent and nitrogen oxide by 37 per cent. The London Ambulance Service has claimed that the 30,000 humps on the capital's roads cause up to 500 deaths a year because its crews suffer delays in reaching victims of cardiac arrest.

Mr King said: "Humps tend to breed more humps. If one street has humps installed, the adjacent street calls for humps and eventually you find no clear roads for movement of emergency service vehicles."

Transport for London has been helping to test average-speed cameras on residential roads in Camden, North London. No tickets are being issued yet, but the mere presence of the cameras has resulted in the proportion of drivers complying with the limit increasing by a third. The new cameras are not linked but have synchronised clocks and each separately transmits information to a processing centre. This allows several cameras to work together without the need to dig up the road between them to lay cables. In urban areas this can halve the cost of installing the system. Putting in 50 standard humps on three or four connecting residential streets costs about 150,000 pounds. A set of eight average-speed cameras covering the same area would cost 250,000.

The Home Office has been monitoring trials of average-speed cameras for almost three years but has yet to approve them. The camera suppliers believe that the delay is due to a lack of staff to complete the approval process. Rob Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: "If we remove road humps, the clear alternative method for enforcing lower speeds is through average speed cameras. These will smooth out traffic flow and be fairer to car drivers." Mr Gifford said that research had shown that 10 per cent of pedestrians would die when hit by a car at 20mph compared with 50 per cent at 30mph.


Courts Confront Climate Change

Late last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must consider the "risks of global warming" when setting gas-mileage standards for light trucks, minivans and SUVs. Central to the court's ruling was the claim that NHTSA, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, had ignored the benefits of reducing emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

Whatever their legal acumen, Justice Betty Fletcher and her colleagues on the bench demonstrated they have little expertise in climate science. Tighter restrictions on CO2 emissions cannot produce the imagined benefits. Greenhouse gas emissions occur globally: The court's mandate will not measurably curb CO2 levels or global warming. The court also assumed that human activity is the main cause of global warming. This has yet to be demonstrated by hard evidence.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points to glacial melting, shrinking sea ice, and other consequences of global warming. But such "evidence" doesn't tell us whether the causes are natural or manmade. Other evidence, such as the claimed correlation between temperature and CO2, is circumstantial; during much of the 20th century the climate was cooling while CO2 levels were rising.

A forthcoming report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), of which I am the editor, may provide needed balance. An independent organization, not sponsored by the United Nations, national governments, or industry, NIPCC-which includes many IPCC authors and expert reviewers-was created to provide a second opinion on the IPCC's official findings, much as a physician's diagnosis may warrant a second opinion.

Drawing on peer-reviewed publications in major scientific journals, NIPCC examined the data used in IPCC's May 2007 climate-change assessment, as well as research ignored in the IPCC report or published subsequent to its release. NIPCC concludes that "evidence" to support public hysteria about human-caused greenhouse warming does not hold up to scrutiny. Among the findings, expected to be published early this spring:

* Human activities-such as transportation and industrial production-contribute little to global warming. The claim that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for rising global temperatures is based on computer models. But as NIPCC confirms, key temperature readings contradict the models. For example, while all greenhouse models show temperature trends rising with altitude in the tropical troposphere-the lowest portion of the Earth's atmosphere-weather balloon data show the opposite: a cooling trend. The models are wrong.

* Greenhouse warming has been significantly overestimated. NIPCC has found that the models exaggerate the warming effect of greenhouse gases by ignoring "negative feedback" from-that is, the possible cooling effects of-clouds and water vapor. Taking this into account, greenhouse warming might amount to no more than one-half of 1 degree Celsius by 2100, well within the climate's normal range of ups and downs.

* The leading cause of observed climate warming appears to be variability of solar emissions and solar magnetic fields. The U.N. panel ignored substantial recent research on the effects of solar activity on climate change. This evidence suggests climate changes are essentially unstoppable and cannot be influenced by controlling CO2 emissions.

* Government efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions will have little effect on the environment. The requirements of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2007 Bali Climate Declaration cannot influence the natural factors controlling the climate. Similarly, massive government efforts to replace fossil fuels with ethanol, biodiesel, and wind and solar power will little effect the climate. Besides, they are uneconomic and require large subsidies.

In view of these findings, the Justice Department should appeal the 9th Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court. Doing so would also provide an opportunity for the high court to revisit its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA-in which it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. This time around, the White House should be better prepared to argue its case. Science is on its side.



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Sunday, January 27, 2008


Jim Hansen's GISS have just put out an article that contradicts everthing we know about the raw data for global temperatures over the last decade. How does Hansen do it? A large part of the answer is chartmanship -- the art of creating almost any impression you want by the way you draw a chart. If the vertical axis on the chart below had been much compressed, for instance, you would see an almost flat line instead of a steeply rising one. But that is only part of the story. There is statistical jiggery-pokery going on too. I reprint the GISS article below -- with its accompanying graph -- followed by some comments from physicist F. James Cripwell, a former scientist with UK's Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge who worked under the leading expert in infra red spectroscopy -- Sir Gordon Sutherland - and worked with the Operations Research for the Canadian Defense Research Board.

I have also inserted a couple of italicized comments on particularly slippery statements. There is also another chart in the original article that has in its subtitle the comment "Largest increases were in the northern hemisphere". They sure were! There is NO discernible trend in the Southern hemisphere! The so-called global warming is at best Northern hemisphere warming.

Graph of global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean temperature. Air and ocean data from weather stations, ships and satellites. The 2007 point is the 11-month anomaly

Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century. "It is unlikely that 2008 will be a year with truly exceptional global mean temperature," said Hansen. "Barring a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature clearly exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next few years, at the time of the next El Nino, because of the background warming trend attributable to continuing increases of greenhouse gases." The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990.

Goddard Institute researchers used temperature data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea ice temperature since 1982 and data from ships for earlier years. The greatest warming in 2007 occurred in the Arctic, and neighboring high latitude regions. Global warming has a larger affect in polar areas, as the loss of snow and ice leads to more open water, which absorbs more sunlight and warmth. Snow and ice reflect sunlight; when they disappear, so too does their ability to deflect warming rays. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low geographic extent of Arctic sea ice in September 2007. "As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases," said James Hansen, director of NASA GISS.

A minor data processing error found in the GISS temperature analysis in early 2007 does not affect the present analysis. The data processing flaw was failure to apply NOAA adjustments to United States Historical Climatology Network stations in 2000-2006, as the records for those years were taken from a different data base (Global Historical Climatology Network). This flaw affected only 1.6% of the Earth's surface (contiguous 48 states) [But the US data is also the highest quality data. Much of the data from elsewhere is dubious. To say that the rest of the world is warming is an act of faith] and only the several years in the 21st century.

The data processing flaw did not alter the ordering of the warmest years on record and the global ranks were unaffected. In the contiguous 48 states, the statistical tie among 1934, 1998 and 2005 as the warmest year(s) was unchanged. In the current analysis, in the flawed analysis, and in the published GISS analysis, 1934 is the warmest year in the contiguous states (but not globally) by an amount (magnitude of the order of 0.01øC) that is an order of magnitude smaller than the certainty. [Still pesky that 1934 was so warm -- at the height of the Depression, when economic activity was minimal]


Comment from F. James Cripwell

I do not believe the world's climate is on a warming trend, though I cannot as yet prove this. It is quite true that since somewhere around 1970, the world has warmed up. What is not clear is that, as of now, the world is still warming up.

And, of course, "now" is moving. As time goes on, I believe the indications that the world has ceaased warming, and has started to cool, will become more and more obvious.

As I have noted before, there are four major agencies which measure average global temperature anomalies, and report them of a monthly basis. These are NASA/GISS, NCDC/NOAA, HAD/CRU and RSS/MSU. The first, NASA/GISS data, shows that at present, average global temperatures are increasing. The other three show the opposite, that they are decreasing.

I am suspicious that Jim Hansen and Gavin Schmidt are closely connected with the NASA/GISS data, but they are very competent scientists with impressive credentials. If you ask for a linear least squares regression analysis, you find a linear trend of increasing temperatures. However, if you ask for a non-linear analysis, NASA/GISS shows an increasing trend, but the other three show that temperatures has passed through a maximum, and are now decreasing.

What is missing is an independent study to compare and contrast the four ways of measuring world temperature anomalies, coming up with an opinion as to which is "best", whatever this means. Until we have such a stduy, we are unlikely to make any progress in this area. Or we must wait until the data showing that world temperatures are decreasing becomes too overwhelming to be ignored.


If you enjoy the benefits of affordable and readily available electricity, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) may spur you to press your elected representatives for a reassessment of climate alarmism.

Entitled "Pipelines for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Control: Network Needs and Cost Uncertainties" (Jan. 10, 2008), the report sounds dull enough, but its contents simply undermine the notion that we'll be reducing CO2 emissions anytime soon.

More than 70 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. involves the burning of coal, natural gas or oil, and their attendant emissions of CO2. This reliance on fossil fuels is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Though nuclear power provides about 20 percent of U.S. electricity and could, in an environment of rational public discourse, provide much more, nuke plants in the real world are difficult to site and expensive to build because of anti-nuclear activists who hype safety concerns and foment NIMBY-ism. Other sources of electrical generation -- such as hydroelectric, solar and wind -- offered limited potential with solar and wind power only as marginal sources. So if we like electricity, we're stuck with CO2-emitting fuels, mostly coal.

For those concerned about CO2 emissions, the question then becomes, can CO2 emissions be captured and sequestered (permanently stored) so that they never make it into the atmosphere to cause the much-dreaded global warming.

One proposed solution is to construct a nationwide-grid of pipelines from sources of CO2, like coal- and gas-fired electric power plants, so that the emissions can be captured and transported for storage in underground geological repositories like saline formations or depleted oil and gas fields.

Is this possible and what would it cost? The CRS report works out several hypothetical examples of CO2 pipelines running from the 11 largest CO2 emitters in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia -- all coal-fired electric power plants emitting over 9 million metric tons of CO2 annually -- to potential regional sequestration sites.

In the least expensive scenario, it would take an estimated $66 million to build pipelines each with a capacity of 10 million tons of CO2 annually from the 11 plants to a nearby geological formation called Rose Run. Unfortunately as the CRS points out, Rose Run may not have the capacity to accept all the CO2 produced and injecting pressurized CO2 may cause minor earthquakes. While the earthquakes may create additional capacity for CO2, they may also produce permanent conduits for leakage.

Unmineable coal beds in the same general area as Rose Run are another option but their capacity falls way short of Rose Run's.

The 10 largest local depleted oil and gas fields have an average capacity of 251 million tons of CO2, but the 30-year CO2 output of the 11 plants is estimated to range from 270 million tons to 491 million tons at current emission levels. Not only is their capacity lacking, but the oil and gas fields pose a significant risk of leaking.

A final option considered by CRS is pipelining the CO2 hundreds of miles west to a geological area in Michigan, Indiana and western Ohio known as the Mt. Simon formation. The average cost of building each pipeline would be $150 million. That's a bargain, however, compared to a geographically disadvantaged area like North Carolina. A Duke University study estimated it would cost $5 billion to transport CO2 from North Carolina's electric utilities to sequestration sites in other states.

The CRS report spotlighted an August 2007 decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reject a 450-mile pipeline to a Canadian oil field costing over $635 million as "not in the public interest."

But perhaps the most sobering assessment cited by the CRS comes from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that has the official lead in selling climate hysteria. The IPCC estimates that the per ton cost of CO2 mitigation ranges from $31 to $71 for a coal-fired power plant.

Given that one ton of coal produces about 1.8 tons of CO2 and using the midpoint of the IPCC's estimated cost range ($51), the per ton cost of CO2 mitigation for one ton of coal is $92. As the current price of coal is about $10 per ton and the price of transporting that coal to an electric power plant averages about $25, capturing and sequestering CO2 could effectively raise the effective price of coal to power plants from $35 per ton to $127 per ton -- a 362 percent increase.

That sort of increase would likely dramatically impact electric bills. Since about one-third of the cost of electricity is fuel, tripling fuel costs could double the price of coal-fired electricity. To the extent that higher coal costs drove power plants to switch from coal to natural gas, the additional demand for gas would force those prices higher as well. By the way, electricity produced from natural gas already costs about four times as much as from coal.

All this is quite unfortunate for the many federal, state and local officials who have painted themselves into Al Gore's corner. The only way out of the climate panic that they've helped to foment is to take another look at the science. After all, who would want to be the politician-on-duty when electric bills double or, worse, the lights go out for those who can't afford such increases?



If you thought the 2008 presidential race was shattering all records for windy rhetoric, it's nothing compared to the political eco-rhetoric being spun to US taxpayers -- to get them to cough up billions of dollars to fuel a renewable wind power industry boom sensible investors won't touch with a turbine's rotor blade.

At present, the growth of the wind power industry in the US lags behind that in Europe. While Denmark and Germany pioneered wind power growth in Europe, Britain is about to steal the world lead. The UK wants to develop an unprecedented 33 gigawatts of wind power, mostly offshore, that will, literally, change the face of Britain. 7,000 wind turbines -- one every half-mile around the entire coastline -- are to be built in a bid to install power capacity that theoretically would be enough for all 25 million homes by 2020.

Wind power sounds a great European success story -- one to be echoed in the US, it seems, as 2008 is set to see wind power developments shatter records for the fourth consecutive year. However, a closer look at the European "success" story reveals that all is not quite as it seems. Wind seems to be blowing in the mind of the politically correct and those on the recent environmentalist bandwagon but the cost is going to be huge, no companies will plunge into it without massive government subsidies and, if actually built, power reliability will take a nosedive.

Having announced the grandiose British plan in January 2008, Industry Secretary John Hutton told the BBC, "There is no way of making the shift to low-carbon technology without there being change and for that change to be visible and evident to people." So there will be an enormous aesthetic environmental, as well as economic, cost. A cost driven primarily by the belief that man's carbon emissions are the main cause of the 1 degree or so of global warming the world has experienced over the last century.

But even wind industry supporters spotted the real flaw in the British plan. Gordon Edge, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) Director of Economics and Markets, called the government's plan "piece in the sky." Edge recognized that private capital investment will not be forthcoming. Dan Lewis of the Economic Research Council added that the British Government was "deluding itself on a grand scale. There will be no race by investors to build offshore wind farms." These voices recognize that, to date, the taxpayer alone has picked up the wind power tab.



Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that we must take a certain course of action because the experts tell us we must? The issue might be the threat of another country or an environmental risk, but increasingly we see appeals to authority used as the basis for arguing for this or that action.

In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise. They write in a recent op-ed:

"Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. . . There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. . . We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions."

On their book page they write:

"[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power."

So whenever you hear (or invoke) an argument from expertise (i.e., "the experts tell us that we must ...") ask if we should listen to the experts in just this one case, or if we should turn over all decisions to experts. If just this one case, why this one and not others? If a general prescription, should we do away with democracy in favor of an authoritarianism of expertise?


Greenhouse cuts would land us in the Middle Ages, says Australian Labor Party sceptic

THE Hawke government finance minister Peter Walsh has warned the Rudd Government that cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 would send Australian living standards back to the Middle Ages.

Mr Walsh, who was at the forefront of Labor's conversion to economic rationalism in the 1980s, heads the Lavoisier Group of hardline climate-change sceptics. In a submission lodged with the Garnaut climate change review, the former West Australian senator disputes the scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are causing rising global temperatures. He points out that the Romans grew grapes in northern England in the first millennium and the Vikings grew cereals in Greenland in the second millennium. "Those much warmer periods cannot reasonably be attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gases," he says. He also says the temperature on Mars has risen in a similar way to that on Earth.

Mr Walsh says that changes in solar behaviour are a better scientific explanation for temperature changes and that many scientists believe a cooling period will set in within the next decade or so.

The review by Professor Ross Garnaut is examining the economic costs for Australia of tackling climate change.

Mr Walsh tells Professor Garnaut that a mooted 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 would have significant adverse consequences: "The latter figure is unachievable without substituting nuclear power in place of coal and crude oil or, alternatively, a reversion to the living standards and population densities of the Middle Ages." He describes emissions trading as the "cargo cult of the 21st century".



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, January 26, 2008

"Biofuel" idiocy now causing great hardship in poor countries

See also here

Soaring soybean prices that have prompted mass demonstrations and a prominent suicide have forced Indonesia to act. Prices for the legume, an ancient plant with cultural significance throughout Asia, have tripled in the past year in Indonesia, as skyrocketing biofuels demand drives worldwide production away from soy towards the more profitable maize. Two of Indonesia's most loved soy-derived foodstuffs, tofu and tempeh, provide 22 per cent of the nation's dietary protein, according to government statistics. However, many people are going without both as prices for the raw bean hit more than 8000rupiah (98c) a kg, up from 2700 rupiah 12 months ago.

After riotous protests by desperate smallholders and traders, Jakarta this week abolished its 10per cent duty on all soybean imports - which, at more than 1million tonnes last year, made up more than half the nation's requirement. (Despite its reliance on the crop, Indonesia has been a net importer for 30 years.) The unrest was the latest symptom of a growing biofuels-linked food crisis, following agflation-driven outbursts such as last year's violent Mexican tortilla rallies.

Subsidies of up to 1000 rupiah a kg are also being considered, according to Industry Minister Fahmi Idris, who held a crisis meeting on Wednesday with his counterparts from the departments of agriculture, trade and small to medium enterprises. Trade Minister Mari Pangestu emphatically denied evidence of cartel activity by Indonesia's four main soybean importing companies, adding the Government could not push the price of soybeans too far below world levels. "Our task is only to smooth out the sharp price fluctuations in order to reduce their effect," Dr Pangestu said.

Stallholder Slamet, from the West Java city of Banten, starkly illustrated that effect - and made himself a symbol of what is being seen as a national policy failure - when he committed suicide by hanging last week. Typical of many small-scale tofu and tempeh dealers, Slamet, 49, turned over just enough product each day to survive, leading him increasingly into debt as soy prices rose. He succumbed to despair alone and at home: an outcome contrasted by poet Goenawan Mohamad to the lingering and melodramatic death of former president Suharto, still in intensive care.


Australian economists put the heat on the Stern report

A Productivity Commission paper has criticised the influential Stern review on global warming for making value-laden assumptions that inflated estimates of the economic costs of warming. The internal staff working paper, released as Australia prepares its own version of the Stern review, called the original British review's conclusions "as much an exercise in advocacy as it is an economic analysis of climate change".

It acknowledged Nicholas Stern's contribution to the field, but said it was impossible to say whether some assumptions were "definitively right or wrong". The former World Bank chief economist's review had "erred" in not making key value judgments explicit, or testing different parameters in his modelling, the paper said.

The commission paper, originally prepared for internal use in response to the Stern review's October 2006 release, was published yesterday. It was given to the Labor-initiated Garnaut review, which is modelled on the Stern review, over the Christmas break.

When then Opposition leader Kevin Rudd announced Labor's review last year, headed by Australian National University economist Ross Garnaut, he said Australia needed its own version of the Stern review. "The Stern report to the British Government sent a clear warning that, left unchecked, climate change will have catastrophic economic consequences," Mr Rudd said. Sir Nicholas found the cost of global warming, estimated at between 5 and 20 per cent of global GDP a year, far exceeded the annual cost of mitigation measures, estimated at 1 per cent of global GDP. But his conclusions have been dogged by controversy since their release, the harshest critics calling them biased and alarmist.

The commission paper said some criticisms of the report were justified. The use of high emissions scenarios, pessimistic assumptions on damage costs, and an unconventional method of calculating current and future costs and benefits all tended to "escalate the present value of future costs", it noted.

Sir Nicholas last year appealed to Australia to cut emissions by 30per cent by 2020 -- a call then prime minister John Howard rejected on the basis it would cause thousands of job losses in the coal industry.

An Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics report earlier said the nation's GDP would fall by about 2.5 per cent by 2050 if emissions were cut by 40 per cent. Labor has promised to cut emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by that date. The Garnaut review, due to report in draft form in June, is likely to look at the economic impact of shorter-term targets. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong would not comment on the conclusions of the Productivity Commission document, saying only that she welcomed any paper that contributed to Australia's understanding of climate change impacts. "We will draw on a range of analysis in designing the Government's response to climate change -- including modelling from Professor Garnaut and the Treasury," she said.


A cure for malaria: Almost certain to be blocked by superstitious Greenies

Researchers have recently conscripted a gene for a toxin from a sea cucumber, of all things, in the fight against malaria. Inserting this gene into mosquitoes creates a toxic environment for the malaria-causing parasite that usually lives happily in a mosquito's gut. These tweaks make it impossible for malaria to be passed from human to human via mosquito.

In order for this scheme to work, the modified mosquitoes have to outbreed normal mosquitoes in the wild. This has been the main challenge for scientists thus far. But the current generation proves to be surprisingly robust in a caged trial, dominating the mosquito population at 70 percent in the ninth generation when feeding on malarial blood. In fact, killing the malaria-causing parasite may actually give the genetically-modified mosquitoes an edge by allowing them to live longer and lay more eggs, according to the scientists at the Malaria Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University. "This fitness advantage has important implications for devising malaria control strategies," they write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The lab-made mosquitoes aren't quite good enough yet-they don't outbreed regular mosquitoes on a diet of regular blood. But the concept has undeniable appeal, right? Let a few genetically freakish mosquitoes into the population and then sit back and watch as they outbreed their treacherous, malaria-carrying brothers and sisters.

So far, the criticism has been fairly muted, and the researchers themselves are being cautious and circumspect, saying that it could be as long as ten years from now before release into the wild is a possibility. "What we did was a laboratory, proof-of-principle experiment; we're not anywhere close to releasing them into the wild right now," said study co-author Dr. Jason Rasgon from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. "There is quite a lot of research that needs to be done, both in terms of genetics and the ecology of the mosquitoes; and also research to address all the social, ethical and legal issues associated with releasing transgenic organisms into the environment," he said.

But even with that cautious note in the air, many are already seeing visions of the worst possible outcome. "Once new species get out of their ecosystem and they are not kept in check by other processes that's when they start to cause mayhem," Deborah Long of Plantlife Scotland told the Guardian. Respected groups like the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology are standing by previous statements[PDF] about the possible problems caused by GM insects. "The mobility and range of insects pose international regulatory challenges never faced with GM crops," they wrote in 2004.

In response to initial announcements about the modified mosquitos, the Guardian's James Randerson wrote "it will probably be the perception of risk rather than the actual risks that are important. GM-crops were scuppered in Europe by the what-if fears: in the end, the scientific assessment did not matter." Sadly, he's right.

Lots of study and lots of caution are appropriate, of course, but this is the beginning of storyline that is already too familiar. The logic of bans on DDT, pest-resistant GM crops, and other technological solutions to human problems will be applied here too, and Africa will suffer for our timidity....

And while we worry about what might happen to the ecosystem if we release a mosquito with a small change in its genes, millions of people roll in their beds (or on mats on the floor), fevered and ill. We shouldn't release modified mosquitoes before they are ready. But when they are ready and the inevitable invocation of the precautionary principle comes, we should try to weigh the caution we are used to being able to afford against the real suffering of real people whose lives are so different from our own that it is difficult to comprehend.


Lawyers Embrace U.S. Global-Warming Practice at $700 an Hour

Lawyers are becoming some of the best-paid environmentalists. Twenty of the 100 highest-grossing U.S. law firms have started practices advising companies on climate change, according to a Bloomberg survey of the firms' Web sites. The attorneys help clients finance clean-energy projects and lobby Congress, typically billing $500 to $700 an hour. Firms including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Heller Ehrman and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton joined the global warming cause as real-estate and structured-finance attorneys lost jobs to the worst U.S. housing slump in 27 years.

The move into climate-change law is gaining traction as Congress considers a mandatory carbon market to curb greenhouse gas emissions. ``Since the elections last November, climate change has had a higher profile as a political issue,'' said Paul Gutermann, co- leader of Washington-based Akin Gump's group, which comprises 50 of the firm's 1,023 attorneys. Gutermann's team is helping clients including PG&E Corp. push U.S. lawmakers to establish a market that uses so-called carbon credits to penalize heavy polluters financially.

Senators John Warner and Joseph Lieberman introduced a bill inspired by Europe's carbon market, and attorneys predict some legislation will pass after President George W. Bush, who opposes mandatory caps on emissions, leaves office in a year. Global warming, driven by heat-trapping gases, is causing Arctic ice to melt and sea levels to rise, a United Nations panel of scientists said last year. International reaction has sparked interest in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, making energy use more efficient and adding to non-polluting power sources.

Baker & McKenzie, a Chicago-based firm with 3,335 lawyers, was a pioneer, creating a climate-change group a decade ago. It became profitable after two years, said Richard Saines, who heads the U.S. part of the practice. The 60-lawyer team brought in estimated revenue of $15 million to $20 million in 2007, Saines said. The firm's total revenue in 2006 was $1.52 billion, according to the trade magazine American Lawyer. ``We saw this as one of the key international-law issues that would affect U.S.-based multinationals,'' Saines said. ``And that is now the case.'' ....

Climate-change attorneys also advise private-equity firms and hedge funds on clean-energy projects. Worldwide investments in sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar and water power rose 43 percent to $70.9 billion in 2006, according to a UN report. Wind Projects In the U.S., more than $4 billion was invested in wind projects alone, according to Chadbourne's Zaelke, who specializes in financing and developing wind farms.

One of Zaelke's clients, John Deere Renewables, has invested more than $500 million since 2005 in community wind farms in seven states. The company, part of the financial services arm of Des Moines, Iowa-based Deere & Co., gets advice on supply agreements, project development and tax structures, said David Drescher, general manager of John Deere Wind Energy. "They've been to a lot of wind farms", Drescher said.

More here

The warm jungles of ancient France

Chemical analyses of amber excavated near Paris suggest that France was covered with a dense tropical forest about 55 million years ago. Amber is a form of fossilized tree sap. Paleontologists discovered copious deposits of the material in the sediments of the Oise River basin, about 50 kilometers north of Paris, in 1997.

Fossils in those strata, which were laid down between 55 million and 53 million years ago, are diverse and exceptionally preserved, says Akino Jossang, a biochemist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. More than 300 species of arthropods have been found entombed in the Oise amber.

Jossang and her colleagues measured how samples of the Oise amber absorbed various wavelengths of infrared radiation. Results did not match those for Baltic amber, so the researchers used dichloromethane to extract organic compounds from French amber samples. One of those chemicals-named quesnoin-isn't found in other amber, the team reports in the Jan. 18 Journal of Organic Chemistry.

One precursor of quesnoin, a substance called isoozic acid, is produced in small quantities by several types of plants but in abundance by Hymenaea oblongifolia, a tropical tree that lives only in the Amazon rainforest. Other ancient Hymenaea species are suspected to have produced Dominican amber. The presence of a presumably tropical plant species in France 55 million years ago, when the region was located at a latitude equal to that of modern-day New Orleans, hints that Earth's climate was much warmer then than it is now.

Science News, Vol. 173, No. 2, Jan. 12, 2008, p. 30.


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, January 25, 2008


But other deceptions remain. Article below by Christopher Monckton

I earned my Nobel Peace Prize by making the United Nations fix a deliberate error in its latest climate assessment. After the scientists had finalized the draft, UN bureaucrats inserted a new table, but with four decimal points right-shifted. The bureaucrats had multiplied tenfold the true contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise. Were they trying to support Al Gore's fantasy that these two ice-sheets would imminently cause sea level to rise 20ft, displacing tens of millions worldwide?

How do we know the UN's error was deliberate? The table, as it first appeared, said the units for sea-level rise were being changed. But the table was new. There was nothing to change from. I wrote to the UN that this misconduct was unacceptable. Two days later, the bureaucracy corrected, relabeled and moved the table, and quietly posted the new version on its Web site. The two ice sheets will contribute, between them, over 100 years, just two and a half inches to sea-level rise. Gore had exaggerated a hundredfold; the UN tenfold. Hawaii is not about to disappear beneath the waves.

The High Court in London recently ordered the British Government to correct nine of the 36 serious errors in Al Gore’s climate movie before innocent pupils were exposed to it. It was Gore who, in 1994, announced that Mars was covered in canals full of water. This notion had been disproved before his birth. It was Gore who recently spent $4 million of the profits from his sci-fi comedy horror movie on a luxury condo just feet from the supposedly rising ocean at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. No surprise that he and the mad scientists with whom he has close financial and political links are under investigation for racketeering -- peddling a false prospectus to investors in his “green” investment corporation by distorting climate science even after the UK judge’s ruling.

It is not so well known that the UN’s climate reports are also error-packed and misleading. To begin with, the UN denies that global temperatures were warmer than today in the medieval warm period. It overlooks the dozens of peer-reviewed papers that establish this fact, and continues to rely on the bogus and now-discredited “hockey-stick” graph by which its previous assessment in 2001 had tried to rewrite history.

It was also warmer than today in Roman times, and in the Minoan warm period or Holocene climate optimum, when temperatures were warmer than today for 2000 years in the Bronze Age, firing the emergence of great civilizations worldwide. In each of the four previous interglacial periods, temperatures were 10F warmer than today’s. For most of the past half billion years, temperatures were nearly always 12.5F warmer than the present. So the warming that has now stopped (there has been no statistically significant warming since 1998) was well within the natural variability of the climate.

The only chapters in the UN’s 1,600-page ramblings that are worth close analysis are those which consider “climate sensitivity” -- how big is the effect of greenhouse gases on temperature? The scientific debate centers not, as the Greens try to suggest, on whether adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause warmer weather (it will), but instead on how much warmer the weather will be. So the only variable that truly matters in this debate is lambda -- the “climate sensitivity parameter.” Here are just some of the UN’s errors and exaggerations in calculating lambda.

First and foremost, the UN’s crafty definition of lambda allows it to overlook the fact that the oceans -- 1,100 times denser than the atmosphere at the surface, and many times denser still at depth -- soak up a good proportion of any additional radiant energy in the atmosphere (see papers by Lyman et al., 2006; Schwartz, 2007). The oceans cancel a great deal of “global warming,” because the next Ice Age will arrive long before the oceans lose their capacity to take up heat from the atmosphere.

Next, the UN has unwisely repealed the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative-transfer equation, the fundamental astrophysical law that relates changes in radiant energy to changes in temperature. The entire debate is about exactly that matter. Yet in 1,600 pages the UN does not mention this crucial equation once. Result: the UN’s “no-feedbacks” value of lambda is way too high. As an eminent physics professor pointed out to me recently, if the UN were correct, global surface temperature would now be 20F higher than it is.

It gets worse. The UN’s computer models predict that in the tropics the rate of increase in temperature five miles above the surface will be three times the rate of increase down here. But 50 years of atmospheric measurement, first by balloon-borne radiosondes and then by satellites, show that the air above the tropics is not merely failing to warm at three times the surface rate: for 25 years it has been cooling. The absence of the tropical mid-troposphere “hot-spot” indicates that the computer models -- expensive guesswork -- on which the UN’s rickety case is founded are, in a fundamental way, misunderstanding the way the atmosphere behaves (Douglass & Knox, 2004; Douglass et al., 2007).

On top of the “radiative forcings” from greenhouse gases, the UN says the mere fact of temperature change will cause more change still, through what it calls “feedbacks.” The UN has hiked the feedback multiplier by more than 52 percent since its 1995 report, without quite saying why. Shaviv (2006) and Schwartz (2007) calculate that the sum total of all feedbacks is either nil or very small; Wentz et al. (2007) report that the UN has missed out two-thirds of the cooling effect of evaporation in its assessment of the water-vapor feedback; Spencer (2007) finds that the cloud albedo feedback, which the UN says is strongly positive, is in fact negative; Ahlbeck (2004, 2005) says the CO2 feedback has been enormously exaggerated.

I have mentioned a dozen scientific papers. I could have mentioned hundreds more that challenge the UN “consensus.” There has never been and can never be a scientific consensus on climate change. Lorenz (1963), in the landmark climate paper that founded chaos theory, stated and proved his famous theorem that the long-run evolution of mathematically chaotic objects like the climate cannot be predicted unless one knows the initial state of the object to a degree of precision that is in practice unattainable. Whenever you hear anyone recite the propaganda mantra “The Science Is Settled,” laugh at his redneck scientific illiteracy. The science can never be settled.

Schulte (2008: in press) reviewed 539 papers on “global climate change” in the scientific journals. Only one paper mentioned that “global warming” might be catastrophic, and even that paper offered not a shred of evidence for the supposed apocalypse.

Bottom line: a recent peer-reviewed paper (Lindzen, December 2007) says all the UN’s climate sensitivity estimates should be divided by three. We don’t have a climate problem. The correct policy to deal with a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. Don’t let your legislators in Hawaii waste time on this non-problem. The real problem of the 21st century will not be “global warming” but resource depletion, starting with oil. Let your lawmakers do some real work, and get to grips with that.



The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, appears to have lost it completely. Speaking yesterday in London, he has threatened to impose carbon tariffs on imports unless the US agrees to a global climate-change deal ('Barroso trade threat on climate', BBC Online World News, January 22):

Jose Manuel Barroso wants to protect energy-intensive sectors such as aluminium, steel and cement. He says there is no point these industries cutting emissions in Europe if they lose business to countries with more lax rules on carbon emissions. Mr Barroso made the comments in a speech to business leaders in London.

That way madness lies. With the world economy experiencing a significant downturn, the economic engine of the US stuttering, and the sub-prime market undermining banks to housing, trade wars should be the last thing on anyone’s mind. It is crass irresponsibility, though the underbelly politics are all too apparent and involve the usual EU attack on the US, combined with a sweetener to Nicolas Sarkosy, the French President, and Germany, both of which have become increasingly critical of EU policies on emissions. Luckily, the political response to such dangerous nonsense will be as politically tart as one can get. Here are some recent apposite quotes:

+ “I don’t believe trade restrictions are the way forward to combat climate change. They’re not cost efficient, they carry a risk of retaliation, they would result in increasing cost for European industry at large.” [Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, January 21];

+ Washington is “dismayed at a variety of suggestions where we see climate or the environment being used as an excuse to close markets.” [Susan Schwab, Peter Mandelson’s US counterpart];

+ “Britain said on Tuesday it did not support proposed punitive trade measures threatened by the European Commission against countries that do not sign up to greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said proposals on Monday from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso that importers may have to obtain emissions permits equivalent to those of the European competitors ‘might look like trade barriers.’ ‘We believe in global trade, we want more of it in the future, not less, and that is good for the European economy,’ Wicks told BBC radio. ‘So we are against any measures which might look like trade barriers.’” [Reuters, January 22];

+ “I don’t imagine any instance of any party of any candidate whereby the Kyoto treaty would be signed and ratified by the US.” [Andy Karsner, US Department of Energy, January 20/21];

+ “The great experiment in Europe with cap-and-trade so far is an absolute failure. There’s no other way to put it. The prices their economies are paying is going up and emissions are going up, too. Now, their apologists say that that’s only because they don’t have it just right. But I predict that no matter how much they tinker with it, when you’re trying to cap-and-trade something as ubiquitous as CO2, most of which is not manmade, it’s folly, it’s an impossible situation.” [U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, January 17].

This latest outburst from Barroso is deeply embarrassing. Can’t the man see the folly of casually inciting trade wars while promoting a European agenda that is so clearly failing and is hypocritical at its very core? He should know better too - he comes from Porto, the home of trade. At least the UK Government has responded sensibly. Well done Malcolm Wicks. This is the EU at its most arrogant, stupid, and potentially dangerous.



Temperatures on Earth have stabilized in the past decade, and the planet should brace itself for a new Ice Age rather than global warming, a Russian scientist said in an interview with RIA Novosti Tuesday. "Russian and foreign research data confirm that global temperatures in 2007 were practically similar to those in 2006, and, in general, identical to 1998-2006 temperatures, which, basically, means that the Earth passed the peak of global warming in 1998-2005," said Khabibullo Abdusamatov, head of a space research lab at the Pulkovo observatory in St. Petersburg.

According to the scientist, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has risen more than 4% in the past decade, but global warming has practically stopped. It confirms the theory of "solar" impact on changes in the Earth's climate, because the amount of solar energy reaching the planet has drastically decreased during the same period, the scientist said. Had global temperatures directly responded to concentrations of "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere, they would have risen by at least 0.1 Celsius in the past ten years, however, it never happened, he said.

"A year ago, many meteorologists predicted that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would make the year 2007 the hottest in the last decade, but, fortunately, these predictions did not become reality," Abdusamatov said. He also said that in 2008, global temperatures would drop slightly, rather than rise, due to unprecedentedly low solar radiation in the past 30 years, and would continue decreasing even if industrial emissions of carbon dioxide reach record levels.

By 2041, solar activity will reach its minimum according to a 200-year cycle, and a deep cooling period will hit the Earth approximately in 2055-2060. It will last for about 45-65 years, the scientist added. "By the mid-21st century the planet will face another Little Ice Age, similar to the Maunder Minimum, because the amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth has been constantly decreasing since the 1990s and will reach its minimum approximately in 2041," he said.

The Maunder Minimum occurred between 1645 and 1715, when only about 50 spots appeared on the Sun, as opposed to the typical 40,000-50,000 spots. It coincided with the middle and coldest part of the so called Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters.

"However, the thermal inertia of the world's oceans and seas will delay a 'deep cooling' of the planet, and the new Ice Age will begin sometime during 2055-2060, probably lasting for several decades," Abdusamatov said. Therefore, the Earth must brace itself for a growing ice cap, rather than rising waters in global oceans caused by ice melting.

Mankind will face serious economic, social, and demographic consequences of the coming Ice Age because it will directly affect more than 80% of the earth's population, the scientist concluded.


Green Desperation Time

News of a January 31 “teach-in” on more than 1,000 college campuses nationwide strikes me of just one more example of the growing desperation of the environmental movement that has bet its credibility and influence on global warming.

Mark your calendar for any news about a March 2-4 conference in New York that is expected to draw between 400 and 500 global warming skeptics, i.e., scientists, economists, and policy experts. I suspect that print and broadcast journalists will do their best to ignore this event in what is arguably the media capitol of the nation, if not the world. Organized by the Heartland Institute and co-sponsored by the International Climate Science Coalition, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, and the Science & Environmental Policy Project, it should put to rest the very core of the “teach-in”, the notion that there is a consensus among the world’s scientists that global warming is happening or about to happen.

In one way, even the Greens are right. There is global warming and the reason is that it is a perfectly natural phenomenon based entirely on the activity of the Sun. No one disputes that the Earth has warmed about one degree Fahrenheit since the end of the last mini-ice age around 1850. And, as Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing. What is not happening is a huge warming that is melting all the ice at the North and South Poles, causing hurricanes, or any of the several hundred other things attributed to global warming. It is definitely not something that human activity is causing or can “control” in any fashion. Try controlling the Sun, the oceans, clouds, volcanoes, et cetera!

As for the dreaded carbon dioxide, it represents 0.038% of the earth's atmosphere. Alex Tinker, the public relations director of Focus the Nation, an environmental advocacy group, said that the teach-in would be a day when an entire college or university campus turns its attention to a single issue, global warming. “The premise behind Focus the Nation is that ‘The Science is in. Global warming is real,” said Tinker. “There’s no longer a meaningful debate about whether or not global warming is caused by human kind—the debate should be about what policy solutions we need to enact to address it.”

This is a lie.This perfectly articulates the Green’s agenda and the science is in, but it refutes all of the more fanciful claims made about global warming and its affect on, well, everything. The agenda, however, is not about global warming. It’s about doing everything possible to destroy the economy of the United States and all industrialized nations. Anyone who tells you we can replace coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear power with wind turbines and solar panels is blowing smoke up your skirt. The only way such “alternative” energy sources even exist is with millions in government subsidies, i.e., your tax money being thrown down an indefensible rat hole.

It’s worth noting that Tinker used the word “enact” with regard to the Greens proposed “solutions.” The environmental movement exists to use legislation to force people to do their bidding. Its entire philosophy is coercive because they know that anyone with any common sense understands their “solutions” are idiotic. As but one example, the State of California recently floated the idea of being able to control the thermostats in private homes and elsewhere so that the decision of how much energy was used no longer would be exercised by the consumer.

In just the United States where our population now tops 300 million, do you really think we need less electricity to meet our needs? Do you really think that we should not tap the estimated billions of barrels of crude oil in a tiny part of Alaska’s vast national wildlife reserve? Do you think we should continue to limit exploration of 85% of the nation’s continental shelf? Do you seriously believe that polar bears that have been around for millennia are “endangered” and will disappear by 2050?

And why have a national teach-in when every single day of the year every one of us is hammered with global warming propaganda? Why take college student’s time to blather away about global warming when they have had this nonsense forced down their throats since they were in pre-school?

I will tell you why. Desperation. Time is running out for the global warming hoax. Focus the Nation says it wants to create support for the creation of "one million new 'green jobs' – workers who would service America’s infrastructure to be more ecologically friendly.” What the hell does that mean? The nation’s infrastructure of roads and bridges exists to serve the needs of millions of cars and trucks, and we know the Greens hate them because they run on gasoline and diesel. The infrastructure includes power generation plants and we know the Greens hate the ones that use coal (providing over half of all the electricity in the nation) and oppose the building of nuclear plants.

I guess people who work for airlines or sea-going cargo lines should find another line of work as well because both use large amounts of energy to function. Parents and the students who have taken on huge debt in order to attend college should tell Focus the Nation to focus on leaving the faculty to teach something that doesn’t come with an agenda that blames the human race for the climate and does not seek to undermine capitalism and the globalization that is increasingly increasing and spreading wealth throughout the world.


Yale’s Game of Make-Believe

Yale has just released its 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The EPI ranks countries based on their ostensible environmental performance and has made headlines by giving poor marks to the U.S. But as with so many supposedly dispassionate environmental analyses, Yale’s EPI is an exercise in make-believe, cloaked in a thin scientific veneer.

The EPI is a score between zero and 100 for each country, based on a weighted average of more than a dozen individual factors. Human health-related factors — water quality, air quality, and the environmental burden of disease — form the “Environmental Health” (EH) index, which accounts for half of the overall EPI. The other half is an “Ecosystem Vitality” (EV) index that includes water quality and availability, regional air pollution (for its ecological effects), biodiversity, productivity of natural resources, and climate change.

The U.S. scored 81 on the overall EPI, putting it 39th out of 149 countries. The U.S. scored worse than such environmental edens as Russia, Albania, Croatia, and the Dominican Republic, and barely edged out Cuba, Mexico, and Poland. That alone gives you an idea of the EPI’s tenuous relationship to the real environment. But let’s dig into the numbers a bit deeper to see how the Yale scientists played their game of let’s pretend.

Two words: climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions account for half of the Ecosystem Vitality score and 25 percent of the overall EPI score. The U.S. scored 56 out of 100 on climate change, and that is the main reason for America’s low overall EPI. If you look only at the Environmental Health index — in other words, the factors that directly affect people’s health — the U.S. scored 98.5 out of 100. In fact, virtually all the world’s wealthy countries scored above 95 on this measure.While the Yale researchers style their EPI as a valid measure of a country’s overall environmental performance, only one factor — greenhouse gas emissions — accounts for most of the variation in developed countries’ EPI scores.

Yale’s EPI is misleading in other ways. For example, ozone levels account for 3.75 percent of the overall EPI index score. But according to Yale’s report, the score was based on data for 2000 rather than current data. Ozone has dropped considerably in the U.S. since 2000. Fifty-four percent of the nation violated the federal eight-hour ozone standard in 2000. But the violation rate had dropped to 15 percent by the end of 2006. The average number of days per year exceeding the eight-hour standard declined 65 percent over the same period.

In any case, the ozone score isn’t even based on measured values, but on the output of a global atmospheric chemistry model whose predictions have little relationship to actual ozone levels across the country. U.S. air quality is among the best in the world. Nevertheless, in a New York Times story, one of the Yale researchers claimed that the U.S. “is at the bottom of the world right now” on regional smog.

The EPI’s air quality score also includes sulfur dioxide (SO2). But the score is based on SO2 emissions per unit of populated land (which doesn’t appear to be defined in the report), rather than on actual SO2 levels in the air. The U.S. scores poorly here (88 vs. 100 for most countries) even though U.S. SO2 levels are only a fraction of the federal health standard virtually everywhere in the U.S.

Even on its own terms, the EPI’s climate score is incoherent. It is based on three equally weighted factors: CO2 emissions per capita, CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generation, and industrial carbon intensity. But for climate change, only the first of these three matters. The other two are subsets of the first and vary from country to country based on their particular energy mix, wealth, and technological advancement. The result is that some countries with high CO2 emissions per capita nevertheless get a good score on climate change, while some countries with low CO2 per capita get a poor score.

For example, Canada’s CO2 per capita (23.1 tons per year) is similar to that of the U.S. (24.9 tons per year), but Canada’s climate index score is 69.3 vs. 56.1 for the U.S. Thus, even though Canada and the U.S. have similar per capita CO2 emissions — and therefore similar per-capita impacts on the Earth’s climate — Canada’s better climate score adds 3.3 points to its overall EPI relative to the U.S. If the U.S. got the same climate score as Canada, it would move from an EPI rank of 39 up to 23. On the other hand, China has relatively low CO2 emissions per capita — only 5.7 tons per year — but its climate index score is only 53, because of its relatively high industrial carbon intensity and high CO2 emissions per unit of electricity.

Yale’s EPI doesn’t tell you much about countries’ real environmental quality. But it does show that you can manufacture just about any results you want through shrewd analytical choices and assumptions.



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, January 24, 2008


I reprint the attack below (from the Greenie "Grist" site) followed by some comments from various sources
Unstoppable disinformation every 15 minutes from Fred Singer

by Joseph Romm

So Kansas state House member Larry Powell has sent a copy of Fred Singer's lame denier treatise, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, to every Kansas legislator. Of course, he sent one to Governor Sebelius, who denied a permit for two large coal-fired power plants in his home county. Since I've been blogging regularly on Kansas, Kansas reporter Sarah Kessinger called me Friday for my opinion on Singer's book and what legislators should do to become informed on climate. The book has been widely debunked -- see this post on RealClimate.

The most absurd thing about the book is that ... wait for it ... the Earth wasn't actually in a warm trend -- unstoppable or otherwise -- 1500 years ago! (Yes, during the Medieval Warm Period, parts of the earth were a bit warmer, but that peaked [below current temperatures] 1,000 years ago.) I thought the reporter would like that fact:
"I don't think there's anybody in the scientific community who takes Fred Singer seriously," said Joseph Romm, a Washington scientist and author. Romm said the 1,500-year cycle theory isn't possible considering the earth wasn't in a warming trend 1,500 years ago.

Duh! I mean, seriously: Every book contains at least a few small errors, but most real scientists, heck, even most global warming deniers try to avoid putting egregious factual mistakes in the title of the book. That is a pretty good sign you can skip the contents.

An even better reason to skip the book: in 1998, coauthor Fred Singer testified to Congress that "the climate is not warming," and as recently as November 2003, he wrote in the Financial Times:
The irony is that there is no convincing evidence that the global climate is actually warming.

I kid you not. So four years ago, Singer said the scientific evidence of warming was not compelling. By 2007, he was publishing a book saying the science shows we are in a natural warming cycle. Why, why, why, traditional media, do you keep quoting someone who just keeps making stuff up and contradicting himself as he goes along?deven for the tobacco industry: For example, here is the link to a memo in which an official from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution solicits $20,000 from the Tobacco Institute for the preparation of a "research" paper challenging the health effects of second-hand smoke, and suggesting that Dr. Singer be retained to write the report. Here is the link to a letter thanking the Tobacco Institute for $20,000 intended "to support our research and education projects." Here is a research paper, just as described in the earlier memo, with Dr. Singer's name as the author. And here is another Tobacco Institute memo, reporting on Dr. Singer's appearance with two Congressional Representatives releasing the paper to the media.

That is from DeSmogBlog. Here is more. True, working for organizations that take money from ExxonMobil doesn't mean all of your "research" is flawed -- but the fact that all of your research is obviously flawed, and that you'll change positions 180ø if it suits your funders' arguments, does suggest your core beliefs are not based on fact and that you are ... let's be kind and say Romney-esque.

Anyway, I have a theory that Singer's unending and unstoppable 15 minutes of media fame is tied to the well-known 15-minute sun-spot cycle -- wherein every 15 minutes or so, somebody looks up and spots the sun, is temporarily blinded, and loses their cognitive ability to separate fact from nonsense. I challenge anyone to refute that theory without using any facts.

The reporter did ask me what I would suggest legislators read. Hmm. What synthesizing document or summary should policymakers read? Tough one.
If legislators want to inform themselves about global warming, Romm said, they should start by reading the U.N. panel's reports, which have been written specifically for legislators. He also suggests they talk with peer-reviewed climate scientists. "There is no escape from global warming, so even in the middle of the country in places like Kansas, it's important for people to take the time to become informed," Romm said. "Because in 10 to 20 years, as consequences become more obvious, it will become a top issue."

I probably said, "the top issue" (it's already "a" top issue), but a good story nonetheless.

1). Grist violates its own criteria for what qualifies a scientist to comment on climate issues! The author of this article, Grist's Joseph Romm, (a Senior Fellow at the very liberal and well-funded Center for American) mock's Singer's scientific credentials. But a post from Climate Resistance says Romm may be more accurately described as a "pundit, a policy maker, a political technology advisor." See here. It appears Romm would not meet Grist correspondent Andrew Dessler's definition of someone qualified to have an opinion on climate change issues. Grist is contradicting itself! (Note, according to Dessler, only a about 150-200 scientists in the world are actually qualified to have an opinion on climate issues and guess what, they all happen to be affiliated with the UN. Dessler also does not believe TV meteorologists are qualified, unless they agree with his brand of climate alarm). For a complete debunking of critiques of the Senate `Consensus Busters' Report, see Marc Morano's January 10, 2007 Letter to New York Times.

2). Romm attempts to discredit Singer because "the Earth wasn't actually in a warm trend -- unstoppable or otherwise -- 1500 years ago!" Romm resurrects the canard that the Medieval Warm Period was not global and claims (a la Mann's Hockey Stick") that the Medieval Warm Period was much cooler than today. This assertion ignores multiple peer-reviewed studies showing the Medieval Warm Period warmer than today, including two papers in just the past 6 months! See:
2a). A November 2007 study published in Energy & Environment found the Medieval Warm Period "0.3C warmer than 20th century" The study was authored by C. Loehle and titled "A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies." (See here & here) and:

2b). A June 29, 2007 scientific analysis by Gerd Burger of Berlin's Institute of Meteorology in the peer-reviewed Science Magazine challenged a previously touted study claiming the 20th century had been unusually warm. Excerpt: "Burger argues that [the 2006 temperature analysis by] Osborn and Briffa did not apply the appropriate statistical tests that link the proxy records to observational data, and as such, Osborn and Briffa did not properly quantify the statistical uncertainties in their analyses. Burger repeated all analyses with the appropriate adjustments and concluded "As a result, the `highly significant' occurrences of positive anomalies during the 20th century disappear." (See here)

3) Romm's ignores that Singer's 1500 year cycle is not exactly every 1500 years, but approximately 1500 give or take 500 or more. This point is very clearly laid out in the book. Romm knows this, but chooses to spin for cheap propaganda points.

4) Romm ignores the overwhelmingly evidence. Singer and Dennis Avery's book is based on more than 100 scientific studies with more than 300 co-authors revealing how solar activity is linked to the Earth's natural temperature cycles. It is not just a theory or speculation, but passed on decades of peer-reviewed science.

5) Romm mocks Singer as having no credibility in the science community. A few notes on Dr. Singer: He is an atmospheric physicist and was former director the US Weather Satellite Service, past vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere and the co-author of the recent peer-reviewed paper with Climatologist Dr. John Christy and climate scientist Dr. David Douglass in the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society. The December 2007 study found (See here) "The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming." Romm's failure to mention Singer's peer-reviewed work makes a mockery out of his claim that political leaders should only "talk with peer-reviewed climate scientists." For more on Singer's credentials see here

It is also worthwhile pointing out that Singer wrote a paper with Revelle -- whom Gore cites, in "An Inconvenient Truth" (film/book), as an inspiration. The Gore team then tried to get that paper suppressed but failed. And Singer had to file a lawsuit (which was successful) against the party involved. See here.

6) Romm brings up the old silliness about industry funding. Once again, completely ignoring that it is the proponents of climate fear who have monumental funding advantages over skeptical scientists. (See this Senate funding report here) Plus, Romm is a Senior Fellow at the very liberal and well-funded Center for American Progress. Also note, just this week it was announced that the "Swedes are paying $590,000 to study cow burp greenhouse emissions." This grant was to study just 20 cows or $29,500 per cow! See here

7). Is Romm also one of those Holocene Deniers? Even the Medieval Warm Period can't compare to the Holocene Maximum. See below:

Note: BP stand for Before the Present. Perhaps Romm should stickto his theories about how bridge collapses are linked to global warming.

8). This may help explain why Romm is so upset: "GOP state lawmakers distribute Singer's book to battle 'solutions' to warming". Excerpt: Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, is one of the lawmakers who signed on to the letter and helped distribute the book, saying he wanted to try to provide a more balanced view on global warming.."I think it's gotten to be a political issue, instead of really looking at the scientific facts behind it," Alons said.He points to other warming trends in the Earth's history, and said man's efforts to control it are futile."I think it's always a good direction if we're going to reduce pollution as such and emissions, and that type of thing. But in my view, the carbon dioxide is really not a pollutant. It's a fertilizer for plants," Alons said.

First Evidence Of Under-ice Volcanic Eruption In Antarctica

How odd that the bit of the Antarctic that is melting should have a volcano under it!

The first evidence of a volcanic eruption from beneath Antarctica's most rapidly changing ice sheet has been reported. The volcano on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet erupted 2000 years ago (325BC) and remains active. The subglacial volcano has a 'volcanic explosion index' of around 3-4. Heat from the volcano creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea. Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is showing rapid change and BAS scientists are part of an international research effort to understand this change.

Using airborne ice-sounding radar, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) discovered a layer of ash produced by a 'subglacial' volcano. It extends across an area larger than Wales. Lead author* Hugh Corr of the BAS says, "The discovery of a 'subglacial' volcanic eruption from beneath the Antarctic ice sheet is unique in itself. But our techniques also allow us to put a date on the eruption, determine how powerful it was and map out the area where ash fell. We believe this was the biggest eruption in Antarctica during the last 10,000 years. It blew a substantial hole in the ice sheet, and generated a plume of ash and gas that rose around 12 km into air."

The discovery is another vital piece of evidence that will help determine the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and refine predictions of future sea-level rise. Glaciers are like massive rivers of ice that flow towards the coast and discharge icebergs into the sea.

Co-author Professor David Vaughan (BAS) says,"This eruption occurred close to Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The flow of this glacier towards the coast has speeded up in recent decades and it may be possible that heat from the volcano has caused some of that acceleration. However, it cannot explain the more widespread thinning of West Antarctic glaciers that together are contributing nearly 0.2mm per year to sea-level rise. This wider change most probably has its origin in warming ocean waters."

The volcano is located beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet in the Hudson Mountains at latitude 74.6°South, longitude 97°West. Volcanoes are an important component of the Antarctic region. They formed in diverse tectonic settings, mainly as a result of mantle plumes acting on the stationary Antarctic plate. The region also includes amongst the world's best examples of a long-lived continental margin arc (Antarctic Peninsula), a very young marginal basin (Bransfield Strait) and an oceanic island arc (South Sandwich Islands). Many extinct volcanoes are very well preserved and others are still active (e.g. Deception Island, Mount Erebus, and the South Sandwich Islands).

Volcanic eruptions were common during the past 25 million years, and coincided with the great period of climatic deterioration that resulted in the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. Many of the volcanoes show the effects of interaction with ice. BAS has played a major role in describing these effects and modelling their influences on the resulting volcanic sequences. It is important to describe and understand these interactions in geologically recent times in order to predict future configurations of the ice sheet and its role in the global system.

*The paper 'A recent volcanic eruption beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet' by Hugh F Corr and David G Vaughan is published in the February edition of Nature Geosciences (online).



The ice caps hold a special place in the cold hearts of the global warming advocates who are all too quick to insist that our ice caps are currently melting at an unprecedented rate. We suspect that they will not be particularly thrilled to learn that a paper has just appeared in Geophysical Research Letters entitled "A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850."

The article is by scientists with the British Antarctic Survey and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada; the work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation. In case you think that the Desert Research Institute in Nevada would have little interest in Antarctica, recall from geography classes you've had that Antarctica receives little precipitation and is regarded by climatologists as a frozen desert.


PESKY! Warm seas may mean fewer hurricanes

Following in the footsteps of an earlier study, government scientists on Tuesday said warmer oceans should translate to fewer Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States. The reason: As sea surface temperatures warm globally, sustained vertical wind shear increases. Wind shear makes it difficult for storms to form and grow. "Using data extending back to the middle 19th century, we found a gentle decrease in the trend of U.S. landfalling hurricanes when the global ocean is warmed up," Chunzai Wang, a physical oceanographer and climate scientist with NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, said in a prepared statement.

Sang-Ki Lee, of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami, worked with Wang on the study. Their findings are to be published on Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The study found that the warming of the Pacific and Indian oceans plays an important role in determining hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

A study released in December found that as the Atlantic basin becomes hotter, hurricane intensity likely won't increase and might even deflate somewhat. That study found that ocean's heat acts to stabilize the upper atmosphere, which, in turn, hurts a storm's ability to build. It was conducted by Gabriel Vecchi, a NOAA research oceanographer and Brian Soden, an associate professor of oceanography at the University of Miami.

Several other studies have asserted that global warming is steadily increasing the intensity, duration and number of tropical systems. For instance, Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found the combined power of Atlantic hurricanes has more than doubled since 1970.

Regarding the most recent study, Wang said vertical wind shear is not the only factor that determines Atlantic hurricane activity, but noted it is an important one. Other factors include atmospheric humidity, sea level pressure, and sea surface temperature, he said.

Observations from 1854 to 2006 show almost all the world's oceans have warmed, particularly in large areas of the tropical regions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, the study found. That warming has increased vertical wind shear in the Atlantic and suppressed hurricane activity, the NOAA study found.



The United States warned the European Union yesterday against using climate change as a pretext for protectionism, setting the stage for trans-Atlantic tension over a new package of EU measures to combat global warming. The pointed comments by the US trade representative, Susan Schwab, after talks in Brussels, came just two days before the European Commission introduced its proposals for cutting EU emissions at least 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. "We have been dismayed at a variety of suggestions where we have seen the climate and the environment being used as an excuse to close markets," Schwab said after discussions with Peter Mandelson, her European counterpart.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has called for a carbon tax on imports to ensure that European companies that need to comply with tough environmental rules are not undercut by foreign competitors whose governments are not capping carbon emissions.

EU officials were not expected to propose such a measure tomorrow but were expected to keep alive the possibility of a so-called border tax to keep European industries competitive. The EU pledge to protect European industry by 2011 at the latest will be aimed at assuaging powerful lobby groups from sectors like steel and aluminum manufacturing, which say they are facing higher costs than their overseas competitors because of the EU's determination to lead the world in climate protection.

Even so, EU officials hope to be able to avoid the issue, not least because any European border tax could be challenged at the World Trade Organization. Instead, EU officials hope that other developed countries like the United States, which did not sign the Kyoto climate treaty, will join an international treaty by the end of the decade, making protectionist measures unnecessary.

Measures other than the border tax that are under discussion by EU officials and diplomats in Brussels include granting greater numbers of free pollution permits than planned. Officials say they believe such a method would not break world trade rules. The EU also could condone global agreements within sectors like steel and cement, rather than between nations. In that scenario, industries worldwide in a particular manufacturing sector would agree to cut their pollution by a certain amount, in theory leveling the competitive playing field.

EU officials say they are optimistic about a global climate accord after the recent meeting of nearly 200 nations in Bali, Indonesia, where agreement was reached on laying out a plan for negotiations that could produce a climate treaty by 2009. But the Bali Action Plan faces high hurdles, including the persistently thorny problem of convincing the United States to take action even if fast-developing countries like China, which insists on developments getting higher priority than emissions curbs, fail to make similar pledges.

Schwab also took issue with Europe's attitude toward genetically modified foods, which she described as "perfectly safe." She singled out France's decision to go slowly on cultivation of genetically modified corn.



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, January 23, 2008


Recession should push US businesses to cut their energy use and invest more in renewable energy, a senior US bureaucrat says. But Andy Karsner, assistant secretary in the US Department of Energy, said his country was highly unlikely to follow Australia's example and sign the Kyoto Protocol no matter who went on to win the race for the White House. In an interview with BusinessDay during his Australian tour, Mr Karsner said US businesses were preparing for a recession and looking for ways to cut the cost of their operations as Wall Street had its fourth consecutive day of falls on Friday. "There are always the unintended consequences of an event this macro, but a recession will affect the price signal of carbon and affect the planning," Mr Karsner said.

"If people are wanting to bank on price stability to take away an increasing cost that they have in operation and energy, and to take away the volatile characteristics of energy and the price itself, then they are going to invest more and invest faster in energy efficiency and renewables. That is fuelling our unprecedented growth rates right now," he said.

He said the presidential candidates on both sides of politics had been light on detail in terms of energy policy. "That is probably because of where they are in the primaries," he said. "Having said that, all the candidates are fiercely competing on who loves renewable energy more, who's greener. I try to remind people, no matter what party the candidates come from, to force out a discussion on the more challenging aspects. We need them to rise to the leadership so they can tackle the serious part of the challenge, not just the easy parts."

The Democratic candidates have all committed to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies and require vehicles to be more fuel efficient. Illinois senator Barack Obama has said he is open to the idea of nuclear being part of the energy mix. The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, New York senator Hillary Clinton, is "agnostic" on the issue.

Senator Obama has angered environmentalists by supporting the development of coal-based liquid fuels, but has been accused of flip-flopping on the issue by softening his stance. He says he would consider banning new coal-fired power stations, while Senator Clinton, by contrast, supports phased-in carbon capture and storage in new coal plants.

On the other side of the political divide the Republicans are not as willing to impose restrictions on the oil and coal industries. Arizona senator John McCain is one of the greener Republican candidates and has broken ranks with some of his colleagues in opposing some oil and gas drilling projects. Senator McCain and Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, are the only Republican candidates to support an US cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Huckabee, who has a large following among the evangelical Christian community, has been quoted as saying action on climate change is a moral issue. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and another frontrunner for the Republican nomination, has been critical of big renewable energy projects.

Mr Karsner said the fact the US was the only developed country not to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol had not been made a political issue. "I don't imagine any instance of any party of any candidate whereby the Kyoto treaty would be signed and ratified by the US," he said.


The Conspiracy to Deny the Poor Mobility - and Opportunity

Mobility is prosperity-a fact that humans have recognized since the dawn of civilization, when population centers arose next to navigable waterways. Yet this simple fact seems to evade many pundits, environmental activists-and even screenwriters. Screenwriters? Yes. One of the most reprehensible hours in TV history occurred on March 18, 2001-the airing of the fourth episode of "The Lone Gunmen," the short-lived "X-Files" spinoff about three conspiracy-mongering oddballs who conduct their own investigations into government skullduggery-usually through sophisticated computer hacking-which they publish in a newsletter titled, of course, The Lone Gunman.

This one episode involves the covering up-by oil companies, who else?-of a car that runs on water. At the end of the episode, the three Gunmen, after much skulking around, find the car's prototype and test it-and find that it works! However, rather than thwart Big Oil's machinations, the Gunmen decide to keep the car's existence under wraps, lest too many people acquire such an easy and inexpensive form of transportation, which would lead to an environmental catastrophe. Of course, this is functionally the exact same thing that the oil companies did, but it was done not for grubby profit, but to save the poor from themselves. Nice.

That sanctimonious episode was fiction, but art imitated life last week in a way annoyingly reminiscent of it. On January 8, India's Tata Motors unveiled the Nano, the world's cheapest car, which will retail for about $2,500. A new means of transport may be good news for the poor-but don't tell green activists, some of whom are already complaining. "There is this mad rush towards lowering the prices to achieve mass affordability," Anumita Roychoudhury of the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi, told Britain's Observer newspaper. "If vehicle ownership increases very rapidly, we'll have a time bomb ticking away. When you lower the price that drastically, how will you be able to meet the safety and emissions standards?"

On what universe is "mass affordability" of something useful a bad thing? Well, maybe one as crazy as the one of conspiracy that the Lone Gunmen inhabited. Thankfully, most people don't inhabit worlds like that. As the Observer further notes, "These concerns are of little interest to millions of Indians who aspire to owning a car." However, some green activists and pundits do seem to live in such a world-and nothing's going to keep them from telling Indians what's best for them.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reacted to the first news of the Nano's planned introduction with a hysterical call of "No, No, No, Don't Follow Us"-us being the industrialized West and the place to not follow into being access to one's own wheels. "We have no right to tell Indians what cars to make or drive," Friedman admits. "But we can urge them to think hard about following our model, without a real mass transit alternative in place." And how might those alternatives come about? India, he says, "should leapfrog us, not copy us. Just as India went from no phones to 250 million cellphones-skipping costly land lines and ending up with, in many ways, a better and cheaper phone system than we have-it should try the same with mass transit."

Friedman can urge away all he wants, but the policy he proposes has little use for moral suasion. Approvingly citing Sunita Narain, direct or New Delhi's Center for Science and Environment, he says that, "India can't ban a $2,500 car, but it can tax it like crazy until it has a mass transit system that can give people another cheap mobility option." Narain told Friedman, apparently with a straight face, "I am not fighting the small car. I am simply asking for many more buses and bus lanes." Taxing something "like crazy" is "not fighting" it? Could even the Lone Gunmen encounter such a conspiracy against simple economic logic as this?

Hopefully people concerned about transport in India-and other developing countries where Tata hopes to eventually export the Nano-will have no truck with such views. Vivek Sharma, a columnist with the Indian business website, says plainly that Friedman and other critics of the Tata Nano are "barking up the wrong tree and some of their arguments are elitist and discriminatory." "The less affluent cannot be denied the safety and comfort of a cheap four-wheeled vehicle, only because the existing infrastructure will come under further strain," says Sharma. "Any move to restrict the number of cars should apply to all vehicles, irrespective of their cost." Regarding safety, Sharma notes that Tata has too much of a reputation to protect cut corners on safety, and that many of the Nano's potential buyers are riding scooters today, which are less safe than any enclosed car.

And, as Barun Mitra of India's Liberty Institute notes, "As more Indians learn to drive, the appreciation of basic road rules and etiquettes will improve, as drivers begin to realize that the purpose of the rules are not to hinder movement, but to facilitate it." Moreover, Mitra notes, greater mobility could help relieve congestion over the long term by allowing lower-density development, and that would encourage the building of new-and upgrading of existing-infrastructure. But that involves building, which the greens hate.


Geologist Velasco asks: Climate change, is it real?

I never was a cineaste. I watch an average of two or three movies a year, almost never rent DVDs and am dependent on watching cooking shows on TV for mindless entertainment. As a result, while every other person on earth had already seen "An Inconvenient Truth", I was able to see it just last week - and only because it was shown in my PhD class. Talk about living under a rock.

So many thoughts swirled in my head at the unfolding of Al Gore's narrative on the inevitable demise of the planet due to global warming. He presented alarming trends that would supposedly result in the melting of the polar ice caps, cataclysmic weather patterns, drought and floods. He said that by 2025, the brunt of the effects of 21st century carbon dioxide emissions would be felt by the inhabitants of the planet. And that unless we did something now, right now, the Philippines would be buried 20 meters under the sea.

I took it all with (no pun intended) a grain of salt. But I will be straightforward in answering this column's title. Yes, the climate is changing, that is true. I will not deny to feeling disturbed by allegations that the decimation of the human race is being caused by the burning of colossal amounts of fossil fuel. However and contrary to what is being driven in the documentary again and again, we have to be cognizant that climate change is a natural phenomenon.

As a geologist, I know that fluctuations in global temperatures are as old as the earth itself. For the past several million years, the pattern of rising temperatures often heralded the onset of a new ice age. It may seem incomprehensible but you can check the science. If the planet gets hotter, it does not mean that the rise will go on and on and cause the planet to self-destruct. If that were the case, we would have been annihilated millions of years ago.

After some time, rising global temperatures actually instigate the earth to go on a self-conserving mode, causing it to cool down. In four thousand years or less, the planet will be covered by sheets of ice and some tropical countries may experience snow for the first time - it's too bad we won't be around to frolic in a winter wonderland.

Another case in point is the fact that the earth was much, much hotter four hundred years ago than it is now, a time known as the Medieval Heat period. Four hundred years ago, there were no cars, no coal-burning factories and no significant sources of carbon dioxide pollution. If global warming is due to the burning of fossil fuel, how come it was hotter four hundred years ago? And how does one explain the cyclical spikes and lags in earth temperatures ever since the world began if human beings are the instigators of global warming?

I could give you all the facts, and we would never see the end of it. Climate change has been a topic of hot debate between the leading scientific minds ever since Al Gore stopped being vice president and became an environmental activist. He is charming and, in the documentary, comes across as sincere, earnest and knowledgeable.

Heck, he even got a Nobel Peace Prize for giving the same presentation thousands of times. There were moments when I almost got carried away by the tone of his voice, his expressions, the lines on his face. His performance was flawless, and I began to understand why he is a successful politician.

Al Gore and his believers, however, are guilty of something. They are guilty, not of willfully perpetuating the greatest hoax in recent times or of insisting that those who do not believe in their cause believe that the earth is flat. I can forgive them of that. As a scientist, what I find unforgivable is their vanity. Yes, they are guilty of vanity. The coverage given to the phenomenon of global warming is an indicator that man believes he is not just a mere speck in an unfathomably large universe but such a significant part of it, that he holds more power over the earth than all the forces of the cosmos combined.

Last decade, the issue was the ozone layer. What did we do? We banned aerosols and chlorofluorocarbons. The issue has died down and recent studies show that the hole in the ozone has gotten smaller. But really, how many percent of that recovery was because we stopped using aqua net? Not much. It truly is a humbling reality check, but you should know that our ozone layer regenerates itself even if we all just used conditioner.

Am I refusing to accept the fact that the planet is indeed getting warmer? Of course not, because the earth is indeed getting warmer - as it has a few hundred times before. Am I refusing to accept the fact that we need to do something about carbon dioxide emissions? Of course not, because indiscriminately burning fossil fuels lowers the quality of our living environment and causes respiratory sicknesses and mars the beauty of a clear night sky with sickening smog.

But to jump to the conclusion that the planet will drown, the weather will go berserk and the earth will turn against us because we release a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is preposterous, extremely alarmist and borders on lunacy.

Our love for the environment should be anchored on understanding that to love the planet means to love the place we live in and, consequently, increasing the quality of the life that we live on our short stay on earth. But to scare ourselves with doomsday scenarios is not only inconvenient but also very unnecessary.


Clouds over global warming

I admit that I'm no science guy, and much less a techie. But precisely because of this, the dummies, short for the rest of humanity and me, expect our scientists and intellectuals to get their act together and stop confusing us. Doom-watching is not a favorite pastime for many. What is it really? Are we supposed to be alarmed by an impending calamity? Why this all-of-a-sudden, hysterical blame on man as cause of this coming catastrophe? It's like our emitting carbon is now a sin! Or are you, the brighties, supposed to study more, gathering more data, sifting through them, analyzing, comparing, discussing among your clever selves to come out with more educated and realistic consensus?

It's not good that the scientific debate be selective and tilted to favor the alarmists. We have had enough doomsday seers through the years, and hardly any of them turned out to be prophetic. I still remember the population explosion scare. The only thing that exploded was their wild extrapolations. In fact, in many places, especially in the developed countries, what we have is depopulation.

To date, the global warming doomsayers have made a number of false and inconsistent claims. Some forecasters said that the year 2007 would be the hottest so far. It turned out not to be so. The lowering and rising of ice levels in the Arctic and Antarctica are at best inconclusive. We should not fuss about them. I read somewhere that before Al Gore got his Nobel Peace Prize, the English high court ruled that his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, could not be shown in schools without teachers providing additional materials to correct nine "significant errors."

Among the errors: that Pacific atolls are being evacuated because of rising sea levels and that polar bears are drowning because they have to swim up to 60 miles to find ice. The court found no evidence to support these claims. So far, most findings are largely speculative, derived from computer-simulated models that hardly match with facts.

It would also be interesting to look into the business aspects of this issue. Those peddling doom are generating lots of moolah due to the scare, and are now into heavy venture capital investing. There's reason to suspect that many scientists are colluding with big business. Also, that this scare is to prime and herd us to some kind of global government.

Making things worse are the inflationary factors infused into the issue by some sectors of the media and a few Church figures. They give their two-cents worth without having a good grasp of the matter.

It seems that some people get riveted to this issue because they would have another battle cry against their favorite culprits-the rich, the powerful, the government, the Establishment, Western world, etc.

In our case, for example, since we are still skirmishing about the population issue, rendering the global warming issue in terrorizing tones would favor those who are for population control. It would relieve the tired ploys of population controllers of such guises as reproductive health, freedom of choice, women's rights, etc. It would certainly expose the evil of bearing carbon-producing babies....

But let's really see whether there's rational and scientific basis for the tempest this issue has spawned. Let's avoid "scientific" stretches used to fuel a world terror.


A Warmist who sees the problems:

Although he abuses George Bush, he too is advocating technological fixes -- such as more use of nukes. He even wants more GM crops!

If there was ever an example of humankind being unable to bear too much reality, it is the current debate on climate change. No reasonable person any longer doubts that the world is heating up or that this change has been triggered by human activity. Aside from a dwindling band that rejects the clear findings of science, everyone accepts that we face an unprecedented challenge. At the same time, there is a pervasive belief that this is a crisis that can be solved by feelgood gestures such as eating organic foods and refusing to fly or installing a wind turbine on the roof

When it comes to deciding what should be done, most people, including the majority of environmentalists, shrink from the discomfort that goes with realistic thinking. George W Bush seems to have been persuaded that climate science is not a left-wing conspiracy to destroy the American economy. Along with the rest of our political leaders, however, he continues to insist there are no limits to growth. As long as we adopt new technologies that are supposedly environment-friendly, such as biofuels, economic expansion can go on as before.

At the other end of the spectrum, greens put their faith in sustainable growth and renewable energy. The root of the environmental crisis, they say - and here they agree with Bush - is our addiction to fossil fuels. If only we switch to wind, wave and solar power, all will be well.

In political terms, Bush and the greens could not be further apart, but they are as one in resisting the most fundamental fact about the environmental crisis, which is that it cannot be resolved without a major reduction in our impact on the Earth. This means curbing the production of greenhouse gases, but here fashionable policies can be self-defeating. The shift to biofuels, led by Bush but which is also underway in other parts of the world involves further destruction of rainforest, a key natural regulator of the climate. Reducing emissions while destroying the planet's natural mechanisms for soaking them up is not a solution. It is a recipe for disaster.

Yet standard green prescriptions are not much better. Many renewables are not as efficient or as eco-friendly as they are made out to be. Unsightly and inefficient wind farms will not enable us to give up fossil fuels, while large-scale hydroelectric power has major environmental costs. Moving over to organic methods of food production can have significant benefits in terms of animal welfare and reducing fuel costs, but it does nothing to stop the devastation of wilderness that goes with expanding farming to feed a swelling human population.

So conventional green nostrums are not all that different from Bush's business-as-usual policies. In each case, the end-result can only be a planet gutted of biodiversity, with humanity exposed to an increasingly hostile environment. To some extent, technology may be able to replace the biosphere that has been destroyed, but, like an obese patient hooked up to an artificial life-support system, we will be living on borrowed time. One day, the machine will stop.

The uncomfortable fact, which is ignored or denied by both ends of the environmental debate, is that an energy-intensive lifestyle of the kind enjoyed in the rich parts of the world cannot be extended to a human population of nine or 10 billion, the level forecast in UN studies for the middle of this century. In terms of resources, human numbers are already unsustainable. Global warming is the flipside of worldwide industrialisation, a side-effect of the dash for growth, and the reserves of oil and natural gas on which industry depends are peaking at just the point when demand for them is rising fast.

Contrary to the greens, there is not the remotest prospect that the world will renounce the use of fossil fuels. Ask any competent energy economist and you will discover that no expansion of renewables can satisfy the demand for energy that is being generated in China and India. Anyway, does anyone really expect the countries getting rich from hydrocarbons - Russia, Iran, Venezuela and the Gulf States - to give them up? As long as there is enough demand, these countries will continue extracting fossil fuels.

The only way forward is to curb the need for fossil fuels, while at the same time, since there is no way of giving them up altogether, making them cleaner. This means making full use of technologies many environmentalists view with superstitious horror. Nuclear energy has well-known problems of security and waste disposal and it is nothing like a universal panacea. Even so, demonising it is conventional green thinking at its delusional worst. Though solar power has potential, no type of renewable energy can replace the dirty fuels of the industrial past.

If we reject the nuclear option, we will inevitably end up going back to coal. There are emerging technologies that can make coal cleaner. That is no reason for turning our back on nuclear, which is already virtually emission-free. A similar reasoning applies to GM crops. Genetic engineering involves a type of human intervention in natural processes whose risks are not yet fully known. But the practical alternative is to carry on with industrial-style agriculture, whose destructive impact is all too clear.

Any feasible remedy for the environmental crisis involves high-tech solutions. The aim should not be to master nature or turn it into a mere resource for humans to exploit, as Bush and the greens, in their different ways, end up doing. Given the legitimate aspirations of people in developing countries, only a high-tech strategy has any chance of reducing the human footprint. But it will also be necessary to breach what has become the ultimate taboo and face up to the reality of population pressure.

Green activists, free-market economists and religious fundamentalists may not seem to have much in common, but they are all agreed there can be no such thing as overpopulation, or at any rate, nothing that can't be solved by better distribution, faster growth or a change in human values.

Actually, the perennially unpopular Rev Thomas Malthus was closer to the truth when, at the end of the 18th century, he argued that population growth would finally overtake food production. Industrial farming was supposed to make famine impossible. But it turns out to have been heavily dependent on cheap oil, and with farmland being lost as a result of the switch to biofuels, limits on food production are re-emerging. Far more than fantastical schemes for renewable energy, we need to ensure that contraception and abortion are freely available everywhere. A world of fewer people would be far better placed to deal with climate change than the heavily overpopulated one we are heading for now.

Despite unstoppable global warming, a humanly liveable world is still worth striving for. But it requires a sustained capacity for realistic thinking, which is not the strong point of the environmental movement. Along with the political classes, greens are in denial. While there is no technical fix for the human condition, intelligent use of technology is indispensable in coping with environmental disruption that is now unavoidable. It would be ironic if, because of their irrational hostility to high-tech solutions, the greens were to end up as much a threat to the environment as George W Bush.



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, January 22, 2008

Message from Viscount Monckton []

Coraggio! My team are quietly working on the very large errors of exaggeration in the IPCC's calculations of climate sensitivity. Even if we can't get our paper published, if our conclusions are objectively true the climate will continue to fail to warm as fast as Hansen (1988) or IPCC (1990) had predicted.

Some excellent recent work by the indefatigable Roger Pielke Jr. has established that the IPCC has had to revise its predictions very sharply downward since 1990. It will have to continue to do so. The world will warm, but very gently, and the additional warmth will be largely beneficial.

Indeed, the only truly alarming prediction of the alarmists - that Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will imminently melt, causing sea level to rise by 20ft - is no longer predicted by the IPCC, which has revised downward its high-end forecast of sea-level rise, from 3ft to less than 2ft, with a best estimate of little more than 1ft, over the whole of the coming century: and, contrary to the daily feeble-minded headlines, the contribution of the two great ice-sheets to that rise will be of the order of two and a half inches over 100 years.

Otherwise, climate will continue to be variable, and every extreme-weather event will be blamed on "global warming", until the cost to taxpayers of the mitigative measures proposed so enthusiastically but so pointlessly by the tax-gobbling and rent-seeking classes so visibly outweighs any conceivable climatic benefit that the voters will no longer tolerate the nonsense.

It will rapidly become evident that, notwithstanding the measures proposed or even adopted in mitigation of "global warming", carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to rise relentlessly, and harmlessly.

Of course, the West will suffer strategic economic damage until the day when the truth dawns on the majority, and much of the climate hysteria is being driven by forces that have long been inimical to the freedom and democracy and sheer bustling success of the West: but, a la larga, as they say in the casino counting-rooms of Puerto Rico, it will all sort itself out.

Kansas locals delve into global warming debate

The article below shows once again how an everyday Joe can have a better grasp of things than a university professor confined inside his own head. And in America, an ordinary Joe can still make a difference.

Too bad the words used in this debate haven't changed, though. Jeff Whitham said the issue boils down to, "do greenhouse gases cause global warming?" Well, implicitly, they must, by definition. Even Fox's Brit Hume, no AGW fan, recently described them as "global warming gases." Words are supposed to assist ideas. Too often they take control. That CO2 causes global warming is a theory, not a definition

Garden City resident Bob Williams learned the magic of dirt from his dad, who was in the seed business. His fascination now has evolved to include Earth science, the environment and now, researching hundreds of topics. His latest obsession -- energy and global warming, in no small part because of the state's denial of Sunflower Electric Power Corp.'s permit request to build two 700-megawatt coal-fired power plants at its Holcomb station.

"I was very upset. I decided I was going to try to understand why. What the reason had been for this permit to be denied," Williams said. "It led me into primary source energy production, and I decided it was something to become impassioned about."

Rod Bremby, secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, rejected permits for the plants in October, citing an attorney general's opinion. The attorney general's opinion, issued in September, said he could deny the permit if a particular emission constitutes air pollution and presents a substantial endangerment to the health of persons or to the environment. In a release, Bremby said, "I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health."

The denial now has given Kansas, especially the southwest corner, a personal stake in a national and international debate on energy, global warming and what the country is doing about both. Those in Finney County might identify with Williams. The community speculated for about a decade about the Sunflower expansion, and its announcement in 2005 brought hope to an economy reeling since a Christmas 2000 fire put the county's second-largest employer at the time, ConAgra Beef Co., out of business. Today, the ConAgra plant still sits empty.

Williams, 59, estimates he has spent 500 hours or more in the last six to eight months, or an average of about three to four hours a day, researching climate and energy issues. Included in his information is the 109-page KDHE report detailing the project, its impact and comments from various organizations. He also has a spreadsheet of the about 640 coal plants in the United States and their emissions, eight of which are in Kansas. Of those Kansas coal plants, Sunflower's 360-megawatt Holcomb plant is the newest and cleanest, he notes.

But it doesn't take sifting through the 60 megabytes worth of Sunflower information on Williams' computer to know the debate on global warming is a controversial one. Questions abound -- the most basic of which is whether man-made activity is contributing to global warming, or if it's natural. Answers also abound and vary wildly based on the potential bias of who is providing the information. Some say global warming is the single greatest challenge of this century. Others say it's the single greatest hoax.

Scientists still disagree. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works issued a release Dec. 20, 2007, that said "more than 400 scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced objections to major aspects of the so-called 'consensus' on global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore."

The United Nations' IPCC, a scientific intergovernmental body, often is cited as the authority on climate change. The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change, according to the IPCC Web site. But Williams didn't need a scientific intergovernmental body to come to his own conclusion. "I believe there's a lot of overreaction," Williams said. "People have really stirred this debate up and been successful about promoting a certain point of view. "The global warming issue is being treated as a catastrophic and eminent threat. You don't have to get very far into researching to find there are scientists out there that take a much more moderate viewpoint about it and the future of our planet."

Bob Kreutzer, who worked to promote the expansion as a part of Kansans for Affordable Energy, said he hasn't researched the issue, but the global warming debate reminds him of Michael Crichton's novel "State of Fear." The book describes the theory that someone can take a particular piece of information and extend it anyway one wished to get a particular outcome, he said. Kreutzer said the global warming debate seems to be "a combination of science and politics, and they make kind of strange bedfellows." "There are large numbers of scientists on both sides of this discussion so it's far from consensus, so it has to be far from scientific fact," Kreutzer said.

He said he questions whether "mankind can reach up there and change the weather. Some say we've always had global warming and global cooling. We've always been in a pattern, and we may or may not understand what that pattern is." Of the global warming debate and how Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," has played a part, Kreutzer said, "I think it has been the main impetus that moved this from a small voice into an international situation. The fact there can be awareness is good. The fact that you can take bits and pieces of information and create a whole new science and a whole new way is disturbing to me."

Williams said he believes there has to be some middle ground, and it's not going to come in the form of cutting off a reliable, affordable source of electricity in coal-burning power plants. One of his ideas is to create a reasonable regulation for carbon dioxide emissions and give existing coal plants a reasonable amount of time in which to comply. "Man with ingenuity and an open mind can solve all the problems we've created," he said.

State Rep. Jeff Whitham, R-Garden City, said he has read a book on the issue of climate change, nearly a dozen articles as well as unverified reports on the Internet, trying to understand the various sides. He said the issue boils down to, "do greenhouse gases cause global warming?" "I don't think we know," Whitham said. "To make the significant decision to build no more coal plants with no more proof than we have about the cause of global warming" seems off, he said. "My concern as I look around and in trying to figure out what's occurring is Sunflower has to have additional power generation to meet the growing demand of businesses and residents in its service area," Whitham said. He said that most agree that wind power will be part of an energy policy, but it's more expensive than coal-generated power and electric rates should be kept in check.

To reasonably meet the country's energy demands, Kreutzer said, all forms need to be included in the mix, from renewable energy in wind to coal, natural gas and nuclear power. "I really believe we need to use all of those resources to optimize the impact on generating cost and availability," he said.

Sunflower spokesman Steve Miller said the cooperative is in the business of producing electricity, not debating climate change. He said Sunflower invested millions of dollars into the denied air permit and worked to meet or exceed all of the requirements and is going to implement the most affordable and reliable technology for its customers. If the United States bans coal-fired plants, but still has 1/3 of all the world's coal, Miller suggests the coal would be mined and sent to countries like China, which has fewer controls on emissions. "So we'll have all the pollution, and none of the jobs or the investment in the community. It doesn't make sense that that should be our policy choice," he said.

Meanwhile, Sunflower's $3.6 billion expansion project sits in the hands of the Kansas Supreme Court and perhaps, the Kansas Legislature, which is in the process of drafting bill language regarding the state's energy policy. Spring is the soonest the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to take up Sunflower's case, Miller said.


And Now, A Bear Market In Oil

A key Democrat wants the polar bear to be declared an endangered species to block offshore oil development in Alaska. The only thing endangered by drilling there is our dependence on foreign oil.

Energy independence rivals weather as the thing everybody talks about but nobody does anything about. Particularly Democrats. President Bush, recently seen asking the Saudis to increase their oil production, is at least trying to do something. Despite signs that polar bears are thriving, photos of them stranded on ice floes are the norm.

His administration plans on Feb. 6 to sell oil drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea, an area off the Northwest coast of Alaska. The Chukchi Sea is believed to contain 15 billion barrels of badly needed oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But it's also home to polar bears, and Rep. Ed Markey says "we shouldn't be selling the drilling rights in this important polar bear habitat before deciding how we are going to protect them." The Massachusetts Democrat is chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

He charges that the Interior Department, specifically the Fish and Wildlife Service, is dragging its feet on a request to declare the polar endangered under the Endangered Species Act because of melting polar ice due to global warming.

If oil and gas development in the Chukchi Sea is allowed, Markey claims, "we will be accelerating the day when the polar bear will be extinct."

The alleged harm to local wildlife is what has blocked oil and gas development in the frozen tundra of a small portion of the nearby Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Never mind that three decades of oil production, more than 15 billion barrels, have not rendered the caribou extinct. In fact, they are thriving.

Randall Luthi, director of the Minerals Management Service, which is conducting the oil lease sales, testified at a hearing Thursday that the bear is already adequately protected against harm from oil and gas development under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The lease sales include provisions to mitigate any impact on the bear population, he said.

We suspect Markey and his brethren aren't really interested in that. What they're interested in is shutting down domestic energy production at the same time they give lip service to energy independence. They will use every bogus argument, including global warming and endangered polar bears, to accomplish that.

On Jan. 9, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall postponed a decision on listing the polar bear as endangered. "It's not just making the decision," he said, "it's making it clear and why." More time is needed to examine thousands of comments on the issue, he concluded.

Some of those comments are from Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist with the government of Nunavut, a territory in Canada. According to Taylor and contrary to greenie hype, climate change, particularly in the Arctic, is not pushing bears to the brink of extinction. They have and will continue to adapt to their environment. In a 12-page report to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Taylor stated: "No evidence exists that suggests that both bears and the conservation systems that regulate them will not adapt and respond to the new conditions." Taylor emphasized polar bears' adaptability, saying they evolved from grizzlies about 250,000 years ago and developed as a distinct species 125,000 years ago when natural climate change occurred.

Writing in the Toronto Star recently, Taylor opined: "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or are increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

The current population of polar bears is said to be "dwindling" at 22,000 to 25,000. A half-century ago, before SUVs doomed the planet, polar bears numbered only 8,000 to 10,000, according to science writer Theo Richel. They, too, seem to be thriving.

Taylor says that "it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria." It's even sillier to base our energy policy on it.


Environmental control

In the very near future, environmentally conscious Americans may have to ask themselves if individual and economic freedom matters. Even those who accept the apocalyptic narrative of global warming may wonder if government should be permitted to dictate personal behavior and individual choice. How many mandates are enough? How many coercive policies are acceptable?

Then again, maybe any government intrusion is tolerable as long as the cause is laudable. After all, what is one to make of the newest travesty that the California government has inflicted on its oppressed citizens? Next year, state government will likely take over "emergency" powers to control individual thermostats in many houses via a radio-controlled device. Even if you happen to ride a bike to work, compost religiously, recycle and offer carbon dispensations to the altar of Mother Earth, California government - or, more precisely, some pinheads in the energy commission - will still dictate what level of power is acceptable in your abode.

It's been called Orwellian. It is. And the rationalization offered by good-intentioned supporters of these crass controls often goes like this: "Yes, we believe in personal freedom . . . except when it comes to global warming. This is a crisis." Crisis - or the "endless series of hobgoblins," as H.L. Mencken put it - is typically the justification to expand power by any means necessary. It's similar to the rhetoric liberals accuse George Bush of abusing. If you don't know what I mean, try substituting the word "terrorism" for "global warming" when you make the case for CAFE standards that will put you behind the wheel of a fiberglass orb with a lawnmower engine.

Meanwhile, as the market works hard to meet the demand of consumers who want more efficiency, new energies and smart solutions, government uses global warming as a means to further silly ideas - all the time disregarding economic realities and undermining the spirit of the Constitution. Take, for instance, the massive energy bill recently passed by Congress and signed by the president. Brimming with subsidies for flawed energies like ethanol, it also bans the perfectly harmless incandescent light bulb by 2014. The federal government has determined that fluorescent light bulbs are more efficient and a smarter choice for consumers.

Funny, there was a time consumers were allowed to make those decisions for themselves. Now, corporations are free to ignore upgrades or unanticipated technologies while consumers have no choice but to pay $3 a pop for the everlasting gobstopper of light bulbs. And what, one wonders, happens if we find out those fluorescent light bulbs aren't all that was promised? Too bad, I guess.

There is more needless meddling in the works. Nearly every presidential candidate promises "bold" initiatives in the area of energy, which should send shivers down our collective spine. Centralized planning on this scale historically offers nothing more than piecemeal solutions, counterproductive schemes, waste and corruption.

But this is about the environment. So back to my original question: Where is the line? Is there a line anymore? If light bulb bans and government-controlled thermostats are acceptable, why not the rationing of gas? Why not "manage" the times Americans vacation abroad? Why not dictate how many miles a person can live from his or her job? Why not decree that we all use public transportation? Why not mandate that businesses use teleconferencing instead of attending those conventions in the Bahamas or Las Vegas? Why are you living in such a large house? Do you really need all that space?

If freedom doesn't matter, let's do this thing the right way. If it does, let's - at the very least - include the idea in the discussion.


I love plastic bags

Comment from Australia

Is anyone else irritated by the teenage lass at the supermarket showing her disdain when you opt for a free plastic bag over her suggestion of a purchased green bag to ferry home your groceries? Or is the lack of intellectual rigour in the whole debate about plastic bag use annoying you? Of course, it is politically correct not to like them; to front at the shops with a handbag full of crisp green or red or yellow or purple bags to carry your purchases. And it's politically incorrect to argue what I'm about to do here: that perhaps plastic bags might not be the environmental bogie we claim.

But in the absence of cold, hard facts about how people are using plastic bags, and what alternatives they are using to replace them, people who choose to use them should be left alone. And certainly not made to feel bad by someone trying to shame them into buying another green bag.

New Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who his friends would say had a lack-lustre election campaign, hasn't helped the debate by rushing in and demanding all sorts of things. Especially since he is still to receive the report that reviews options to reduce plastic bag litter from a working group set up last year by environment ministers. But until that report brings down a stronger case, those looking down their noses at their neighbours using the bags should read the Productivity Commission's report on the issue. It, in short, suggests policy makers should examine whether other options - such as tougher anti-litter laws - would be more effective than banning plastic bags.

It does this in a weighty report that looks at all sides of the argument. It says that while plastic-bag litter could injure marine wildlife, claims at least 100,000 animals are killed each year are not supported by evidence. It says research commissioned by the Australian Government shows only 0.8 per cent of plastic bags become litter, that plastic bags account for only 2 per cent of all litter items, and about 2 per cent of annual expenditure on cleaning up litter is attributable to plastic bags. Given that, it is fair to ask why asking for a plastic bag at a supermarket now appears a more heinous crime than throwing a cigarette butt out the window of a moving car or dumping picnic wrappers at the beach. And if plastic bags represent only 2 per cent of all litter items, why are they getting all the attention over the other 98 per cent?

Back to the Productivity Commission report, which finds that smaller retailers have signalled they would switch to paper bags if a ban was imposed on plastic bags. But this is what the commission says: "Again, this could lead to unintended environmental costs. For example, the greenhouse gases emitted in producing a paper bag have been estimated to be around five times greater than those from producing a plastic bag."

The issue of what people use instead of plastic bags has been raised elsewhere, too, with suggestions the reduction in use of plastic bags has led to an increase in kitchen tidy bags and bin liners - which use much heavier plastics. That's relevant given some research suggests two-thirds of all plastic bags taken from supermarkets are being used for kitchen rubbish. Those who don't use them in kitchen rubbish could be risking the ire of the water commissioner if they're hosing out their bin too often.

The Productivity Commission makes many other points: that consumers want them or wouldn't use about 4 billion of them each year; that a ban could cost retailers; and that any ban would need to include exemptions on health grounds, to pack meat, for example. The commission closed its report suggesting an investigation into the environmental impacts of plastic-bag litter and consideration of why the big reduction in bag use in recent years had not translated into an environmental improvement.

Banning plastic bags or introducing a tax on them might make Garrett feel warm and fuzzy, but that's not the best way to move forward on policy. What he needs to do is wait until he receives a report from environment ministers, probably in April, investigate those areas suggested by the Productivity Commission and put forward a plan based on facts, not rhetoric. No one doubts plastic bags cause environmental damage - but there are usually two sides to every story. As politically incorrect as it may sound, the bags might not be deserving of the bad wrap they're getting.



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, January 21, 2008


I think that this is basically nonsense. Food GLUTS will remain the problem, as they have for many decades. But it's an interesting bit of backlash. Sometimes you need one bit of nonsense to counteract another -- as we have seen with the revival of nuclear power as an "answer" to so-called global warming

A WORSENING global food shortage is a problem far more urgent than climate change, top Australian scientists have warned. The Australian Science Media Centre briefing heard why prices for some staple foods had risen by as much as 60 per cent in the past year, and how dramatic price rises are expected to sweep across all staples in the near future.

Executive director of the Australian Farm Institute Mick Keogh said dairy products, grain and poultry had seen the strongest price rises in recent months. Beef and lamb were forecast to follow, with nationwide livestock shortages taking the average price for a cow from $700 a head 12 months ago to $1400 a head going into autumn.

Key speaker at the national science briefing Professor Julian Cribb said the security of our food supply is "the global scientific challenge of our time". The problem was more urgent even than climate change, said Professor Cribb, from the University of Technology in Sydney, because it will get us first . . . through famine and war. "By 2050 we will have to feed the equivalent of 13 billion people at today's levels of nutrition," he said. "This situation brings with it the very real possibility of regional and global instability. Investment in global food stability is now defence spending and requires proportionate priority."

A "knowledge drought" - the lack of innovation to address farm productivity challenges - had added to the crisis, Professor Cribb said. He called for a massive increase in public investment in agricultural research and development.

Farmers face challenges posed by drought, climate change, rising oil prices, erosion and nutrient loss combined with more demand for food stocks and biofuels. Global grain stocks have fallen to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1960, while Australia's sheep flock is at its lowest since the mid-1920s, with about 86 million. In September last year 2007 the Australian Bureau of Statistics found consumers were paying 11.9 per cent more for basic food items than they were two years before. That is almost double the Consumer Price Index rise of 5.9 per cent during the period.


"400 skeptics" report gets into the cartoons

There is a page of anti-Greenie cartoons here with the strip above at the bottom of the page. So the U.S. Senate `Consensus Busters' report of over 400 scientists who recently dissented from the Al Gore/UN IPCC `consensus' on global warming has just crossed a new threshold of cultural impact.

The "Mallard Fillmore" strip appeared on January 13, 2008. The Senate 400 plus report's impact is being felt around the world as it literally redefines the climate change debate. Even readers of the comic pages are now learning about how man-made global warming fears are collapsing.

It is comical that comic strip readers are finding out about the Senate report while viewers of NBC, CBS, ABC, News are all still in the dark, as they have yet to cite the report.

Bear litigation a ploy, say Inuit groups

Environmentalists' lawsuit "is not very constructive, but meant for publicity."

The push by environmentalists to have polar bears declared a threatened species by the U.S. is a cynical ploy that puts politics ahead of science, says Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapariit Kanatami.

Three environmental groups announced last week they would sue the U.S. government for missing its deadline to decide whether polar bears should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. In response, ITK and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference issued a joint press release Jan. 14 that condemns the groups. Simon said environmentalists are "using the polar bear for political reasons against the Bush administration over greenhouse gas emissions, and as Inuit we fundamentally disagree with such tactics."

On Jan. 7 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it needed another 30 days to decide whether polar bears should be classified as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace USA, said "the science confirms that the polar bear is endangered, but the Bush administration continues to downplay the danger of global warming and delay any action to address the issue."

Dale Hall, director of the USFWS, said the agency needs more time because of the enormous complexity of the problem, and the huge public response - they have received more than 500,000 letters on the matter.

Duane Smith, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, said he'd prefer the USFWS spend another month deliberating than make a hasty decision, "which is why this lawsuit is not very constructive, but meant for publicity."

If polar bears receive the "threatened" designation, they would be the first species to receive endangered species protection due to climate change. Such protection would likely prevent U.S. sport hunters from returning home from Nunavut with a polar bear trophy, and end an industry worth about $2 million each year to Inuit guides.

Smith said the polar bear sport hunt provides much-needed money to some of Nunavut's smallest communities, and allows Inuit to keep their culture alive by supporting dog team owners and distributing meat to the community. "We are able to continue with our culture, enjoy the benefits of what we use, and ensure that this is done in a responsible and sustainable manner."

Simon also defended the management regimes used by Nunavut and other jurisdictions to limit the number of bears hunted.

Last year the Nunavut government flip-flopped when it finally acknowledged that polar bears on the western Hudson Bay were declining in number. Canadian Wildlife Service studies had said this much for years, but Nunavut had long sided with local hunters, who continue to insist there are lots of bears in the area.

Among the information considered by Hall and his scientists is a series of reports prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey, which warns that two-thirds of the world's polar bears will die off in the next 50 years due to melting sea ice. If this grim prediction comes true, the only polar bears remaining in the world by 2050 would live in Canada's Arctic archipelago and on the west coast of Greenland. Those in Alaska and Russia, and in much of Nunavut and all of Nunavik, will have perished.

These predictions are based on mathematical projections that assume that, as sea ice melts, polar bears will lose their platform to hunt seals, which is their primary food source. Over time, they predict bears will lose weight, have trouble reproducing, and dwindle in number.

Canadian Wildlife Service researchers working on the western Hudson Bay have already found polar bears matching this description. The bear population in that area has been declining for a number of years - although bears appear to be thriving in an even more southern area, Davis Straight, according to Nunavut researchers.

And some contrary evidence suggests that polar bears may have survived past Arctic thaws. In December, researchers from Iceland and Norway announced they discovered the ancient jaw of a polar bear buried in an island of Svalbard. They say the jaw is at least 100,000 years old - a time before the last ice age, even warmer than the present.

There are believed to be 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive today. Two-thirds of them live in Canada. Another side-effect of the "threatened" designation, which is one step below listing polar bears as "endangered," could be the imposition of limits on the development of oil and gas in Alaska.


Statisticians' global warming plea: don't forget about us!

Who doesn't love to read about statistics and statisticians? That's a rhetorical question, my friends, so don't bother answering. But I will allude to an answer, by telling you that I begin the statistics classes that I teach by asking the students whether they'd like to learn a magic trick. They always say yes. It goes like this: Next time you are at a social gathering and somebody introduces themselves to you and asks what you do, say these magic words, "I am a statistician." And.Poof! They will vanish before your eyes! It never fails. So it's not surprising that some of us feel left out from time to time. Which explains why the American Statistical Association (of which I am a member) has issued this statement "endorsing" the conclusions of the IPCC report while also admonishing climatologists to include more statisticians in their work.

The ASA recently convened a meeting of statisticians to ask them how they can be more involved with climate change. The statement was their answer. These sort of meetings do not always go well. The ASA had another such confab back in `95 and invited Chicago high school students to listen to the delights that awaited them if they chose a career in statistics. The lecture was by the distinguished ASA president, who was thorough, as all statisticians are. At the end of his talk, he opened the floor for questions. There was a period of silence when, finally, one brave young man shouted out, "Yeah. Why are you so goofy?" So you can see the danger.

Anyway, except for the blanket political* "endorsement", given only to show that we're willing to play along, the rest of the statement is pretty good, including this, "Over the course of four [IPCC] assessment reports, a small number of statisticians have served as authors or reviewers. Although this involvement is encouraging, it does not represent the full range of statistical expertise available." And this, "Even in the satellite era -- the best observed period in Earth's climate history -- there are significant uncertainties in key observational datasets. Reduction of these uncertainties will be crucial for evaluating and better constraining climate models."

Most importantly, this, "The design and analysis of computer experiments is an area of statistics that is appropriate for aiding the development and use of climate models. Statistically based experimental designs, not currently used in this field, could be more powerful. It is also important to understand how to combine the results of experiments performed with different climate models. Despite their sophistication, climate models remain approximations of a very complex system and systematic model errors must be identified and characterized."

The main thrust is that climate scientists have not done as well as they could quantifying the uncertainty in their models, results, and speculations, and that statisticians should be more frequently consulted, because if we're good at anything, this is it. We're also not too bad at magic.

*Of course it's political, because you cannot simultaneously have a plea for statistical analysis of climate models while at the same time concluding those analyses are proper.


McCain's Costly Tax on Energy

What do John McCain, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pew Center on Climate Change have in common? They have united to support a massive new tax increase on energy - which will raise costs throughout the economy and threaten the vitality of, among others, the oil and automobile industries.

I suspect that many who would be significantly harmed by McCain's wrongheaded tax plan - say, blue-collar workers in Michigan - have never heard of it. The Arizona senator's position on federal tax cuts is better known. Nearly all of his opponents in the presidential campaign have criticized him for voting against both of President Bush's tax-reduction plans.

What is not widely understood is that he is currently sponsoring legislation that, in the name of fighting global warming, would dramatically raise the tax on all carbon-based fuels, including gasoline, home heating oil, coal, and to a lesser extent, natural gas

The proposed bill, co-sponsored with Joe Lieberman, mandates an energy-rationing scheme that all economists acknowledge is equivalent to a broad-based energy tax which is similar to Bill Clinton's 1993 Btu tax proposal. Energy would be taxed through the back door by placing a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that energy-producing companies can emit. It puts a legal limit on the amount of energy that can be drawn from conventional sources such as oil, coal, and natural gas.

McCain's energy tax would kick in whenever an energy-producing company wants to expand its output above the cap. If, for example, a utility company that is bumping up against its emissions cap wants to increase its production of electricity generated from coal, oil, or natural gas, it will have to buy permission to do so by purchasing unused permits from other companies. The same would be true of an oil refiner that wants to increase its output of gasoline or home heating oil, possibly to meet new consumer demand. The purchase price of the permits is a tax, and will have the same effects as a tax on the market; it would raise the price of the energy source, i.e. coal, oil, etc., and therefore, it would likewise raise the costs of all production that relies on those sources, as well as the price of all goods and services that those production processes generate.

The EPA has estimated what the McCain energy tax would mean to consumers. Since the bill's provisions are phased in, the full cost of the tax would not be felt for a number of years. But in a letter to Senator McCain dated July 2007, the EPA estimated that the tax will be about $.26 cents in current dollars per gallon of gasoline by 2030 and $.68 cents per gallon by 2050. For electricity, the EPA estimates that the McCain energy tax would increase individual's electric bills by 22 percent in 2030 and 25 percent in 2050. The effect on the economy of the McCain tax would be similar to any other broad-based tax. In the EPA's own words:

The present value of the cumulative reduction in real GDP for the 2012-2030 period ranges from $660 billion to $2.1 trillion.the cumulative reduction in the present value of real GDP for the 2012-2050 period ranges from about $1.6 trillion to $5.2 trillion.

The real surprise is that in a Republican primary in which Senator McCain's anti-tax credentials are in question, none of his opponents have even mentioned his advocacy of this new broad-based energy tax. I will leave it to political pundits to speculate on the reasons why. But if it is thought that the climate change benefits will be worth these significant new costs on consumers and producers - think again. Over the next 100 years, the CO2 reductions from the tax will result in a temperature change that even its proponents concede, is so small as to be virtually undetectable by current technologies.

Higher energy costs will, among other things, raise the cost of manufacturing big-ticket items in American factories. And higher gas prices will likely raise demand for those classes of automobiles that tend to be manufactured overseas.



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, January 20, 2008

Global warming skeptics compared to defenders of slavery in the 19th century

(Probably NOT a hoax given the Green/Left propensity for "ad hominem" arguments)

There is a paper by a Dutch philosopher here -- with commentary and excerpts here -- which makes some stretched comparisons between the arguments of old-time slavery advocates and global-warming skeptics. The commentary is by another Greenie but the closing paragraphs of the commentary are pretty level-headed:
The crux of Davidson's argument is that the US economy now relies on oil in much the same way as the economy of the Southern States relied on slaves 200 years ago - as a key source of energy.

Although the quotes from the earlier congressmen are shocking, I'm not convinced the comparison is helpful. For starters, climate change and slavery cannot be compared. The former is a self-imposed "slavery" to a mineral source of energy; the latter an imposed slavery of one group of humans to another.

And although I agree there is also a moral imperative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, just as there was a moral imperative to the abolition of slavery, I do not believe morals and ethics are what will win the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The whole argument is of course an ad hominem one and it would be a fairly easy exercise to strike back by comparing what Warmists are saying with (say) the pronouncements of Hitler and Mussolini (See for example here and here) but is it worthwhile to strike back in such an unscholarly way? Below are two sets of comments, one from Larry Gould and one from Viscount Monckton. Gould says:
The issue of comparing rhetoric is not worth spending any time on. The issue for me is one about the science and scientific methodology (or lack of it, such as in the badly flawed recent methodological position called "post-normal science" -- where, in essence, "consensus" trumps valid scientific arguments).

I think more people need to see the flaws in the science/methodology claims by the AGWAs [my acronym for Anthropogenic Global Warming Alarmist -- stress on the "AG"] in order to see that "global warming" is a non-problem. So I would rather point out (and keep repeating) such things as:

(a) falsification of data by the IPCC (as, e.g., pointed out in a recent Cambridge University talk by Christopher Monckton);

(b) distortion of the data through the too-often-used ploy of choosing a "mean" temperature in such a way so as to amplify the positive temperature anomaly (see, e.g., the December 2007 issue of Physics Today, p. 23 ---- there, in commenting on the Nobel Peace Prize of Gore and the IPCC, we have a single "change from the average"-vs-"Year" graph showing the highest-slope being for the last 25 years relative to a mean temperature for the years 1961 - 1990; but there was a cooling trend for about half those years, pushing the anomaly up!).

Bob Carter has pointed out plenty of ways the AGWAs can select temperature trends by playing around with the choice of years over which temperatures are being considered.

(c) contradictions, by evidence, against the claims by the AGWAs --- examples are recent (December 2007) papers by Lindzen (on Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously, Energy & Environment) and by Douglass, Christy, et al. in International J. Climatology where models are shown to be badly flawed.

(d) widespread lack of articles written by experts in climatology who have strong scientific arguments against the AGWAs claims (or suppression of such articles, or huge overbalance of articles in favor of the AGWAs) in popular scientific publications for the non-expert. This lack is evident in the pages of Physics Today, The American Physical Society News, Scientific American, and The American Scientist. For an example of a non-scientific publication where the lack plus distortions appear, see Newsweek.

Please note that I would not discourage anyone from taking on the task of comparing rhetoric. I think it would be worthwhile to see what, if anything, is the relevance of Marc Davidson's publication for the issue of "global warming" and whether what he says about the history is true. I, however, would prefer to keep hammering primarily on issues of science and scientific methodology (such as Davidson's incorrect claim "despite climate risks to future generations").

Monckton says:
I very much agree with Larry. It's on the science that we'll beat them, because so much of their science is inaccurate, fiddled, exaggerated, or claiming a certainty that is not possible when studying any mathematically-chaotic object (such as the climate is). See Lorenz (1963), whose landmark paper - in a climatological journal - founded chaos theory with an elegant proof of his now-famous theorem that, unless one knows the initial state of the object in question to a degree of precision that is not in practice attainable when considering the climate, one cannot predict either the onset or the duration or the magnitude of any future phase-transition (the mathematical term for what the enviro-left refer to as a "tipping-point", unaware that every time they use the phrase they are demonstrating their profound ignorance of its significance, which demonstrates the opposite of what they intend to convey).

Therefore it is not possible to predict for more than a few weeks the future evolution of the climate, and the entire IPCC exercise is futile. Very, very slowly, arguments such as these are making their way into the public consciousness and the alarmists realize they are being driven backward. Let us continue to batter them and better them and bother them with hard science.


A published email to Benny Peiser from David Whitehouse []:

My scientific training taught me to elevate data above all else. Whatever you might want the universe to do or to fit in with a cherished theory it is the data that tells you what the universe actually does. Huxley said, tongue in cheek, that it was the great tragedy of science that a beautiful hypothesis can be slain by an ugly fact. Data trumps everything...or does it?

Recently, I wrote an article pointing out that the global average temperature for the past 7 years was statistically flat - that is no analysis of that data could say anything about it other than it was a flat line. I didn't think it was particularly controversial as I was merely stating what the data produced by the US National Climatic Data Center and the UK's Met Office was saying. I wondered why the CO2 levels have gone up and the temperature had not. I discounted aerosols reflecting sunlight as there has been no big volcanic eruptions in over a decade and the IPCC says that the atmosphere's aerosol load has declined, and doubted that decadal oceanic variations could do the trick either. You can read the article here.

The article received a record 700 comments, mostly supportive. Several interesting points emerged (aside from the obvious fact that many who comment on such articles haven't actually read them) that might be of interest to readers. There are those who say the data does not exist and that I am lying! More puzzling are those who say that the data shows nothing of interest and that it is statistically irrelevant.

Underneath this assertion is something very interesting. There is a vociferous body of opinion that says the data does not show the world hasn't warmed and that in reality the upward temperature gradient of the years 1980 -1998 is still being maintained -- it's just that the data does not show it! Some go on to say that in a 27 year temperature time series one would expect 7 flat years given the signal to noise ratio of the data.

To my mind this is seeing what you want to see and the maxim should be that the data shows what the data shows - if it shows the last 7 years is flat then that's what mother nature says and no amount of arguing or statistical analysis is going to say it isn't so. It seems to me these people deny the data to suit their own perspective.

However, could we expect a 7 year standstill just by sampling errors alone even though the rising trend is still upward? It's possible though highly unlikely, it is surely far more likely that the flat data represents flat data! Surely the important question here is: what would the data look like if the temperature has stopped rising? The answer is, of course, it would look exactly like what it does now. We should let Occam decide which explanation to choose.

Then there is the argument that 7 years is too short a timescale to prove anything. In a sense they are right, we do not know if the 7 flat years will continue or if the temperature will start to rise or fall afterwards. But many twist that question and use it to dismiss the 7 years of measured flat data as meaningless. This is not valid. The 7 years remains what it is - 7 years of measured flat data and it is not an insignificant fraction of the 18 years of warming we saw between 1980 - 1998. What's more, the data set is not yet complete. It seems to me that many are judging those 7 flat years by different standards from that which they judge the 1980-1998 warming period and that is obviously unjustified.

The response to my article is here. It commits many of the sins I mention and more -- and even says my article will go down as the most controversial ever in that I claim that global warming has 'stopped.' It even denies that the period 2001-2007 has been measured as statistically flat and claims I made the elementary error of confusing long term average with year on year variability (seems that 18 years is a long term climatic effect but ten years is a year on year variability!)

It says that although CO2 levels are rising year on year no one claimed that the temperature would do otherwise! Average things out and the trend is hotter. (no one denies that this decade is hotter than previous ones so that is no response to my points). It cites as conclusive evidence a graph posted on the RealClimate website that uses trend lines covering the recent post 1980 spell to prove that no recent standstill exists. The News Statesman response then makes some dodgy comments about the way science progresses.

The RealClimate graph is designed to prove what it wants to prove in that the statistical analysis chosen dilutes a 7 year flat spell at the end of a data series. It also includes no error bars on the annual temperature measurements and if it did the graph would tell a very different story and the trend lines would have a much greater degree of variation.

The New Statesman reply says that similar 7 year standstills have occurred in the past so the current one is nothing special but it fails to add that those periods were statistically far more variable than the current 7 year standstill and that they were blips in an upward trend caused by El Chichon and Mt Pinatubo. There has been no similar event for the recent 7 years! All things considered the New Statesman reply to my article fails to make any counter case when you look at the facts in detail and not in a shallow way with the eye of faith.

Finally, there is another aspect to the debate that worried me far more than an environmental 'activist' getting the science wrong. It is one of double standards and it has become rather predictable. Provide any criticism, even mild or supportive, or even suggest that we might be wrong and that we don't know everything and one's integrity is attacked. I am accused of intentionally or otherwise of misleading the public and you will note the association made in the New Statesman reply between myself and those who posted comments who might have been paid to take a contrary position.

This idea that big energy companies are fuelling all so-called dissent has become a cliche, and is often used reprehensibly by those who cannot respond scientifically to argument. One recent book about the catastrophe that is global warming even had a lengthy section about the tobacco industry denying lung cancer so as to set a parallel with the 'climate change deniers' camp.

On a recent TV debate that Benny Peiser and I took part in a representative from a well know environmental pressure group, who was obviously stressed and irritated by our comments, demanded that the question master make us swear we weren't being funded by the oil lobby. Benny and I said we weren't but thinking about it I should have demanded an apology for that slur before I decided whether to answer or not.

We have reached a sad stage when such things happen. We should ensure that such debates are even handed and that both sides of any argument declare their vested interests, if any. Surely these big, campaigning groups have a stronger vested interest in global warming than most?

Finally this, another well known saying: "Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."



The penny is dropping

European countries and businesses have criticized a climate change action plan that the European Commission is scheduled to unveil next week. Their concerns about competition and carbon trading could undermine the EU's commitment to confront climate change. The EU's member states are firmly committed to fighting climate change -- at least in theory.

As the European Commission puts the finishing touches on a sweeping climate change policy package to be unveiled on Jan. 23, politicians and business leaders from the EU's richest member states are lobbying to revamp draft policies that they believe could harm them in Europe and abroad.

Among the critics of the bill are France, which wants to protect its nuclear investments, Germany, which is worried about its renewable energy sector, and major European auto and steelmakers, who are concerned that Europe could lose its competitive edge.

But the Commission says it will not be bullied into diluting the climate change package. To back down, Commission President Jos‚ Manuel Barroso told Reuters, would be an international embarrassment after the EU worked to promote itself as the international leader in addressing climate change. "We knew from the very beginning that transforming Europe into a low-carbon economy is not an easy task," said Barroso. "But this is the moment to be serious, responsible and coherent with our commitment." [...]

The lobbying in Brussels this week is in sharp contrast to the proud tones in which European leaders announced last March their joint agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and make major investments in renewable energy and biofuels. As the Commission drafts policies that will make those goals a reality, Europe's richer countries are frustrated that they will be asked to bear the brunt of the collective goal.



Looks like the yen is dropping too

Setting targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is not the only solution to global warming nor a gauge of a country's commitment in fighting it, an advisor to Japan's government said, dismissing criticism that Tokyo's leadership on the issue was too weak.

Japanese media have reported that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will present a goal for Japan to reduce carbon emissions beyond the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto Protocol at a meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland next week.

But Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, Special Advisor to the Cabinet on climate change, said only that Fukuda would present a "positive disposition" at Davos, and that even without targets, Japan was still focused on fighting global warming beyond 2012.

"A national emissions target alone is not crucial to pass judgement about the enthusiasm, interest and deep commitment (to fighting climate change)," Nishimura told Reuters in an interview.

"You really cannot say that as long as you don't have a national target, that you are not deeply committed."



Step right up folks and get your tickets to the greatest scam on Earth as we pay homage to those much-maligned scientists, geologists, climate researchers and marginalized Global Warming Skeptics the world over who refuse to be silenced by the skeptiphobics who would still the voices of reason.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys observe the spectacle with amazement and see how mainstream television and newspapers have put P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, two of the world's greatest circus hucksters, to shame with their involvement in promoting the Great Global Warming Charade.

Undoubtedly even the Ringling Brothers in their wildest imaginings could not have envisioned how the Clown Princes of media, eco-zealotry, self-interested politicians and nose-in-the-ozone academia have created the shameful alliance we have seen develop across the world today.

And while they enjoyed early successes in silencing the voices of those who did not buy into their campaign of voodoo science, half truths and outrageous scare tactics, the voices of the skeptics are finally emerging from banishment to be heard loud and clear.

Challenging the skeptiphobics are those who have been ridiculed by their peers in scientific circles, intimidated by their associates in the tarnished halls of learning and hounded by the screaming hordes of eco-bullies generously funded by cowardly governments and family foundations that salve the consciences of the wealthy that have ravaged the Earth for profit. All the while, cheering them on has been media at all levels of the food chain by freely publicizing unchallenged their frightening claims, supporting their causes through pious editorials while constantly proclaiming the global warming debate to be over.

In an act to fulfill their own prophecy, most of the media then took the next step to ban the other side from their pages and programs. After all, the global warming debate is over. It is a fact. Irrefutable. There can be no other side. This led to the skeptiphobics proclaiming at one point that global warming skeptics should be arrested and warehoused in concentration camps. Oddly enough, the skeptics were labelled "Deniers" by the kindly environmental folks, thereby linking them to the hated Holocaust Deniers. What a clever linkage. Even more clever is how the mainstream media rushed out and publicized all of this.

But two things have come back to haunt them. The first is based on the old adage that states that a lie can only be supported by another lie. Global warming skeptics never denied weather patterns were in a period of change. They merely challenged the notion that the change has been precipitated by the activities of man.

That notion led the skeptiphobics to reason, and I use the term loosely, that if changes in our weather are caused by man, (anthropogenic), then man can reverse the effects. All mankind has to do is to give the skeptiphobic organizations enough money and they will lead us to a land flowing with milk and honey.

The second problem their carnival-barkers have with their collective sales pitch is they have never defined what normal weather is and how long it will take to get to their non-existent standards? So I would plead here and now for someone to tell us all what is normal weather?

While the skeptiphobics have been celebrating their excesses, the skeptics have managed to bypass mainstream media and find their voices in a patchwork of new media venues created through the Internet and on other platforms. Thumbing their collective noses at mainstream media, they have successfully turned to the ballooning mass of blogsites. Increasingly the bloggers are eclipsing the old media and beating them at their own game with more accurate and trusted content than ever before.

In fairness I must mention that a few major metropolitan newspapers in Canada have called for the skeptics to be heard. These include the The National Post and both the Edmonton and Winnipeg Sun newspapers. Others may have done the same, but I am not aware of any. Nevertheless, the skeptics are also turning to e-newspapers like CFP, e-zines and even e-books. Their voices are being heard in chat rooms, postings on Utube and similar sites and through e-mail lists of friends and business or other affinity groups.

What I find interesting, is that by cheerleading for the skeptiphobics, the mainstream media are helping destroy the very credibility they crave and offend the subscribers and viewers they so desperately need to stay alive. My, that's quite a business plan they have.

It will be interesting to see what happens when people wake up to realize they've been had. What will the old media say when they discover their little plan didn't work? What will the politicians do to hide their gullibility? And who will take ownership of the mess left behind?

There is a price to be paid for duplicitous conduct whether practiced by mindless media, fear mongering skeptiphobics or buffoons in the political circus. That price is the eventual loss of power, prestige and profit. What I find gratifying, is that we have a ringside seat to the greatest show on Earth.



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, January 19, 2008

Need to Understand Global Warming before Trying to Fix It

Press release from U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He issued the following statement today as part of an Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Administration Perspectives on United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali:"

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's good to have this subcommittee back in action. We started off with a flurry during the first session and along around the summertime, it kind of went into hibernation. So we're glad to have you back on the front lines. "I want to welcome some people here today. I first want to welcome my new ranking member, Mr. Upton. Mr. Upton has been on the committee for quite a number of years. He has made his major contribution as the past subcommittee chairman and ranking member of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee but he has switched over to Energy and Air Quality with the departure of the former speaker, Mr. Hastert. He's got big shoes to fill - Mr. Hastert, Mr. Hall, who's now ranking member of the Science Committee. I'm very, very happy to have nominated Mr. Upton to this position.

"I also welcome our witness, Mr. Connaughton. He and I have had an ongoing relationship and a number of discussions over I-don't-know-how-many years. He just got back from Bali and we're going to hear his insights. I think it is safe to say that Jim Connaughton is one of the most knowledgeable on the issue for the hearing scheduled today, which is global warming and climate change.

"We've had a lot of hearings about global warming in the last several years. I'm still not convinced that the science and the economics of the issue are settled. I know a lot of people want to move on and look at solutions, but I don't think we can have a very good chance to develop an optimal solution if we don't really understand the problem. There are a large number of skeptics still out there about what causes global warming and what mankind can do about it. I hope some of your hearings this spring touch on that. As I've said before, when we get ready to consider legislation, I have four issues, or goals, that I want to try to meet.

"I do want to keep electricity plentiful and affordable in America. I want to keep our transportation sector viable. It's interesting to know in the euphoria over passing a CAFE increase, at the Detroit auto show this week our manufacturers said that legislation, if implemented, is going to raise the price of an American vehicle approximately $6,000 per car. I want someone to tell me how that helps our economy when the price of automobiles goes up $6,000 per vehicle.

"I want to keep our natural gas prices affordable because many Americans heat their homes with natural gas, cook their meals and we still have an industry that uses natural gas. And obviously, I want to protect American jobs. We can have the most perfect global warming bill in the world and it's not going to do us any good if we raise the unemployment rate five or 10 points.

"You've indicated that you want to introduce a cap-and-trade bill sometime this spring, Mr. Chairman. I hope we can dissuade you from that position. The great experiment in Europe with cap-and-trade so far is an absolute failure. There's no other way to put it. The prices their economies are paying is going up and emissions are going up, too. Now, their apologists say that that's only because they don't have it just right. But I predict that no matter how much they tinker with it, when you're trying to cap-and-trade something as ubiquitous as CO2, most of which is not manmade, it's folly, it's an impossible situation. Hopefully we'll really get into the details of just what a cap-and-trade program would look like here in America.

"I also want to make a point that a number of other people have made. We're in a global economy. We are the world's largest economy but if we do some things that are very draconian on our emissions here in the United States and really all it does is cost us jobs, I'm very skeptical that the rest of the world is going to follow suit. There's no nation in the world, in the last thousand years, when faced with a choice of poverty or a better standard of living for their population, has chosen poverty. And it is absolutely ludicrous, in my opinion, for us to ask China and India and Brazil and Mexico and all of the developing world to adopt some of these very, very stringent controls on CO2 when if they do that, it's an absolute recipe for making sure that their people don't move forward and don't have a better standard of living. We made that choice beginning in the late 1800s and all through the 1900s as we electrified America, put in our transportation system, created an economy literally based on the automobile. The result has been the highest standard of living the world has ever known. So it's silly for us to ask the rest of the world to not move forward as we moved forward in the last 125 years.

"So, Mr. Chairman, I'm glad to have this subcommittee back in action. I do think global warming is a real issue. I do think that to the extent we can do things that make economic sense and environmental sense, we should try to move forward. But I do not believe that we should like lemmings just jump off the cliff in the name of political correctness. With that, Mr. Chairman, I very, very respectfully yield back."

Manmade Antarctic Melting, Indeed

A new study, much hyped by the media, blames humans for escalating ice loss in Antarctica. The media, however, seems to have no idea as to how truly manmade the supposed ice loss may be. "Escalating Ice Loss Found in Antarctica; Sheets Melting in an Area Once Thought to Be Unaffected by Global Warming" was the Washington Post's front-page, above-the-fold headline last Monday (Jan. 14). The headline for the continuation of the article was "Antarctic Ice Loss Could Speed Rise in Ocean Levels."

If true, it would be quite a worrisome situation given that Antarctica contains enough ice to raise ocean levels by about 60 meters, a deluge that would put every major coastal city in the world deep under water and uproot hundreds of millions, if not billions of people.

NASA scientist Eric Rignot reported in Nature Geoscience (Jan. 13) that increased melting had been detected in the ice sheets of western Antarctica, an area where surface temperatures have remained unchanged.

As warming surface temperatures could not be blamed for the ice loss, Rignot hypothesized that the cause may be the flow of warmer waters from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that circles much of the continent. "Something must be changing the ocean to trigger such changes," Rignot told the Post. "We believe it is related to [manmade global warming]", he added.

Rignot may indeed "believe" that humans are the cause - he is, after all, part of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization founded on the belief that humans are causing catastrophic global warming. But the facts belie such beliefs.

First, standard climate alarmism claims that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are warming surface temperatures. But not only is such warming not being observed in Antarctica, it's actually getting cooler in western Antarctica, according to surface temperature analysis from each of eight NASA stations located there.

Rignot, of course, admits that standard climate alarmism can't possibly explain the western Antarctic melting; that's why he shifted to blaming man for the warmer Antarctic Circumpolar Current. But is this true?

In an effort to support Rignot's hypothesis, Columbia University's Douglas Martinson told The Washington Post that "the [Antarctic Circumpolar Current", which flows about 200 yards below the frigid surface water, began to warm significantly in the 1980s, and that warming in turn caused wind patterns to change in ways that ultimately brought more warm water to shore." But Martinson also admitted to the Post that there is not enough data to say for certain that the process was set in motion by global warming. Truth be told, there is good reason to question Martinson's assertion about the temperature trend, let alone its hypothetical cause.

According to World Climate Report, a 2007 study by University of Washington researchers reported that, although there is much interest among scientists in ocean temperature, "below-surface ocean temperature data are sparse, and the existing data sets involve substantial `interpolation, extrapolation, and averaging' that may compromise the integrity of results from such data sets."

Adding to the mix is the most recent IPCC report, which says that the upper ocean adjacent to west Antarctica warmed by 1 degree Celsius from 1951 to 1994. But global surface temperatures actually declined from 1940 to 1976, even as manmade emissions of carbon dioxide dramatically increased. The bottom line is there is no established linkage between manmade emissions of greenhouse gases and any melting in the western Antarctic.

But then, is there even any net ice loss in the western Antarctic to begin with? While Rignot did use satellite observations of Antarctica's coastline to estimate melting, he compared this real-life data to computer model estimates of Antarctic interior snow accumulation. So the western Antarctic appears to losing mass only when compared to computer models that, when it comes to global climate, are of questionable relevance to the real world. At, we label these sorts of computer modeling exercises as "PlayStation climatology."

Even if you put faith in climate models, Rignot's don't seem to agree with those of the IPCC, which stated in its most recent assessment, "Current global model studies project that the Antarctic Ice Sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall."

Finally, according to NOAA data presented on the web site of Bill Chapman of the Polar Research Group at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), the global level of sea ice has reached about the same level as it was at in 2003. The current change in global sea ice coverage is a positive 1 million square kilometers -- that is, a gain of 1.8 million square kilometers in the Southern Hemisphere netted against a loss of 800,000 square kilometers in the Northern Hemisphere.

It's quite possible that the reported Antarctic melting is manmade -- but the "man" may be Eric Rignot, as opposed to the term's broader connotation.


Journal abstract for the scare study follows -- showing that their observations were of the antarctic coastline only -- which is only a small part of Antarctica. It also shows that their basis of comparison was with an old model, not with actual past observations!

Recent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling

By Eric Rignot et al.

Large uncertainties remain in the current and future contribution to sea level rise from Antarctica. Climate warming may increase snowfall in the continent's interior but enhance glacier discharge at the coast where warmer air and ocean temperatures erode the buttressing ice shelves. Here, we use satellite interferometric synthetic-aperture radar observations from 1992 to 2006 covering 85% of Antarctica's coastline to estimate the total mass flux into the ocean. We compare the mass fluxes from large drainage basin units with interior snow accumulation calculated from a regional atmospheric climate model for 1980 to 2004. In East Antarctica, small glacier losses in Wilkes Land and glacier gains at the mouths of the Filchner and Ross ice shelves combine to a near-zero loss of 4~60 Gt yr-1 in 2006. In the Peninsula, losses increased by 140% to reach 60~46 Gt yr-1 in 2006. Losses are concentrated along narrow channels occupied by outlet glaciers and are caused by ongoing and past glacier acceleration. Changes in glacier flow therefore have a significant, if not dominant impact on ice sheet mass balance.

Nature Geoscience, 13 January 2008

Global Warming: The Coming Skeptic's Revival

The recent U.S. Senate committee report listing 400 scientists who last year openly disputed Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming claims does indeed appear to yield a consensus. But their consensus is not based in the dubious assertion that a plenary rise in the earth's temperature described as Global Warming is a settled scientific theory. Neither is this consensus grounded in the bogus claim that the polar bear population is at risk and should be declared an endangered species due to the threat posed by Global Warming; or the incorrect thesis that hurricanes and Global Warming are indisputably linked.

It is also not based on the claim that due to Global Warming, the earth's glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, which - defying basic laws of chemistry and physics - will eventually cause a massive deluge of coastal sections of the United States, Canada and perhaps other countries, the likes of which have not been heard of since biblical times; or on the purported claim that the most advanced computer models, which are famously incapable of duplicating the legion of natural and artificial variables that regulate even local climate, are fully adequate to forecast the impending global doom so ominously predicted by Al Gore in his movie "An Inconvenient Truth".

And most emphatically, this consensus is not rooted in the infuriating declaration that Global Warming skeptics comprise only a half a dozen or so misguided sell outs to the oil industry, barely outnumbering the few remaining members of the Flat Earth Society, as has been disdainfully stated by the guru of Global Warming hysterics himself.

According to the collective assessment of this eminent group of scientists, no such testimonials meet the most rudimentary standards of good scientific inquiry, or have any basis on fact; therefore no consensus is to be found among the 400 scientists that are listed on this report , other than the nearly unanimous agreement that the claim of Global Warming as a legitimate threat to humanity is more an ideological juggernaut than a proven scientific certainty, fueled predominantly by the politics of fear from the left, and amply lavished with the continued financial support from unwitting governments and moral support from the main stream media.

This diverse assembly of Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptics (or Holocaust deniers as Ellen Goodman from the Boston Globe would call them) include experts from the fields of paleontology, chemistry, Chemical engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Agriculture, Astrophysics, Oceanography, Atmospheric Science, Geology, Meteorology, and Economics, to name a few. Many of them are also recent converts who once called themselves staunch believers in A.G.W.

A good number of them are former draft reviewers of the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report they have now happily disowned as dangerously speculative, as it portends to mandate drastic policy measures for signatories from world governments in order to stop the impending catastrophe presumably looming in the horizon.

Their collective body of work on the science of Global Climate consists of thousands of research studies and peer reviewed papers in myriad reputable scientific publications and academic institutions.

Their consensus is based in the scientifically verifiable notion that - stop the presses - periodic Hemispheric warming (and cooling) of the earth are natural cyclical phenomena, caused primarily by fluctuations in the sun's electro-magnetic radiation, water vapor, and a host of other culprits meaner than the rise in carbon dioxide levels, which is actually an effect rather than a cause of warming. This natural cycle has taken place - and will continue to take place - over millennia. This means that the net impact that man - in all his industrial fury - has over any significant climate variations, is no more distinguishable - as a contributing former meteorologist puts it - than a "fart in a hurricane".

The scientists have also expressed concern over how their voices are being suppressed, by a media that routinely ridicules them for having contrarian views. They also contend that stripped of its thin veneer of scientific legitimacy, the theory of A.G.W. is nothing more than an ideological doctrine, and a dangerous one at that, for it tries to set itself as authoritative, arbitrarily excluding other dissenting views, by questioning the motives and belittling the academic credentials of those who express any suspicion of its tenets, and generously rewarding those who espouse them, while healthy debate is summarily stifled on an issue that could have serious and lasting global economic and social repercussions.

Much to their regret, it appears that vast sums of money will continue to be misspent by ill-informed bureaucracies intent on funding quixotic attempts to solve a problem that never existed and alleviate an apocalyptic crisis that will never transpire, the prophetic summons of which - to their astonishment - earned Al Gore an appendix in the pages of history as a proud recipient of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

Additionally, these scientists affirm that most of their colleagues concur with them but will simply not speak out because they fear their livelihoods will be affected by the withdrawal of research grants, as it has already happened to some who have expressed skepticism on the issue.

But primarily, and justifiable so, these scientists are most concerned with the damage that is being done to the credibility and reputation of the scientific endeavor by many of their profit and public recognition driven colleagues and questionable sources of wisdom like Al Gore, who use their political platform, celebrity status, and the media to promote a theory which, curiously enough, is so fiercely guarded from exposure to legitimate scientific scrutiny.

Thus they hope that as the science of Global Climate evolves, and as the dire prediction of Global Warming alarmists fail to come to pass, perhaps they will again be granted a better forum, and healthy debate will resume - as it should in all the sciences.

As for Al Gore, other than taking the opportunity to admit he has some serious explaining to do to the scientific community, not to mention his adoring liberal fans and the rest of the world, he should probably return to doing whatever it is he does when he is not combing his hair or polishing his many ill-gotten accolades so decoratively arrayed on his fire place mantel.


You couldn't make this stuff up: "Global warming protest frosted with snow"

It snowed, but they still came. A heavy snowfall blanketed a global warming protest outside the State House in Annapolis this morning, but it did not dampen the shouts of about 400 activists who urged lawmakers to pass the nation's toughest greenhouse gas control law. As supporters waved signs, chanted and banged drums, 18 legislators walked down a symbolic green carpet to sign up as co-sporsors to a bill that would mandate that all businesses in Maryland cut emissions of global warming pollution by 25 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050.

"We are going to pass this bill this year," said State Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Democrat from Prince George's County and chairman of the senate's environmental matters subcommittee. "We are not going to rest, we are not going to stop....We are going to keep going until we pass this bill." Pinsky and co-author Del. Kumar Barve, the house Democratic leader, proposed a similar but unsuccessful Global Warming Solutions Act last year. It would have created a system of financial rewards and punishments (known as a "cap and trade" system) to force all businesses to reduce their emissions.

The Maryland legislature over the last two year has approved more limited cuts in carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants and cars. Together, these add up to an expected 25 percent reduction.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Constellation Energy and many Republicans oppose the 90 percent mandate, saying such aggressive regulation could cripple the states economy if other states don't have such limits. "It would be harmful for employment," said Senate Republican Leader David R. Brinkley. "We have a conscientious business community, and nobody wants to contribute to pollution, but these guys are intent on making Maryland uncompetitive."

Rob Gould, a spokesman for Constellation Energy, the state's biggest owner of power plants, said federal or international regulation of greenhouse gases makes more sense. And he suggested that power shortages could result from excessive state regulation. "Constellation Energy is very supportive of federal and international regulation. Our concern with last year's bill was that it limited the ability to trade to sources inside Maryland. Given that the only way to reduce CO2 from non-nuclear power plants is to run those plants less, our concern remains that a single small state like Maryland cannot meet these aggressive targets without reliability impacts occurring." ....

Many of the protesters who endured the cold to chant "Stop Global Warming!" said they didn't think the snowfall conflicted with their message. Davey Rogner, a 22 year old student at the University of Maryland College Park, beat on an African Djembe drum to rev up the crowd. He said the snow was a "gift" to remind eveyone about how rarely Maryland has been blanketed with beautiful white in recent years as temperatures have increased. "Its only the second snow of the year, which is very sad," said Rogner, from Silver Spring. "Global warming is the most improtant issue of our generation. The state of Maryland should be taking a leadership role in it, because of our vulerability with all our shoreline." Barve said the snow was a good sign: "At least we have weather appropriate for winter time, finally." ....

A nonpartisan analysis of last year's proposal, by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, said the law would impose new regulations on "all businesses, small and large" across the state. "Accordingly, costs could increase significantly, but any such increase cannot be reliability calculated at this time."

More here

It's all happened before: An explanation from psychology of why the global warming cult shows little response to contrary evidence

On noting the unfazed response of the demonstrators above to their patently ludicrous situation, I thought it was time to draw attention to some old wisdom from psychology. Problematical global warming is a prophecy, not a reality, so studies of what adherents to prophecies do when the evidence is against them are very relevant:

In studying this phenomenon, credit must be given to Leon Festinger for his cognitive dissonance theory, as developed in his book When Prophecy Fails, originally published in 1956 and co-authored by Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter. The authors comprised a research team who conducted a study of a small cult-following of a Mrs. Marian Keech, a housewife who claimed to receive messages from aliens via automatic writing. The message of the aliens was one of a coming world cataclysm, but with the hope of surviving for the elect who listened to them through Keech and selected other mediums. What Festinger and his associates demonstrated in the end was that the failure of prophecy often has the opposite effect of what the average person might expect; the cult following often gets stronger and the members even more convinced of the truth of their actions and beliefs! This unique paradox is the focus of attention in this article.

Festinger observes:
"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.

"We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks.

"But man's resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.

When Prophecy Fails focuses on the failure of prophecies to come true, termed disconfirmation by Festinger, and the accompanied renewal of energy and faith in their source of divine guidance. His theory presupposes the cult having certain identifying features, such as:

(a) belief held with deep conviction along with respective actions taken,

(b) the belief or prediction must be specific enough to be disconfirmed (i.e., it didn't happen),

(c) the believer is a member of a group of like-minded believers who support one another and even proselytize. All of these characteristics were present in the saucer cult.

Of particular interest in Festinger's book is how the followers of Mrs. Keech reacted to each disconfirmation (failed date). Little attempt was made to deny the failure. The strength to continue in the movement was derived, not largely from the rationalizations , but from the very energy of the group itself and its dedication to the cause. This explains why proselytizing was so successful later in reinforcing the group's sagging belief system. Festinger relates:
"But whatever explanation is made it is still by itself not sufficient. The dissonance is too important and though they may try to hide it, even from themselves, the believers still know that the prediction was false and all their preparations were in vain. The dissonance cannot be eliminated completely by denying or rationalizing the disconfirmation. But there is a way in which the remaining dissonance can be reduced. If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must, after all, be correct. Consider the extreme case: if everyone in the whole world believed something there would be no question at all as to the validity of this belief. It is for this reason that we observe the increase in proselytizing following disconfirmation. If the proselytizing proves successful, then by gathering more adherents and effectively surrounding himself with supporters, the believer reduces dissonance to the point where he can live with it."

In the end, the members of the flying saucer cult did not give up their faith in the Guardians from outer space with their promises of a new world. Despite numerous prophecies and the resultant disappointment accentuated by many personal sacrifices, the group remained strong. Summarizing the final stages of the flying saucer cult, Festinger says:
"Summarizing the evidence on the effect that disconfirmation had on the conviction of group members, we find that, of the eleven members of the Lake City group who faced unequivocal disconfirmation, only two, Kurt Freund and Arthur Bergen, both of whom were lightly committed to begin with, completely gave up their belief in Mrs. Keech's writings. Five members of the group, the Posts, the Armstrongs, and Mrs. Keech, all of whom entered the pre-cataclysm period strongly convinced and heavily committed, passed through this period of disconfirmation and its aftermath with their faith firm, unshaken, and lasting. Cleo Armstrong and Bob Eastman, who had come to Lake City heavily committed but with their conviction shaken by Ella Lowell, emerged from the disconfirmation of December 21 more strongly convinced than before..."

Excerpt above from 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.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Is this the "melting" Greenland that Greenie scientists are talking about?

While the rest of Europe is debating the prospects of global warming during an unseasonably mild winter, a brutal cold snap is raging across the semi-autonomous nation of Greenland. On Disko Bay in western Greenland, where a number of prominent world leaders have visited in recent years to get a first-hand impression of climate change, temperatures have dropped so drastically that the water has frozen over for the first time in a decade. 'The ice is up to 50cm thick,' said Henrik Matthiesen, an employee at Denmark's Meteorological Institute who has also sailed the Greenlandic coastline for the Royal Arctic Line. 'We've had loads of northerly winds since Christmas which has made the area miserably cold.'

Matthiesen suggested the cold weather marked a return to the frigid temperatures common a decade ago. Temperatures plunged to -25°C earlier this month, clogging the bay with ice and making shipping impossible for small crafts, according to Anthon Frederiksen, the mayor of the town of Ilulissat, where Disko Bay is located. 'On the other hand, it's an advantage for fishermen who rely on dogsleds for transportation,' Frederiksen said.

The mayor cautioned against thinking that the freezing temperature indicated that global warming claims were overblown. He noted that a nearby glacier had retracted more in the past two decades than in recorded history. 'We Greenlanders have acclimated to changing conditions over the past 1100 years,' said Frederiksen. 'Temperatures change at regular intervals.' Although Greenland's capital, Nuuk, and much of the island saw temperatures drop below -25° C yesterday, milder temperatures appeared to be on the way in the near future.


Global cooling hits Israel

As the country contends with a cold wave that has left at least two people dead from hypothermia, Israel Electric reported this week that demand for electricity hit an all-time winter high of 9,900 megawatts late Sunday evening. The electric power station in Hadera is being pushed to capacity by the recent cold wave.

This prompted fears among consumers that IE may initiate a series of rolling blackouts to prevent the power system from shutting down. "I have a newborn baby at home and the thought of losing power in this cold weather is very unnerving," said one IE customer.

Caught off-guard by an early wave of extremely hot weather in June 2006, IE was compelled to initiate a series of intentional blackouts to protect the power system from shutting down due to a spike in demand and insufficient capacity. IE spokeswoman Yael Ne'eman said the company had learned its lesson from 2006 and took the appropriate steps to try and ensure that it won't happen again. "Recently we have began a campaign to provide our consumers with tips on how to save energy, through television commercials, radio advertisements and with pieces of advice included in monthly electricity bills," she said. Included among IE's tips is the recommendation to not set home thermostats above 20 degrees Celsius, as every degree higher forces the unit to work 5 percent harder.

The previous high for electricity demand in the winter came two years ago, peaking at 9,450 MW. The all-time high demand, winter and summer, was set this past July, topping 10,070 MW. Following the blackouts of 2006, the National Infrastructures Ministry appointed a committee to investigate the causes of the power shortages. It determined that the blackouts took place when several power plants were taken off-line for the company's annual Spring maintenance. "Coming out of those meetings, we made sure to schedule the maintenance of our power plants before the very cold and hot weather arrives so that we can avoid any situations where we may be faced with having to shut down any part of the system," Ne'eman said.

According to the ministry, all maintenance done to the country's power plants adheres to predicted weather patterns. Additionally, the ministry has initiated a campaign among the country's manufacturers to encourage them to cut down on energy usage during peak hours in exchange for reduced rates during the rest of the year.


Green toffs vs the `shopping herd'

The panic about greedy mobs invading Oxford Street during the New Year sales is driven by elite disdain for consumerism and economic growth. Comment from Britain

Did we buy too much at Christmas, or not enough? Are the January sales a sign of economic health, or decadence? Proof that Britain is booming, or something that we will pay heavily for later?

Breast-beating over the sales has become an annual event. In 2006, anxiety focused on the `world's biggest ship', the Emma Maersk III, which was carrying 11,000 containers full of toys half way around the world from China - a sure sign of the victory of pester power over common sense. In 2005, newspapers worried over the `the lowest Christmas sales for 20 years' (1). In 2003, Sainsbury's did badly, but Next prospered, while thinking people worried, as usual, about Christmas excess.

This year, the expected collapse in Christmas sales failed to materialise. The credit crunch was expected to make shoppers too scared to commit to big purchases. The online gaming system, Wii, and The Simpsons Movie DVD boosted Amazon's sales, while Oxford Street, rather quiet on Christmas Eve, saw its Boxing Day footfall (yes, people really do count this) rise by 7.8 per cent on 2006. Some of the buoyancy was managed by retailers' furious discounting - around 80 per cent of goods were reduced in price, apparently.

You might think that retailers were to be congratulated on beating the winter gloom. But the editorials in the highbrow papers only saw problems ahead. Had the shoppers failed to understand that capitalist prosperity is all built on sand, they worried? Don't those greedy plebs understand that they will all be in Queer Street soon?

The mid-winter Saturnalia shows us the deep muddle at the heart of modern capitalism. On the one hand, there is the existential fear that pulsates in every barrow boy: that tomorrow the shoppers might just stay at home. It is written into the free market system that you can never know what will happen tomorrow, whether that stock on the shelves is gold or rubbish.

Since the 1990s the retail sector has been the healthiest part of British business - not a great sign of the importance of innovation in industry. That was how the Christmas sales turned into such a high-wire act for UK plc. Instead of watching the results at the end of the financial year, economic commentators were reduced to watching the winter solstice for signs of the coming spring, like some Druid shaman.

But just as some retailers were nervously hoping that the shoppers would empty their purses, an altogether different noise was coming from another corner of the British establishment. The green loathing of greedy consumerism that used to be the preserve of a handful of middle-class cranks has spread throughout much of the British ruling class.

Toffs whose fathers were hard-nosed capitalists have turned into eco-warriors these days. Leading green Lord Peter Melchett's fortune was made by his father, Alfred Mond, at Imperial Chemicals Industries; ecologist Tory Zac Goldsmith inherited his 300 million pounds from dad James Goldsmith's Bovril sales. To the sons and daughters of the capitalist elite, nothing is more distasteful than the mass market that made them wealthy.

Instead of celebrating the trickle down of consumer goods, the elite are repulsed by it. They cannot bear to see hoi polloi driving cars like them, or shopping in their shops. They erect elaborate consumer rituals to mark themselves apart from the herd - but to their dismay, the herd keeps cracking the code. In days gone past, the sheer awkward coldness of an art gallery or music recital would have been enough to keep it exclusive, but no longer. Even their costly organic food has been sucked up by Tesco and Morrisons.

The green sentiment favours an economic policy of restraint - and it is in danger of succeeding in choking what growth the British economy has experienced. When ordinary households took advantage of wider credit availability to buy homes and cars in the 1990s, the green reaction was intensely hostile - and governments listened, cutting road-building programmes, choking off house-building with green belt planning controls, hiking fuel duties. And when those regulatory constraints on the expansion of big-ticket consumer goods pushed up prices, the caution merchants demanded limits on higher interest rates.

Of course it is a real problem that Britain's retail boom was premised on a trillion pounds of consumer credit, increasingly paying for goods from abroad. But the inroad made by East Asian manufacturers into Britain's domestic markets is itself a consequence of a business climate that is, in the words of the UK Department of Trade and Industry, `risk averse'. Despite all the talk about a New Economy, the growth in employment has all been in relatively low-productivity service sector jobs, so much so that average productivity actually fell in the UK (2).

Disdaining product innovation in manufacturing as a `race to the bottom', Britain's entrepreneurs are increasingly preoccupied with `rent-seeking' behaviour - spying out opportunities to use their cash to lay claim to someone else's hard industry. British law firms are the ones suing Third World nations over debt bought up cheaply, and they are the ones pursuing Chinese manufacturers claiming `intellectual property rights' over handbags and children's toys. At the climate talks in Bali at the end of last year, it was British negotiators who imagined a world where restraints on industry would be rewarded, just as it is British financiers who are already making money trading in carbon futures, and British boffins who are wasting their time making carbon-inefficient windmills.

If, as seems more than likely, the economy does slow down as predicted this spring, why should we be surprised? The environmentally minded intelligentsia has been deeply hostile to economic growth. Worse still, their voices have shaped economic policy, demanding restraint in road-building, house-building, consumer-spending and the spread of technology. The gloom-mongers' despair over Christmas spending is turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy.


EU rethinks biofuels guidelines

Brainless politicians again. Government by kneejerk

Europe's environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe's road fuels from plants. Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.

The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment.

A couple of years ago biofuels looked like the perfect get-out-of-jail free card for car manufacturers under pressure to cut carbon emissions. Instead of just revolutionising car design they could reduce transport pollution overall if drivers used more fuel from plants which would have soaked up CO2 while they were growing. The EU leapt at the idea - and set its biofuels targets.

Since then reports have warned that some biofuels barely cut emissions at all - and others can lead to rainforest destruction, drive up food prices, or prompt rich firms to drive poor people off their land to convert it to fuel crops. "We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully," Mr Dimas told the BBC. "We have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels."

He said the EU would introduce a certification scheme for biofuels and promised a clampdown on biodiesel from palm oil which is leading to forest destruction in Indonesia. Some analysts doubt that "sustainable" palm oil exists because any palm oil used for fuel simply swells the demand for the product oil on the global market which is mainly governed by food firms.

Mr Dimas said it was vital for the EU's rules to prevent the loss of biodiversity which he described as the other great problem for the planet, along with climate change.

On Monday, the Royal Society, the UK's academy of science, is publishing a major review of biofuels. It is expected to call on the EU to make sure its guidelines guarantee that all biofuels in Europe genuinely save carbon emissions.

In the US the government has just passed a new energy bill mandating a major increase in fuel from corn, which is deemed by some analysts to be useless in combating rising carbon dioxide emissions. The bill also foresees a huge expansion in fuel from woody plants but the technology for this is not yet proven on a commercial scale.

Sonja Vermeulen from the International Institute for Environment and Development's Forestry and Land Use Programme applauded Mr Stavros' promise to impose rigorous standards on biofuels. "The EU announcement is an important step towards reconciling the highly polarised positions of biofuels supporters (mainly governments, investment agencies and large companies) and detractors (mainly environmental NGOs and lobby groups)," the researcher said.

"In reality, policy decisions about biofuels involve difficult trade-offs: carbon benefits versus other environmental benefits; food security versus export development; efficient large-scale production versus smaller-scale or mixed production systems that deliver more equitable rural development. "We hope that any new certification scheme for biofuels considers the distribution of costs and benefits of the scheme, especially to poorer producers and consumers."


Global Warming Hysteria in "The West Australian"

By Roger Underwood -- a research manager and bushfire (forest fire) specialist with over 40 years experience of bushfire management in Australia and overseas

Over the last 6 months, readers of The West Australian newspaper have been subjected to a barrage of hysteria over global warming. Very bad news stories of one kind or another are published almost every day, all with the common theme that civilisation as we know it is about to be destroyed.

Some of these stories are simply laughable, like the article asserting that a rise in temperature of 1-2 degrees will result in the extinction of the karri forest. Another reported that rising sea levels (caused by global warming) will, amongst other calamities, lead to a killer increase in salinity in the Swan River. Many readers were surprised by this, since the Swan River is a tidal estuary in its lower reaches, and is fed by the salt-laden Avon River in its upper reaches.

Day after day The West Australian delivers stories unequivocally foretelling the melting of ice caps and glaciers, death of forests, disease outbreaks, the collapse of agriculture, social disruption, loss of coastal communities and beaches, catastrophic storms, floods, droughts and bushfires. All of this is based on an unquestioning acceptance of the theory that human-induced CO2 emissions are causing the world to heat up, and an unquestioning belief in the link between projected warming and ghastly consequences.

I am curious about this lack of editorial scepticism. When it comes to reporting politics or community issues, journalists generally pride themselves on pricking sacred balloons, cutting down tall poppies, exposing spin and highlighting hidden agendas, in short doing what journalists do. The West Australian is quite good in this area, even if their judgement is not always infallible. They have not been afraid to attack government Ministers or powerful Union bosses or to probe politically-incorrect issues, such as alcoholism and education in Indigenous communities. But on global warming their stance is one of uncritical acceptance of Worst Case Scenarios.

The whole package of political game-playing and agenda-driven alarmism is taken at face value and delivered on to readers as if the newspaper was a propaganda pamphlet, rather than a mature organ of the Australian media.

It is not just The West Australian. ABC current affairs journalists to a man and woman are also promoters of Global Warming Apocalypse. A good example was the recent segment on The 7.30 Report which suggested that a slight projected increase in temperature would result in a regime of completely unstoppable bushfires. This proposition was put to the gullible journalist by a climatologist and an environmental activist, neither of whom had any experience in bushfire science or management. No one with this knowledge or experience was interviewed.

And just before the Global Warming True Believers launch their barbs at me, I assure them that I accept the idea of climate change - the climate is always changing. I am also concerned about air pollution from industry and vehicles. However, I regard as unproven the theory of `accelerated global warming" as a result of human CO2 emissions. And I consider the worst-case scenarios uncritically presented as fact by journalists to be unhelpful to a community struggling to make sense of a complex issue.

There are risks associated with constant promotion of Worst Case Scenarios. The first is that people will start to shrug their shoulders, feeling that the whole situation is beyond hope: the planet is doomed, so we might as well live for the minute. This leads to the second risk: doomsday projections becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

The one-sided reporting of the global warming debate is perhaps explained by the fact that journalists are frightened of presenting both sides of the global warming story. They do not want to alienate those powerful sections of the community who will attack them if they do, i.e. environmentalists, academics and business interests profiting from global warming alarm.

Alternatively we are just seeing another example of the professional immaturity of the Australian media. I have observed that they have always regarded dramatic disasters and fearsome calamities as more newsworthy than everyday life or good citizenship. Thus trees being chainsawed to the accompaniment of wailing protesters is a far "better" story than a forest quietly regrowing under the stewardship of dedicated foresters. I can see no solution to this.



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, January 17, 2008

Greenland thaw biggest in 50 years?

More nonsense below. First off, note they only go back 50 years. Had they gone back to 1930's and 40's it would be a different comparison. See the July 2007 Senate Report on Greenland where we see that a 2006 study found Greenland has cooled since the 1930's and 1940's, with 1941 being the warmest year on record. Another 2006 study concluded Greenland was as warm or warmer in the 1930's and 40's and the rate of warming from 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than the warming from 1995-2005.

The Reuters article below uses the following words: "perhaps;" "continued warming could threaten;" "probably." Plus there is the obligatory "if" and "then you can reach a point of no return." Alister Doyle of Reuters must be following a standard script for these articles, if, then, possibly, maybe, could, might and of course cherry picking the years.

Surprisingly the article does note the warming around 1940. (Note: Before 80% of man-made CO2 was in the atmosphere): "Hanna said that there was also a warm period around 1940 in Greenland -- but that warming was triggered by natural variations in the Arctic climate, perhaps shifts in ocean currents. This time, the Greenland warming fits a far broader trend across the planet." How do they know that the c.1940 warm up was "natural variations" but today's recent warming "fits a far broader trend across the planet." It's just an assertion
Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday. "We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws. "The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 metres, a process that would take centuries if it were to start.

Melt water from Greenland -- excluding ice losses from glaciers slipping into the sea -- totalled 453 cubic kms in 1998, the most ahead of 2003, 2006, 1995 and 2002 in detailed records stretching back to the 1950s. Preliminary data showed that 2007 would rank second or third highest and confirm the last decade as the biggest melt, said Edward Hanna of England's University of Sheffield who led the study with colleagues in Belgium, the United States and Denmark. So far, the water runoff has been largely offset by rising snowfalls in Greenland that may also be a side-effect of climate change. Even freezing air can hold more moisture, and so deliver more snow, if it gets slightly less chilly.

But continued warming could threaten an irreversible meltdown. The report noted that typical climate models pointed to a warming for Greenland of 4-5 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 9 Fahrenheit) by 2100. "The ice probably wouldn't grow back under current conditions," Hanna said. "If you have an extra 3-5 degrees Celsius warming ... then you can reach a point of no return ... bringing the eventual demise of the ice sheet. That could take probably 1,000 or 2,000 years," he said.

On Monday, a climate researcher said that Antarctica lost billions of tonnes of ice over the last decade, contributing more to rising sea levels around the world. The U.N. Climate Panel, which blames global warming mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, projects a rise in sea levels of between 18 cms and 59 cms (7 and 23 inches) by 2100. The panel assumes that the little-understood rate of ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica will not change from 1993-2003, when their mass losses accounted for less than half of annual sea level gains of 3.1 millimetres (0.12 inch).

Hanna said that there was also a warm period around 1940 in Greenland -- but that warming was triggered by natural variations in the Arctic climate, perhaps shifts in ocean currents. This time, the Greenland warming fits a far broader trend across the planet.



Showing that, although the Greenland melt has increased during the 1992-2006 period, the melt was even higher in 1900s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. So there is no indication that the current melt is above natural climate variability. Of course people who look just on the 1990 to 2007 period "see" great melting acceleration and influence of carbon dioxide and anthropogenic climate change.
Remote sensing of Greenland ice sheet using multispectral near-infrared and visible radiances

By Petr Chylek et al.


We present the physical basis of and validate a new remote-sensing algorithm that utilizes reflected visible and near-infrared radiation to discriminate between dry and wet snow. When applied to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data, our discrimination algorithm has the potential to retrieve melting regions of the ice sheet at a spatial resolution of 0.25 km2, over three orders of magnitude higher than the resolution of current microwave methods. The method should be useful for long-term monitoring of the melt area of the Greenland ice sheet, especially regions close to ice sheet margins and of the outflow glaciers. Our analysis of MODIS retrievals of the western portion of the Greenland ice sheet over the period 2000 to 2006 indicates significant interannual variability with a maximum melt extent in 2005. Collocated in situ meteorological data reveal a high correlation (0.80) between the MODIS melt-day area and the average summer temperature. Our analysis suggests that it is the magnitude of the summer temperature that dominates the melting (not the variability of the length of the melting season). Furthermore, we find that the melt-day area increases by about 3.8% for each 0.1 K increase in the average surface air summer temperature. We combine this empirical relationship with historic temperature data to infer that the melt-day area of the western part of the ice sheet doubled between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s and that the largest ice sheet surface melting probably occurred between 1920s and 1930s, concurrent with the warming in that period.

Citation: Chylek, P., M. McCabe, M. K. Dubey, and J. Dozier (2007), Remote sensing of Greenland ice sheet using multispectral near-infrared and visible radiances, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S20, December 2007

Huge logical and other holes in global warming reporting

From today's Sydney Morning Herald comes the headline: "Global warming to impact health". First, by impact the reporter almost certainly means influence, a more accurate, but far less energetic and "actionable", word. But never mind that. Our lesson instead comes from the story, one of a breed which appears almost daily in some major newspaper somewhere in the world.

But before we can get to it, you first have to learn, if you do not already know it, the definition of tautology. A tautology is a statement which is always true; that is, no matter what happens in the word, no matter what conditions eventually hold, a tautology will be true. Some examples: "Either it will rain tomorrow or it won't" and "Marxism is a stupid theory or it is not."

Here, from the article we are studying, is the lead sentence; it is a tautological fragment, "Rises in temperature produced by global warming could result in an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with kidney disease, heart disease and mental illness in Australian cities." To make this into a grammatically correct tautology we need only add the implied clause "or the rise in temperature will not result in an increase, etc., etc."

So the reporter has written something which is true, which will always be true, and will be true regardless whether mankind influences the climate or not. But he has written his tautology in such a way to show where his sympathies lie, much as I did in my second example. In any case, we have no grounds for criticizing the reporter on the grounds of accuracy. All such attempts, which I have seen from the skeptical community, are doomed to failure.

We now have to look at the "study" on which the reporter did his article. This will require some work from us, but it is exceedingly important that you understand this study, because it is entirely typical of academic work in this area. You will see more of its kind, and with increasing frequency, so it is imperative that you learn to recognize it and ascertain how to properly criticize it. Here are the second and third sentences:

The study, by a team of academics and senior health professionals from across the country, compared the number of hospital admissions, ambulance trips and the deaths in Adelaide during heat waves, with those in normal weather conditions. The heat waves - defined as a periods of three days or more in which the average temperature exceeded 35 degrees - produced a seven per cent increase in admissions to hospital and a four per cent increase in ambulance trips.

They also tabulate rates of kidney disease and mental illness under non-heat wave and heat wave conditions, finding these maladies increase during heat waves. Here is their argument: since, they conclude, more cases of some diseases are present during heat waves, and heat waves will increase with global warming, and that global warming is true, we will see more cases of these diseases.

The structure of their pleading is in perfect logical form, and is correct; that is, their conclusion is true given their premisses. I emphasize: you cannot criticize the form of their argument, since that form concludes something which is true. Or I should say, conditionally true. We will see more disease if it is also true that more cases of some diseases are present during heat waves, etc. Are their premisses true? I will offer a series of alternate possibilities and likely faults, but I am sure to miss some, which I hope my readers will help supply.

Statistical sample criticisms:

* Did the authors look through the data to find diseases that increased in frequency during heat waves? If so, it is highly improbable that if we look at future heat wave data, we would see the same high levels of the diseases, most would have "regressed" to their mean level. And other diseases that they did not study will be found to have increased in frequency.

* What period of data was used? Presumably, the epidemiology of these diseases have changed through time, certainly "ambulance driving" has. The time series component to these data should have been accounted for.

* How many diseases did they find that did not increase in frequency during heat waves? These should have been noted.

* How many diseases did they find that decreased in frequency during heat waves? These should have been touted as benefits of warming.

* What were "non heat wave conditions"? Cold waves? All other periods of time? If cold waves, then how many diseases increased in frequency during cold waves? These should have been touted as benefits of warming. If all other periods of time, then they have chosen a poor sample: cold waves should have been separated out.

Medical criticisms:

* Are there rigorously clear and certain connections between humans living in heat waves and the diseases noted? If not, then the uncertainty associated with each should have been detailed.

* Again, the diseases increasing in frequency under cold waves were ignored.

* What benefits for other maladies are there for increased warming? It is foolish to say there are none, for, at the least, fewer people would die from extreme cold.

Technological criticisms:

* It is not at all certain that, given that heat waves will increase in frequency, people will suffer in them as they suffer now. It is highly probably that technological advances will, for example, increase the availability and efficiency of air conditioning.

* Medical science, too, will almost certainly increase in efficacy and, with high probability, lessen the number of people susceptible to the diseases under question, therefore, even if heat waves increase, the rate at which people suffer will decrease.

Global warming criticisms:

* Even if global warming is true, it is not certain, and even unlikely, that heat waves will increase in frequency. Assuming the models which predict warming are accurate, they predict more warming at nighttime and a more evening out of temperatures (reducing the diurnal swing of temperatures) than an increase in severe weather. In any case, the uncertainty inherent in these forecasts of increasing heat waves must be taken into account, and it was not.

* All other possible benefits of warming were ignored.

* And, finally, the uncertainty that global warming will continue was not accounted for.

Every criticism I offered did the same thing: increase the uncertainty, or decrease the certainty if you like, that we should have in the conclusions, in my view, to such an extent that the study is nearly worthless, and should not have seen publication.

But the authors were not content with their "findings", they progressed to naked speculation: said one of them, warming "might also bring a significant increase in previously uncommon diseases such as Dengue and Ross River fever to Australia's rural communities" and that we "could see both a worsening of existing diseases as well as the spread of diseases usually associated with warmer region." Of course, we could; it is mere tautology to say we could, but to offer such a prediction without evidence and without an expression of uncertainty can rightly be called fear mongering.

I hope you have learned a little about how to properly criticize studies of this type. But whatever other criticism you offer, you cannot say this study, and others like it, are "not science." It is science, but it is bad science, poorly executed science, and irresponsible science.



Despite warnings that global warming is already impacting precipitation quantities, local rainfall statistics have remained essentially unchanged in the 60 years they have been tracked. "While models project gloom and doom for climate change, field observation of rainfall indicates a grayer stability," according to Haifa University's Noam Halfon. The institute's geography department recently completed research that found no substantial change in rainfall quantities.

Over the past two years, Halfon examined all the monthly rainfall data amassed by the Meteorological Service since the establishment of the state. In addition, researchers looked at daily rainfall statistics from 30 meteorology stations and reports of unusual climatic events. The research covered the area of the country north of the desert line (north of the Negev) to preserve the reliability of data over years.

According to the research, rainfall in the examined area has remained stable. Average monthly rainfall data showed no clear trend change for any particular month, nor was the rainfall distribution between seasons different over time. Average annual rainfall has not changed in the period Halfon examined. "Data from certain stations showed increased localized precipitation - mostly in the eastern and southern coastal plain," he said. "In other areas, figures showed a slight drop in rainfall quantities, mostly in the North and East. No area showed a clear change."

Frequent warnings of future extreme climatic phenomena like drought years and diminishing rainfall, have not been fulfilled in Israel. The deviation from multi-year rainfall averages has not increased in either direction in recent decades.

The longest drought in the past 60 years was a six-year period in the late '50s and early '60s and not in the last decade. The longest sequence of rainy seasons that approached the multi-year average were the past four winters (2003-2007) although all four deviated slightly underneath the average.

Additional concerns regarding fewer rainy days and a parallel increase in rainfall on individual days also were not found accurate, with no change in light rain versus heavy rain days. Halfon noted it is therefore not surprising that the single-day rainfall record in Israel is from 1921. "The common belief that weather events are becoming more extreme can therefore be attributed to greater press coverage of weather events, in particular extreme events, and not to an increase in these events," Halfon said.

According to Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld of Hebrew University's Earth Sciences Institute, Halfon's findings demonstrate the fact Israel is impacted by different mechanisms than those influential in the northern Mediterranean region - from Turkey to Italy - where diminishing rainfall is already clearly evident. However, Rosenfeld emphasized that in northeastern Israel in the Lake Kinneret basin area there is a multi-year downward trend in rainfall. "The annual amount of water reaching Lake Kinneret today has dropped by 100 million cubic meters compared to quantities recorded 40 years ago," Rosenfeld said. "There are a number of explanations for this, and one of them is climate change."


Survey shows eco-warriors are worst polluters

A survey of travel habits has revealed that the most environmentally conscious people are also the biggest polluters. "Green" consumers have some of the biggest carbon footprints because they are still hooked on flying abroad or driving their cars while their adherence to the green cause is mostly limited to small gestures.

Identified as "eco-adopters", they are most likely to be members of an environmental organisation, buy green products such as detergents, recycle and have a keen interest in green issues

But the survey of 25,000 people, by the market research company Target Group Index, found that eco-adopters are seven per cent more likely than the general population to take flights, and four per cent more likely to own a car. The survey found similar trends in France and the United States.

Geoff Wicken, the author of the report, pointed to David Cameron, the Conservative leader, as a classic eco-adopter because despite styling himself as a green warrior he also takes flights in private helicopters and planes.


Green "Disparate Impact": Ugly and selfish realities

By Thomas Sowell

It was front-page news on the January 14 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle that blacks by the tens of thousands have left the San Francisco Bay area since the 1990 census. Since my book Applied Economics analyzed this situation a few years ago, it was nice to see that the information has finally reached the Chronicle, though they have yet to explain the politics and the economics behind the exodus.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not peculiar to the San Francisco Bay area, and blacks are not the only group being forced out of upscale liberal communities in California. It is much the same story in Monterey and Los Angeles, for example. Skyrocketing housing prices are forcing out families with children, as well as blacks and other people with low or even moderate incomes.

But these runaway housing prices in California did not just happen, for no reason. Prior to 1970, California housing prices were very similar to housing prices in the rest of the country. In more recent times, it has not been uncommon for California homes to cost three times what homes cost nationwide. What happened in the 1970s was that severe government restrictions on building became common in coastal California. With supply restricted and demand not restricted, it was inevitable that prices would soar beyond many people's ability to pay.

The main impetus behind severe restrictions on building is environmentalist zealots who demand that vast amounts of land be set aside as "open space" on which nothing can be built. It is not uncommon for substantial proportions of all the land in an entire county - sometimes more than half - to be set aside as "open space."

Environmentalists often talk as if they are trying to save the last few patches of greenery from being paved over, when in fact 90 percent of the land in the United States is undeveloped and forests alone cover more area than all the cities and towns in the country combined.

Behind much of the lofty and pretty talk are some ugly and selfish realities. People who already own their homes in an upscale community pay no price for making it hard for others to move into their community. On the contrary, the value of the homes they already own shoots up when they restrict the supply of new homes. In other words, they can keep out the less affluent people - or, as they put it, "preserve the character of the community" - while benefiting themselves economically in the name of green idealism.

"Open space" laws are just one of the weapons in their arsenal. Other legal impediments to building include so-called "smart growth" policies, historical preservation laws, and zoning boards and coastal commissions with arbitrary powers to limit or forbid building.

The financially ruinous powers of delay that these and other laws and institutions can impose on anyone wanting to build anything can be illustrated by a current legal case involving a developer who has for 15 years been prevented from building in the coastal California town of Half Moon Bay. A judge recently awarded him $36 million in damages, but that decision has been appealed. Anyone familiar with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals knows that anything can happen there - including more years of delay. Someone once said that the ability to tax is the ability to destroy. So is the ability to delay.

When a business sets standards or policies with adverse effects that fall disproportionately on minorities, courts call that a "disparate impact" and equate it with discrimination. But the same liberals who applaud that approach when it comes to businesses would be appalled if the same standard were applied to their own environmentalist restrictions that force vast numbers of blacks out of their own upscale liberal communities. Nor do black "leaders" who are quick to cry "discrimination" and "racism" in other contexts. Apparently it all depends on whose ox is gored.



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, January 16, 2008

Researchers tie climate changes to accelerated melt at Antarctica, raise fears of quicker sea-level rise

I was going to leave this for comments by others more expert than I am but I can't help noting a few amusing bits. Like: "despite land temperatures for the continent remaining essentially unchanged". So any change is NOT due to warming apparently. I also note from another report that the "accelerated melt" certainly has a very light foot on the gas pedal. The melt in 2006 was said to add half a millimeter to the sea level. That translates to two inches over 100 years! Forgive me while I laugh! Al Gore will certainly be stuffing his fingers in his ears when he hears that!

Climatic changes appear to be destabilizing vast ice sheets of western Antarctica that had previously seemed relatively protected from global warming, researchers reported Sunday, raising the prospect of faster sea-level rise than current estimates.

While the overall loss is a tiny fraction of the miles-deep ice that covers much of Antarctica, scientists said the new finding is important because the continent holds about 90 percent of Earth's ice, and until now, large-scale ice loss there had been limited to the peninsula that juts out toward the tip of South America. In addition, researchers found that the rate of ice loss in the affected areas has accelerated over the past 10 years -- as it has on most glaciers and ice sheets around the world.

"Without doubt, Antarctica as a whole is now losing ice yearly, and each year it's losing more," said Eric Rignot, lead author of a paper published online in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking despite land temperatures for the continent remaining essentially unchanged, except for the fast-warming peninsula. The cause, Rignot said, may be changes in the flow of the warmer water of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that circles much of the continent. "Something must be changing the ocean to trigger such changes," said Rignot, a senior scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We believe it is related to global climate forcing."


Australia: Rainfall could smash records

We were repeatedly told that the "drought" was a sign of global warming. So the floods must be a sign of global cooling, right? Or am I missing something?

BRISBANE has already exceeded its average January rainfall in the first two weeks of the month - as north Queensland continues to faces severe floods. Locals in Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays are bracing for yet more heavy rain today after the monsoon conditions wreaked havoc across the region yesterday. But in the southeast, the consistent rain has brought welcome relief from drought conditions with dam levels now above 25 per cent for the first time in month. Last night's rainfall gave a slight boost to the southeast's water supply with Somerset Dam receiving 18mm, North Pine 10mm and Wivenhoe 5mm. The combined storage today stands at 25.78 per cent.

Brisbane has already recorded 124mm of rain in January - outstripping the monthly average for the entirety of January of 120mm. And rain is forecast for the next six days until at least Monday of next week. With more heavy falls, Brisbane could be on track to pass the highest recent January total of 280mm in 1995. The city received 279mm in 2004.

In north Queensland, flood warnings remain in place for the Proserpine and Don rivers, which began rising with a storm on Sunday night. The bureau says the Don River at Bowen peaked at five metres around 3am today, causing moderate flooding. Further rises are likely today with heavy rain forecast, and widespread flash flooding is expected to continue in coastal areas south of Ayr to Mackay, particularly around Proserpine.


Raining on the Drought Parade

Post below lifted from World Climate Report. See the original for links and graphics

One of the many pillars of fear regarding global warming is the claim that droughts will become more severe in the future, particularly in continental interiors. The story is very simple and is told over and over - temperatures rise, evaporation rates increase, and even with no change in rainfall, soil moisture levels decrease and droughts last longer and are more severe. Then, crops will fail, ecosystems will collapse, major cities will run out of water, diseases will spread - you know the story. There is always some drought occurring some place on the planet, so supporting evidence is easy to find.

We have written on this subject many times, and like everything else, there is a lot more complexity to the story. Changes in wind and/or clouds could impact future evaporation rates, global dimming could cause a decease in evaporation, plants could become more water use efficient thanks to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore extract less water from the soil, and on and on. One of the problems is that long term soil moisture data are rare to non-existent, but an article in a recent issue of the International Journal of Climatology brings us a story about soil moisture extending back 1,426 years!

The article is by a team of Chinese scientists from the University of San Diego and various institutions in China. The research was funded by NASA, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the K.C. Wang Education Foundation of Hong Kong, and University of San Diego. They begin the article noting "Anthropogenic climate changes since the Industrial Revolution have attracted much attention in recent years. One often debated question is whether the magnitude of the climate change has exceeded the range of natural variability of the climate system" (sounds like they read World Climate Report). They specifically turn their attention to soil moisture conditions in northwestern China and then reveal the plan to reconstruct soil moisture levels for over 1,400 years.

Yin et al. remind us that tree growth in that part of the world is sensitive to changes in soil moisture, and they identified Qilian junipers in their study area that are over 1,400 years old. They extracted 1050 increment cores from 493 trees (the trees are not harmed), and they carefully measured characteristics of each ring width (there is one ring per year). The tree ring widths are highly statistically significantly related to the soil moisture levels, and just like magic, they could reconstruct soil moisture levels a long way back in time. They further note "We developed tree-ring chronologies over 1400 years long, which included several important climatic events, such as the medieval warming, Little Ice Age, and the post-industrial period warming."

One of the tricks in dendroclimatology is to link ring widths to actual climate data in the modern period, establish statistical response functions, and then allow the widths to tell us about climate variations hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Yin et al. developed water balance variables for their study area for the period 1955 - 2002 (AE = actual evaporation; DEF = soil moisture deficit; RSM = relative soil moisture; FC = field capacity), and the figure below shows us something very interesting. In their own words regarding the 1955-2002 analyses, we learn that "There was an overall trend to a wetter condition during the study period as indicated by the increasing trends of AE and RSM." OK - where is this drought trend that we are expecting in this continental interior? Once again, the darn data are not consistent with the predictions we hear from the greenhouse crusade!

Now for the big findings - the figure below shows the reconstructed water balance data back to 566 AD. They note "prominent dry periods during 700-800 AD, 1100-1200 AD, 1425-1525 AD, and 1650-1750 AD, wet periods around 1225 AD, 1350 AD, and 1525-1650 AD, and a general trend toward a wetter condition during the most recent 300 years." They pour more salt on the greenhouse wound stating "The recent trend to a wetter condition conformed to the ice accumulation record during 1600-1980 based on the ice core taken from the Dunde Glacier (38ø06'N, 96ø24'E, 5325 m) northwest of the study region. The wetter trend was also corroborated by a recent study in northern Pakistan, in which a reconstructed precipitation record based on tree-ring data indicated that the 20th Century was the wettest period during the past millennium." Did you notice that little comment about ice accumulation at a nearby glacier - we are sure that is an interesting story as well? Yin et al. definitely are not making any friends with the greenhouse advocates and their findings definitely will not be featured in any self-respecting climate-change-hyping newspapers anytime soon.

The Green elite hate third-world prosperity

All hail The People's Car! This simple, rear-engine, four-seater, lightweight vehicle, officially unveiled at a car expo in New Delhi today, is known in India as the `one-lakh car' - because it retails at 100,000 Rupees, or what Indians refer to as one lakh. It costs half as much as the cheapest car currently available - the Maruti 800 - and little more than a high-end motorbike. Its development is part of the Indian government's `Automotive Mission Plan', where the aim is to make India the world's destination of choice for the design and production of cars and car parts. The government hopes to create a whopping 25million car-related jobs in India by 2016, and to achieve annual car sector sales of $145billion. With India's middle classes growing by the day, it is expected that an additional 30million households will be able to buy a car by 2010.

This could transform India. If the railways, a byproduct of British colonialism, served India well in the twentieth century, then the rise of a new car culture could change the face and feel of India in the twenty-first. Millions more people will have steady, relatively well-paid jobs on car production lines; miles and miles of new roads and motorways will be constructed to accommodate the new motorised middle classes; and the average Joe Patel will enjoy greater speed and liberty in his everyday life courtesy of the affordable car. The People's Car: one short drive for a man, one giant leap for mankind!

There's only one problem. The People's Car will kill us all. The rise of what some are calling `car addiction' and `gizmo obsession' in India will push the planet over the edge into a fiery inferno. What Sandeep Chauhan and others foolishly and selfishly think of as a wonderful opportunity to get their mitts on the steering wheel of a super-cheap four-wheeler is actually the latest instance of human destructiveness against the planet.

Or so environmental activists and green-tinted Western officials would have us believe. No good news story is complete these days without an hysterical, hectoring warning from the green lobby. And as one British newspaper points out, while the launch of The People's Car has been greeted with `zeal' by India's middle classes and aspirant working classes, it has been greeted with `worry' from the environmentalist lobby, which is disgusted by the `unbridled enthusiasm' of ordinary Indians for the super-cheap car, and which predicts `a plague of ever-cheaper cars and ever-swelling clouds of climate-changing fumes' (3). The People's Car will apparently have `drastic consequences for pollution' (4). Those dirty Indians.

Environmentalists' discomfort with The People's Car throws into stark relief one of their core convictions: that the developing world must not achieve the same standard of living or level of wealth as we in the West enjoy, because if it does the Earth will perish. Indeed, one of the main justifications put forward by Western activists today for lowering CO2 emissions in America and Europe is that it will provide a `lesson' to speedily developing nations in the South and the East, and educate them not to make the same eco-unfriendly `mistakes' as we in the West have made (5). One American writer says of China: `In its rush to recreate the industrial revolution that made the West rich. China has become the world's factory, but also its smokestack.' (6) As The People's Car was unveiled, one green criticised India's `mad rush' towards `lowering prices [and] achieving mass affordability in the car market' (7). Yeah - who do those Chinese and Indians think they are, `imitating' the West and trying to recreate our industrial revolutions and leaps forward in mass consumption? Don't they know there's a planetary emergency?

Throughout modern history, all sorts of bullshit arguments have been put forward to justify global inequality: `There just isn't enough stuff to go around', squealed some; `Africans and Indians haven't got the hang of this capitalism thing', moaned others.

Today, the main argument that is marshalled against the rise of China and India, and the desires of their people to enjoy a Western-style standard of living full of cars, comfort and CO2, is the environmentalist one: that is, the development of the South and the East might tip the planet into oblivion. Some Western activists try to doll up their campaigns against development in the developing world in the language of class. A recent study by Greenpeace and its helpers in India said that `rich' Indians are `adding to pollution far more than poor Indians'. Apparently `as much as 49 per cent of the household pollution a rich Indian generates is from gizmos and gadgets like mobiles, DVD players, laptops, etc' (8).

Yet these Indians are not rich by Western standards; indeed, as our non-car owning marketing executive Sandeep Chauhan shows, many of India's middle classes enjoy a standard of living that is, at best, similar to that enjoyed by sections of the working classes in Britain. However much green activists use the word `rich' and `middle class' as terms of abuse, there's no disguising the fact that these Westernised, white-led campaign groups are lecturing brown people for getting ideas above their station - or above their station wagon, in the case of The People's Car.

In some circles, it has become fashionable recently to slate the late Mother Teresa for her celebration of the `virtues' of poverty and her instruction to the peasants of Calcutta to embrace their destitution as a blessing from God. Yet that moral fraud didn't have a patch on today's environmentalists, who use updated PC lingo and the spectre of a future hellfire on Earth to insist that Indians don't enter into the `mad rush' to become wealthy, selfish car-drivers like we Westerners - and who don't even promise a glorious afterlife, as Teresa did, to those who agree to live like paupers for the benefit of the health of the planet. Yet today's eco-miserabilists cannot so easily crush the aspirations of the teeming billions in the developing world. As a used-car salesman in New Delhi said when The People's Car was launched today: `It's the same dream anywhere in the world. You want a good home, a good car and a beautiful wife.' (9)


The dark age of low-energy bulbs

Mick Hume comments from Britain below -- saying that dullard politicians are telling us how to run our homes - in semi-darkness

Late in the pantomime season Ken Livingstone, the Miserabilist of London, is staging a new version of Aladdin. At B&Q stores this weekend Londoners can get "new bulbs for old" by swapping incandescent lightbulbs for free low-energy ones (only two each, the genie of the lightbulb being less slightly generous than the one in the lamp).

So far, so what. But what turned me off was the mayor calling this eco-stunt a "lightbulb amnesty". An amnesty is "a period during which offenders are exempt from punishment", as when police turn a blind eye to those handing in illegal weapons. A lightbulb amnesty implies that the merciful authorities will let us carbon offenders dump our tungsten timebombs and avoid the electric chair.

The economic and energy arguments about different bulbs are as dull and cold as the light thrown out by the current low-energy efforts. (Perhaps those greens who claim these are bright and warm just eat more carrots than me.) But call it a lightbulb amnesty and you can reduce the issue to a simple moral message about the power of evil.

It seems that the use of energy and production of carbon has become the standard by which all human activity is judged. Low is seen as good, higher bad, regardless of how it might illuminate our existence. What next? An auto amnesty to exchange the car for a family rickshaw? Or an infant amnesty where we can swap our carbon-guzzling kids for free-range chicks?

When an alternative scare story about mercury in low-energy bulbs arose (visions of the health and safety police swooping to change broken ones), Livingstone responded: "We shouldn't be too alarmist." How true. Of course, it is not at all alarmist for the mayor to tell us we must switch to bulbs that save a halfpenny an hour in order to "avoid catastrophic climate change".

So the genius of Thomas Edison is reinvented as a crime against the climate, while dullard politicians assume the power to tell us how to run our own homes. The lights are dimming, if not yet going off, over Europe. Welcome to the new dark age.



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, January 15, 2008

Australia's centre-Left government to fund a home-grown "green" car

What a laugh! But half a billion dollars down the drain is not so funny. It's a prime example of how Green/Left governments are completely out of touch with business realities

THE Rudd Government is forging ahead with attempts to create a home-grown green car, hoping to generate $2 billion worth of investment in the ailing auto industry. Industry Minister Kim Carr is overseeing work on an election promise to create the car, which could rival other successful energy-efficient models such as the Toyota Prius [In his dreams!]

The Government has pledged to put in half a billion dollars to create Green Car Partnership over a five year period from 2011. Senator Carr said: "This fund will generate $2 billion in investment to develop and build fuel-efficient cars in Australia and will be developed in consultation with the sector as part of the upcoming review of the auto industry. "The automotive industry is of vital importance to the Australian manufacturing sector and to the Australian economy more broadly. "The industry currently faces a range of challenges, such as climate change and the environment and consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Australians have been slow to embrace green cars. There are not any manufactured here and only 3200 hybrids were sold in 2006. [Which shows the usual good sense of Australians]


Cooling coming?

I have a climate change skeptic in my family who is a scientist. He recently sent me some work on the science of glaciation where ice core samples serve as bases for measuring climate shifts. Studies of oxygen-isotope variations suggest that we may have passed the maximum warmth in our current interglacial period. Glacial-interglacial periods tend to run about 100,000 years. We have been in an interglacial warming period since the last "ice age" and, studies suggest, are now actually on the down-swing. From the perspective of geologic time, in other words, climate change doesn't look so bad and may not even be true, at least based in studies of glacial-interglacial cycles.

Of course, understanding climate change is more complex than understanding glaciation itself. Now, this is from someone who is not only a skeptic in terms of the science - which is generally a good thing - but also on the political right. There's thus a further purpose in sending me the data writeup. But, as with most of this debate, I detect confusion. Here's the question, and I think this is crucial to ask regarding the massive issue of climate change: what's the problem? Here's how I answer this question. Climate change in itself - that is the brute shift in climate, which has occurred for millions of years - is not a problem at all but a matter of scientific fact.

Now, the facts can be disputed since scientific understanding of climate change possesses a fair degree of uncertainty and is obviously incomplete. Facts are disputed when different scientists come up with different data sets suggesting different explanations of what the overall climate is generally doing. They may also be in dispute when different scientists, analyzing the same data sets, develop different interpretations of what the data means. This is one level of the "problem" of climate change, and it is a perfectly appropriate one. A certain amount of skepticism is usually a good thing in science (and other endeavors) because, if nothing else, it can help to flesh out a more precise understanding of reality.

Climate change analysis and understanding obviously requires good science and some degree of consensus. It turns out that we're at that point and have been for some years. Scientific skepticism regarding climate change now involves matters of degree rather than matters of kind (and see the graphs I posted earlier here). There's much talk of "politicization" of climate change (see a review of Lomborg's new book here, for example), but this has less to do with the nature of the scientific consensus and more to do with various other interests interpreting the science for reasons outside of the science itself.

Lomborg and others criticize people like Al Gore, the IPCC, and some environmental activists for sensationalizing the coming harms of climate change. Exxon-Mobil funds a political program designed to build a public perception of climate change as not an issue at all. And various politicians use the issue for their own needs. Further, some scientists themselves interpret the data through the lens of their own political, economic, and social values. Sometimes this can radically distort the science itself, although my own view is that value questions are never far-removed from questions of fact (actually, as a philosopher I question the whole distinction) because fact doesn't exist on its own but is always by its very nature interpreted through an epistemological and axiological background framework that is inherited and has little (or everything!) to do with the facts at hand.

This is largely how the "debate" over climate change takes place in the US public discourse. That is, a bunch of people driven by other political and economic concerns interpret the current state of scientific understanding in terms of their own short-term and short-sighted purposes and interests. Some do so wildly and deceitfully, while all do so to some extent. And these interests are often not the public's interests at all....

More here

Saudi Arabia covered with snow in coldest winter for 20 years

Northern parts of Saudi Arabia are covered with snow with schools, mosques and administrative bodies paralyzed, local media reported Friday. The oil-rich kingdom is being hit with subzero temperatures and snow storms with freezing winds of up to 50 km/h (30mp/h). Some regions have been experiencing problems with water supplies as pipes have frozen, and livestock has died from the cold.

The Saudi Gazette reported late in December that the winter was expected to last 89 days, with temperatures reaching below zero. National media said the winter is the coldest in the country for 20 years. Morning and afternoon prayers are being combined in many mosques because of the morning cold and some schools will reopen later than scheduled. The bad weather is fun for children and teenagers, however, who have been making snowballs and building snowmen with enthusiasm.


Some mockery of Green power from Britain's Jeremy Clarkson

A couple of weeks ago, plans for a wonderful new coal-fired power station in Kent were given the green light and I was very pleased. This will reduce our dependency on Vladimir's gas and Osama's oil and, as a bonus, new technology being developed to burn the coal more efficiently will be exported to China and exchanged for plastic novelty items to make our lives a little brighter.

It's all just too excellent for words, but of course galloping into the limelight came a small army of communists and hippies who were waving their arms around and saying that coal was the fuel of Satan and that when the new power station opened, small people like Richard Hammond would immediately be drowned by a rampaging tidal swell. They argued with much gusto that if Britain was to stand any chance of meeting Mr Prescott's Kyoto climate change targets then we must build power stations that produced no carbon emissions at all.

You'd imagine then that last week, when Gordon Brown announced plans for a herd of new nuclear power stations, they'd have been delighted. Quiet power made by witchcraft, and no emissions at all. It's enough, you might imagine, to make Jonathon Porritt priapic with pleasure. But no. It turns out the eco-mentalists don't like nuclear power either for lots of reasons, all of them stupid. They worry about what would happen if a reactor blew up. Which is a bit like worrying about living in a house in case a giant meteorite lands on it. They claim that people who go within five miles of a reactor die of leukaemia instantly. (They don't.) They wonder where the plants will be built. (Wales?) And they ask what we will do with the waste. Simple. Put it in the Rainbow Warrior.

The fact of the matter is this. The decision to go nuclear has exposed the whole environmental cause for what it is: not a well intentioned drive for clean power but a spiteful, mean-spirited drive for less power. Because less power hits richer countries and richer people the hardest. I've argued time and again that the old trade unionists and CND lesbians didn't go away. They just morphed into environmentalists. The red's become green but the goals remain the same. And there's no better way of achieving those goals than turning the lights out and therefore winding the clock back to the Stone Age. Only when we're all eating leaves under a hammer and sickle will they be happy.

I'm serious. All the harebrained schemes for renewable energy are popular among Britain's beardies only because they don't work. I heard one of them on the radio last week explaining that if he were allowed to build 58,000 islands in the Caribbean he could use steam coming off the sea to make enough power for everyone. Yeah, right. And then you have their constant claims that the tide can be used to make electricity. Really? If that's so, why am I not writing this on a computer powered by the Severn Bore?

Sure, this summer work will begin on a tidal plant off the coast of Wales. Eight turbines, each 78ft long and 50ft tall, will harness the moon's gravitational pull, and if all goes well it won't even provide enough electricity to run Chipping Norton. You'd be better off burning tenners. [Ten pound notes].

So what about wind turbines? Nope. They don't work either. Quite apart from their unmatched ability to mince baby ospreys and keep everyone within 15 miles awake with their mournful humming, they don't provide enough juice to power a Rampant Rabbit. Denmark has built 6,000 wind turbines and it's said that together they can produce enough electricity to meet 19% of the country's (frankly minuscule) needs. But since they came on line not a single one of Denmark's normal power stations has been decommissioned. They are all running at full capacity because, while the wind turbines are theoretically capable of meeting nearly a fifth of the country's demands, they produce nothing at all when the wind drops. And since nobody can predict when that might be, the normal power stations have to be kept on line all the time. It's been a disaster, which brings us back to nuclear power: the only solution if you want to maintain our standard of living and cut carbon emissions.

Not only is the energy clean but there are other advantages too. The new power plants will be privately run, which means you can buy shares in them and you won't lose a penny. Because when things are going well you'll get a dividend, and when they're not going well you won't care because you'll be covered in sulphurous sores and blood will be spurting from where your eyes used to be. Better still, to make sure things don't go badly a vast army of health and safety officers will be employed to ensure the concrete is thick enough and visiting schoolchildren are not allowed to press any of the buttons. This means the high-vis Nazis will have no time left to stop policemen climbing ladders.

What's more, because so many countries are going nuclear, Iran for instance, there is bound to be a global shortage of sufficiently well qualified atomic engineers. This means wages will rise, and that will cause schoolchildren to stop aiming for stardom in Heat magazine or a 2:1 in media studies and start concentrating a bit more in physics and maths.

Best of all, though, when all of our power is being generated by neutrons quietly crashing into one another, Greenpeace will have to leave us alone and go back to unpicking dolphins from Chinamen's fishing nets.


British Greenie opposes Green town

Another example of Greenies not liking actual applications of their theories

For a man once jailed for obscenity while at the centre of Sixties counterculture, Felix Dennis is an unlikely Nimby campaigner. But, infuriated by plans to build an "eco-town" near his palatial home, the once quintessential rebel against the Establishment is leading the local battle against Gordon Brown's grand environmental vision.

Mr Dennis, 61, is best known as the notorious publishing magnate who stood accused of corrupting the nation's children in the Oz obscenity trials in the 1970s. Today, he seems keener to maintain the status quo and hopes to scupper plans for the development in the picturesque South War-wickshire countryside where he lives. A hero to the 1970s youth movement, Mr Dennis's opening salvo in his fight against the eco-town was to write a letter of protest to Hazel Blears, the Communities and Local Government Secretary.

The multimillionaire, whose publishing empire now includes the magazines Maxim, Viz and The Week, wants to stop the town being built near historic Dorsington Manor, his luxurious home. The eco-town, known as Middle Quinton, on the site of the old Long Marston army camp four miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon, would provide 6,000 homes. It is one of the ten - each containing up to 20,000 homes - proposed by Gordon Brown last year. The pledge was seen as an effort to wrestle control of the environmental agenda from David Cameron while also building three million new homes by 2020.

The proposed settlements would be built to zero-rated carbon standards yet remain "family-friendly". As well as containing state-of-the-art recycling and water conservation schemes, they would have gardens, green spaces and good-quality houses, rather than apartments. Within the settlements, shops, primary and secondary schools would all be in walking distance to try to cut carbon emisssions.

Mr Dennis, a well-known environmentalist and tree-planter in the area, rejects all charges of Nimbyism. He claims that the proposed development would threaten a beautiful country area, bring thousands more cars on to narrow rural lanes, cause light pollution and disrupt major footpaths including the Heart of England Way. He also says that the plans have no support from the local authority or other local stakeholders.

Mr Dennis started his publishing career at Oz, the Sixties counterculture magazine that was prosecuted for obscenity in 1971. Though all three Oz editors were found guilty, Mr Dennis was given a lesser sentence because the judge considered him "very much less intelligent" and therefore less responsible - than his co-accused. The remark allegedly drove Mr Dennis to create his business empire, now thought to be worth 720 million pounds, to prove the judge wrong.

The proposed site, currently used for Sunday markets, is owned by the Midlands property group St Modwen, while the Stratford-based developer the Bird Group owns 120 adjoining acres that would rocket in value if the eco-town were to receive planning permission. The group's managing director, Tony Bird, said: "I'm extremely excited by it. I love Stratford - I dread to think what will happen if we don't do this at Long Marston. Stratford will become a housing estate and it's congested enough already."



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, January 14, 2008

Top 10 Climate Myth-Busters for 2007

Post below lifted from Steven J. Milloy. See the original for links

"I've made up my mind. Don't confuse me with the facts." That saying most appropriately sums up the year in climate science for the fanatic global warming crowd.

Al Gore, the United Nations, grandstanding politicians and celebrities, taxpayer-dependent climate researchers, socialist-minded Greens, climate profiteers and other members of the alarmist railroad relentlessly continued their drive for greenhouse gas regulation in 2007, the year's scientific developments actually pointed in the opposite direction. Here's the round-up:

1. Cracked crystal balls. Observed temperature changes measured over the last 30 years don't match well with temperatures predicted by the mathematical climate models relied on by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), researchers reported. The models predict significantly warmer atmospheric temperatures than actually occurred, despite the availability of more and better quality data and improved modeling efforts since the late-1970s. "We suggest, therefore, that projections of future climate based on these models be viewed with much caution," the researchers concluded. Read more.

2. The big yellow ball in the sky. The Sun may have contributed 50 percent or more of the global warming thought to have occurred since 1900, according to a new historical temperature reconstruction showing more variation in pre-industrial temperatures than previously thought. The researchers found that "the climate is very sensitive to solar changes and a significant fraction of the global warming that occurred during the last century should be solar induced." Read more.

3. Pre-SUV warming. Another new temperature reconstruction for the past 2,000 years indicates that globally averaged temperature 1,000 years ago was about 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the current temperature. Since that climatic "heat wave" obviously wasn't caused by coal-fired power plants and SUVs, the current temperature is quite within natural variability, deflating alarmists' rash conclusions about the warming of the past 50 years. Read more.

4. A disciplined climate. Runaway global warming -- the alarmist fantasy in which a warmer global temperature causes climatic events that, in turn, cause more warming and so-on in a never-ending positive feedback loop -- was cornered by new data from researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). The new research sheds light on the mechanism by which the atmosphere self-regulates. Read more.

5. A gnarly wipeout. Climate alarmists gleefully surfed a 2005 study that claimed greenhouse gas emissions would slow Atlantic Ocean circulation and cause a mini ice age in Europe. But an international team of researchers reported that the intensity of the Atlantic circulation may vary by as much as a factor of eight in a single year. The decrease in Atlantic circulation claimed in the 2005study falls well within this variation and so is likely part of a natural yearly trend, according to the new study. Read more.

6. A pollution solution. A new study reported that the solid particles suspended in the atmosphere (called "aerosols") that make up "brown clouds" may actually contribute to warmer temperatures -- precisely the opposite effect heretofore claimed by global warming alarmists. "These findings might seem to contradict the general notion of aerosol particles as cooling agents in the global climate system .," concluded the researchers. Read more.

7. Lazy temperature? Researchers reported that the rate of manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions was three times greater during 2000 to 2004 than during the 1990s. Since increasing atmospheric C02 levels allegedly cause global warming, the new study must mean that global temperatures are soaring even faster now than they did during the 1990s, right? Wrong. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Climatic Data Center, ever-changing global temperatures are in no way keeping pace with ever-increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Read more.

8. Don't plant that tree! Researchers reported that while tropical forests exert a cooling influence on global climate, forests in northern regions exert a significant warming influence on climate. Based on the researchers' computer modeling, forests above 20 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere -- that is, north of the line of latitude running through Southern Mexico, Saharan Africa, central India and the southernmost Chinese Island of Hainan -- will warm surface temperatures in those regions by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Read more.

9. The Tropical Arctic. Dutch researchers reported that during a period of intense global warming 55 million years ago -- when the Arctic Ocean was as warm as 73 degrees Fahrenheit -- there was a tremendous release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But which came first, the warming or the greenhouse gases? It was the warming, according to the researchers. Read more.

10. Much ado about nothing. In a report to Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed greenhouse gas regulation to be quite the fool's errand. In estimating the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases 90 years from now under both a scenario where no action is taken to reduce manmade emissions and a scenario where maximum regulation is implemented, the estimated difference in average global temperature between the two scenarios is 0.17 degrees Centigrade. For reference purposes, the estimated total increase in average global temperature for the 20th century was about 0.50 degrees Celsius.

That's what researchers have reported this year. And let's not forget the spanking a British high judge gave Al Gore's movie for all its scientific inaccuracies and the thrashing non-alarmist climate scientists gave to alarmist climate scientists in a debate sponsored by the New York debating society Intelligence Squared.

Al Gore and the alarmist mob claim the debate about the science of global warming is "over." Given the developments of 2007, it's easy to see why they would want it that way.

NASA official raps coal-fired plant

NASA's chief climate scientist expanded his criticism of a proposed Marshalltown coal-fired electricity generating plant and similar facilities Wednesday, saying all gas emissions from coal plants should be captured and stored to fight global warming and to protect people's health.

James Hansen, an Iowa native and director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, held a telephone news conference to outline his objections to Alliant Energy's proposed coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown - and all similar plants.

No new coal plants should be allowed unless they capture and sequester all their carbon-dioxide emissions, a key cause of climate change, Hansen said. The plants also should be required to capture and store mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions, he added. Mercury builds up in fish tissue that people eat, while the other gases contribute to lung ailments and acid rain.

Hansen said he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a representative of NASA. When he testifies before the Iowa Utilities Board in Marshalltown next week about Alliant's proposal, he will be on vacation and traveling at his own expense, Hansen said. He isn't being paid for his testimony.

Climate studies have shown that shutting down carbon emissions from power plants would stabilize the climate, he said. "That would solve about 80 percent of the problem," he said. The next task would be to cut carbon emissions related to production of fuels for vehicles, whether that is ethanol, electricity or something else, he added. One-fifth of the carbon emissions from coal and other fossil fuels stays in the atmosphere for more than 1,000 years.

Utility officials have said they are working on technology to capture the emissions, but that could be a decade or more away. In the meantime, coal is the most reliable, and cheapest, way to provide the bulk of growing electricity demand, Alliant and other utilities have said. The 630-megawatt Marshalltown plant would be one of Iowa's most efficient and, combined with new wind power, would allow the company to cut overall carbon emissions from what they would be without it, Alliant officials have said. It would not immediately sequester carbon.

Hansen said coal plants are a bad investment because limits or an outright ban on carbon emissions are coming as soon as governments across the globe acknowledge the seriousness of global warming.


An emailed comment on the above:

Just incredible.

For one thing, where does Hansen get off calling PlayStation simulations "climate studies"?

For another thing - and this demands some focus - Hansen claims that a fifth of CO2 stays in the air for a thousand years. Okay, the IPCC puts each year's natural carbon emissions in the neighborhood of 200 billion metric tons. By Hansen's metric, this means that the oceans, dissolving rocks and plants will not see 40 billion of that till a thousand years have ended. Yet the IPCC also says that more than 98% of all carbon emissions - artificial and natural combined - are re-absorbed by oceans, dissolving rocks and plants each year.

So try to reconcile both of these models. Of the yearly 207 billion that go up (fresh), 166 come down (fresh and stale), plus 38, the tail end of the atmosphere's carbon contents before the First Crusade captured Jerusalem. Does that sound plausible?

What Hansen is implicitly foistering, of course, is that nature discriminates against artificial CO2 and leaves it in the air while the rest gets recycled normally. But nature would do just the opposite. Fossil fuels are rich in the very carbon isotopes that plants prefer, since fossil fuels are the remains of plants themselves. As for rocks, they'll dissolve under rainwater no matter which carbon isotopes it contains, and the ocean will continue to follow its complex cycles of CO2 absorption and emission.

10 years, more or less. Every empirical study puts that as the average lifetime of atmospheric CO2.

British science chief criticizes Greens

The scientist credited as being the first to convince Tony Blair of the urgency of the climate crisis has accused green activists of being Luddites who risk setting back the fight against global warming. In an interview with the Guardian today Sir David King, who stepped down last month after seven years as the government's chief scientific adviser, says any approach that does not focus on technological solutions to climate change - including nuclear power - is one of "utter hopelessness".

He says: "There is a suspicion, and I have that suspicion myself, that a large number of people who label themselves 'green' are actually keen to take us back to the 18th or even the 17th century." He characterises their argument as "let's get away from all the technological gizmos and developments of the 20th century".

"People say 'well, we'll just use less energy.' Come on," he says. "And then there's the real world, where everyone is aspiring to the sort of standard of living that we have, which is based on a large energy consumption."

King calls global warming the biggest challenge our civilisation has ever faced, and famously, in a 2004 article in the journal Science, berated the US for its inaction, describing climate change as "more serious even than the threat of terrorism". But his vocal support for nuclear power and genetically modified foods has led to tensions with environmental campaigners.

In a new book, The Hot Topic, he invites further hostility, arguing that aviation has been unfairly scapegoated, and that a localist approach to grocery shopping, aimed at reducing food miles, may sometimes result in bigger carbon dioxide emissions than purchasing food transported from overseas.

Making people feel guilty about their energy use, the book argues, "makes them less likely to act, not more". "What I'm looking for are technological solutions to a technologically driven problem, so the last thing we must do is eschew technology as we move forward," says King, 68.

His book prescribes a barrage of technological measures based on nuclear energy, wind power, cutting emissions from cars and buildings, increasing the global area of solar panels by a factor of 700, and capturing and storing emissions from fossil fuel power generation. Only with a nuclear component, he argues, might Britain "just about manage" to reach its commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% on 1990 levels by 2050.

He recalls how he sparked fury at a meeting of Blair's ministers when he refused to agree to stay silent in public about his pro-nuclear views, even though the cabinet had, at the time, opted not to press ahead with plans for new power stations. "Let me say that John Prescott's reaction was almost violent," he says.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said it was King, not green activists, who was living in the past. "We need science to get us out of the climate change hole we're in - that's why Greenpeace wants to see research funding piled into the cutting-edge low-carbon technologies that can deliver deep emissions cuts in a very short timeframe," he said."We're talking about technical solutions that can also be safely spread to every country in the world, no matter how unstable. Nuclear power isn't that technology, but Sir David wants to take us back to the 1950s, the last time we were told it would solve all our problems."


A profitable Greenie cult

When 400 bona fide climate and atmospheric scientists, with impeccable credentials, say they don't buy into man-made catastrophic global warming, politician-for-life Al Gore, without any evidence to back up his scurrilous and defamatory accusation, suggests they are all being paid off by big business. I think I'm very safe in making this statement without any investigation whatsoever: Al Gore has been paid off more by big business in his political career than all 400 of those scientists put together. Yet, no one calls this Nobel Peace Prize winner on it. He can say anything and get away with it - even be rewarded for it. He can tell any lie - and take home awards for it. He can hurl slanderous accusations that describe no one better than himself.

Big business? Name one big business that is fighting this global warming hysteria. Everywhere I look I see big business joining the hysteria, using it as a marketing tool, claiming their products and services have small carbon footprints, whatever that means. In fact, global warming hysteria is big business. I strongly believe that's what motivates Al Gore to be the Pied Piper of this global hoax. Isn't he in the business of selling carbon credits? Hasn't anyone figured out his racket yet? Gee, let's see. A guy comes along selling the end of the world and, also, coincidentally, selling the cure. Wouldn't you get just a little suspicious?

I'm shocked that so many Americans and others around the world have fallen for this. If any of you reading this column are among this gullible group, I have some prime real estate in Manhattan I'd like to sell you called Central Park. (Inquire within.)

Not only is big business pushing the global warming hype, but so is big government. Practically everyone in the federal government is part of the scam - from George W. Bush to the Congress to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Education and so on. And that's just the start of how big this conspiracy is.

It filters right down to the public school classroom in your town. Here's an example of what's happening throughout the state of Illinois. The state's EPA enlists the help of the state's education system to spread the state's propaganda: OK, let's have a poster contest on what we can do about global warming. The contest will be judged on, among other things, the accuracy of the content! But I will bet you that any kid who is skeptical about global warming will not have a chance to win.

This nonsense - this indoctrination, this spreading of lies - is going on in virtually every public school in the country. It goes on in elementary schools, and it goes on in colleges and universities. And there is no science behind it. There is no truth behind it. There is no point behind it except to enlist your little darlin' into the legion of mindless robots who care only about minimizing their parents' carbon footprints.

I'm sure I've said it before, but it needs to be said again and again: This is nothing more than child abuse. It has nothing to do with education. It is the opposite of education. It is mis-education. People who do this kind of thing to little children should be incarcerated. But they won't be, because big business and big government are behind it! And anyone who questions what is being taught in this new Stalinesque environment is labeled an enemy of the people.

It is also a blatant violation of the First Amendment, which does indeed prohibit Congress from making any law that establishes a state religion. Guess what? Global warming is indeed a state religion - and it is being spread coercively using all the power of big government and big business to do it. Just see how the "heretics" are treated - even if they do happen to be 400 of the most prominent climate scientists in the world.


Global Warming and Risks of Severe Acne

This article is perfectly logical by Greenie standards but it is probably a spoof

Global warming is actually an example or an effect of climate changes. Climate change or global warming is defined as increase in average temperature of the air and ocean nearest to the earth. Climate change not only increase the temperature, but it also brings hundreds of changes such as glacier retreat, damaging of ozone layer, extreme weather etc. The article covers predictions and possibilities that how climate change and green house effect may influence on your skin and skin disorders.

Global warming may influence on human life directly or indirectly. Indirect effects may include effect of global warming on agriculture, other animals which form biological chains etc.

Human body maintains a temperature of around 98.2 degrees F, it is the ideal temperature for your body. Slight fluctuation in the scale of temperature may occur temporarily during exercise and other activities. Your body works efficiently at 98.2 degrees F. Sebaceous glands and sweat glands are heat sensitive and rapidly produce their secretions. Thus, persistent rise in temperature results in increased activity of sebaceous glands and overproduction of sebum. Overproduction of sebum mixes with dead skin cells and clogs the hair follicles and acne breakouts occurs.

Average temperature has considerably risen since 1940 affecting hundreds of biological and ecological system. The persistent rise in temperature greatly influences on your skin and its disorders.

Global warming influenced on both, animals and plants. When due to climate changes, crops had been destroyed, farmers started to use pesticides and other synthetic chemicals to increase maximum productivity level. Synthetic pesticides on crops and soil result in loss of nutritious substances. Lack of nutritious substances, vitamins and minerals is the leading cause of overactive sebaceous glands.

Ultra violet rays are divided into three categories depending upon their wavelength. Ultra violet B and C are more biologically harmful. Ultraviolet B directly affects on skin and the leading cause of sunburn. Ozone layer filters around 97.6% of harmful ultraviolet rays at distance of 35km above the earth surface. Thus, increasing climate change is greatly affecting human life and causing severe and intense skin disorders including acne, eczema and rashes.

Global warming has affected various aspects of life. All organisms depend upon the ecosystem directly or indirectly. Increased temperature, damaged ozone layer and agriculture changes are all economical factors that profoundly impacts human life. Human skin is the most sensitive and most affected organ by these factors. Various skin disorders such as acne, scars are the result of global warming and climate change.



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, January 13, 2008

Climate Change Blamed for First Baghdad Snows in 100 Years

Post below lifted from Newsbusters. See the original for links. I wonder what caused the snow of 100 years ago. Was that the doing of mankind too? If so, how?

Add another item to the growing list of things caused by the liberal bogeyman known as global warming: SNOW!!! I kid you not. For those thinking NewsBusters has fallen prey to a satire, think again, as the following was hysterically logged by Agence France-Presse moments ago:
Light snow fell in Baghdad early on Friday in what weather officials said was the first time in about a 100 years. Rare snowfalls were also recorded in the west and centre of Iraq, plunging temperatures to zero degrees Centigrade (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and even colder, an official said. The snow in Baghdad, which melted as it hit the ground, began falling before dawn and continued until after 9 am, residents said. "Snow has fallen in Baghdad for the first time in about a century as a result of two air flows meeting," said a statement by the meteorology department.

Now, you would think that cold weather in areas that normally don't experience such would be evidence that global warming isn't happening, right? Wrong! You see, what the alarmists - led of course by Nobel Laureate Al Gore - have brilliantly done is renamed the bogeyman "climate change" such that anything that occurs on this planet dealing with weather exemplifies the threat they avow will destroy us all if we don't stop burning fossil fuels:
The director of the meteorology department, Dawood Shakir, told AFP that climate change was possibly to blame for the unusual event. "It's very rare," he said. "Baghdad has never seen snow falling in living memory. "These snowfalls are linked to the climate change that is happening everywhere. We are finding some places in the world which are warm and are supposed to be cold."

There it is. As such, folks, with solar cycle 24 having just begun, it is a metaphysical certitude that as the planet cools during this phase, alarmists will blame it on climate change and carbon dioxide rather than the sun. And, of course, a global warming obsessed media will dutifully report the insanity. Heaven help us.

Breaking News- Snow in the Middle of the South America Summer

You think the weather has been wild and extreme here in the United States the last 10 days. Take a look at this!!!

Metsul Weather Center, [Brazil]:

The weather went crazy. This is the most read sentence in the press of Buenos Aires at this moment. The central and northern areas of Argentina are experiencing a brutal heat wave that brought the electrical grid of country to near a collapse point. The temperature soared to 39C (102F) in Buenos Aires with a heat index of 42C (108F), but in some provinces of Argentina the heat index reached 54C (129F) yesterday.

This morning it snowed in several locations of southern Argentina as the famous resort of Bariloche in the Andes Mountains. It even snowed in downtown Bariloche (photo), a rare event for January. Local press described the snow blanketed the Cordillera of Chubut, an unusual event for January. "I do not know if I use my plastic swimming pool or the skis", told a local resident that saw snow this morning and just few hours earlier suffered with much above average temperature reaching 30C (86F) in the Patagonia region.

Snow was also reported in San Martins de Los Andes. Tourists in the regional, used to see snow in the colder months of the years, could not believe the white thing was falling in the middle of January. Just like this week in the United States (winter storm in the West and unusually warm in the East), the northern areas of Argentina were under very warm weather warnings at the some moment it was snowing in the southern provinces.

Source. Note that this follows a punishingly long and cold Argentine winter.

World warming despite cool Pacific and Baghdad snow (?)

An air of desperation in the Reuters article excerpted below. Even the heading (reproduced above) is misleading. There is record cooling across most of central Asia -- not just in Baghdad. Note that IPCC head Pachauri is explicitly wondering about the 21st century temperature plateau. That is a grudging admission in itself

Climate change is still nudging up temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a cool Pacific and Baghdad's first snow in memory, experts said. "Global warming has not stopped," said Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) climate program.

Last year was among the six warmest years since records began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific. "We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean," Delju told Reuters. "The decade from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend is still continuing."

This year has started with odd weather including the first snows in Baghdad in memory on Friday and a New Year cold snap in India that killed more than 20 people. Frost hit some areas of Florida last week but orange groves escaped mostly unscathed.....

The record year for world temperatures was 1998, ahead of 2005, according to WMO data. Among recent signs of the effects of warming, Arctic sea ice shrank last year to a record low.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the U.N. Panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said he would look into the apparent temperature plateau so far this century. "One would really have to see on the basis of some analysis what this really represents," he told Reuters, adding "are there natural factors compensating?" for increases in greenhouse gases from human activities. He added that skeptics about a human role in climate change delighted in hints that temperatures might not be rising. "There are some people who would want to find every single excuse to say that this is all hogwash," he said.


Comment on the NYT blog about attacks on the Inhofe report

By Senate staffer Marc Morano

There is no time for resting when such easily debunked critiques of the Senate report on over 400 scientists are floating about. I am responding to your critique here of the Senate Report of over 400 scientists disputing man-made global warming claims.

First off, the well over 400-plus names (and still growing) scientists are not "all" of the skeptical scientists in the world; they are merely a sampling of scientists who spoke out recently. The report is also weighted to English speaking scientists; it does not pretend to capture all of the large amounts of skepticism growing around the world to the hyped "climate crisis." (See full Senate report here)

Second, you claim that there are a few scientists "who are flatly unqualified to make any pronouncements on climate science" because they do not meet your criteria or because the report has a few economists in it. Such charges are simply unsustainable.

Do you hold the UN IPCC scientists to that same standard? Please take the time to read this excellent research by Climate Resistance revealing that the so-called "thousands" of scientists from the UN are made up of significant numbers of economists and engineers as well. After all, you could argue that half the climate change debate is premised on economics that falls under Stern Review-inspired "it's cheaper to act now" than wait category.

Also, the head of UN IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri, is an economist and engineer. It appears Nobel winner Pachauri would not meet your standards to comment on climate change. Pachauri's training as an economist has not stopped the New York Times from erroneously referring to him as a "climatologist" (see here) or the AP from referring to Pachauri as the "chief climate scientist" for the UN. See here. Are you going to chastise the NY Times and AP for referring to the "thousands" of UN experts as "scientists" as well?

Note: Many current and former members of the UN IPCC are featured in the Senate report of over 400.) Or do you only selectively "disqualify" scientists if they do not share your views?

Third, your citation of Prof. Andrew Dessler's articles at Grist is amusing. Dessler has monumentally embarrassed himself by recently claiming there were only two dozen scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears. Dessler is now trying desperately to salvage his unsupportable assertions over at Grist with increasingly shrill and comical posts.

It is made clear you have not read the Senate report when you parrot Dessler's claims that Dr. Christopher Castro "unabashedly and explicitly endorses the IPCC consensus." If you took the time to read Castro's entry in the Senate report you would find that even though he accepts the idea that mankind is responsible for most of the recent warming, he has serious doubts about future dire predictions of warming. Excerpt from report:

Castro, who studied under skeptical climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. "agrees that `other possible forcings to the climate system besides CO2 (like land-use change, aerosols, etc.) are not accounted for well, if at all' and "models are highly sensitive to parameterized processes, like clouds, convection, and radiation, and these processes can have significant impacts on their results.'"

Remember, many skeptical scientists believe the Earth has already seen most of the warming impact of rising CO2, so agreeing that a 20th century CO2 rise has caused some warming is not the same as believing future catastrophic climate projections.

Also, Dessler mocks a meteorologist for citing God as part of his belief that mankind is not causing a “climate crisis,” but Dessler completely ignores the scientific reasons the meteorologist presents. Be wary of critiques that do not publish the Senate Report's full excerpt on the scientist being analyzed.

Fourth, your cut and paste attack from Real Climate on award-winning physicist Claude Allegre and his colleague Vincent Courtillot is without merit. The propaganda team at routinely ridicule scientists who dissent from their view of climate orthodoxy. An interesting note on Allegre is he recently converted from a believer in catastrophic climate change to a skeptic as new scientific studies debunked fears. See full report here (includes many other scientist who reversed themselves on global warming as well)

The Senate report of dissenting scientists has gained a giant foothold in the climate debate. For a sampling of the impact the report is having in redefining the climate debate, see here.

Also note that this report goes way beyond scientists' dissenting but includes numerous recent peer-reviewed studies debunking rising CO2 fears and Arctic and Greenland melting fears.

2008 is ushering in a truly new era in the climate debate. No longer will activists be able to claim that the "debate is over" or, as Naomi Oreskes once claimed, no peer-reviewed studies cast doubt on the "consensus."

For an insight into why there is a growing number of skeptical scientists worldwide, please read this article just up today by one of the Senate 400 plus scientists. It is written by Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review. (I hope you consider him "qualified" to speak on this issue)

I urge everyone on this board to actually read the full Senate report (well over 80,000 words) and then re-evaluate your views. Full report available here


More Inconvenient Truths

Despite Al Gore's contention that the CO2 in the atmosphere is approaching dangerous levels, scientists tell us that CO2 levels have been as high as 15 times the current level of about 380 parts per million (ppm) and levels of about 5 times the current level were common.

In Al Gore's environmental tome and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, he claims that anthropogenic (human-caused) activity will cause irreversible damage to the planet. The basis of this claim is that by using carbon-based fuels (oil, gas, coal, wood) to produce energy, we will increase the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and cause global warming. According to Gore, this global warming will cause glaciers to melt, causing the oceans to rise thereby flooding all the coastal communities. Of course, the poor, minorities, women, and children will die first.

Gore erroneously assumes that current conditions on earth are the natural state. Even a cursory study of the earth would reveal that nothing related to the earth is constant. Continents move, the oceans rise and fall, glaciers advance and retreat, the magnetic poles have moved and reversed, the composition of the atmosphere has varied and the earth's temperature has warmed and cooled. All of these events occurred without any human influence.

The earth's tectonic plates constantly move. The continents have moved thousands of miles. The clash of these tectonic plates has created massive mountain ranges. Earthquakes are the result of the movement of these tectonic plates.

Fossilized kelp and fossils of ocean creatures have been found at altitudes over 5,000 feet above the current sea level. We know the kelp and sea creatures lived in the oceans so either the land was pushed up or the oceans receded. Either scenario makes the global warming doomsday predictions laughable. The sea level changes predicted by these global warming zealots are dwarfed by previous variations of sea level changes.

Ice cores have established the existence of at least 17 Ice Age Cycles in just the past 2 million years. During those Ice Ages Cycles, glaciers several thousand feet thick came as far south as the mid-U.S. Each Ice Age Cycle lasted about 100,000 years separated by an interglacial warming period of about 10,000 years. We are in an interglacial period now, so another Ice Age is a safe bet.

The north and south magnetic poles wander independently and it been theorized that the north and south magnetic poles have reversed numerous times. The last reversal occurred about 740,000 years ago. Evidence of these reversals is recorded in the magnetism of ancient rocks. The sun also reverses poles but on a more predictable cycle. The next reversal of the sun's magnetic poles will be in 2012. The earth's pole reversals are unpredictable and many scientists feel another magnetic pole reversal is overdue. A reversal of the earth's magnetic poles would be far more serious than the predicted rise in the earth's temperature of 2 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years.

Despite Al Gore's contention that the CO2 in the atmosphere is approaching dangerous levels, scientists tell us that CO2 levels have been as high as 15 times the current level of about 380 parts per million (ppm) and levels of about 5 times the current level were common. The current level of 380 ppm is like comparing the contents of an eye dropper to a swimming pool. Plants thrived at the higher CO2 levels and varying CO2 levels aren't harmful to plants, animals, or humans.

Dr. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist from the University of Virginia, summed up these Inconvenient Truths this way. Singer said, "We have to remember that the climate has always been changing ever since we have records, and we have geologic records going back millions and millions of years. We know that there have been huge climate changes on the earth long before human beings actually came into existence."

On December 13th, over 100 prominent international scientists released an open letter to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The letter in part states, "Attempts 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." An analogy for this futile effort could be draining the ocean with a spoon. The Washington Post also noted that the number of global warming skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking. Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears bite the dust." Will Al Gore and fellow Gorons recognize these Inconvenient Truths or will they continue to perpetuate this global warming fraud?



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, January 12, 2008

Huge upset: Global warming may not affect sea levels

Reality trumps model-based predictions

The most pessimistic predictions of sea level rises as ice sheets are melted by global warming may have to be scaled back as a result of an extraordinary discovery that ice persisted when the Earth was much hotter than today. Scientists have discovered that glaciers survived for hundreds of thousands of years during an extraordinary era when crocodiles roamed the Arctic and the tropical Atlantic Ocean was as warm as human blood.

They had thought that Earth was ice free during the so called Turonian period, a "super greenhouse world" between 93.5 million and 89.3 million years ago. But now evidence has been found of hothouse glaciers that persisted by studies of tiny plankton and other marine organisms.

Large ice-sheets existed about 91 million years ago, during one of the warmest periods in the past 500 million years, an international team of scientists reports in Science. The scientists from the UK, Germany, USA and Netherlands found evidence of an approximate 200,000 year period of widespread glaciation, with ice sheets about 60 per cent the size of the modern Antarctic ice cap.

The team obtained their evidence from analyses of organic carbon-rich sediments that were deposited in the western Equatorial Atlantic at Demerara Rise off Surinam at that time. They contained glassy carbonate shells of tiny sea creatures, foraminifera. These shells 'captured' the chemical conditions that were present at the time, providing clues about the temperature, composition and salinity of the seawater in the hot tub oceans.

By analysing the different types of oxygen atoms (isotopes) in these shells scientists were able to reconstruct sea temperature, both at the surface and at depth. Meanwhile, a European team at the Universities of Newcastle and Cologne in the UK and Germany, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in the Netherlands studied the composition of organic molecules from other organisms in the sediments, providing an independent temperature record of surface waters for the Cretaceous western tropical Atlantic.

Professor Thomas Wagner, of Newcastle University, says: "Speculation about whether large ice caps could have formed during short periods of the Earth's warmest interval has a long history in geology and climate research, but there has never been final conclusive evidence. Our research from tropical marine sediments provides strong evidence that large ice sheets indeed did exist for short periods of the Cretaceous, despite the fact that the world was a much hotter place than it is today, or is likely to be in the near future',

Today, the Antarctic ice cap stores enough water to raise sea level by about 60 metres if the whole mass melted and flowed back into the ocean. But the new results are consistent with independent evidence that sea level fell by about 25-40 metres at this time. Sea level is known to fall as water is removed from the oceans to build continental ice-sheets and to rise as ice melts and returns to the sea.

Dr Andre Bornemann, who led the research at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, and who has since moved to Leipzig University, Germany, says it is not clear where such a large mass of ice could have existed when the Earth was so hot or how ice growth could have started. 'This study demonstrates that even these super-warm climates were not warm enough to always prevent ice growth. "However, paradoxically past greenhouse climates may actually have aided ice growth by increasing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and creating more winter snowfall at high elevations and high latitudes,' he said.

The findings support for another related study from The University of Sheffield and Yale University in the journal, Nature Geoscience which suggested there could still be cold spells in a general greenhouse world. Although such work might someday help researchers to better evaluate global warming on geological timescales, Dr Bornemann emphasised global climate change is now happening on a completely different, much more rapid, time scale. [He would. He has to]


Journal abstract follows:

Isotopic Evidence for Glaciation During the Cretaceous Supergreenhouse

By Andre Bornemann et al.

The Turonian (93.5 to 89.3 million years ago) was one of the warmest periods of the Phanerozoic eon, with tropical sea surface temperatures over 35°C. High-amplitude sea-level changes and positive delta18O data from the tropical Atlantic show synchronous shifts ~91.2 million years ago for both the surface and deep ocean that are consistent with an approximately 200,000-year period of glaciation, with ice sheets of about half the size of the modern Antarctic ice cap. Even the prevailing supergreenhouse climate was not a barrier to the formation of large ice sheets, calling into question the common assumption that the poles were always ice-free during past periods of intense global warming.

Science, 11 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5860, pp. 189 - 192

A skeptic speaks out

Blog post below by by William M. Briggs, Statistician. Prof. Briggs specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review. Briggs, a visiting mathematics professor at Central Michigan University and a Biostatistician at New York Methodist Hospital, has a new paper coming out in the peer-reviewed Journal of Climate which finds that hurricanes have not increased in number or intensity in the North Atlantic.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works has released an addendum to its list of 400-plus scientists who express some level of skepticism about man-made global warming. I highlight this because, well, it turns out that my name has made its way onto the list, so I now have to explain why and what it means to be a "skeptic."

I should first explain that I am on this list reluctantly, because, as I have been quoted as saying, "Most scientists just don't want the publicity [associated with speaking out on climate matters] one way or another. Generally, publicity is not good for one's academic career." I do not think, then, that my being on that list, and starting this blog, will bring a tremendous boost in my own professional life. Scientists like to see discussions about uncertainty in their methods and results kept inside peer-reviewed journals and not dragged through the press. They have strong opinions on this. Witness the scorn heaped up the physicists Fleishman and Pons when they first released their "cold fusion" theory to the press and not to other scientists; for example, see this article which says that what the pair did was a "`classic' example of what not to do as" scientists. Actually, this is an odd statement because the incident ended well-because it was the initial public announcement that spurred the flurry of research that showed that cold fusion was false.

The only reason that I have been able to think of about why research should be confined to journals is that it is in these places that scientists expect to find new results. Scientists are not in the habit of scanning the newspaper or trolling the internet looking for press releases. There just isn't the time to do so.

But climatology has, unfortunately, become a different sort of creature. Far too much speculation shows up in the headlines. Prominent scientists have taken to using the press as a bludgeon to discourage reasonable dissent. An example: R K Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, and now co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, has compared anybody that dared question mad-made climate change to those who believe in a flat earth.

"Well, there will always be some skeptics," Pachauri said. "As you know, there is still in existence something called the Flat Earth Society. There are people - a very limited number, thank God - who believe the Earth is flat." Source: Washington Post

These excruciating comments are asinine and irresponsible, and they must be answered publicly.

I am not skeptical that man causes changes in his environment; in fact, I argue man must cause changes (see this post). I am only skeptical about the extent of these changes and about our ability to understand them. I am skeptical of the results from climate models that are used to posit large and harmful shifts in the earth's temperature.

The vast majority of pronouncements about climate change are based on forecasts, guesses made about the future which are conditional on the multitude of assumptions underlying the models being true and on the forecasts having only small error. My specialty is in forecast evaluation (not just climate models, but any kind), and I do not feel that climate models have shown their ability to make accurate predictions thus far. This is why I said that the "error associated with climate predictions is also much larger than that usually ascribed to them; meaning, of course, that people are far too sure of themselves and their models."

Overconfidence is a common human trait, and it holds in scientists just as much as it does with civilians. Typically, however, the excessive surety of scientists is tempered by the peer-criticism process, which has the effect of reducing, but never eliminating, prediction error. But this service won't work well if experts are made to feel squeamish about making their critiques because of a public browbeating by autocratic scientists, politicians, and "activists."

There is also a shade of "groupthink"-bandwagon research-not so much with climatologists, but with the mass of secondary and tertiary investigators who use climate model output as input to their own models of economics, public health, sociology, and so on. These models invariably show what they were programmed to show: that climate change of any kind is bad. This is, of course, physically impossible; but these are not physicists who are making these remarks-which of course quickly find their way into the press-and thus they are not held accountable in that sense.

Of course, if global climate models eventually show skill, then I will believe what they have to say.


The warming effect of CO2 is a fallacy

I have received by email the following comment which adds a bit of physics expertise to Prof. Briggs' statistical expertise (above)

I want to comment on a point Briggs brings up in another of his posts, a non-sequitur that too many of us fall into.

...some changes to the environment due to mankind are inevitable and irreversible, and... the best political will cannot change this. It is even likely that we are unaware of what most of these changes are; but we do know of others. The most commonly known one, of course, is that man adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and that, all other things being equal, more carbon dioxide means more infrared energy absorption in the atmosphere, hence a warmer planet.

Yes, you hear that time and again, so often that it's become axiomatic. But it isn't true and here's why. Because absorption is only half of the story; the other half is emission. To the extent CO2 (or any object) absorbs heat it releases heat. And as soon as one pins down where CO2 is absorbing heat FROM, our planet's surface, it becomes very clear where it must release that heat TO, the vacuum of space. For that's how heat moves, from warmer to colder. No laboratory has ever verified that CO2 has the special property of absorbing energy and radiating that energy and yet holding onto that energy. No gas does. No gas can. In short, what CO2 gains it loses, making its supposed impact on temperature a zero-sum game.

If that's not enough, however, the deal-killer is satellite observations. Satellites see the earth emitting the same amount of energy as it absorbs, 240 watts per square meter. It holds onto nothing. What it captures it frees. The word "hence" thus does not belong in Briggs's sentence.

Try building a winter shelter out of metal, on the premise that metal is a good absorber of thermal IR (which it is) and will therefore keep you warm. Your logical error will become evident very shortly. This is why you find full metal jackets in military armories but never in clothing stores.

The continuing Greenie faith in abuse rather than observed fact and rational argument

[Canadian] Green Leader Elizabeth May said Wednesday that Al Gore's recent remarks comparing the world's response to the Nazi threat and climate change demonstrate that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was wrong to condemn her for making similar comments last year.

The former U.S. vice-president, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 because of his campaign to promote awareness of global warming, made the comparisons twice last month as he accepted his award in Norway and later during a speech at the United Nations climate change summit in Indonesia. His speeches made numerous historical references to such prominent personalities as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens.

May said Gore's warning that many world leaders were now ignoring the threat of climate change in the same way that former British prime minister Churchill said they had ignored the "threat posed by Adolf Hitler," were similar to the comments that landed her in hot water when she accused Harper of a moral failure for not adequately responding to the climate crisis.

"Why Al Gore got no trouble is because the remarks were not controversial. Mr. Harper seized on my remarks in a way that was blown out of proportion by headline writers," said May in an interview. "I don't expect to see anyone, anywhere else in the world to be abused for making these comparisons."

Environment Minister John Baird was shocked by the comments, suggesting that they should force the federal Liberals to end their agreement not to field a candidate against her in a Nova Scotia riding in the next federal election."Her comments are beyond belief. They're outrageous, they're offensive and unacceptable. She continues to invoke comparisons to the Nazis," said Baird in an interview on Wednesday. "It's time that Stephane Dion dumped her as a candidate in (the) Central Nova (riding). This is unacceptable for any mainstream political party to have someone who first says it, then denies it, and then repeats it."

But May stressed her comments were appropriate since they spoke about society's moral failure to address a challenge like the Second World War. While many others such as Prince Charles, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Conservative Defence Minister Peter MacKay have also made comparisons about former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Nazi Germany, she said Harper acted like a bully by criticizing her in the House of Commons where she was not present to defend herself.

"It's not a literal comparison that says somehow climate change is like Hitler," she said. "Climate change is not like Hitler. Hitler is an individual who managed to construct a political party and then through democratic elections a nation that was prepared to go along with genocide. This is not like that. But the moral failure of those who stand by - that's the comparison."

Baird said he did not have the quotes from other Canadian politicians in front of him, and did not want to speak about Gore to avoid venturing into U.S. politics. But a representative of an umbrella group of Canadian Jewish organizations said that it's "obscene and absolutely unnecessary" for anyone, including Gore, to compare the "demonic evil" of Adolf Hitler to another key issue that the world is struggling with because it belittles and lessens the evil. "I wonder if Winston Churchill would be rolling in his grave today, seeing the way that Mr. Gore really has misappropriated his words," said Bernie Farber, chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, in an interview. "With the understanding that the environment is key and it is important, it is in my view unbecoming of a Nobel laureate to make this kind of a comparison."

Although the CJC wrote a letter condemning May's comments last year, Farber said he would only express his views about Gore in the media."I wish people would just stop invoking Adolf Hitler and (inappropriately) using words," said Farber, the son of a holocaust survivor who lost his entire family. "The English language is made up of millions of great words and Mr. Gore knows many of them. Surely he can find better ways of explaining himself than having to draw on the Hitler card."


British nukes under way

It takes one Greenie mania (Warmism) to cancel out another (nuclear-phobia). Lots of Greenie priorities are in conflict with one another -- such as fluorescent light globes versus mercury phobia -- such as those evil plastic bags versus cutting down trees for paper bags.

The race to a nuclear future began last night, as operators promised the first new power stations within a decade, and French and British companies vied for the contracts. Ministers ended years of uncertainty by declaring that nuclear power was “clean, secure and affordable”, but they declined to put a limit on the number of new stations nor the amount of electricity they could supply, prompting companies to set the battle lines for their share of the 36 billion pounds construction programme.

Boosted by government promises to help fast-track a fresh breed of reactors, Areva, the French energy company, rushed in with a bid to build six plants, with the first operational by the end of 2017. Four would be in partnership with another French company, EDF, and the other two with different partners. British Energy, the UK’s main generator, said it would announce one or two proposals in March. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, voiced an interest in a new plant and the German companies E.On and RWE, which own Powergen and nPower in Britain, are also likely to want to take part.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, who outlined the plans, said last night that all electricity generated in Britain should be produced without emitting any carbon by the middle of the century. The problems posed by climate change were so grave that the nation needed to eradicate all carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, he said.

The stations will almost certainly be built on or close to existing nuclear sites, where they have been accepted by local communities. With demand for power high in the South East and around London four sites - Sizewell, Bradwell, Hinkley and Dungeness – have already been identified as prime places for the new stations, with Wylfa in Anglesey, Hartlepool and Heysham next in line. The two Scottish sites at Hunterston and Torness would be obvious candidates but the ruling Scottish National Party in Scotland has threatened to block their development.

All the stations will be built by the private sector but the Government has promised to streamline planning procedures to prevent protesters from delaying them unreasonably, and there will be a standard approved design so that individual local debates can be cut in time. The companies will be expected to pay decommissioning costs and their full share of the costs of managing waste.

Mr Hutton insisted that there would be no subsidies, although he accepted that public funds would have to come forward in “very unlikely circumstances of an emergency at a nuclear plant”. He said: “If there is a catastrophic event then I think that it is right that the Government steps in.” That statement is viewed as a crucial guarantee for investors to ensure that developers will be able to obtain insurance for the industry in future. The Government rejected the argument that a permanent solution to the disposal of nuclear waste should be found before plants were approved.

Existing “interim” storage facilities were adequate until a permanent underground site for the disposal of waste could be identified, Mr Hutton said. That is likely to be under the sea off Cumbria, or in an underground bunker.

The Government did hint at the possibility of tax breaks to allay the huge costs of decommissioning. Yesterday’s White Paper said that the Treasury “was exploring action to ensure a level fiscal playing field between nuclear power and other forms of electricity generation”.

Luc Oursel, the chief executive of Areva, said that his company was already in talks with 11 European utilities, including Centrica and British Energy, about building the new plants that would generate 15 per cent of Britain’s electrical capacity. “Our ambition is to build at least four, probably six, in the UK - the first by 2017 – and to provide these utilities with all the services and fuel necessary for their operations,” Mr Oursel said.

The Royal Society called the announcement “an ambitious package, which should provide the means of meeting our energy needs, but much remains to be done to meet our greenhouse gas emission objectives. The Government has given a strong signal on key elements of the required energy mix such as nuclear power and the development of existing and new renewables.”

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: “New reactors are not the answer to UK energy problems and will do little to tackle climate change. We could meet our energy requirements by investing in cleaner, safer solutions such as renewables, combined heat and power, energy efficiency and the more efficient use of fossil fuels.”



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, January 11, 2008

More global warming

EVERYTHING proves global warming -- even worldwide cooling

Heavy snow and bitterly cold weather have caused scores of deaths and major disruption in parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan. Some areas have seen snow for the first time in years, with people struggling to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures amid power shortages.

In Iran, heavy snow over recent days has seen eight people frozen to death after being trapped in their cars. Tens of thousands of other motorists were rescued from their vehicles. Some desert areas in Iran reported snowfalls for the first time in living memory.

But other countries in the region have been suffering similar problems. Central Asian nations have reported unusually cold temperatures. In Kyrgyzstan, a government agency said 50 homeless people froze to death over the first four days of the new year. In Tajikistan, people are struggling to keep warm in daytime temperatures as low as -10C, at a time when cutbacks in energy exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan mean electricity supplies have been reduced to a total of about four hours a day.

Heavy snow has also caused casualties in Afghanistan. Five people were killed in an avalanche in the western province of Ghor, and in neighbouring Herat eight members of the same family died after their roof collapsed under heavy snow. In many provinces, including Ghor, and Badakhshan in the north-east, a large number of districts have been cut off from their provincial capitals. And the authorities are still trying to clear major roads in many parts of the country.

Snow has also caused disruption and casualties across the border in north-western Pakistan, with seven soldiers reported killed in an avalanche.


As Arctic ice melts, South Pole ice grows

A mainstream article below. Nice to be able to endlessly tweak models to adapt to reality. The article also fails to note that nearly half a dozen recent peer-reviewed studies (including NASA studies) point to natural causes for recent Arctic ice reduction. But funnily enough there seem to be natural causes for Antarctic changes! The Warmists really are sad souls

For decades, the vast expanse of sea ice that surrounds Antarctica each winter, and all but vanishes each austral summer, has languished as the Rodney Dangerfield of Earth's cryosphere. Antarctic sea ice has gotten little respect, especially compared with its top-of-the-world cousin, or with the enormous ice sheets on Greenland and the Antarctic continent. The sea ice is hard to reach. It has little direct effect on people. And the Southern Ocean was not a cold-war playground for US and Soviet submarines, which amassed a wealth of information on changes in Arctic sea ice before the era of long-term satellite observations.

But after looking at the latest projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Arctic sea ice is well ahead of the models, and Antarctic sea ice is well behind what the models project," says Stephen Ackley, a polar scientist at the University of Texas, San Antonio Moreover, recent studies have shown that in key regions off the Antarctic coast, sea ice shows a strong, coherent response to El Nino-La Nina cycles, decade-scale climate swings in the tropical Pacific whose length, strength, and timing may be affected in uncertain ways by global warming. Indeed, outside the tropics, Antarctica boasts the strongest climate response to El Nino of any region on the planet.

This suggests strong climate connections and feedbacks among sea, ice, and air in the Southern Ocean that are poorly understood [Surely not! The science is settled, isn't it?]. Some scientists say trends in sea ice in key spots around the continent may be bellwethers for worrisome changes that could accelerate the melt of nearby land ice, most notably the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The overall growth in Antarctica's sea ice over the past two decades masks significant regional declines in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas - the destination for glaciers flowing from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Researchers say these glaciers are losing ice to the sea faster than snow is replenishing the ice. Thus, the large regional drops in sea ice could also signal the presence of "a very big threat to glacier ice" on the continent, says Xiaojun Yuan, a polar scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

The leading suspect: relatively warm water upwelling near the coast as a result of global warming's effect on wind patterns in the region. To address some of these issues during the Interna-tional Polar Year, which ends in March 2009, scientists are installing a network of buoys off Antarctica's coast. The buoys will track changes in sea ice and measure the factors in air and atmosphere that trigger those changes. Last August, 10 international science groups joined forces on a project dubbed SOPHOCLES, which aims to use the latest information on the Southern Ocean and Antarctica's land and sea ice to improve climate models.

For some commentators, the out-of-sync trends in sea ice at the two poles is evidence that warming isn't global and doesn't deserve the international angst it triggers. Not so fast, many researchers respond. Northern and southern sea ice shouldn't necessarily act in lock-step. "Antarctic sea ice is such a different animal," says Douglas Martinson, another polar-ice specialist at Lamont-Doherty. Geographic and oceanographic differences - a virtually landlocked ocean in the north versus an open ocean in the south - encourage the buildup of thick, long-lasting, multiyear ice in the Arctic Ocean. Antarctica's sea ice, by contrast, is largely thin and seasonal. In winter, Antarctic sea ice covers an area nearly twice the size of Europe. By the end of summer, it shrinks to one-sixth of its winter extent.

These wide swings make it difficult to tease out long-term trends in ice cover there. The first big advance in monitoring Antarctic sea ice came in 1972, when the federal government launched a satellite with a microwave device to monitor ice 24/7, regardless of cloud cover. The results were eye-opening, says Claire Parkinson, a researcher who tracks sea-ice trends at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. During three of the first four years the instrument gathered data, an enormous open area in the ice, or polynya, appeared in the Weddell Sea - a phenomenon no one has seen there since. (A grocery-store tabloid had the obvious explanation: that scientists had discovered evidence of an undersea base run by space aliens - heat from the alleged facility had melted the ice. "It was one of our images," says a bemused Dr. Parkinson. "But it wasn't our interpretation.")

Since 1978, the satellite record shows that Antarctica's sea ice has expanded by about half a percent a year. Declines in sea ice recorded between 2000 and 2002 have significantly moderated the overall rise. These long-term data have let scientists tease out relationships between Antarctic sea ice and natural climate variations, such as swings between El Nino and La Nina in the tropical Pacific.

Recent modeling work has given scientists a sense that they are on the right track as they explore the processes affecting sea ice. Dr. Yuan, who uncovered Antarctica's coherent response to El Nino, has developed a seasonal sea-ice forecast model for key regions that scientists now use to plan expeditions. The ice also plays a key ecological role in the region, some of which bears on the exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere, ocean, and ice, and on cloud formation.


Even the Arctic is beginning to look pesky for the Greenies now:

Look carefully at the red line below. Note that the 2007 line is no longer the lowest -- meaning that the ice seems to be GROWING!


Leftist unrealism over Mathematical Models

I just don't understand American liberals and their attitude toward mathematical models. The left places an inordinate amount of faith in untested models predicting man-made warming of the global climate, while ignoring time-tested mathematical models in another important field important to all Americans.

Global warmists place unquestioning faith mathematical models of anthropogenic global warming, declaring their predictions to be settled science, as if the models completely and flawlessly took account of all significant variables in one of the most complex systems ever studied, the earth's atmosphere.

Yet experience teaches us that modeling atmospheric phenomena is an uncertain business, even in atmospheres much less complex than the planetary system. Far simpler artificial atmospheres or "climates" are routinely created and modeled in the semiconductor industry. Working in sealed vessels within which chemical vapor deposition (CVD) forms nanometer-scale thin solid films on silicon wafer surfaces, in order to produce integrated circuits and many other semiconductor products. Last year I wrote about the many difficulties these simple atmospheric models encounter:

Closed systems are also much easier to model as compared to systems open to the atmosphere (that should tell us something already). Computer models are used to inform the engineering team as the design the shape, temperature ramp, flow rates, etc, etc, (i.e. the thermodynamics) of the new reactor.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that 1) the chemical reactions are highly studied, 2) there exists extensive experience with similar reactors, much of it recorded in the open literature, 3) the input gases and materials are of high and known purity, and 4) the process is controlled with incredible precision, the predictions of the models are often wrong, requiring that the reactor be adjusted empirically to produce the desired product with quality and reliability.

The fact that these artificial "climates" are closed systems far simpler than the global climate, have the advantage of the experimental method, and are subject to precise controls, and yet are frequently wrong, should lend some humility to those who make grand predictions about the future of the earth's atmosphere.

So serious are the problems, sometimes, that it is not unheard of for an experimental reactor to be scrapped entirely in favor of starting from scratch in designing the process and equipment. Often a design adjustment predicted to improve performance actually does the opposite. This does not mean that process models are useless, for they undergird the engineer's understanding of what is happening in the process and help him or her make adjustments to fix the problem. But it means that they cannot be relied upon by themselves to predict results. These new adjustments and related information are then used to improve the models for future use in a step by step process tested time and again against experimental reality.

Although there is no record of accurate prediction for the totally unproven and skepticism-worthy models of the warmist climatologists, liberals are convinced that there is a "scientific consensus" over an impending Anthropogenic Global Warming Crisis that requires undertaking immediate extreme measures including increased carbon taxes as well as new "private sector" solutions such as carbon-trading and selling of carbon-credits.

Actuaries are mathematical professionals who build statistical models of human populations in order to plan for life-insurance, health-insurance and pension benefits. The accuracy of their models can have far reaching consequences. Errors might cost their private sector employers' millions and even billions of dollars. Fortunately, the actuarial profession's record in accurate prediction is quite good, particularly since their relatively simple statistical models are informed with reliable data collected from census figures as well as hospital and mortuary records. While predicting one individual's healthcare needs and time-of-death is impossible, when averaged across millions of people, such statistics can be quite reliable.

Today, a consensus of actuaries agrees that the Social Security system is in need of major overhaul otherwise it will experience debilitating financial shortfalls in a few decades as more and more "baby-boomers" retire with full benefits. In the face of this consensus however, liberals demur and minimize the importance of this crisis, undercutting President Bush's attempts to draw attention the problem as his prelude to proposing reforms. Unpopular measures such as cutting benefits, needs-based benefits, raising retirement ages or increasing payroll taxes are not to even discussed according to liberals.

Furthermore, President Bush's proposals to increase investment returns on the Social Security trust fund are met with universal derision by liberals as unholy "privatization" unworthy of this New Deal institution, although one glance at the incredible returns being achieved with professional management of university endowments shows the enormous potential of this approach to solving the actuarial "crisis". Al Gore famously said the Social Security Trust Fund should be kept in a "lock-box", the financial equivalent of stuffing cash in a mattress for safe-keeping.

Do not attempt to understand the inconsistency over when liberals will heed a professional "consensus". It will only give you a headache.


Where humans live, coral fails - study

So it's not global warming after all! Generalizing from the primitive economies of much of the Caribbean to areas such as Australia's Great Barrier reef would be hazardous, however. It may be hard for outsiders to believe, but something like the most Northern 500 miles of the reef is bordered by an almost uninhabited coast -- a Greenie paradise, really. Odd that most Greenies live in those evil big cities isn't it?

The world's coral reefs are in alarming decline, but what - or who - is most to blame? A groundbreaking study published today singles out human settlement, especially coastal development and agriculture, as the main culprit, even more so than warming sea waters and acidification linked to global warming. The study focuses on the Caribbean, where declining reefs are endangering species of wildlife as well as tourism and fishing that are vital for the local economy, says lead author, Camilo Mora, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. "The continuing degradation of coral reefs may be soon beyond repair if threats are not identified and rapidly controlled," he said.

Teasing apart the complicated web of factors driving reef destruction - overfishing, runoff of pesticides and pollution, hurricanes, climate change - is crucial for devising the best conservation strategies. There might not be enough time for second or third chances, Mr Mora said. But a welter of contradictory evidence, most of it gathered from single sites, has made it nearly impossible to figure out what causes what.

Which is why Mr Mora and University of Miami marine biologist Robert Ginsburg decided to compare several large-scale databases that had never been systematically cross-referenced. Focusing on corals, fishes and macroalgae, or seaweed, in 322 sites across 13 countries in the Caribbean, the study matched environmental and ecological data against patterns of human population density, coastal development and agricultural land use. Also included were data on hurricanes, biodiversity, fish populations and coral disease. Sifting through all these statistics showed clearly that the number of people is the main driver of the mortality of corals, along with declining fish biomass and increases in algae.

But different kinds of human activity resulted in different impacts, the study revealed. Higher population density in coastal areas produces more sewage and depletes fish stocks, both of which are directly responsible for coral mortality. But chemical discharges from agricultural land drives an increase in macroalgae, which is indirectly linked to coral loss.

Warmer sea surfaces are also contributing to coral decline, but not hurricanes, said the study, published in the journal Nature. "The human expansion in coastal areas inevitably poses severe risks to the maintenance of complex ecosystems such as coral reefs," Mr Mora said. Within a reef, predators prey on plant-eating fish, herbivores graze on seaweed, which in turn interacts with living coral. "A threat in any one group may escalate to the entire ecosystem," Mr Mora said. "The array of human stressors ... are significantly affecting all major groups of coral reef organisms."

The study also concluded that while Marine Protected Areas help restore fish populations, they do nothing to protect coral. A fifth of the world's marine reefs have already been destroyed and half are threatened because of human impact, whether directly or as a consequence of rising temperatures driven by climate change, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Coral reefs support some of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world, including many species that depend on reefs for shelter, reproduction and foraging. Coral reefs also provide livelihoods for 100 million people and form the basis for industries such as tourism and fishing, worth $US30 billion ($34bn) a year, says the IUCN.


The follies of government "planning"

After more than 30 years of reviewing government plans, including forest plans, park plans, watershed plans, wildlife plans, energy plans, urban plans and transportation plans, I've concluded that government planning almost always does more harm than good.

Most government plans are so full of fabrications and unsupportable assumptions that they aren't worth the paper they are printed on, much less the millions of tax dollars spent to have them written. Federal, state and local governments should repeal planning laws and shut down planning offices

Everybody plans. But private plans are flexible, and we happily change them when new information arises. In contrast, special-interest groups ensure that the government plans benefiting them do not change -- no matter how costly. Like any other organization, government agencies need to plan their budgets and short-term projects. But they fail when they write comprehensive plans (which try to account for all side effects), long-range plans or plans that attempt to control other people's land and resources. Many plans try to do all three.

Comprehensive plans fail because forests, watersheds and cities are simply too complicated for anyone to understand. Chaos science reveals that very tiny differences in initial conditions can lead to huge differences in outcomes -- that's why mega-projects such as Boston's Big Dig go so far over budget. Long-range plans fail because planners have no better insight into the future than anyone else, so their plans will be as wrong as their predictions are.

Planning for other people's land and resources fails because planners will not pay the costs they impose on other people, so they have no incentive to find the best answers.

Most of the nation's 32,000 professional planners graduated from schools that are closely affiliated with colleges of architecture, giving them an undue faith in design. This means many plans put enormous efforts into trying to control urban design while they neglect other tools that could solve social problems at a much lower cost. For example, planners propose to reduce automotive air pollution by increasing population densities to reduce driving. Yet the nation's densest urban area, Los Angeles, has only 8 percent less commuting by auto than the least dense areas. Meanwhile, technological improvements over the past 40 years, which planners often ignore, have reduced the pollution caused by some cars by 99 percent.

Some of the worst plans today are so-called growth management plans prepared by states and metropolitan areas. They try to control who gets to develop their land and exactly what those developments should look like, including their population densities and mixtures of residential, retail, commercial and other uses. About a dozen states require or encourage urban areas to write such plans. Those states have some of the nation's least-affordable housing, while most states and regions that haven't written such plans mostly have very affordable housing. The reason is simple: Planning limits the supply of new housing, which drives up the price of all housing.

In states with growth management laws, median housing prices in 2006 were typically four to eight times median family incomes. In most states without such laws, median home prices are only two to three times median family incomes. Few people realize that the recent housing bubble, which affected mainly regions with growth management planning, was caused by planners trying to socially engineer cities. Yet it has done little to protect open space, reduce driving or do any of the other things promised.

Politicians use government planning to allocate scarce resources on a large scale. Instead, they should make sure that markets - based on prices, incentives and property rights -- work. Variably priced toll roads have helped reduce congestion. Pollution markets do far more to clean the air than exhortations to drive less. Giving people freedom to use their property, and ensuring only that their use does not harm others, will keep housing affordable.

Unlike planners, markets can cope with complexity. Futures markets cushion the results of unexpected changes. Markets do not preclude government ownership, but the best-managed government programs are funded out of user fees that effectively make government managers act like private owners. Rather than passing the buck by turning sticky problems over to government planners, policymakers should make sure markets give people what they want.



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, January 10, 2008

A desperate Greenie attempt to explain the Arctic/Antarctic anomaly

Greenies have been pushing heavily the recent shrinking in the Arctic icecap. To them it is proof of global warming. That only convinces completely uninformed people, however. A superficial but damaging retort to such rubbish is to ask why the Antarctic is not melting too. Global warming that affects only one half of the earth is not very global! The post below is an attempt to answer that particular challenge by saying that the Antarctic is so melting too! It also offers a completely naive explanation of Arctic melting that ignores many non-CO2 explanations for it -- such as vulcanism in the Gakkel Ridge and the matters discussed in the article immediately following this one.

The post below has many truths in it but, like most Green/Left screeds, it tells only part of the story. We are asked to believe, for instance, that the Antarctic is melting even though its temperature is way below zero degrees (Celsius) in all places except at the very edges. But zero degrees is the melting point of ice. So how can ice melt if it is below that temperature?

The vast majority of the Antarctic would not melt under any presently foreseeable circumstances. THAT is what the Greenies should be pointing to in explanation of the Arctic/Antarctic anomaly but, since 91% of the earth's glacial ice is in the Antarctic, that would undermine their scares about rising sea-levels! What a dilemma!

I also append immediately following the Greenie article another comment on it that I received via email. The commenter notes Hansen's claim that the ozone hole has a cooling effect and then points out that it should in fact have a warming effect. Hansen's claim is however an amusing implicit admission that the great Greenie efforts to shrink the ozone hole have not worked.
The climate change deniers never miss a chance to tell us that research is showing the Antarctic ice sheet is actually growing. That sounds like the total amount of ice is increasing and things are just fine......the globe isn't heating up if it's not happening there......right? That IS enough to make some people disbelieve the climate scientists because, after all, no one wants to think the climate is going to steadily get worse. We all secretly hope that the deniers are right.

Yes, the Antarctic ice sheet is growing in height in the central region, but making just that one point is very misleading and quite dishonest. There is an enormous amount of research that has been conducted on the poles and there is much more to the story than just the increase in snow in the middle of the continent. Indeed the coast is where the real action is.

The leading U.S. climate scientist Dr. James Hansen responded via email saying "The most precise data on the mass of the ice sheets, from the gravity satellite, show that, overall, Antarctica is losing mass, as is Greenland, even though East Antarctica is gaining a small amount of mass."

"All of the models, and the observations, have the central parts of Greenland and Antarctica growing faster because of global warming. This is a consequence of warmer air holding more moisture, thus increasing snowfall. But the net effect of warming on both continental ice sheets is mass loss, the increased melting being a larger effect than the increased snowfall.

He also said "The fact that West Antarctica is shedding mass at a substantial rate, even though there is only small warming of surrounding sea surface temperatures, is a telling fact in my opinion, and a likely consequence of the warming ocean at depth, which affects the ice shelves that buttress West Antarctica, as discussed in our paper "Dangerous human-made interference with climate: a GISS modelE study."" [1]

But the reason that the North Pole is melting so much faster (last years summer minimum shattering the previous record of 2005) than the South Pole is very easy to understand. The South Polar Ice Sheet is two miles thick. That means that the ice is at an altitude of over ten thousand feet where the temperature is much colder than a mere six or so feet as at the North Pole. This makes it impossible for the slight rise in global mean temperature to have any affect at all in the south accept around the edges of the continent.

Also, it sits on a continent rather than on water that is above freezing - as in the north. The ice in the north is an average of 6 to 12 feet thick and is being warmed from beneath as well as above. This has a much larger impact on the North Polar Ice Cap.

Dr. Hansen also pointed out that the ozone hole (the portion of the lowest ozone being roughly the size of the Antarctic ice sheet) is letting more heat escape into the atmosphere as the ozone is a greenhouse gas. [2]

The South Pole is quite literally the coldest place on Earth, and it always will be much colder than the North Pole no matter how much global warming occurs. The Greenland Ice Sheet is very similar to the South Pole and the research shows that it, too, is melting at an accelerated pace around the edges.

"....between 1996 and 2005, they detected a widespread glacier acceleration and consequently an increased rate of ice discharge from the Greenland ice sheet," write three climate scientists in an article for of research published after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was written. [3]

It would seem that the north and south poles should react the same, but because of these gigantic differences they cannot. Antarctica is not the canary in the mine..........the canary is the Arctic, and it's telling the scientists that things are changing faster than they had thought possible.



I'm sure others have much to comment on but here's one thing that I notice.

Dr. Hansen also pointed out that the ozone hole (the portion of the lowest ozone being roughly the size of the Antarctic ice sheet) is letting more heat escape into the atmosphere as the ozone is a greenhouse gas

How so? Ozone's greatest response is in the ultraviolet, so it shields us from the sun's higher frequencies. An ozone depletion of any sort will allow more energy to reach the earth, all of which is converted to heat. Conversely, ozone's response to infrared is rather slight.

More arctic debunking

From "New Scientist", no less. (The "New" comes from the far-off times when "new" was a code-word for "Communist")

Energy flowing from the equator up towards the North Pole may partly explain the rapid warming of the Arctic, say researchers. It is well documented that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the globe, but the reason for this remains a mystery. The leading hypothesis is that ice disappearing as a result of climate change is largely to blame. Warmer temperatures melt the Arctic ice and exposes water, which absorbs more sunlight than ice. This causes temperatures to rise further, melting more ice, and so on.

But a team led by Rune Graversen at the University of Stockholm in Sweden now challenges this theory. The researchers analysed temperature measurements taken during the 1980s and 1990s by satellite instruments. But instead of just looking at which regions have warmed the most, they also examined the height in the atmosphere where the warming took place. The researchers found that most of the warming is happening high above ground. At midsummer, the data shows that the air that has warmed the most is 2 kilometres above land.

This, says Graversen, rules out the theory that Arctic warming is being accelerated by melting ice. Although the researchers remain unsure what is accelerating Arctic warming, they suggest it might be related to how fast energy is being transported towards the North Pole by cyclones. The team calculated the flow of energy into the Arctic Circle using meteorological data, and looked at how this flow has changed since the 1980s. They found that the amount of energy transported from the tropics into the Arctic has increased and that the increase corresponds to the rise of temperatures in the region. "We are not saying this is the only explanation," says Graversen, "this could explain maybe 25% of the amplification of warming in the Arctic."

The team's findings fit well with suggestions that more and more cyclones, which carry warm air, have been moving into the Arctic Circle.

Clouds could also explain the movement of energy into the Arctic. Some studies have suggested that there are more and more clouds over the Arctic, says Graversen. These might be soaking up energy from the sun and warming up the atmosphere.

One question Graversen's findings raise is whether energy from the tropics is also being directed towards the South Pole. The surface of the Antarctic is not warming nearly as fast as the rest of the globe, but in 2006, John Turner of the British Antarctic Survey published findings showing that the air 5 kilometres above Antarctica has warmed more than anywhere else on Earth over the last 30 years.


Fur now correct again

CANADA: I am starting to warm to this whole climate change business. Arrived in Vancouver for a night just before 2007 drew to a close. With barely a few hours remaining before the stores closed, I raced out and bought a fur coat. A long coat cascading down to my ankles, light as a feather and as warm as a ... well ... fur.

A few days later, despite sub-zero mountain temperatures, I am still positively glowing with warmth from my new fur. Not just because animal skins protect from the cold. No, there is the unexpected, more cerebral, inner-warmth that comes from learning that by buying a fur, I have done the right green thing. According to the Fur Council of Canada's new ad campaign, fur is now eco-fashion. Thats right. Wrapping yourself in a fur is a guilt-free pleasure. More than that, it's positively good for the planet.

Barely 10 days in, I am loving 2008. It holds the promise of lots more surprises from green politics as the climate change juggernaut continues to head in the most unlikely directions.

Let me explain. At the weekend, Canada's National Post reported on an advertising campaign launched at the end of last year by the Fur Council of Canada, which represents 70,000 of the nation's fur traders. These sassy new ads feature gorgeous women draped in fur, one under the heading "Environmental activist". The ads explain that buying a fur coat is the ecologically correct thing to do because fox stoles and mink coats are natural, renewable and sustainable. By contrast, synthetic furs are no more than by-products of the petro-chemical industry. Making a single faux fur coat can chew up 19 litres of petroleum, a non-renewable resource, says the council. Ergo, buying a fur coat is good for the planet.

Welcome to the brave new world of climate change politics. The Fur Council's campaign has been so successful that even comedians are sending out the "fur is green" message. Picked up by a Canadian comedy show, a camp-looking guy who resembles Borat in a fur coat gets off some great lines assuring us that a genuine fur coat creates less pollution than synthetic textiles and uses no child labour. "So say auf Wiedersehen to faux fur," he smiles into the camera. "You wouldn't wear a barrel of oil, so why would you wear a coat that is made from one?"

You can find it on YouTube. And if you're worried about being sprayed with paint by those nasty PETA people, funny fur boy has some advice: "Well, you just turn around and tell them that every spray can produces enough fluorocarbons to drown three polar bears. Who's the killer now, PETA?" Fur boy's advice if you want to do something good for the environment: "Kill a small animal and slap it on your noggin."

Alan Herscovici, the council's executive vice-president, told me by phone from Montreal that the global warming issue provided the perfect opportunity for the fur industry to tackle the animal rights industry. He described these groups as the new politically correct hate groups and lamented that the media rarely exposes the intimidation they use to pillory legitimate industries such as fur.

So if you are in the business of producing and selling natural products such as furs why wouldn't you jump aboard the natural, sustainable, renewable bandwagon? Long derided as the brutish killers of innocent animals who satisfy the hedonistic vanity of callous consumers, now animal trappers and hunters are, according to the Fur Council of Canada, the new heroes of global warming. And those buying and wearing the fur coats can hold their heads high in the knowledge that they are doing the socially responsible thing.

The fur industry is fighting back using the sort of emotional blackmail that the animal rights industry mastered long ago. All these years the anti-fur brigade has assumed the high moral ground when extolling the virtues of synthetic, faux fur coats over the real thing. Now we learn that their motto can be reduced to "Save a beaver. Kill the planet."

Climate change has snatched the moral high ground. Now the inference is that the animal rights industry would rather you line the pockets of Big Oil by buying petroleum by-products such as synthetic coats, rather than support the fur-farming and hunting families of the Cree people in the James Bay area or the Dene nation north of British Columbia.

Maybe the Fur Council's campaign is just a case of green-washing, as some warn. But theirs is a more legitimate claim compared to the shonks trading on climate change. Take the booming industry of offsets. When you next jump aboard a fuel-guzzling aeroplane you can soothe your conscience by throwing a few more dollars at the airline company that promises to send your money on to some green initiative such as planting trees or investing in wind power in India.

But as Mark Jaccard, a professor at the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, told the National Post: "Was the tree planted in Guatemala truly an additional investment in reducing greenhouses gases or would another tree have sprouted in that spot eventually? Has the Indian wind generator actually helped prevent or delay the construction of a coal-fired power station, or was it simply a wealth transfer to one region in India while the expansion of coal stations has continued at the same pace? We cannot know because future actions are unknowable."

Even for those who accept climate change is a major threat to the planet, there are plenty of reasons to remain suspicious about how companies and industries move to rebrand themselves as environmental friends. Any new industry - and make no mistake, greenwashing looks like the boom industry of the early 21st century - will attract a rich collection of snake oil salesmen, hypocrites and downright crooks in its early years. And separating the rogues from the saints can often only be done in retrospect.

For the moment, I'm prepared to back the Fur Council. Why? Because I kind of like this novel feeling. Finally, I get around to buying a full-length fur coat and it turns out to be the politically correct thing to do. There I was recently mocking a friend in the advertising industry for ending his email with a pro forma "Have a low carbon day". Now I'm looking forward to the bumper stickers that will soon start appearing on the back of the small hybrid cars driven by our green-minded friends. "Buy a fur. Save the planet."



Claims that tropical forests are declining cannot be backed up by hard evidence, according to new research from the University of Leeds.

This major challenge to conventional thinking is the surprising finding of a study published today in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences by Dr Alan Grainger, Senior Lecturer in Geography and one of the world's leading experts on tropical deforestation.

"Every few years we get a new estimate of the annual rate of tropical deforestation," said Dr Grainger. "They always seem to show that these marvellous forests have only a short time left. Unfortunately, everybody assumes that deforestation is happening and fails to look at the bigger picture - what is happening to forest area as a whole."


Corn and water

Another disadvantage of corn-based ethanol production plays out in the Gulf of Mexico

It's becoming clear that America's quest for cleaner fuels and energy independence won't be short or simple. The latest complication, surfacing from beneath the Gulf of Mexico, holds a message for North Carolina and its environmentally sensitive coastal waters. It also sounds a cautionary note about the huge increase in ethanol production mandated by the new energy bill signed into law by President Bush.

In the Gulf of Mexico a "dead zone," at times the size of New Jersey, has cropped up off Louisiana each spring and summer since at least 1985. In this zone, the water doesn't hold enough dissolved oxygen to support marine life -- including shrimp, oysters and crabs. This killing ground for commercial seafoods is linked to algae growth fueled by nitrogen -- nitrogen from fertilizer that runs into the Gulf from the vast farmlands of the Mississippi River basin. (Soil erosion, sewage and industrial pollution also play a part.)

Some scientists and environmentalists correlate the dead zone's growth with increased corn production in the Midwest. The notion is plausible -- corn-growing is especially nitrogen-fertilizer intensive. Nitrogen runs off the fields into streams, tributaries and finally the Mississippi. Algae bloom, killing seafood. The problem isn't new, but after shrinking in size following 2002 the dead zone again is expanding. In 2007 it was the third-largest on record.

Last spring's huge corn planting -- the most since 1944 -- may be a factor. It was prompted by prices boosted by demand for corn-based ethanol. (Twenty percent of the corn crop goes into ethanol production.). We've all heard how the push for more and more fuel derived from corn -- driven by federal subsidies and intensified by an illogical tariff on Brazilian ethanol -- has raised prices for everything from tortillas in Mexico to soft-drink sweeteners and livestock feed in this country. Now there's a link to environmental degradation in the Gulf.

More here


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


An email from David Whitehouse []:

Here is a good example of how to 'interpret' scientific data. I can't help thinking that the public has been fed the most outrageous spin - not by politicians but by scientists who should know better, but hey, this is global warming and the UK's Met Office is seeing what it wants to see.

It's just released the 2007 global temperature figures and its forecast for 2008. 2007 it says was a top ten year but it's what it doesn't say in the main part of the press release (usually the only part that is read by journalists) that is alarming. Look further down the press release and you will see, tucked away in a list of notes to editors the admission that 2007 was, temperature wise, the same as 2006 and every year since 2001 - it admits there has been no global warming for 7 years!

But how does that square with the comment by Prof Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Institute of the University of East Anglia, who produced the figures, "The fact that 2008 is forecast to be cooler than any of the last 7 years (and that 2007 did not break the record that was set in 1998) doesn't mean that global warming has gone away. What matters is the underlying rate of warming."

That is misleading. The data obviously suggests that for the past 7 years at least global warming has gone away. Of course the past decade has been warmer than pervious decades but the recent decade's underlying rate of warming, the parameter by which Prof Jones sets so much store, is ZERO. No global warming. Anyone can see that if they look at the figures.

The press release put out by the Met Office, and swallowed by many media outlets, including the BBC, misrepresents the data of global warming. The public are not being given the whole truth.

Greenies getting rattled: Now condescending to debate the skeptics

Below is a Greenie post followed by comments on it from various sources. Note the condescending tone and the rather predictable inability to tell the difference between "tact" and "tack". Also interesting that the absurd sea-level scare seems to have lost its "oomph" (as it should after the revised IPCC estimates) and we are now told that it is ocean acidification that is the problem. Even if it is a problem, it is hard to see anyone outside a few specialists getting much excited about it

At this point the debate given from dwindling but increasingly aggressive climate change skeptics goes something like this:

1. We concede that the climate is warming
2. We concede that CO2 levels are rising
3. But there is still not enough evidence that the changing climate is linked to anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 emissions.
4. Therefore, we should not hasten to reduce our CO2 emissions because the consequences of doing so are extreme and may not do anything to help climate change.

Many skeptics maintain this view despite the mountains of evidence that CO2 and climate are indeed linked and that humans are more than likely a major contributor to these effects. They say this despite their counter-arguments being disproved time after time. They say this despite the fact that the risks involved with climate change far exceed the sacrifices needed to change our behavior. They say this despite the fact that the planet is not something we ought to gamble with, regardless how right or wrong the science is.

Given that this debate is often as fruitful as debating a creationist on evolution, I propose a different tact in winning support for timely action on this issue: explain the looming problem of ocean acidification.

The problem:

CO2 emitted into the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans. In fact, about a third of the CO2 we have emitted is now contained in the world's vast oceans. Once absorbed, CO2 then undergoes a chemical reaction to create carbonic acid. It's now been proven that the ocean's acidity level has slowly but surely been increasing from the CO2 humans have emitted. This has enormous consequences for the marine food web. Aquatic ecosystems are sustained by small organisms like coral, diatoms and pteropods:

The survival of these organisms depends on their ability to create a protective carbonate shells. When the water's acidity increases, their shells simply dissolve and these organisms cannot survive.

Let me make one thing clear about this phenomenon: this acidification is occurring due to a very basic chemical reaction that is well understood and has been proven countless times in the laboratory. There is no uncertainty about the effects of CO2 on water's acidity. It is also well known that the affected organisms make up the base of the food chain in many ocean ecosystems. Thus if uncertainty in climate science creates a stumbling block when arguing skeptics, perhaps we can turn to an argument unrelated to climate -- an argument for which there is virtually no uncertainty that an unchecked rise in CO2 will have global consequences. If skeptics are unwilling to be convinced on the climate argument alone, perhaps they would be willing to recognize the economic, social, and political consequences of the collapse of global fisheries.



1). This confirms that the alarmists are feeling the heat badly. First, the woeful rebutall by Environmental Defense and Michael Oppenheimer to the Senate Report and now this. They know they are losing the scientific debate badly nowadays, so they are openly admitting that a change in tactics is required. Nothing like changing the rules of the debate when you find yourself being clobbered.

2). It remains that since 1850, the total of human emissions (even including those from land use changes) consists of about 500 billion metric tons of carbon. According to the models, about 45% of that has remained in the air, the rest going 50/50 to the oceans and land. So this means that approximately 138 billion metric tons of carbon have gone into the ocean. According to the models.

Now, the ocean's reservoir of carbon stands at around 40,000 billion metric tons, the vast majority of which is dissolved in the lower depths, where pressure and coldness promotes absorption of far more CO2. Warmer surface waters tend more easily to release it.

So here are two things to consider.

A). Assume that the preindustrial surface ocean contained 1030 minus 138, or 892 billion metric tons. Following that proportion, the present surface ocean would seemingly be 15% more rich in CO2. Given that the ocean is a complex buffer solution, resisting pH changes, can a 15% increase of CO2 actually bring about the 0.1 pH change that is claimed? This question goes to the heart of the issue. (By the way, a 0.1 pH change represents a 26% increase of hydrogen ions.)

B). If it turns out that a 15% increase cannot bring about such a change, yet the 0.1 pH change is true, then consider thermohaline currents. To me it seems very reasonable to suppose that a warming ocean would circulate heat to the lower depths and thus release some of the CO2 dissolved there. This would rise up into the surface waters and necessarily influence the pH. It is entirely possible, then, that to the extent pH changes ARE real, they originate not from the sky but from the ocean below.

Just as Gore and others have the CO2/Temperature relationship backwards, prevailing assumptions about ocean acidification may be backwards too.

3). The most recent posting at on this suggests that the extra CO2 stimulates biological growth in the upper ocean, which in turn is known to increase pH. So, maybe there is a biological negative feedback that helps stabilize ocean pH values?

4). According to Anthoni, whom I've cited before:
The most important limiting factor in aquatic ecosystem is the dearth of hydrogen ions (H+), which has also been overlooked. The more acidic the water, the higher biological productivity becomes, and the denser the amount of life. In the sea this is borne out by the observed fact that highly productive upwelling areas are more acidic. In other words, acidic seas are a good thing.

Bottom line, this is a confusing topic. But it does seem safe to say that how organisms use the pH that's available to them is not to be found or predicted in chemical calculations alone. I think Marc is right on target, then, that the ocean acidification issue should not be given a free pass. My own observations lead me to suspect that the present model of CO2 distribution is flat wrong. For instance, if the preindustrial ocean had nearly the same carbon content as the present one, fine, let's grant it around 40,000 GtC. But then the preindustrial atmosphere weighed 590 GtC compared to our 815. The partial pressure exerted by that preindustrial atmosphere being much less, the ability of the ocean to hold onto CO2 would have to have been correspondingly less too - in which case its carbon content could NOT have been 40,000 GtC. In short, the preindustrial ocean should have been degassing CO2 in response to the relative vacuum above it.

But if on the other hand we say, no, the preindustrial ocean was colder, so it held onto CO2 better - then we admit that the present ocean, being warmer, should be discharging CO2. And this point ties into Lance Endersbee's analysis, which shows atmospheric CO2 rising as a function of ocean temperature. But where, anywhere within the IPCC model, does it attribute rising atmospheric CO2 levels to a warming ocean? Nowhere. In fact it makes the ocean a passive sink rather than an active source. As a sink, yes, it should be getting more acidic. But as a source - CO2 upwelling from warming reservoirs below - surface waters would ALSO become more acidic. That's my point.

People in Greenhouses Throwing Stones

We promised to provide a breakdown of the IPCC's WGI as we did for WGII and III. So here goes: As before, we've limited ourselves to those contributors based in the US or USA. That gives us 303 authors to work with out of a total of 618. That's nearly half the total - strange, for an institution which claims to represent scientists from all over the world.

It was very difficult to establish the discipline, background and level of expertise of scientists who work at the UK's Hadley Centre and Meteorological Office, and NOAA and NASA in the USA, as they tend not to have personal web pages. 31 of the UK contributors work at the Hadley Centre, 43 of the US contributors work at the NOAA. Where we have been unable to locate these people properly (nearly always), we've given them the benefit of the doubt, and included them in the same category as scientists in climatology, meteorology, and oceanography. There were 215 scientists in this category. So there is certainly a higher proportion of people who could reasonably be called climate scientists in WGI compared with II and III. But it's worth pointing out that this figure is also boosted by a whole bunch of people who work in climatology but who are modellers by training. That's not to knock modelling - well, maybe a bit - but it does raise questions about what a climate scientist actually is, when you get to call yourself one even if you've spent most of your career modelling traffic flows or whatever. We'll try to come up with some numbers for that at some point.

As for the other 88, 24 are atmospheric physicists, 27 are geophysicists or geologists. Arguably, these could also be lumped in with the so-called climate scientists. Ach, what the hell, let's call it 266 climate scientists out of 303. Of the rest, we have four statisticians, eight mathematicians/physicists, eight engineers, two biologists/ecologists, and one each from history of science, computer science, and a lonely economist. There were also solos from an NGO, an agronomist, and a lawyer (who curiously seemed to double up as an oceanographer). Which leaves another eight whose expertise we can't establish.

So, across WGI, II and III, we have a very generous 314 contributors among the 510 we sampled who can reasonably be described as scientific experts. Which scales up to 1539 out of the putative 2500. Some of our critics have argued that it was dishonest to look at WGII and III, and that the climate scientists are all in WGI. Of course WGII/III are not all climate scientists. This criticism misses the point that the IPCC is neither, as is frequently claimed, 2500 of the worlds best climate scientists, nor indeed climate scientists at all. This is precisely the misconception we have been challenging, following claims made by the likes of Andrew Dessler about the Inhofe 400 list. The composition of the IPCC, it turns out, is not so different.

Tony Gilland points out in his review of Bjorn Lomborg's 'Cool It', the IPCC expertise is spread across many chapters, with the result that most of the scientists involved will have read only a minimal proportion of any report. That's to say, a reviewer or contributing author to WGI on glacial recession has not made any statement about his or her agreement in WGIII on what is the best way to approach the problem of climate change from a policy or economic perspective - or even on chapters of WGI to which he or she did not contribute. So the idea that the IPCC represents a scientific consensus on climate change and what to do about it is a complete misconception of the functioning of the IPCC. At best, each chapter from each working group represents the work of just tens of authors, across a range of disciplines and levels of expertise. Yet activists, politicians, and journalists will claim that de facto policy recommendations from WGIII have the support of the consensus of 2500 climate scientists.

That 'the consensus' does not represent agreement among 2500 scientists might not be news to some people. But others are quite oblivious. We flagged up a few examples in our last post; here's some more...

More here

Ski areas nationwide rejoice over super snow conditions

Santa brought just what the nation's ski resorts wanted: the best nationwide snow conditions in several years. From New England to California, the snow piled up in the days and weeks before Christmas. Even Taos, N.M., in the Desert Southwest had a 60-inch base. "This is our best opening since 1977," said Adriana Blake, marketing director for Taos. The resort couldn't open for Thanksgiving but later got 68 inches in a week. "This is crazy. It never snows like this."

In November, with a few exceptions, some of the most popular resorts in the Rockies and California delayed their openings because of a lack of snow. Most only offered limited terrain because of an unusually balmy and dry fall that produced disastrous wildfires. Then the jet stream moved south, and the snow began to fall, and fall, and fall. Wolf Creek, Colo., which usually has the deepest base in the state, has suffered for the past two years. It debuted in late November with less than 10 inches. A week before Christmas, it had 115 inches. "It is spectacular. For the first time in recent history, the industry is up and operating across the country," said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association.

Sugarbush was close to being 100 percent booked for Christmas, a record for the Vermont resort. Also in Vermont, Mad River Glen, which relies mostly on natural snow, reported 100 percent open. New England struggled last year. The Vermont Ski Areas Association said 59 percent of Vermont's 1,242 trails were open as of Dec. 10, compared with 14 percent at the same time last year. The snow has been good from the start at Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, the busiest resort in North America. "The skiers take note of that. If one region suffers, the skiers take note of that and tend to generalize that there is no snow," said Connie Marshall, spokeswoman for Alta, Utah's legendary powder palace. Mammoth's 14-inch base had grown to 45 inches. Squaw Valley, near Lake Tahoe, went from 5 inches to 40 inches.



First the credit crunch, now the energy crunch. Just as household electricity bills go stratospheric the first coal-fired power station to be built in Britain for more than 30 years has been approved by Medway Council in Kent. The 1 billion pounds plant at Kingsnorth, near Ashford, will be coal-burning - and carbon-producing - so is hardly an example to India or coal-rich China on how not to overheat the planet. But it will be built if only for one reason - to keep the lights on in the south of England.

Kingsnorth is an example of how the government is caught between preaching green but acting black. The final say on whether the plant will go ahead rests with the government's business secretary, John Hutton. Faced with the prospect of the UK becoming over-reliant on foreign oil and gas and committed to cutting CO2 emissions, the feeling is that Hutton will approve Kingsnorth along with a generation of nuclear plants.



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, January 08, 2008


I reproduce below one of the few Greenie responses to the Inhofe report that goes beyond the usual kneejerk reaction of saying: "It's the oil companies". The post is by James Wang, Ph.D., an alleged "climate scientist" at Environmental Defense, a Greenie organization. I have put a few italicized comments into the article itself and then, following the post, I append a few comments from various sources which highlight how weak the attack is

Climate change denier and U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla) published a report just before Christmas with the headline: "Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007." Does that leave you surprised and wondering? It shouldn't. It's a shocker of a headline, but the report itself doesn't back up the claim. The Inhofe report is 156 pages long. The eight-page introduction - all that most people will read - describes the report and its goals, and gives selected highlights. The body of the report is a series of profiles starting with a sentence or two of biography followed by quotes questioning the validity of climate science.

The aim of the report is to refute that only a handful of scientists - mostly in the pocket of oil companies - still dispute that global warming is happening, and that it's caused by human activities. To this end, Inhofe's aides scoured the internet for quotes from skeptical "scientists". I put this word in quotes because not all the "over 400 prominent scientists" are truly scientists. As the report itself states, the list includes economists and engineers. These may be smart people, but a smart person without expertise in climate science is still a person without expertise in climate science.

Some of these "over 400 scientists" have not published any climate science-related research. I did a search on the terms "climate," "weather," and "carbon dioxide" in the extensive ISI Web of Science database, and did not find, for example, James Hammond, a chemist; statistician Bjorn Lomborg (author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, not a peer-reviewed scientific publication); and physicist Antonio Zichichi.

Others are published, but while their results are consistent with the consensus view, their interpretations are not. For example, Duncan Wingham observed that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing rather than shrinking (true), but then said this is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming." In fact, although the Greenland Ice Sheet is projected to melt and contribute to sea-level rise over the next century, the Antarctic is projected to gain ice in the near term due to heavier snowfall induced by global warming. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report states:
Current global model studies project that the Antarctic Ice Sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.

[Another heads I win, tails you lose proposition: Global warming can make the ice either grow or shrink. Whatever happens is "proof" of global warming. In philosophy, an unfalsifiable proposition like that is regarded as simply meaningless. And note that the same "warming" is supposed to be causing less ice in the arctic and more ice in the antarctic all at the same time. That warming sure is pesky stuff!]

Then there are the many others making statements that are simply incorrect. The highlights of the report - presumably its best shots - contain one factual error after another. Here is a sampling, with responses from Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and science advisor to Environmental Defense:
Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double man would not perceive the temperature impact. -Oleg Sorochtin

MO: Wrong. Earth is well short of a doubling of CO2, yet changes are apparent not only to scientists, but to the "man in the street" - warmer winters, a melting Arctic. These are closely tied to the buildup of greenhouse gases.

[So the "man in the street" is an authority now! And even if changes are apparent to all, it still does not prove that CO2 caused them]

The effect of solar winds on cosmic radiation has just recently been established and, furthermore, there seems to be a good correlation between cloudiness and variations in the intensity of cosmic radiation. Here we have a mechanism which is a far better explanation to variations in global climate than the attempts by IPCC to blame it all on anthropogenic input of greenhouse gases. -Boris Winterhalter

MO: This theory is decades old and has been examined closely. The underlying correlations have been shown to be spurious, and there is no physical mechanism shown to connect cosmic rays to climate.

[An outright lie. Svensmark not only proposed a theory to connect the events but demonstrated it experimentally]

More here

There is much more of the same low intellectual standard so I will at this point go straight on to a few comments by others:

1). Somehow Michael Oppenheimer is portrayed as the authority to refute over 400 scientists? Also, EDF claims that peer-reviewed research is all we should pay attention to, but the Senate report includes a section toward the end of an extensive sampling of recent peer-reviewed studies debunking man-made climate fears. It is obvious that the environmentalists are running scared as they realize the huge international impact this Senate report is having in redefining the climate change debate. (For sampling of media impact, see here )

Most significantly, there is no assertion by EDF or Oppenheimer in this rebuttal of the alleged overwhelming "consensus" on man-made global warming. Have they given up that unfounded argument so easily in the face of the Senate report? So far, the below is the best counter anyone has offered to the Senate Report. They attack, you decide.

2). Notice that ED styles Wang as a "climate scientist". His PhD is in Earth and Planetary Sciences. I see they've moved beyond demanding that one be a climatologist.

3). It is ironic to have ED and Oppenheimer noting 'industry ties' when Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of ED, the premier environmentalist special interest lobbying group!

4). The ED (Environmental Defense) criticism of the Senate report makes a big thing of economists and engineers being featured in it. Read this excellent research by Climate Resistance revealing that the so-called "thousands" of scientists from the IPCC are made up of many economists and engineers as well. After all, you could argue that half the climate change debate is premised on economics that falls under Stern Review inspired "it's cheaper to act now" than wait category.

I wonder if ED or other critiques of the report will note that the chief of the UN IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri is an engineer and an economist? The Associated Press has referred to Pachauri as the "chief climate scientist" for the UN. But -- funnily enough -- environmentalists and other critics of the Senate report failed to complain to the AP that Pachauri was merely an engineer and an economist and therefore should not be called a "chief climate scientist." The New York Times has erroneously referred to Pachauri as a "climatologist" but see here for details on Pachauri's background.

5). Climate alarmists don't seem to realise that by claiming science can be bought by a few oil dollars, they are actually denigrating all scientists - there is a far bigger pot of government money available to IPCC consensus scientists, plus non-scientist Al Gore has made tens of millions out of climate alarmism.

Secondly, we don't really need a list of 400 scientsists. Aside from 2007 being the year of a biased, cherry-picked literature review known as AR4, it was a good year for peer reviewed science that produced inconvenient results for the IPCC consensus e.g. a warm bias in the surface temperature records, the UAH troposhere data has been shown to be robust from independent sources, Spencer's negative feedback, Tsonis et al climate shifts paper, factors other than CO2 involved in Arctic warming, climate sensitivity, the Loehle climate reconstruction, another quiet hurricane season plus papers that fail to link hurricanes with global warming, the tree ring-surface temperature divergence problem, Lomborg's view backed by Prins and Rayner, and so on. In fact every cornerstone of global warming alarmism can be undermined by peer reviewed science, with more papers to come in 2008.

We all know that science isn't a numbers game - it doesn't work by consensus - ultimately it's a question of who is wrong or who is right - not about counting scientific sheep. But the situation is even worse for the consensus - even if it could be proved that CO2 drives climate change, modern life revolves around heating/lighting our homes, economic growth, industry, travel etc, all of which emits CO2 - and we can't stop that until we have alternatives that give us business as usual without CO2 emissions. Then there is China.


By Jeff Jacoby, writing in "The Boston Globe"

The stark headline appeared just over a year ago. "2007 to be 'warmest on record,' " BBC News reported on Jan. 4, 2007. Citing experts in the British government's Meteorological Office, the story announced that "the world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007," surpassing the all-time high reached in 1998.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the planetary hot flash: Much of the planet grew bitterly cold. In South America, for example, the start of winter last year was one of the coldest ever observed. According to Eugenio Hackbart, chief meteorologist of the MetSul Weather Center in Brazil, "a brutal cold wave brought record low temperatures, widespread frost, snow, and major energy disruption. The death toll for the 10-day cold wave was the highest for any single weather event in Argentina in recent history." In Buenos Aires, it snowed for the first time in 89 years, while in Peru the cold was so intense that hundreds of people died and the government declared a state of emergency in 14 of the country's 24 provinces. In August, Chile's agriculture minister lamented "the toughest winter we have seen in the past 50 years," which caused losses of at least $200 million in destroyed crops and livestock.

Latin Americans weren't the only ones shivering. University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that "unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007." Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand's vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows. Closer to home, 44.5 inches of snow fell in New Hampshire last month, breaking the previous record of 43 inches, set in 1876. And the Canadian government is forecasting the coldest winter in 15 years.

To be sure, weather isn't climate. In theory, all of these might be short-lived weather anomalies, mere blips in the path of the global climatic warming that Al Gore and a host of alarmists proclaim the deadliest threat we face. But what if the frigid conditions that have caused so much distress in recent months signal an impending era of global cooling?

"Stock up on fur coats and felt boots!" advises Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and senior scientist at Moscow's Shirshov Institute of Oceanography. "The latest data . . . say that earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012." Sorokhtin dismisses the conventional global warming theory that greenhouse gases, especially human-emitted carbon dioxide, is causing the earth to grow hotter. Like a number of other scientists, he points to solar activity -- sunspots and solar flares, which wax and wane over time -- as having the greatest effect on climate.

"Carbon dioxide is not to blame for global climate change," Sorokhtin writes in an essay for Novosti. "Solar activity is many times more powerful than the energy produced by the whole of humankind." In a recent paper for the Danish National Space Center, physicists Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen concur: "The sun . . . appears to be the main forcing agent in global climate change," they write.

Given the number of worldwide cold events, it is no surprise that 2007 *didn't* turn out to be the warmest ever. In fact, 2007's global temperature was essentially the same as that in 2006 -- and 2005, and 2004, and every year back to 2001. The record set in 1998 has not been surpassed. For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to accumulate -- it's up about 4 percent since 1998 -- the global mean temperature has remained flat. That raises some obvious questions about the theory that CO2 is the cause of climate change.

Yet so relentlessly has the alarmist scenario been hyped, and so disdainfully have dissenting views been dismissed, that millions of people assume Gore must be right when he insists: "The debate in the scientific community is over." When even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declares that global warming is at least as dangerous as nuclear war, and Bill Clinton calls it a "more profound threat" than international terrorism, laymen can be forgiven for assuming that the issue really is settled.

But it isn't. Just last month, more than 100 scientists signed a strongly worded open letter to Ban pointing out that climate change is a well-known natural phenomenon, and that adapting to it is far more sensible than attempting to prevent it. Because slashing carbon dioxide emissions means retarding economic development, they warned, "the current US approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it."

Climate science isn't a religion, and those who dispute its leading theory are not heretics. Much remains to be learned about how and why climate changes, and there is neither virtue nor wisdom in an emotional rush to counter global warming -- especially if what's coming is a global Big Chill.


Who Will Control Your Thermostat?

"There is nothing wrong with your thermostat. Do not attempt to adjust the temperature. We are controlling your power consumption. If we wish to make it hotter, we will turn off your air conditioner. If we wish to make it cooler, we will turn off your heater. For the next millennium, sit quietly and we will control your home temperature. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your thermostat. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... SACRAMENTO!"*

Building codes and engineering standards are generally good things. Updating and improving codes and standards better protect us against earthquakes, for example, as we better understand the weak points and failure modes of existing construction techniques. Requirements that ensure proper handling of sanitary wastes can be largely credited with the increased life spans in industrialized countries through the reduction of communicable diseases.

In California, we have 236 pages of state-mandated standards for building energy efficiency, known as Title 24. This prescribes methods for calculating the sizes of your home windows, the capacities of your air conditioner and heater, the thickness of the insulation in your attic. A small cottage industry has sprung up to perform these engineering calculations that are required for any new commercial or residential construction or major change to existing structures. While I've never personally been involved in this branch of retail professional engineering, I've had colleagues who would moonlight doing Title 24 calcs. It is now just part of the mandated paperwork involved in the construction business these days in California.

A new revision to Title 24 is in the works for 2008[2] and it includes a number of improvements and enhancements that are largely good sense items and should be non-controversial. For example a new swimming pool will probably need larger diameter pipes between the pool, the filter and the pump than was former practice. This will reduce the fluid friction losses that your pump must overcome and hence reduce the pump's consumption of electricity, albeit at a minor increase in first cost for the larger pipes and fittings. Another good idea is a requirement for lighter colored shingles, the "Cool Roof Initiative." That is intended to reduce heat loss over cold winter nights by emission and heat gain on summer days by absorption. My neighbor and I both recently discovered that it is difficult to get roofers to NOT use dark colored shingles for some reason. Having a little state muscle behind us will help, especially for renters.

What should be controversial in the proposed revisions to Title 24 is the requirement for what is called a "programmable communicating thermostat" or PCT. Every new home and every change to existing homes' central heating and air conditioning systems will required to be fitted with a PCT beginning next year following the issuance of the revision. Each PCT will be fitted with a "non-removable " FM receiver that will allow the power authorities to increase your air conditioning temperature setpoint or decrease your heater temperature setpoint to any value they chose. During "price events" those changes are limited to +/- four degrees F and you would be able to manually override the changes. During "emergency events" the new setpoints can be whatever the power authority desires and you would not be able to alter them.

In other words, the temperature of your home will no longer be yours to control. Your desires and needs can and will be overridden by the state of California through its public and private utility organizations. All this is for the common good, of course.

In some technocratic worldview, it does have a justification. California's population growth and its affluence have strained the state's electric and natural gas resources. Famously, rolling blackouts have occurred due to shortages of electrical generation during peak periods. Unbeknownst to most citizens, short supplies of natural gas during cold weather have resulted in curtailments of delivery to industrial and large commercial customers. Those last kilowatts tend to be very expensive kilowatts and tend to drive up the average cost of electricity for all.

But the discomforts of compliance will fall unevenly across the state. Come the next heat wave, the elites might be comfortably lolling in La Jolla's ocean breezes or basking in Berkeley by the Bay, while the Central Valley's poor peons are baking in Bakersfield and frying in Fresno. California's coastal climate, where the elites live, seldom requires air conditioning. I've lived a middle class life style in Mill Valley, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and now San Jose, and never have I lived in a home with air conditioning. Even in relatively warm San Jose, separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Coast Range, ceiling fans will get a family through the worst.

How will the state ensure compliance and prevent free riders? As above, coastal elites are already free riders as they will see the benefits while paying none of the costs except for the higher first cost of a PCT. For initial construction or home remodeling, it will be one of those items a building inspector will check before signing a certificate of occupancy. Replacing one's mandated PCT with a bootleg unit from Nevada should be within the skill of most homeowners. A low powered FM transmitter might easily be devised to override the broadcast commands for low cost. Even a metal wire shield around your PCT could block its FM reception. Adding a window air conditioner or an electric space heater are other work-arounds as neither have requirements for PCTs - yet. Sweating for the common good is for the chumps.

Another problem is that PCTs will obscure the price signals to power plant developers telling them that it will be profitable to build additional generation. As explained in this article, a deregulated electric market will come to resemble other commodity markets, like pork bellies, where shortages cause high prices that induce new capacity and low (or obscured) prices inhibit investment. When bacon prices are high, farmers arrange dates between their sows and their boars in hopes of future, profitable piglets. When bacon prices are low, farmers are more interested in chastity for their herds. If the state "shaves" peak loads by adjusting your thermostat during "price events," generators will not receive the higher prices. This effect will reinforce electrical shortages much like rent control discourages apartment building.

The real question poised by this invasion of the sanctity of our homes by state power is -- why are we doing this? It seems to me to be the wrong fix for a problem that we don't have to have. The common sense alternative is to build new power plants so that power shortages don't occur. Of course, they can't be coal or nuclear power plants! The coastal elites have their minds set against those undesirables. The state has wasted billions of our dollars on wind generation that hasn't helped to meet peak loads. For natural gas, offshore drilling should be considered. While we have one liquefied natural gas terminal in Mexico supplying us with Indonesian and, in the near future, Russian, LNG, another receiving terminal to be supplied by Australian LNG was rejected by the State Coastal Commission.

While nowhere in the Bill of Rights is there explicitly a right to set one's own thermostat to whatever temperature one desires (and is able to pay for), the new PCT requirement certainly seems to violate the "a man's home is his castle" common law dictum.


Global Warming and Pagan Emptiness: Cardinal George Pell on the latest hysterical substitute for religion

An interview:

In the debate over the theory of global warming, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney is a decided skeptic. His forthright reservations about the claim of catastrophic man-made climate change have made him a target for criticism in Australia. CWR talked to him about the controversy.

Q: Your recent remarks questioning the claims about man-made climate change have drawn fierce criticism here in Australia. How do you account for that?

Cardinal Pell: Despite the fact that Australians like to see themselves as a ruggedly independent, rational, and democratic people, in some respects a herd-like mentality still prevails. Right now, the mass media, politicians, many church figures, and the public generally seem to have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion. These days, for any public figure to question the basis of what amounts to a green fundamentalist faith is tantamount to heresy. The angry editorials and letters to newspapers certainly suggest this.

Q: You are one of very few public figures in this country to express open skepticism about man-made climate change and its alleged long-term effects. What is your reading of the scientific evidence for climate change? What is the basis of your skepticism?

Cardinal Pell: I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by political parties and public opinion. Climate change both up and down has been occurring, probably since earth first had a climate.

Science is a process of experimentation, debate, and respect for evidence. Often it is dealing with uncertainties rather than certainties, and so its forecasts and predictions can be spectacularly wrong. We must not ignore evidence that doesn't suit our cause. Long-term weather forecasting is a notoriously imprecise exercise. In the 1970s some scientists were predicting a new ice age because of global cooling. Today other scientists are predicting an apocalypse because of global warming. It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt. Commitment to the scientific method actually requires it.

Uncertainties on climate change abound. Temperatures in Greenland were higher in the 1940s than they are today, and the Kangerlussuaq glacier there is not shrinking but growing in size. While the ice may be melting in the Arctic, apparently it is increasing in extent in the Antarctic. Overall world temperatures have not increased since 1998 according to the statistics-whatever the case might be in particular locations.

Q: Do you accept that human activities may have contributed to at least some of the global warming?

Cardinal Pell: Significant evidence suggests that average temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees centigrade during the last century, and there is no doubt that large-scale industrial activities can have an adverse impact in particular locations, as in the larger Chinese cities. But when averaged out across the globe, it is difficult to see this being the main culprit for any overall global warming, let alone bringing us to the verge of catastrophe. Again, we are dealing with a very imprecise science here, whatever the computer models might suggest. There are so many other variables.

The journal American Scientist recently published a study on the melting glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro. The study confirms that air temperature around the glacier continues to be below freezing, so it is not melting because of global warming. Instead, the melt pattern of the glacier is consistent with the effect of direct radiant heat from the sun. Human activity can't be blamed for that.


Extra Sunshine Blamed for Part of Arctic Meltdown

A cautious mainstream report below. There is another attempt to downplay the findings here

A reduction in clouds was likely a culprit in this summer's record Arctic meltdown which temporarily opened up the fabled Northwest Passage, scientists announced this week. While Earth's rising temperatures fueled by global warming are certainly a factor in the Arctic melt, unusual weather patterns this summer also influenced how much of the sea ice melted.

One result of these patterns was a decrease in cloud cover, scientists said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which would have allowed more sunlight to penetrate Earth's atmosphere and warm the Arctic ocean waters. New data from NASA satellites observing the western Arctic, where most of the ice loss occurred, showed a 16 percent decrease in cloud coverage this summer compared to 2006. "There's been quite dramatic reductions of cloudiness this summer," said study member Graeme Stephens of Colorado State University.

The amount of sunlight from these clearer skies would have been enough to heat ocean waters by 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius), or enough to melt 1 foot (0.3 meters) of sea ice, the scientists said. "Clouds are conspiring, they're playing a role in this," said study author Jennifer Kay, a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Kay says the result of this work highlights the importance of the influence of weather pattern variability on an already stressed-out Arctic system. "As Arctic sea ice thins, its extent is more sensitive to year-to-year variability in weather and cloud patterns," Kay said. "Our data show that clearer skies this summer allowed more of the sun's energy to melt the vulnerably thin sea ice and heat the ocean surface."


Unproven theory

We have been cleaning up the environment since before the Environmental Protection Act was enacted in 1972. We certainly have economic reasons for pursuing energy independence. Technological advances are proceeding with or without the direct stimulus of environmental protection or energy independence in our capitalistic society. That is being objective.

As for the global warming debate, it is interesting that thousands of scientists and politicians have lined up on the side of man being a big factor in global warming. Whereas, the "handful" of scientists presenting factual evidence that man has a limited effect on global warming just happen to be those trained and knowledgeable in the field of meteorology.

For example, these true experts in the field were ignored by the United Nations commission, as well as those meeting at the latest international conference on global warming. It's something like the old saying: "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up." And, Al Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his movie, with a number of documented inaccuracies and his public appearances pushing his environmental views.

So, let's get practical. Global warming is a theory presented by a number of scientists and lay persons that has not been proved. There have been a number of scare tactics used, such as the ocean rising 20 feet by the end of this century, more of Africa turning into desert, warm temperatures in North American drastically damaging our environment, and the like.

Historically, we have been going through climate changes throughout the existence of the Earth. Scientists studying the Arctic and Antarctic have found ice melting in the Arctic and new ice forming in the Antarctic. These findings are being ignored by those who have already made up their minds on global warming.

The scientific process is to gather the facts before we make up our minds. I suggest that the scientists remember and follow this training, and that the politicians go back to finding other ways to attract votes.



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, January 07, 2008

The Arctic Comes To California

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

Forecasters are warning Californians that they are in for a rough weekend as arctic storms barrel into their state. There are wind, rain, avalanche, blizzard, mudslide, boating and a bunch of other warnings being announced. This is going to be a doozy. Best advice: stock up on supplies and stay home.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - People throughout California braced themselves as arctic storms moved ashore Friday, threatening to paralyze the mountains with deep snow and bring devastating rains to a coastal landscape already charred by wildfires. Forecasters warned the fierce winds and other extreme weather would last through the weekend.

Homeowners rushed to stack sandbags around houses lying below fire-ravaged hillsides in Southern California, while Northern California residents - like those along the Gulf Coast before a hurricane - scurried to stock up on last-minute provisions. In the eastern Sierra ski town of Mammoth Lakes, resident Barbara Sholle went to the supermarket after receiving a call from the town's reverse-911 system. She waited an hour to pay for her groceries amid a crush of residents. "People were waiting in line for shopping carts," she said.

The storm system began dumping rain and snow Thursday in parts of Northern California. Power outages, damaged electrical lines and downed trees were reported in the Sacramento area by nightfall. The U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche warning for Mount Shasta, in the Cascade Range in far Northern California, while the National Weather Service issued a rare blizzard advisory for the Sierra Nevada. The storm system brought high wind warnings along the coast. Ocean tides were expected to swell to 30 feet, leading the Coast Guard to caution boaters to remain in port. "If you don't have to go out this weekend, it might be a nice weekend to stay at home after the holidays," said Frank McCarton, chief deputy director of the California Office of Emergency Services.

Meanwhile, there are completely different warnings going out in Florida. Rain warnings, of a sort. Specifically, beware of iguanas falling from the sky as temperatures fall. Plummeting temperatures lead to plummeting iguanas.
MIAMI - The bitter cold that swept across the region came like a giant Sominex pill for the tree-dwelling iguanas of South Florida. The plummeting temperatures Wednesday night and early Thursday - which hit 39 degrees at Miami International Airport - caused the large green lizards to drop out of the trees and litter the ground.

The cold-blooded reptiles, exotics from Central and South America that can reach six feet in length, maintain a body temperature similar to the air around them. When the temperature falls into the low 40s, their bodies go into a deep sleep - with basically only the heart continuing to function and with little blood flow, experts said. ''The worst part of the cold comes in the evening, and they literally just shut off,'' said Ron Magill, communications director for Miami Metrozoo. "Their bodies shut off and they lose their grip on the tree, and they start falling.''

They aren't dead. At least, most aren't. It is as if they are in suspended animation, said Robert Yero, park manager at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, where it was raining iguanas Thursday morning. Two were underneath buttonwood trees; another lay beneath a sea grape. All were about 30 yards from the beach, in the coastal hammock.

Sleep-falling reptiles plummeting down on passersby is not what you expect in the Southernmost reaches of Florida. But it indicates just how cold it is down there, doesn't it. Our advice: buy an iguana-proof hardhat if you're planning on going for a stroll in the Miami area. Getting bonked on the head by a six-foot somnambulating (somnambu-falling?) iguana could ruin your whole day.

Heavy Snow In Pyrenees Leads To Avalanches, Deaths

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

Heavy snowfalls in the Pyrenees have led to avalanche conditions that have claimed the lives of three skiers in Spain. The snowfall has been so heavy that many ski areas have been forced to close entire sections.
Mountain rescue teams said they were found in an off-piste area near the resort of Formigal. Two of the skiers died while rescuers tried to resuscitate them, but the body of the third was discovered later. The avalanche occurred on Friday morning and the centre said a warning had been issued for off-piste areas because of recent heavy snowfalls. Some of its ski runs have been closed, at what is considered to be a busy period for Spanish resorts.

There have been additional deaths at ski areas in Europe due to extreme snow conditions. One woman died in Austria after being buried in snow, but her three companions were rescued. (I also saw another report of a death at another European ski resort yesterday, but can't locate it at the moment.)

Winter Storms Lash Europe

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links
Bulgaria and Romania are reeling under heavy snow that has caused near collapse of the transportation systems. A ship appears to have been lost with all hands in the Black Sea as the storm battered the areas. Bucharest, Romania is buried under as much as two feet of new snow.
Rescuers from Ukraine and Russia are searching for the other crew from the Vanessa. There were 10 Bulgarians and a Ukrainian pilot on board. The crew reportedly took to life rafts when their ship, carrying iron, sank en route to Burgas in Bulgaria. Heavy snow has severely disrupted transport in Bulgaria and Romania. There is transport chaos in the Romanian capital Bucharest, with snow 50-60cm (19.5-23 inches) deep in places. Bucharest's two airports were closed and train passengers were hit by long delays. The airports later reopened.

Bulgarian airports were also closed, as were ports in both countries. The BBC also has pictures from the storm-ravaged Balkans. Much of Britain has been hit with heavy snows as well, although not as badly as the Balkans. But the winter is wreaking havoc there as well.

2007 warmest year on record? Coldest in this century

Post below excerpted from Lubos Motl. See the original for links and more

One month ago, we noticed that November 2007 was the coldest month since January 2000. Well, the RSS MSU satellite data prepared by show that December was even cooler. The December anomaly was -0.046 °C, compared to -0.014 °C in November. That means that December 2007 was also cooler than the average December from 1979. Moreover, we can finally complete the ranking of the years!

Let me start with forecasts in the mainstream media.

In January 2007, we were informed that 2007 was either likely or certain to surpass 1998 and become the world's warmest year on record by most media, including:
AP & Foxnews
USA Today
The New York Times
The New York Sun
The Washington Post
National Geographic
The Guardian
The Independent
China People Daily
ABC Australia
Discovery Channel
Science Daily
Met Office
as well as virtually all other media you know. They justified this statement by referring to scientists who have combined greenhouse gases with the observed El Nino. Many sources, such as the New York Sun, even gave you the probability that 2007 would be the hottest year as 60 percent. They immediately added that this should "add momentum for the next phase of the Kyoto protocol", a comment that clarifies what is the actual goal of many of the people who study these questions professionally.

In the middle of the year when it started to be clear that the prediction was bogus, Phil Jones (Reuters) changed his mind only infinitesimally. It would be the second hottest year, he said. These big-shot agenda-driven scientists never have the courage to say that they were simply wrong.

Reality: thermometers

However, the greenhouse gases are not too important and El Nino was replaced by La Nina. As a consequence, RSS MSU data for the lower troposphere (graph, more graphs) show that 2007 was the coldest year in this century so far. In alarmist jargon, it was the ninth hottest year on record: the most recent year was cooler than all other years in this century as well as 1998 (by a whopping 0.41 °C) and even 1995. According to different datasets (HadCRUT3, UAH MSU, NOAA), the year is going to be approximately the 8th (HadCRUT3) or 7th (NOAA) or 6th warmest year. UAH might report 2007 as the 4th warmest year and GISS will be a real exception because 2007 will be almost certainly its 2nd warmest year (as James Hansen said a few weeks ago, after 2005 but slightly above 1998) - but it is still very far from the hype about the hottest year. Your humble correspondent is not the only one who believes that the satellite measurements such as RSS, UAH are more accurate than GISS, HadCRUT3. It just happens that HadCRUT3 is closer to RSS than UAH to RSS, as far as the recent rankings go.

The RSS MSU linear trend extracted from the 1998-2007 interval is -0.48 °C per century of cooling! Numerically, it's almost the same trend that we assign to the 20th century but with the opposite sign. The RSS MSU data imply that 2007 was 0.12 °C cooler than the already cool year 2006. Other teams will generate qualitatively compatible results but substantially different numbers, raising doubts about the reliability of the temperature measurement even in the modern era.

Figure 1: Global cooling. Nine hottest years on record as shown by the RSS MSU calculations, from the hottest year 1998 to the coolest year 2007.

The choice of 1998 as the beginning of this graph is, of course, a P.R. trick to make the trend look as cooling as possible. If someone chooses e.g. a year in 1970s - the coldest year in the last 70 years - as his beginning, it is a P.R. trick, too, even though the goal has the opposite one. Certain qualitative conclusions simply depend on these choices and one must be careful about this fact. Similar issues are also discussed in the fast comments. Moreover, I only included the last 10 years for efficiency because typing three times as many numbers to the Excel file would be rather tiresome. Incidentally, if I wanted to demonstrate recent global cooling, I could have been even tougher and show you 36 months since January 2005, including the linear regression:

Figure 2: Global cooling 2005-2007. The trend is over 15 °C of cooling per century. ;-) Also, the trend is accelerating: for the 12 months of 2007, a similar linear regression gives about 35 °C of cooling per century. :-)

Let me emphasize that if someone thinks that the "ninth hottest year" is still hot, it is of course an irrational reaction. The global mean temperature is a continuous function of time and is auto-correlated. It follows that a short time after what has been identified as the hottest instrumentally measured years, we can't abruptly return to years as cool as 1850 or 1660. The laws of mathematics just make such a possibility extremely unlikely.

Let me offer you a metaphor. Imagine that all newspapers in the world would cite "experts" and predict that Nico Rosberg would almost certainly win in the Formula One 2007 season. However, the first three drivers would be R„ikk”nen, Hamilton, and Alonso while Rosberg would be ninth. Would the readers appreciate the "expert" who would just decide that Rosberg was the best guy? It would be an entirely foolish prediction. Why is the climate so different?

Panic du jour: overpopulation

The Dominion Post in New Zealand recently published a doomsday prognosis based on the antiquated bugaboo of overpopulation. They actually avoid defining what they mean by overpopulation, which is always convenient. But let us look at some of the claims they make.

1. They say the world's population "growth rate has been slowing in recent years, but only slightly."

This is as understated as their claims of eminent disaster are overstated. They say that the United Nations estimates the world's population will top out around 9.4 billion. Only a few years ago the UN was saying it would be 12 billion. So in a few years time they have reduced their estimate by 3 billion people. The Dominion Post calls that slight.

To put that into context that is equivalent of the total population of China, India and the United States combined. Hardly a trifling number I would say. In Kiwi terms that is the same as eradicating the entire population of New Zealand 650 times over.

The total fertility rate, that is the number of children born to each woman on average, has been dropping like a stone in spite of the Post's claim that there have been only slight decreases. In the early 70s the TFR was 5.2 children. By the early 90s it had dropped to 3.6. By the beginning of this century it was standing at 2.97. And today it is estimated to be 2.59. So the world TFR has been cut in half over the span of about half a lifetime.

It is generally conceded that for a nation to have a stable population it must have a TFR of 2.1. According to the CIA World Factbook there are 103 countries in the world with a TFR that is at or below this level. This includes the United States and Canada, virtually all of Europe, much of South America, and much of Asia. Nations that are close to dropping below their replacement levels include Mexico, Indonesia, Colombia, Jordan, and India.

Of course birth rates only tell you how many people are entering the building, so to speak. What about the exits? The main driving force of world population today is not birth rates but death rates, or to be more precise, the decline in death rates. People are living longer. More infants are surviving into adulthood. This decline in deaths is the main reason populations have grown. That, however, is a conundrum for overpopulation hysterics like the Post. It is one thing to recommend that people have fewer children but how does one recommend that people die faster and in larger numbers? That is why they actually ignore the driving force of population growth today -- longer life spans.

2. The Post argues that there are "ominous signs that the world might be reaching capacity." Doomsday day prophets never have a shortage of ominous signs since almost anything unpleasant is usually attributed to their panic du jour. Their evidence in this editorial is that the UN "called for immediate help for poor countries hit by spiralling food prices. Those countries were spending 25 per cent more on food imports in 2007 than they had in 2006..." No doubt this is true. But let us look at what has happened and who is responsible.

World food production has been increasing dramatically over for decades now. World food supplies have been increasing faster than the world's population. In the 1960s only 42 percent of nations had an average daily caloric intake that was equal to 100% of daily requirements. By the 70s it was 52 percent, by the 80s it was 66 percent. Nations which previously couldn't produce enough food, such as India, China and Vietnam, became net food exporters. Then the environmental hysterics got involved and starting pushing biofuels.

To push biofuels they confiscated large sums of money poorer taxpayers and poured it into the coffers of wealthy special interest groups like Agribusiness and Big Energy companies. The politicians decided to offer subsidies to produce biofuels. Those biofuels started gobbling up massive amounts of the agricultural sector bidding up world food prices. One fuel tank of ethanol requires the food sufficient to feed one person for an entire year. The Financial Times reported that Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme "said policy makers were becoming more concerned about the impact of biofuel demand on food prices..." The paper said "biofuel production will sustain food inflation and hit the world's poorest people."

The politicians in Europe and North America particularly have adopted policies which are guaranteed to divert food from human consumption to energy and they are starving people to death because of it. The question is not so much a lack of food but food being wasted on "green" solutions that create more problems than they solve.

3. The Post gets all worried about the how much land each person has available to them. This has to be one of the biggest non-issues around. Individual prosperity and thriving is not directly effected by available land. The nations in the world with the lowest population densities also tend to be poverty stricken, death traps.

Some of the least densely populated regions of human habitation are in Africa whereas Europe is among the most densely populated regions in the world.

In any specific nation prosperity increases with population density. Auckland is more prosperous than South Island. London is more prosperous than the rural regions. New York is more prosperous than Wyoming. Population density for a nation is not the full story by any means. The rate of urbanisation is also important. For instance there are very wealth nations with low population densities: Canada, the United States and Australia are three. But in all three of these nations there are vast areas that are unpopulated with heavy concentrations of people in urban settings.

The Post seemed to chide one UN official who said population growth was a problem but "he shied from the next step, saying instead that forcing people to stop having children would be a simplistic answer." The Post seems to think that using force to sterilize people, or similar coercive measures, are the "next step." I can think of people who have supported such policies but I'm not sure the editors at the Dominion Post want to be in that hall of infamy.

The Post warns that "the pressure from an ever-expanding population on a world that is finite cannot be ignored forever." This summation shows their lack of factual content. The world's population is not "ever-expanding" even by the UN's own projections. They full anticipate the world's population to go into steep decline within the lifetime of many of the people alive today.

I have just looked at the UN's projections. Their projection using their medium variants maxing the world out with 9.19 billion people in 2050, not the 9.4 billion the Post mention. The problem is that UN has a history of overestimating and then later reducing their figures to match what actually happened. Even their medium projections have a history of being too high. Their low projections, which I think are more realistic, show the world's population maxing out at 7.87 billion in 2040 and then declining.

In the next few years Russia is expected to see populations decline by up to 50 percent. Europe faces a decline of 25 percent on a whole. Japan expects to loose 16 million people, Italy will lose 15 million, Spain 8 million, Germany 12.4 million, Netherlands 6 million. Nations like New Zealand, who have built a pension/welfare system based on the premise of more people paying in than collecting will face the dilemma of more and more people collecting benefits while fewer are paying in. Unfortunately as long as publications like the Post push the bogus crisis of overpopulation politicians find it easy to ignore the crisis of declining population that will impact the welfare states in the near future.


Tree laws KILL trees

As an attorney I am sometimes consulted by property owners who want to remove trees without fear of tree regulations. As an attorney I cannot advise my clients to ignore laws (though often tree laws seem easy to ignore). I can tell clients what a lot of people do: they don't plant any tree that is covered by tree laws. And any tree protected by tree laws that is still small enough to be legally killed, is killed.

Tree laws can be amended to include other trees, so that under modern government every tree is a potential risk that a property owner will be restricted in the future use/alteration of his property. Tree laws make treeless property the safest route.

Tree laws kill trees, as every libertarian knows. And rightfully so, because tree laws violate private property rights by "socializing" trees. All freedom is founded on private property. The joke about the endangered species act is: shoot, shovel and shut up. Under "tree-preservation" laws it is: chop, chip and chill.

Tree laws illustrate the fatal conceit of socialism via its unintended consequences. Tree-huggers must have fallen out of a stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. If public officials were any more stupid, they'd have to be watered twice a week. If their antidisestablishmentarianism continues then more "protected" trees will die. Tree laws prove that socialism is environmentally disastrous. Government built roads through forests, straightened rivers, drained wetlands, cut canals, and subsidized other agricultural uses with taxes and other socialism. The government has already done more environmental damage than private enterprise could ever have afforded to do.

Capitalism saves trees from socialism's destruction. Capitalists farm trees for paper, and other uses. Capitalists created alternative forms of power to replace the burning of wood. The best environment is a capitalist environment. Trees prove that the color of a healthy environment and the color of money are the same. Mother Nature is a capitalist. Capitalists are the true greens.

Even so, Government threatens tree owners on private property with tree laws. Tree laws fail to distinguish non-violent private acts from theft and violence. With tree laws, the government threatens theft and violence against peaceful people.

Many jurors do not know that they have the absolute power to acquit if they believe a law is wrong. As an attorney, I have been asked how I sleep at night after representing "tree killers." I sleep like a log after I protect peaceful property owners from guilty government. My counter-question is "how can anyone sleep after defending the statist quo?"



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, January 06, 2008

PROOF! Global warming caused by argon!

A weak long-term correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels and terrestrial warming is one of the basic "proofs" that Warmists offer for their claims. On that reasoning the fact that the concentration of argon in ice core bubbles goes up and down alongside CO2 over the long term should "prove" that argon (another atmospheric gas) causes warming too. Or maybe CO2 causes argon to emerge from somewhere! See the graph below:

"BP" stands for "Before the Present". Argon in the period above is quite a close correlate with CO2. That both argon and CO2 levels might be an EFFECT of warming rather than vice versa must not be mentioned, of course. Everyone knows how the fizz fizzles away as a Pepsi gets warm. Likewise, since the ocean contains vast reserves of CO2, anyone can easily grasp what happens when the ocean gets warm. The scales should fall off of people's eyes when that simple fact is explained.

Global warming a big hoax

In the spirit of being a good neighbor, I've decided to offer a needed service for all of the believers in human-caused global warming. That's right, step right up, folks, I'm going to be selling carbon credits to those who want to assuage their guilt about heating up the planet with their SUVs.

For those of you not familiar with carbon credits, people who don't want to cut back on their use of fossil fuels just pay someone else to cut back, much the same way you might pay someone to eat healthy foods for you so you can eat anything you want.

My gimmick is that I'm offering $100 carbon credits for only $89 each. If you buy carbon credits from Al Gore, you'll have to pay the full retail price. But if you send your money directly to me, you'll receive an official certificate for $100 in carbon credits for every $89 you send. But wait, there's more. If you are among the first 500 purchasers, we'll include a fantastic vegetable chopper, a $19.99 value, absolutely free.

And you will be helping to save the planet. I've had my eye on a 12-foot jon boat with a used 10-horse Evinrude, which will no doubt pump out oodles of carbon dioxide. But instead, I'm going to use the proceeds of carbon credit sales to purchase a sailboat -- in other words, an environmentally friendly boat that uses wind power. The latest issue of Yachts International includes an ad for a 66-foot Van De Stadt for a mere $2,295,000. That's a lot of carbon credits, but I'm sure if all of you dig deep enough, we can pull this off.

When you display your certificates on the wall, not only can you be smug about protecting our planet, you can also proudly tell your friends and neighbors that you got them wholesale.

Expanding the same general principle, I'm also pleased to offer healthy food credits to folks who need to improve their diet. Just send me $5, and I'll eat a stalk of celery for you. Of course, that's with a big blob of Cheese Whiz spread all over it. Sorry, if you want me to eat the thing with no topping; it'll cost you 10 bucks.

(Note to the humor-challenged: the above is satire. Do not send money to me or to any carnie out there, whether they are selling carbon credits or tickets to see a two-headed calf.)

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said that there is a carbon credit purchaser born every minute. Or, did he say that a carbon credit purchaser and his money are soon parted? Well, it was something like that.

It would be easy to write off the global warming alarmists as a bunch of harmless boobs who will soon be refuted, but we should learn from history. DDT alarmism was also based on politics instead of science and has been thoroughly refuted, but at last count, there are still a million people perishing from malaria each year due to the DDT ban.

While everyone agrees that the earth has warmed between a half degree and one degree centigrade over the last century, and that humans may have a small part in it, there is absolutely no "consensus" that humans are the major cause. Since the planet Mars is also warming, it is likely that we are experiencing a normal variation in the sun's output. Furthermore, if the earth continues to warm, there is no universal agreement that humans can actually do anything about it.

Yes, of course we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But, we know that global warming alarmism is simply a political ploy when alarmists refuse to acknowledge the real solution -- nuclear power -- which puts nothing other than water vapor into the atmosphere.

A report released by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) on Dec. 20 included this opening statement: "Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called 'consensus' on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore." That sums it up nicely, but you can read the entire report at


Greenies don't let the facts disturb them

They just KNOW what is best. Who needs research?

Sourcing local products is often less environmentally friendly than buying the same products from abroad, an academic has warned. While buying food produced locally can cut down on carbon emissions used to transport the goods from their country of origin, the benefits may be counteracted by the "food print" of plants grown in greenhouse conditions. The term is the latest buzzword used to describe the environmental impact of certain types of food production.

But while a carbon footprint refers to the emissions used to transport food across the world, a "food print" describes the amount of land needed to supply a person's nutritional needs for a year. Using locally produced, but out-of-season, food grown in artificial environments like greenhouses can actually use more emissions than shipping the same goods from areas where they grow naturally, according to Gareth Edward-Jones, professor of agricultural and land-use studies at Bangor University.

He said, "People talk about the ecological and carbon footprints of what we eat but we have been studying the whole environmental impact of food. "Everybody seems to want to blame farmers or air travel in the food miles debate but a large amount of the responsibility for it lies within our own kitchens. "However consumers might be surprised to find out that in certain instances, you cannot always say that sourcing local is best. "Although it is important for farmers and growers to try and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their activities, it is also important that these reflect energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from other activities in both households and the wider economy.

"For example, food grown in Kenya using geo-thermal energy can use less energy even when it is flown over here than some UK-produced food. "And if you buy a lettuce in winter from the UK where it is grown in a greenhouse, it can be more energy intensive than one trucked into the UK from fields in Spain. "Consumers are likely to start trading off their concerns about carbon pollution for other issues. "Carbon is not the only pollutant, we also need to consider land use and water pollution into rivers caused by run off in Spain."

Professor Edwards-Jones added that wine and coffee are two products that consumers should cut down on if climate change is their main concern because of the amount of CO2 emissions involved in their energy-intensive production. "The trouble is that middle-class consumers get excited about the sorts of food and drink that suits them, rather than what they feel might hurt them," he said. "I cannot see them giving up wine or coffee. "Although consumers want to buy local, with the coming year likely to see food shortages, debt and a higher cost of living, those who are hard up are likely to put the emphasis on buying cheaper food."

He said estimates suggested that 25% of the total supply of fruit and vegetables goes to waste. "While 170,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year may be wasted in the retail sector, the greatest volume of waste occurs in consumers' homes, with 31% of consumers admitting to throwing away food because it has gone off `always, very often or quite often'.

Gordon James, of Friends of the Earth Cymru, added, "Food waste is increasing all the time and take-away food is especially bad for this. "And we are told by health experts that drinking too much alcohol is a bad thing so maybe we should be drinking more water with meals instead of wine and less coffee too. But people can end up feeling confused by all the information. "So it makes sense to stick to some basic and clear principles, such as buying food with a good nutritional value with less climate change damage. "Or even better, produce the food yourself in your back garden."

A spokesman for Oxfam added, "Food prints are a follow on from carbon footprints and anything that can help consumers to consider where their food comes from, and its impact, is a good thing."


Newt Gingrich Out-Greens Al Gore?

Newt Gingrich has guzzled Al Gore's Kool-Aid. Now he wants us and the Republican 2008 presidential candidates to drink it, too. The former House Speaker's latest book, "A Contract with the Earth" co-authored with Palm Beach Zoo CEO Terry Maple, is an appalling paean to environmental na‹vet‚ and taxpayer-subsidized profiteering.

While the book's theme - i.e., let's all just happily pitch in and do what it takes to save the environment - may sound reasonable, at least on a superficial basis, Mr. Gingrich's notions are often wrong or simply bizarre, and his prescriptions amount to little more than a full embrace of rent-seeking "green" business and left-leaning eco-activist groups, both of which often masquerade as "protectors" of the environment.

The book opens with the melodramatic line, "We are personally diminished by the loss of each and every species or habitat that cannot resist extinction." But nowhere does Mr. Gingrich indicate that we've been diminished by the ongoing malarial genocide in Africa caused by the senseless 1972 ban on the pesticide DDT - which was promoted by the Environmental Defense, a command-and-control activist group laughably lauded by Mr. Gingrich as an "advocate of market-based solutions to environmental problems."

Another over-the-top sentiment is Mr. Gingrich's endorsement of Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson's doomsday observance, "The living world is dying." But if Mr. Gingrich wants to be taken seriously on the environment - he claims to have been an environmental studies professor - such meaningless drivel is best avoided.

Mr. Gingrich asks, "Who among us lacks a fundamental respect for the earth?" But he simultaneously slams so-called "anti-environmental politicians" as "out of step with the American people" and the "patriotic worldview" - whatever that is. I don't know of any politician who is "anti-environment," though there are a great many who demand that environmental policy be based on sound science and cost-benefit analysis, and who distrust politicized eco-activists.

Mr. Gingrich wants us to work for a common cause but he has little use for the opinions of others, regardless of their expertise and his lack thereof. In response to the view of Shell Oil's CEO that America will always need foreign oil even as it develops alternative energy sources, Gingrich dismissively writes, "It is difficult, if not impossible, to have an intelligent conversation about energy if we cannot agree that independence from foreign oil, ... [and] from fossil fuel, is achievable." The book is better titled, "My Way or the Highway."

"The distribution of carcinogens in the environment is a serious problem. a healthier environment is needed to defeat many forms of cancer," writes Mr. Gingrich. Without any citations, however, it's difficult to imagine what he's talking about. Substances in the environment as detectable, let alone, significant causes of cancer is a Jimmy Carter-era notion that decades of scientific investigation has yet to validate.

Mr. Gingrich discusses something called "nature deficit disorder" (NDO), which self-described "futurist" Richard Louv has hypothesized as children's underexposure to nature and a contributing factor to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although not "yet" recognized by scientists, Mr. Gingrich calls NDO a "compelling" idea.

The ethanol industry is praised as are many other subsidy-hungry industries aiming to profit from real and imagined environmental and energy concerns. Mr. Gingrich doesn't mention, however, that ever-increasing government subsidies to the ethanol industry are distorting agricultural markets, increasing consumer prices and putting more stress on the environment, all while failing to produce discernible environmental benefits or energy independence. While Mr. Gingrich praises the use of tax credits and subsidies to convert landfill gases, manure and wind power into energy, there's nary a word about the only practical and truly green power source available - nuclear energy.

The book's examples of entrepreneurship as a means to advancing environmental goals fall apart upon closer consideration. Shell Oil, for example, is praised for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by pumping the gas into greenhouses in Rotterdam rather than into the atmosphere. But this amounts to only a slight delay in the atmospheric release of a miniscule amount of CO2. Where does Mr. Gingrich think the CO2 goes after the short-lived plants are consumed or decompose?

The 2004 hijacking of 680,000 acres of Chilean forest from a U.S. timber company and scuttling of the largest-ever sustainable forestry project through the combined efforts of The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and investment bank Goldman Sachs is offered as an example of "protecting hallowed sites." As readers of this column know, however, the "Great Chilean Land Steal" is actually an example of how the poor people of Chile, the environment, and a U.S. business all received the short-end of the stick while the environmentalists made off with a multi-billion dollar asset.

That is not the only example of where Mr. Gingrich's apparently beloved Nature Conservancy has operated more in its own narrow interests than on behalf the of public on whose behalf it has been bestowed tax-exempt status.

Not surprisingly, the book exalts Sierra Club founder John Muir. Interestingly, Mr. Gingrich blithely mentions Muir's martial law-like view favoring use of the military to enforce environmental law. Disturbingly, he moves on without ever disapproving the policy.

Without explanation, Mr. Gingrich slams the Congress and President Bush for "having failed to exert sufficient and effective leadership on the environment." Not only does Mr. Gingrich "anticipate a return to assertive American leadership," presumably after the 2008 elections, but he calls for an end to adversarial politics. But from checks-and-balances to the two-party system, our form of government is built on adversarial processes. Only in totalitarian systems - much to the disadvantage of their populations and environments - are adversarial politics absent.

Mr. Gingrich says you can tell which presidential candidate to support by evaluating his advisors' positions on the environment. Terrific. So if you see Mr. Gingrich advising a candidate, consider yourself forewarned


Natural warming no cause for worry

By Thomas Ring, a chemical engineer with a degree from Case Western Reserve University

SUPERVISOR Charles McGlashan, in the Sept. 26 IJ, said "the county's growth policies have to take global warming seriously. We are fighting a race against potential extinction." His reference was to the nonscientific consensus that man-made CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming.

Over many millennia, the Earth's average temperature has cycled between about 54 Fahrenheit and 72 Fahrenheit. It now is about 60 degrees. Prior to about 1850, we have only proxy information about the Earth's temperature, but we know it was warm in Roman times (about 600 BC) and around 1000 (when grapes grew in the United Kingdom and Greenland was rich in vegetation). These warmer periods occurred in the absence of man-made CO2. Since 1850, it has been possible to measure the Earth's average temperature and atmospheric CO2 more precisely.

From 1850 to 1912, there was a rather stable "cool" period.

From 1912 to 1943, when there was little man-made CO2 emission, it warmed about 1.1 degrees (remember the heat and drought in the Southwest United States in the 1930s?), and atmospheric CO2 increased from 0.029 percent to 0.031 percent.

From 1943 to 1974, it cooled about 0.6 degrees (while CO2 increased from 0.031 percent to 0.033 percent), giving rise to a "new ice age" scare.

Since 1974, it has warmed about 1.3 degrees, and atmospheric CO2 increased from 0.033 percent to 0.037 percent, giving rise to the current scare of "global warming caused by man-made CO2."

Curiously, Mars, our closest planet whose surface temperature we've measured since 1975, has warmed about the same as Earth.

What's responsible for prior periods of warmth in 600 BC, 1000 and 1912 to 1943, all when there was no or little man-made CO2? It's most likely the sun, whose radiation varies to the fourth power of its temperature. A mere 0.25 percent rise in the sun's temperature can cause a significant 5 degree rise in the Earth's temperature. And it's most likely why Mars, along with the Earth, is warming.

The major greenhouse gases are CO2 and water vapor. Current atmospheric CO2 is a teeny 0.037 percent, and its impact is far less than proportional as its concentration increases. Atmospheric water vapor is, however, 0.9 percent, 25 times as much as CO2. Water vapor is a "radiator" that is three times more powerful than CO2, but its larger effect has been ignored in the global warming debate.

"An Inconvenient Truth," which starred Al Gore, makes the case that today's global warming is caused by man-made CO2. A British court has ruled that the film has nine major errors that must be disclosed to UK audiences before and after showing the film.

To understand the global warming hoax, just "follow the money."

- First, $20 billion in taxpayer money thrown only to institutions that embrace man-made CO2 as the cause of global warming.

- Second, the rise of commission-based businesses that buy and sell "CO2 credits," among which is Generation Investment Management LLC, whose chief executive is Gore.

- And third, greedy politicians and bureaucrats (exemplified by Assembly Bill 32 and the California Air Resources Board), who see man-made CO2 emissions as tax generators.

Warming of the Earth has never been catastrophic; in fact, humankind has always fared better in warmer than cooler periods, with less hardship and illness and improved agriculture. We should not fear global warming. We do, however, need solid, objective and unbiased research, rather than fear-mongering based on a nonscientific "consensus."



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, January 05, 2008

Russian skepticism again: "Cold spell soon to replace global warming"

Woeful though their politics have always been, there is nothing wrong with Russian science

(By Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, Merited Scientist of Russia and fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and staff researcher of the Oceanology Institute)

Stock up on fur coats and felt boots! This is my paradoxical advice to the warm world. 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. The current warming is evidently a natural process and utterly independent of hothouse gases.

The real reasons for climate changes are uneven solar radiation, terrestrial precession (that is, axis gyration), instability of oceanic currents, regular salinity fluctuations of the Arctic Ocean surface waters, etc. There is another, principal reason-solar activity and luminosity. The greater they are the warmer is our climate.

Astrophysics knows two solar activity cycles, of 11 and 200 years. Both are caused by changes in the radius and area of the irradiating solar surface. The latest data, obtained by Habibullah Abdusamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory space research laboratory, say that Earth has passed the peak of its warmer period, and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012. Real cold will come when solar activity reaches its minimum, by 2041, and will last for 50-60 years or even longer.

This is my point, which environmentalists hotly dispute as they cling to the hothouse theory. As we know, hothouse gases, in particular, nitrogen peroxide, warm up the atmosphere by keeping heat close to the ground. Advanced in the late 19th century by Svante A. Arrhenius, a Swedish physical chemist and Nobel Prize winner, this theory is taken for granted to this day and has not undergone any serious check.

It determines decisions and instruments of major international organizations-in particular, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Signed by 150 countries, it exemplifies the impact of scientific delusion on big politics and economics. The authors and enthusiasts of the Kyoto Protocol based their assumptions on an erroneous idea. As a result, developed countries waste huge amounts of money to fight industrial pollution of the atmosphere. What if it is a Don Quixote's duel with the windmill?

Hothouse gases may not be to blame for global warming. At any rate, there is no scientific evidence to their guilt. The classic hothouse effect scenario is too simple to be true. As things really are, much more sophisticated processes are on in the atmosphere, especially in its dense layer. For instance, heat is not so much radiated in space as carried by air currents-an entirely different mechanism, which cannot cause global warming.

The temperature of the troposphere, the lowest and densest portion of the atmosphere, does not depend on the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions-a point proved theoretically and empirically. True, probes of Antarctic ice shield, taken with bore specimens in the vicinity of the Russian research station Vostok, show that there are close links between atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and temperature changes. Here, however, we cannot be quite sure which is the cause and which the effect.

Temperature fluctuations always run somewhat ahead of carbon dioxide concentration changes. This means that warming is primary. The ocean is the greatest carbon dioxide depository, with concentrations 60-90 times larger than in the atmosphere. When the ocean's surface warms up, it produces the "champagne effect." Compare a foamy spurt out of a warm bottle with wine pouring smoothly when served properly cold.

Likewise, warm ocean water exudes greater amounts of carbonic acid, which evaporates to add to industrial pollution-a factor we cannot deny. However, man-caused pollution is negligible here. If industrial pollution with carbon dioxide keeps at its present-day 5-7 billion metric tons a year, it will not change global temperatures up to the year 2100. The change will be too small for humans to feel even if the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions doubles.

Carbon dioxide cannot be bad for the climate. On the contrary, it is food for plants, and so is beneficial to life on Earth. Bearing out this point was the Green Revolution-the phenomenal global increase in farm yields in the mid-20th century. Numerous experiments also prove a direct proportion between harvest and carbon dioxide concentration in the air.

Carbon dioxide has quite a different pernicious influence-not on the climate but on synoptic activity. It absorbs infrared radiation. When tropospheric air is warm enough for complete absorption, radiation energy passes into gas fluctuations. Gas expands and dissolves to send warm air up to the stratosphere, where it clashes with cold currents coming down. With no noticeable temperature changes, synoptic activity skyrockets to whip up cyclones and anticyclones. Hence we get hurricanes, storms, tornados and other natural disasters, whose intensity largely depends on carbon dioxide concentration. In this sense, reducing its concentration in the air will have a positive effect.

Carbon dioxide is not to blame for global climate change. 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.

Earth is unlikely to ever face a temperature disaster. Of all the planets in the solar system, only Earth has an atmosphere beneficial to life. There are many factors that account for development of life on Earth: Sun is a calm star, Earth is located an optimum distance from it, it has the Moon as a massive satellite, and many others. Earth owes its friendly climate also to dynamic feedback between biotic and atmospheric evolution.

The principal among those diverse links is Earth's reflective power, which regulates its temperature. A warm period, as the present, increases oceanic evaporation to produce a great amount of clouds, which filter solar radiation and so bring heat down. Things take the contrary turn in a cold period.

What can't be cured must be endured. It is wise to accept the natural course of things. We have no reason to panic about allegations that ice in the Arctic Ocean is thawing rapidly and will soon vanish altogether. As it really is, scientists say the Arctic and Antarctic ice shields are growing. Physical and mathematical calculations predict a new Ice Age. It will come in 100,000 years, at the earliest, and will be much worse than the previous. Europe will be ice-bound, with glaciers reaching south of Moscow.

Meanwhile, Europeans can rest assured. The Gulf Stream will change its course only if some evil magic robs it of power to reach the north-but Mother Nature is unlikely to do that.


How did this one slip past the Democrats?

A BBC report below so expect their usual dishonesty about the effects

The US government says it will offer exploration rights for oil and gas in a north-western region of Alaska. The federal Minerals Management Service said it would take bids next month for concessions in the Chukchi Sea, which separates Alaska from Siberia.

But environmental groups fear the effects on wildlife in the region, including the polar bear population. There have been no lease sales for over 15 years and the groups fear further exploration could damage marine life.

Energy exploration in Alaska has always been a tough choice between preserving one of the planet's last great areas of pristine wilderness and the potential for huge profits to be made from its development. The American sectors of the Chukchi Sea are believed to hold 15bn barrels of recoverable oil and over two trillion cubic metres of natural gas. But the authorities had not held a lease sale in the sea since 1991, both due to the difficulties and cost involved in extraction from the Arctic continental shelf and concerns over the environment.

The Minerals Management Service says exploration will not be allowed to take place any closer than 80km (50 miles) from the shoreline, therefore striking a balance between development and protection of coastal resources.

But ecologists say any further exploration could have a major impact on marine life, with polar bears one of the hardest-hit species. The Chukchi Sea is home to one of two populations of polar bears in the US, and their numbers have already been depleted by loss of habitat due to global warming. Many protestors are angry at the timing of the announcement, which comes days before the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides whether to list the polar bear as a threatened species.


Celebrities slammed for scientific silliness

They should have included Al Gore

WHEN your name's Nicole Kidman or Gwyneth Paltrow, everyone wants to hear what you have to say. But before holding forth on their favourite remedy, celebrities should get their facts straight, experts say. The two Hollywood actresses, along with fashion designer Stella McCartney, are singled out by a charity founded to increase the public's understanding of scientific issues.

Sense About Science warned: "A small group of people in the public eye promote pseudo-science without embarrassment and cannot be dissuaded from it."

Alice Tuff, who helped compile the list of celebrity pseudo-science, said: "Celebrity lifestyles and comments have a lot of social weight. Once in the public domain, it's almost impossible for, say, a toxicologist to eclipse a Stella McCartney or a Gwyneth Paltrow in order to give the public the facts. So the pressure must be there to get it right in the first place."

Kidman is criticised for promoting Nintendo's computer-based mental workout program Dr Kawashima's Brain Training. "I've quickly found that training my brain is a great way to keep my mind feeling young," Kidman said, endorsing the game.

"There is no conclusive evidence showing that the continued use of these devices is linked to any measurable changes and general improvements in cognition," Dr Jason Braithwaite, from Birmingham University, said.

Gwyneth Paltrow was slated for her lack of knowledge of the genetics of cancer after claiming eating certain foods prevents tumours. Scientists said there was little evidence to support her claims.


More mercury madness

Rick Allnutt has closed all but one section of his funeral home on the north end of town. The chapel is dark and quiet, the reception hall bare. But in the bay out back, two side-by-side ovens rumble as the 1,650-degree heat blasts two corpses into bone and ash.

Allnutt has moved the rest of the business to another location and wants to move his crematory to a site near a cemetery in Larimer County, but he has reached a stalemate with health officials there. They are concerned about what they see as a potential health risk to the living -- mercury being released into the atmosphere from dental fillings of the cremated.

They want him to do something that may be unprecedented in this country: Install a filter on his crematory's smokestack or extract teeth of the deceased before cremation. Allnutt refuses to do either, calling the first option too expensive and the second ghoulish. "I'm not going to be the only one in the world who says I'll pull teeth from dead bodies," he said.

Across the United States, the issue is cropping up: Do mercury emissions from dental fillings of corpses incinerated in crematories pose a threat? And if so, how should it be handled? In Colorado, it's something that health officials are only now examining, said Mark McMillan, manager of the Department of Public Health and Environment's mercury program. "We're on the cusp of starting to understand it," he said. The cremation industry, on the other hand, insists there's no evidence of danger and calls Allnutt's situation "a dangerous precedent."

At issue are amalgam dental fillings. Amalgam -- an alloy of mercury with another metal such as silver, copper or tin -- is commonly used to fill cavities. When a body is burned, mercury from such fillings vaporizes. Once released into the atmosphere, mercury returns to Earth in rain or snow, ending up in lakes and other bodies of water where it can lead to elevated levels of mercury in fish. In humans, mercury damages the nervous system and can harm childhood development. Power plants, especially those that burn coal, are by far the largest source of preventable mercury releases; Environmental Protection Agency regulations have been adopted to reduce those emissions.

As cremation continues to gain popularity in the United States, the issue may gain more traction. According to the Cremation Assn. of North America, a 2005 survey found 46% of Americans planned to choose cremation, compared with 31% in 1990. Its use varies widely by region: In Nevada and Hawaii, two-thirds of bodies were cremated in 2005; in a number of Southern states, a tenth were.

The EPA does not regulate emissions from crematories, spokeswoman Margot Perez-Sullivan said. It estimates that about 600 pounds of mercury, less than 1% of all mercury emissions, come from crematories in the U.S. every year. (By contrast, the British government requires new crematories to install filters to cut mercury emissions, according to the British Broadcasting Corp. It estimates that fillings account for 16% of mercury emissions in the United Kingdom, where the cremation rate is greater than 70%.)

In recent years, several states have taken stabs at the issue. In Minnesota, state Sen. John Marty repeatedly has sought -- and failed -- to pass a law requiring crematory operators to remove teeth or install filters. He said crematories in Minnesota emit an estimated 68 pounds of mercury every year -- 3% to 5% of mercury emissions in the state. Though coal-fired power plants constitute the greatest problem, Marty said, "we have to go after every source. But it's not easy politically because people are really squeamish about talking about corpses."

In 2005 Maine lawmakers considered, but defeated, a similar bill. Colorado does not regulate crematories' mercury emissions, which state health officials estimate at about 110 pounds per year.


Wildfires added to climate change hysteria

The year 2007 was the year wildfires joined the cavalcade of events that are supposedly the result of human-caused climate change. Besides Al Gore, who linked wildfires to global warming in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, California Sen. Barbara Boxer emerged as the most prominent doomster to associate fires with climate change. While wildfires raged in her state, Boxer used the tragedy to continue her crusade for severe carbon dioxide controls, asserting before Congress that the fires were "a consequence of climate change."

Boxer warned senators, "We need to do something about global warming or we're going to have that horrible combination of drought, low humidity, high temperatures and terrible winds."

Fellow Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also used the wildfires as a vehicle to push the global warming agenda. "One reason that we have the fires burning in Southern California is global warming," Reid told reporters in October. At the same time, climate campaigner Bill McKibben confidently advised TV audiences, "This is the kind of disaster we see more and more of as we begin to change the basic physics and chemistry of the planet we live on."

Like Gore's opportunistic references to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the connection between wildfires and global warming is unsubstantiated and designed merely to bolster public support for "taking action on climate change." Californians who are familiar with the history of fires in their state understand that wildfires are neither new, more frequent, nor more severe.

Dr. Stephen J. Pyne, a wildfire expert and professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, writes, "In the United States, few places know as much fire today as they did a century ago. Fires have fled from regions like the Northeast that formerly relied on them for farming and grazing. They have receded from the Great Plains, once near-annual seas of flame, ebbing and flowing with seasonal tides. They burn in the South at only a fraction of their former grandeur. They have faded from the mountains and mesas, valleys and basins of the West."

Trying to totally prevent forest fires may be as misguided as our futile efforts to "stop climate change." Both are a fact of life on a dynamic planet and occurred long before humans evolved to experience them. Adaptation and proper planning for inevitable natural events is the appropriate response, not attempts to play God.



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, January 04, 2008

Changes in the Sun's Surface to Bring Next Climate Change

This announcement is a bit too sweeping for my liking. Suggestive of a hoax. The Space and Science Research Center is a little-known private body and the theory it espouses is certainly outside the scientific mainstream but there may be something in it

Today, the Space and Science Research Center, (SSRC) in Orlando, Florida announces that it has confirmed the recent web announcement of NASA solar physicists that there are substantial changes occurring in the sun's surface. The SSRC has further researched these changes and has concluded they will bring about the next climate change to one of a long lasting cold era.

Today, Director of the SSRC, John Casey has reaffirmed earlier research he led that independently discovered the sun's changes are the result of a family of cycles that bring about climate shifts from cold climate to warm and back again.

"We today confirm the recent announcement by NASA that there are historic and important changes taking place on the sun's surface. This will have only one outcome - a new climate change is coming that will bring an extended period of deep cold to the planet. This is not however a unique event for the planet although it is critically important news to this and the next generations. It is but the normal sequence of alternating climate changes that has been going on for thousands of years. Further according to our research, this series of solar cycles are so predictable that they can be used to roughly forecast the next series of climate changes many decades in advance. I have verified the accuracy of these cycles' behavior over the last 1,100 years relative to temperatures on Earth, to well over 90%."

As to what these changes are Casey says, "The sun's surface flows have slowed dramatically as NASA has indicated. This process of surface movement, what NASA calls the "conveyor belt" essentially sweeps up old sunspots and deposits new ones. NASA's studies have found that when the surface movement slows down, sunspot counts drop significantly. All records of sunspot counts and other proxies of solar activity going back 6,000 years clearly validates our own findings that when we have sunspot counts lower then 50 it means only one thing - an intense cold climate, globally. NASA says the solar cycle 25, the one after the next that starts this spring will be at 50 or lower.

The general opinion of the SSRC scientists is that it could begin even sooner within 3 years with the next solar cycle 24. What we are saying today is that my own research and that of the other scientists at the SSRC verifies that NASA is right about one thing - a solar cycle of 50 or lower is headed our way. With this next solar minimum predicted by NASA, what I call a "solar hibernation," the SSRC forecasts a much colder Earth just as it has transpired before for thousands of years. If NASA is the more accurate on the schedule, then we may see even warmer temperatures before the bottom falls out. If the SSRC and other scientists around the world are correct then we have only a few years to prepare before 20-30 years of lasting and possibly dangerous cold arrive."

When asked about what this will mean to the average person on the street, Casey was firm. "The last time this particular cycle regenerated was over 200 years ago. I call it the "Bi-Centennial Cycle" solar cycle. It took place between 1793 and 1830, the so-called Dalton Minimum, a period of extreme cold that resulted in what historian John D. Post called the `last great subsistence crisis.' With that cold came massive crops losses, food riots, famine and disease. I believe this next climate change will be much stronger and has the potential to once more cause widespread crop losses globally with the resultant ill effects.

The key difference for this next Bi-Centennial Cycle's impact versus the last is that we will have over 8 billion mouths to feed in the next coldest years where as we had only 1 billion the last time. Among other effects like social and economic disruption, we are facing the real prospect of the `perfect storm of global food shortages' in the next climate change. In answer to the question, everyone on the street will be affected."

Given the importance of the next climate change Casey was asked whether the government has been notified. "Yes, as soon as my research revealed these solar cycles and the prediction of the coming cold era with the next climate change, I notified all the key offices in the Bush administration including both parties in the Senate and House science committees as well as most of the nation's media outlets.

Unfortunately, because of the intensity of coverage of the UN IPCC and man made global warming during 2007, the full story about climate change is very slow in getting told. These changes in the sun have begun. They are unstoppable. With the word finally starting to get out about the next climate change, hopefully we will have time to prepare. Right now, the newly organized SSRC is the leading independent research center in the US and possibly worldwide, that is focused on the next climate change. Some of the world's brightest scientists, also experts in solar physics and the next climate change have joined with me. In the meantime we will do our best to spread the word along with NASA and others who can see what is about to take place for the Earth's climate. Soon, I believe this will be recognized as the most important climate story of this century."

Source. The previous NASA announcement was made here

Greenies can't even manage a consistent "ad hominem" attack

Following is an attack by Andrew Dessler on Inhofe's "400 skeptics" report. What it overlooks is given below the attack:

Today's member of the "Inhofe 400" truly epitomizes the expertise and credibility of the group of experts that the good senator has assembled to demonstrate the obvious flaws in the theory of human-induced global warming. He is Chris Allen, weather director at WBKO, the ABC affiliate for south-central Kentucky. On his blog, Chris says this about global warming:
My biggest argument against putting the primary blame on humans for climate change is that it completely takes God out of the picture. It must have slipped these people's minds that God created the heavens and the earth and has control over what's going on. (Dear Lord Jesus...did I just open a new pandora's box?) Yeah, I said it. Do you honestly believe God would allow humans to destroy the earth He created? Of course, if you don't believe in God and creationism then I can see why you would easily buy into the whole global warming fanfare. I think in many ways that's what this movement is ultimately out to do - rid the mere mention of God in any context. What these environmentalists are actually saying is "we know more than God - we're bigger than God - God is just a fantasy - science is real...He isn't...listen to US!" I have a huge problem with that.

Noted meteorologist Allen, a certified meteorologist and weather center director for his station, had many reasons to doubt a "climate crisis." Dessler only focuses on his God quotes (which were not included in Senate report). Once again, if this (and Chemical Engineer Thomas Ring who has authored scientific reports) is Dessler's strongest argument against the report, he is spending a lot of time to have no impact.

Another "ad hominem" attack on Allen that Greenies are very fond of is defused here

And if you are going to focus on God quotes, then we need to consider the religious pronouncements of IPCC honcho Sir John Houghton (Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment Working Group) and others. One quote from the great man:

"Christians and other religious people believe that we've been put on the earth to look after it. Creation is not just important to us, we believe also it is important to God and that the rest of creation has an importance of its own... we are destroying forests, important forests"

Sir John has published articles, as his right, in religious journals. He has said:

Even a recent meeting of (not all Christian) people about climate change on the island of Patmos declared that not to care for the earth is a SIN. But have we as Christians thought about repenting for our lack of care for the earth?

So, on the Dessler reasoning, the whole IPCC output must be disregarded, seeing that one of its central figures is a religious nut. Far be it from me to argue!

Do polar bears need U.S. protection?

The mainstream media article below is cautious but does record evidence that the bears are fine

Do polar bears, which have become the poster child for the potential ravages of future global warming, need special protection from Uncle Sam now? That's the question under consideration at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is poised to recommend whether the icon of the Arctic should be officially designated as a threatened species - even though the bear's numbers currently are not in precipitous decline.

The judiciousness of protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), in anticipation that its frozen habitat will be thawing as a consequence of climate change, is a matter of hot debate. Many scientists say Arctic wildlife is experiencing the repercussions of a warming planet more rapidly than organisms in other regions, but others say listing the bear would cause economic hardship and do next to nothing to save its habitat.

"This is a complex issue because we have most polar bear populations not showing significant declines at the moment, but we have a lot of climate models and data showing great losses in the foreseeable future," says Chris Tollefson of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the federal agency responsible for protecting wildlife and their habitats. The service's recommendation is due by Jan. 9.

If listed, the polar bear would be the first mammal listed as threatened as a consequence of global warming, and the federal government would be required to take action to protect it in Alaska, the only place in the US the bear lives, and in places the US issues permits. The ESA defines a threatened species as one likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

With as many as 25,000 wild polar bears dispersed across five countries, the species is not exactly teetering on the edge of oblivion, say opponents of the effort. The World Conservation Union (IUCN), though, reports that five of the Arctic's 19 polar bear populations are already experiencing declines, as the bears lose habitat and food because of melting sea ice. Bear populations that are currently stable will also face sink or swim conditions in the future if temperatures rise as projected, say researchers. The United States Geological Survey predicts that habitat loss, primarily from global warming, will slash the world's polar bear population to one-third of its current level by mid-century.

"When we look at the current and projected condition of transit sea ice, it is clear that the species as a whole is facing an increasingly formidable habitat," says Andrew Derocher, a biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada and chairman of the IUCN's Polar Bear Specialist Group.

Polar bears rely on frozen sea ice to hunt, find mates, and make dens for rearing their young, and have been known to migrate across areas the size of Montana. Loss of sea ice and changes in its distribution are believed to be causing some bears to compete for habitat and even to eat other bears to survive. The problem has been pronounced in the west Hudson Bay of Canada, where polar bear numbers have dropped by about 25 percent since the 1980s, partly due to a lack of adequate habitat for dens, researchers say.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has publicly opposed the ESA listing. Such a move could cause economic hardship through federal restrictions on development and oil industry projects - all without increasing the polar bear's numbers, argues the Palin administration. "We know listing polar bears as endangered or threatened will not cause sea water to freeze," Governor Palin wrote to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in 2006, as conservation groups petitioned the FWS to research the need to list the bear. Mr. Kempthorne will approve or deny the FWS recommendation.

Even within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where global warming is considered a threat to the state, many regard the reasoning behind preemptively listing the polar bear as flimsy. "There is currently a healthy population of polar bears worldwide," says Ken Taylor, the department's deputy commissioner. "We are concerned that if they use climate modeling to project 45 years ahead, we might be getting too subjective scientifically."

Some conservationists are not optimistic about the polar bear's chances of making the list. "The Bush administration always manages to surprise us by ignoring the science at the expense of the environment," says Brendan Cummings, attorney with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) based in Tucson, Ariz., which petitioned to have the bear listed.

Dr. Derocher at the University of Alberta, who has seen the loss of Arctic habitat firsthand during his 25 years studying polar bears, argues that the science is solid and that it's time for governments to protect species made vulnerable by climate change. "For some people, the proof of this won't be reliable until the last polar bear drowns," he says.

Conservationists expect that many species of plants and animals will be listed under the ESA in coming years. Federal marine mammal scientists are currently studying the viability of Pacific walrus populations in Alaska, and the CBD petitioned late in December to list the ribbon seal as threatened. Two coral species, the elkhorn and staghorn, were listed as threatened last year due to global-warming-induced habitat degradation.


Global Warmists Exploit the Holocaust

When Ellen Goodman likened climate skeptics to holocaust deniers last February, she raised more than a few eyebrows. Yet, hers was not the first reprehensible use of that fetid analogy, nor, unfortunately, would it be the last. In truth, environmentalists' deplorable trivialization of Hitler's genocide can be traced as far back as the late 1980's (by an ambitious senator from Tennessee) and as recently as last month by the scientist considered to be the world's premiere global warming researcher.

In 1989, Al Gore wrote a scare piece for the New York Times under the improbable title An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen. Predicting a laughable 5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures "in our lifetimes," he warned that unless we
"profoundly change the course of our civilization, we face an immediate and grave danger of destroying the worldwide ecological system that sustains life as we know it."

Boiler-plate eviro-mumbo-jumbo, to be sure. But the man who would be king of the greens then ratcheted the rhetoric down a few notches by invoking nightmares 50 years past:
"In 1939, as clouds of war gathered over Europe, many refused to recognize what was about to happen. No one could imagine a Holocaust, even after shattered glass had filled the streets on Kristallnacht. World leaders waffled and waited, hoping that Hitler was not what he seemed, that world war could be avoided. Later, when aerial photographs revealed death camps, many pretended not to see. Even now, many fail to acknowledge that our victory was not only over Nazism but also over dark forces deep within us."

Kristallnacht -- German for "Crystal Night." The very name elicits lurid images of that dark night in November of 1938 when Germans throughout the land were awakened to the sights and smells of burning synagogues and the noise of shattering window glass and the screams of innocent Jews being savagely beaten. A night when thousands of Germans, reading the signal that Jews were vogelfrei (fair game), joined Hitler's Sturmabteilung (brown shirts) in killing at least one hundred and dragging 30 thousand more men, women, and children one step closer to the death and agony awaiting them in Nazi concentration camps.

Repulsion mission accomplished. Gore then dared compare the world's failure to respond then to contemporary environmental complacency and "dark" self-interest:
"In 1989, clouds of a different sort signal an environmental holocaust without precedent. Once again, world leaders waffle, hoping the danger will dissipate. Yet today the evidence is as clear as the sounds of glass shattering in Berlin."

The audacity of recalling the very sounds that evoked the tag Kristallnacht to suggest that those disregarding Gore's personal delusions of our "self-destructive behavior and environmental vandalism" are somehow synonymous with a "world [that] closed its eyes as Hitler marched" betrays a mind at once deluded and devious. Not to mention, outrageous, as noted by Matt Brooks when the same words appeared in Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition added that:
"For the vice president to equate the utter horror and the tremendous tragedy of Kristallnacht to try and invoke the passion of people about the environment is an insult to all the people who were victims of the Holocaust."

Outrageous, indeed -- yet merely the first act of a word play that would continue after Gore's vice-presidential intermission and the U.S Senate's unanimous 1997 vote not to consider the Kyoto Protocol for ratification

Much more here

Bye Bye, Light Bulb

Just like that--like flipping a switch--Congress and the president banned incandescent light bulbs last month. OK, they did not exactly ban them. But the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush sets energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs that traditional incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

The new rules phase in starting in 2012, but don't be lulled by that five-year delay. Whether it's next week or next decade, you will one day walk into a hardware store looking for a 100-watt bulb--and there won't be any. By 2014, the new efficiency standards will apply to 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs too.

Representatives of Philips and General Electric, two of the biggest lightbulb makers, say there's nothing to be concerned about. And Larry Lauck of the American Lighting Association says, "I think everyone's pretty happy" with the new law. But then, the lighting industry has no reason not to be: People will need light, whatever the law says--according to Randy Moorehead of Philips, there are four billion standard-size (or "medium base") light sockets in America alone.

So if you're GE or Philips or Sylvania, the demise of the plain vanilla lightbulb is less a threat than an opportunity--an opportunity, in particular, to replace a product that you can sell for 50 cents with one that sells for $3 or more. Yes, the $3 bulb lasts longer. Yes, it cuts your electricity bill. Mr. Moorehead says that when every one of those four billion light sockets has an energy-saving bulb in it, the country will be saving $18 billion a year on its electric bill. That's $4.50 per bulb--and the bulb makers are standing by to make sure a substantial portion of those "savings" get transformed into profits for them.

Now it may be that those bulbs are worth more--because they last longer, etc. But some of those bulbs, like compact fluorescents and Philips' new "Halogena-IR" bulb, are already available. Currently they command all of 5% of the lightbulb market. That means that, whatever value proposition GE and Philips are selling, consumers aren't buying.

What we bulb buyers needed, it seemed, was a little nudge. Or, if you want to be cynical about it, the bulb business decided to migrate its customers to more-expensive--and presumably higher-margin--products by banning the low-cost competition. "I was kind of involved at the very beginning" of this legislation, Mr. Moorehead says modestly. Indeed, in December 2006, Philips announced a campaign to encourage governments all around the world to phase out low-cost bulbs by 2015.

Now, I'm sure that Philips and GE and Sylvania all want to make the world a better place and so on. But if they can do so while at the same time getting the government to force their customers to pay 10 times as much for their products, well . . . did they mention that they're making the world a better place? The light bulb that costs 10 times as much does, it is true, last four times as long. But if you're a lightbulb maker, that's a pretty good trade. If you're a consumer, you have to decide that for yourself. Except that, after the ban, you won't be allowed to any more. You just got traded up, forcibly, to a "better" product.

What's remarkable about this bit of market interference is that there is, basically, nothing wrong with the present-day, Edison-style lightbulb. It's not a lawn dart or a lead-painted toy or a magnet that will perforate your kid's intestines if he swallows it. It is what it is, and for most people in most applications, it was good enough. So the lightbulb makers and the environmentalists convinced Congress to ban them for no better reason than they believed everyone would be better off with something else.

Note that the lightbulb makers didn't need a ban to convince consumers to "upgrade." Microsoft, Dell, Apple and any number of other companies manage to convince the Joneses that they need a better "one"--whatever it is--every few years. If Philips wanted a Halogena-IR bulb in every socket, it had only to put them on the market at a price that made them irresistible compared to the 50-cent bulb of yore. Likewise with the much hailed compact fluorescent. They have been on the market a good deal longer than Philips's fancy new incandescent. The prices have come down and the quality has gone up. But not, apparently, enough for 95% of the bulb-buying public.

A few years back, one could have argued with a straight face that consumer awareness of the benefits of CFLs was inadequate. No more. The sticking point lies at that ineffable nexus between price and quality--with all that "quality" implies, whether it be service life, the delay between flicking the switch and full power, or color temperature or the look of the thing.

There are billions to be made--and spent--figuring out how to get consumers to pay more for something. This year Steve Jobs convinced a million people to pay $400 for a cell phone in a market in which many people believe that the phone should come free with a service contract. But why worry about making a product so good people feel they have to have it, when you can instead get the government to tell them they have no choice?

Don't fault the bulb makers for this. If Microsoft could get a law passed requiring users to upgrade Windows, they'd probably go for it, too. Same with Detroit--"Buy a hybrid, or else!" would probably suit them fine. But do remember this the next time a company goes to Washington to save the world: They'll end up doing it at your expense.


Australia: A more realistic comment on the "risk" to coral reefs

Corals may move from warming seas. A change from the garbage about corals dying out. Corals already have a huge North/South geographical range -- which means a huge range of temperature tolerance

If their watery world continues to warm as climate change scientists predict, Western Australia's corals may head south to cooler climes. That's the message from US and Australian researchers who compared the behaviour of the state's corals then and now. Since "then" was 125,000 years ago, University of Queensland paleoecologist John Pandolfi and geologist Benjamin Greenstein of Cornelle College in Iowa are confident their findings are not a short-term blip.

The implication is that conservation managers should help ensure that corals have an "escape route" beyond existing parks and protected areas, claimed Professor Pandolfi. "Paving the way to southern refugia is a step in the right direction for coral conservation," he argued. "These refugia could be very important for reseeding northern reefs if the environmental conditions return to a more favourable state."

According to their research _ reported in the journal Global Change Biology _ fast-growing branching corals, Acropora, will likely be the first to move, possibly as far south as Margaret River or even around the corner to Albany. "We've already seen some movement of the Acropora," said Professor Pandolfi, with UQ's Centre for Marine Studies. "Rottnest Island (off Perth) has Acropora coral and it didn't have any 20 years ago," he said.

Along with Professor Greenstein, Professor Pandolfi took advantage of Western Australia's "natural laboratory", a 1500-km-long stretch of living and fossil coral reefs. They paired five ancient and modern reefs: two at Ningaloo and Shark Bay in the north, two more in the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands and Geraldton-Leander Point and the most southerly site at Rottnest Island. They assessed the diversity and distribution of coral species living in the ancient and modern communities and then compared the data. The results suggested that coral diversity expands and contracts according to the water temperature.

While that gives hope that if reefs can shelter in cooler refugia they'll survive global warming, Professor Pandolfi said he and Professor Greenstein looked only at temperature. He claimed managers must work to protect reefs from human impacts like pollution, as sea and carbon dioxide levels rise and stress the coral. "The better the health of the reefs the better off they'll be in handling change," said Professor Pandolfi. "We have to keep an eye out and give them a chance to escape."



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, January 03, 2008


"The Skeptical Inquirer" was once a useful publicaltion that debunked magicians, frauds and scientific quacks. It has however now joined the ranks of those it once tried to police -- as police often do. It has become an evangelical promoter of the Warmist religion. See here, for example.

I think it is time therefore that I re-ran an article I wrote about them in 2003 so that readers have some ammo if they encounter supporters of this once creditable publication. What I said then -- that they had abandoned scrutiny of the facts in favour of head-counting -- remains true to this day -- as we see in this article by their leading evangelist of the moment, Dr. Stuart D. Jordan, a retired NASA scientist. Dr Jordan thinks that being in the majority makes what you say correct.

The fact that the organization behind the magazine has recently changed its name and dropped the word "scientific" from it is rare honesty, though. But even Leftists get tired of sailing under false colours eventually, I suppose. I wonder will they next be applying to become a diocese of the Episcopal church? As the second article below shows, they would feel perfectly at home there.

By John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)

It is sad to see a voice of reason fall silent but exactly that seems to have happened over at "The Skeptical Inquirer". They quite rightly say that limitless skepticism leads nowhere. To be precise it leads to solipsism -- doubting everything but your own existence -- but the means they propose to limit skepticism are astounding.

They seem to want to decide scientific truth not on the facts or on the balance of the probabilities but by majority vote! If you had taken a majority vote among the learned men of Galileo's day you would have "discovered" that the sun rotated around the earth. And you would be WRONG!

The example they give is instructive. They say that because 2500 "scientists" signed a document saying that mankind is causing global warming therefore it must be true. No weighting to the degree of expertise of the "scientists" involved is given nor is any account taken of how many of them stand to lose their research grants if the theory is disproven. But above all, no weighting is given to the many discordant FACTS -- such as evidence that global warming is occurring on Mars too. Did mankind cause THAT? Or did solar variability do it? So many might want at this stage to rename them "The Credulous Inquirer".

But it gets worse: There is a 19,200 name long petition here -- signed by "17,100 basic and applied American scientists, two-thirds with advanced degrees... Signers of this petition so far include 2,660 physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists..who are especially well qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth's atmosphere and climate. ..(and) ..5,017 scientists whose fields of specialization in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and other life sciences"

There have of course been attempts by environmentalist true believers to sabotage the petition drive. However the organisers have, to their credit, made efforts to ensure its validity. "Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified. One name that was sent in by enviro pranksters, Geri Halliwell, PhD, has been eliminated. Several names, such as Perry Mason and Robert Byrd are still on the list even though enviro press reports have ridiculed their identity with the names of famous personalities. They are actual signers. Perry Mason, for example, is a PhD Chemist. "

So even by their own ridiculous "majority rule" criterion, "The Skeptical Inquirer" was showing no skepticism at all.

But it gets worse again: It really looks like they were not credulous but straight-out dishonest in their support for the global warming theory. They depicted their favoured report on global warming as the outcome of a standard scientific peer-review process. As this report from notes, it was nothing of the sort. What was published was a totally distorted version of what the scientists had said:
Frederick Seitz, former president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, claimed that he had "never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer review process than the event that led to this IPCC report." Seitz went on to charge that nearly all of the editorial changes made by the report's lead author, Benjamin Santer, "worked to remove hints of the skepticism with which many scientists regard claims that human activities are having a major impact on climate in general or global warming in particular." Others, including the independent but industry-backed Global Climate Coalition (GCC) went so far as to claim that the report had been "scientifically cleansed" in a political effort to emphasize alarm about global warming while deleting references to uncertainty.

And the second report that the Skeptics quoted also said nothing like what they claim:
"Last week the National Academy of Sciences released a report on climate change, prepared in response to a request from the White House, that was depicted in the press as an implicit endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol... As one of 11 scientists who prepared the report, I can state that this is simply untrue. For starters, the NAS never asks that all participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the report represent the span of views. This the full report did, making clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them."

Clearly, the Skeptics have been taken over by Greenie propagandists, with their characteristic disregard for the truth. Sad indeed. I think a lot of people might now want to rename them as "The Dishonest Inquirer".


The above words were written in 2003 and resulted in a short correspondence with the magazine. By 2007 the credulity had deepened -- as we see here. The Skeptics had become evangelists in fact! An average temperature rise of a fraction of one degree across the entire 20th century got them panicked! NO skepticism there whatsoever.

Unhand my patio heater, archbishop

British skeptic Jeremy Clarkson takes on the Church of the Environment in his usual mocking style. I have added as picture of His Grace below so that all readers will understand Clarkson's satirical allusions to beards and eyebrows

The Archbishop of Canterbury told the faithful on Christmas Day that unless human beings abandon our greed, we will be responsible for the death of the planet. Hmm. I'm not sure that I can take a lecture on greed from a man who heads one of the western world's richest institutions. As we huddle under a patio heater to stay warm while having a cigarette in the rain, his bishops are living in palatial splendour with banqueting halls, wondering where to invest the next billion.

And are the churches open at night as shelter for the homeless and the weak? No, they are locked lest someone should decide to redress the inequalities of western society by half-inching a candelabra and fencing it to buy Christmas presents for his kiddies.

Then we must ask how much old Rowan really understands about the implications and causes of global warming. He thinks that taking a holiday in Florida and driving a Range Rover caused the flooding in Tewkesbury this summer. But then he also believes it's possible for a man to walk on water and feed a crowd of 5,000 with nothing more than a couple of sardines.

Hmm. Well here are some facts that Rowan might like to chew on over his fair-trade breakfast cereal. The Alps are enjoying good snowfalls this year, in much the same way that the Alps in New South Wales enjoyed healthy snowfalls last summer. The hurricane season finished a couple of weeks ago and, contrary to all the scaremongering from Al Gore's mates, the number of severe storms, for the second year in a row, was slightly below average.

Closer to home, Britain did not, as was predicted by the BBC's hysterical internet news site, bake this summer under record-breaking temperatures. It was wet and soggy, much like in all the summers of my youth. And the only reason Tewkesbury flooded is because we've all paved our drives and built houses on the flood plains so the rainwater had nowhere else to go apart from Mrs Miggins's front room.

In the light of all this, I would like Rowan Williams to come out from behind his eyebrows and tell us how many people have been killed by greed-induced global warming. Because even the most swivel-eyed lunatic would be hard pressed to claim it's more than a few dozen.

Meanwhile, I reckon the number of people killed over the years by religious wars is around 809m. I tell you this, beardie. Many, many more people have died in the name of God than were killed in the name of Hitler.

Between 1096 and 1270, the Crusades killed about 1.5m. Way more than have been killed by patio heaters and Range Rovers combined. Then there was the 30 years' war, which reduced Europe's population by about 7.5m. And the slaughter is still going on today in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was killed by a religious nut, not a homeless polar bear.

We have been told by those of a communist disposition that if we return to a life of sackcloth and potato soup (bishops excepted) and if we meet all the targets laid down by the great scientist John Prescott at Kyoto, then Britain will be a shining beacon to the world. Others will see what we have done and immediately lay down their 4x4s.

Rubbish. America and China and India will ignore our lunacy and our economic suicide and continue to embody the human spirit for self-improvement (or greed, as Rowan calls it).

No matter. Old Rowan will doubtless applaud the move. This is a man who was arrested in the antinuclear protests of the 1980s. Who refused to call the 9/11 terrorists evil and said they had serious moral goals. Who thinks that every single thing bought and sold is "an act of aggression" on the developing world. Who campaigns for gay rights but wouldn't actually appoint a homosexual as a bishop. And who recently said in an interview that America was the bad guy and that Muslims in Britain were like the good Samaritans. In other words, he's a full-on, five-star, paid-up member of the loony left, so anything that prevents the middle classes from having a Range Rover and a patio heater is bound to get his vote.

If, however, he really wants to bring peace and stability to the world, if he really believes Britain can be a force for good and a shining beacon in troubled times, then I urge him to close the Church of England. If we can demonstrate that we can survive without a church - and when you note 750,000 more people went online shopping on Christmas Day than went to church, you could argue we already do - then, who knows, maybe the mullahs and the left-footers will follow suit.

Daft? Not as daft as expecting the government in Beijing to renounce electricity because everyone in Britain has swapped their Range Rover for a mangle.

But better? Well yes. I genuinely believe we are born with a moral compass and we don't need it reset every Sunday morning by some weird-beard communist in a dress. I am, as you may have gathered, completely unreligious, but it doesn't stop me trying to be kind to others, and I'm never completely overwhelmed with a need to murder madmen in pulpits. Slightly overwhelmed sometimes, but never completely.


NY Times tells it readers that Global Warming claims are bogus

Critics are calling it clear evidence that the climate of opinion on alleged global warming is shifting in favor of skeptics, especially since it comes from the New York Times, until now a fervent acolyte of climate change guru Al Gore and his doctrine of ongoing and disastrous climate change.

In his Times column for the first day of the new year, "In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm," columnist John Tierney took a close look at the global warming debate and found that the climate change scenario being peddled by Mr. Gore and his legion of followers is anything but the settled scientific fact they claim, with the sole doubters being the equivalent of those who believe the earth is flat. Tierney, critics say, has nailed the climate alarmists and exposed their propaganda!

Tierney begins his myth shattering column by telling his readers: "I'd like to wish you a happy New Year, but I'm afraid I have a different sort of prediction. You're in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change - and that these images are a mere preview of what's in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet."

Tierney cautions that he cannot be more specific. "I don't know if disaster will come by flood or drought, hurricane or blizzard, fire or ice. Nor do I have any idea how much the planet will warm this year or what that means for your local forecast. Long-term climate models cannot explain short-term weather."

Noting that "there's bound to be some weird weather somewhere, and we will react like the sailors in the Book of Jonah. When a storm hit their ship, they didn't ascribe it to a seasonal weather pattern. They quickly identified the cause (Jonah's sinfulness) and agreed to an appropriate policy response (throw Jonah overboard)."

Those interpreting the weather nowadays, Tierney explains "are what social scientists call availability entrepreneurs: the activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness -- burning fossil fuels."

Tierney recalls that last year British meteorologists made headlines predicting that the buildup of greenhouse gases would help make 2007 the hottest year on record. At year's end, however, he writes that "even though the British scientists reported the global temperature average was not a new record - it was actually lower than any year since 2001 - the BBC confidently proclaimed, '2007 Data Confirms Warming Trend.'

"When the Arctic sea ice last year hit the lowest level ever recorded by satellites, it was big news and heralded as a sign that the whole planet was warming. When the Antarctic sea ice last year reached the highest level ever recorded by satellites, it was pretty much ignored. A large part of Antarctica has been cooling recently, but most coverage of that continent has focused on one small part that has warmed."

He cites claims by Global warming theory promoters that 2005's Hurricane Katrina was supposed to be "a harbinger of the stormier world predicted by some climate modelers." To the contrary, he recalls "when the next two hurricane seasons were fairly calm - by some measures, last season in the Northern Hemisphere was the calmest in three decades - the availability entrepreneurs changed the subject. Droughts in California and Australia became the new harbingers of climate change (never mind that a warmer planet is projected to have more, not less, precipitation over all)."

Slow warming, he explains "doesn't make for memorable images on television or in people's minds, so activists, journalists and scientists have looked to hurricanes, wild fires and starving polar bears instead. They have used these images to start an "availability cascade," a term coined by Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and law at the University of Southern California.

The "availability cascade," Tierney writes, "is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear. Once the images of Sept. 11 made terrorism seem a major threat, the press and the police lavished attention on potential new attacks and supposed plots. After Three Mile Island and 'The China Syndrome,' minor malfunctions at nuclear power plants suddenly became newsworthy."

Once such a cascade is under way, he adds "it becomes tough to sort out risks because experts become reluctant to dispute the popular wisdom, and are ignored if they do. Now that the melting Arctic has become the symbol of global warming, there's not much interest in hearing other explanations of why the ice is melting - or why the globe's other pole isn't melting, too."

While Global warming has an impact on both polar regions, he explains, "they're also strongly influenced by regional weather patterns and ocean currents." He cites two studies by NASA and university scientists last year that he reports "concluded that much of the recent melting of Arctic sea ice was related to a cyclical change in ocean currents and winds, but those studies got relatively little attention - and were certainly no match for the images of struggling polar bears so popular with availability entrepreneurs."

Tierney writes that Roger A. Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, "recently noted the very different reception received last year by two conflicting papers on the link between hurricanes and global warming. He counted 79 news articles about a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and only 3 news articles about one in a far more prestigious journal, Nature.

"Guess which paper jibed with the theory - and image of Katrina - presented by Al Gore 's 'Inconvenient Truth'?"

The answer: "the paper in the more obscure journal, which suggested that global warming is creating more hurricanes. The paper in Nature concluded that global warming has a minimal effect on hurricanes. It was published in December - by coincidence, the same week that Mr. Gore received his Nobel Peace Prize.

Tierney recalls that in his speech accepting the Peace Prize, Gore "didn't dwell on the complexities of the hurricane debate." Nor, did he mention how calm the hurricane season had been in his roundup of the 2007 weather. Instead, Tierney notes, "he alluded somewhat mysteriously to 'stronger storms in the Atlantic and Pacific,' and focused on other kinds of disasters, like 'massive droughts' and 'massive flooding.'

"In the last few months," Mr. Gore said, 'it has been harder and harder to misinterpret the signs that our world is spinning out of kilter.' But he was being too modest," Tierney says, adding, "Thanks to availability entrepreneurs like him, misinterpreting the weather is getting easier and easier."


Why won't Al Gore debate?

When Al Gore ran for U.S. senator from Tennessee he debated - repeatedly. When he ran for president he once more debated frequently. Why is it that as a recipient of the Nobel Prize for his theorizing about global warming Mr. Gore has refused repeated and prominently published challenges to debate this issue with scientists?

Is it possible Al thinks that the Nobel (also awarded to the late Yasser Arafat) makes him morally and scientifically impervious? Or does he believe it would be unbearable for a Nobel Prize winner to lose a debate on the issue for which he was awarded?

Among the more than 400 scientists from all over the world who have challenged our one-time vice president on this issue is Hendrik Tennekes, former research director at the Netherland Royal National Meteorological Institute: "I find the doomsday picture Al Gore is painting - a six-meter sea level rise - 15 times the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change number - entirely without merit. I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to the changed setting of the thermostat. Just turn the dial and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

Then there is environmental scientist David Schnare, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who declared he is skeptical because "conclusions about the cause of the apparent warming stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain data." Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, who compiled this report of more than 400 scientists, said: "This report debunks Mr. Gore's claim that the debate is over. The endless claims of a 'consensus' about man-made global warming grow less and less credible every day."

Dr. Nathan Paldor, professor of dynamical meteorology and physical oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, noted: "Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media." At that United Nations Conference in Bali, Indonesia, 100 scientists - 77 of them Ph.D.s - warned the U.N. that attempting to control the Earth's climate is, in their words, "ultimately futile." In an open letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, they questioned the scientific basis for climate fears and the U.N.'s so-called solutions.

"Attempts 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," the letter signed by the scientists read. Signatories included: Dr. Anthony Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists; Dr. Reid Bryson, dubbed the "father of meteorology"; MIT atmospheric scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen; U.N. scientist Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand; French climatologist Dr. Marcel Leroux of the University Jean Moulin; World authority on sea level Dr. Nils-Axel Morner of Stockholm University; and physicist Dr. Freeman Dyson of Princeton University.

In their letter, the scientists wrote: "It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables." "In stark contrast to the often 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," the open letter added. "Recent 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."

"The U.N. climate conference in Bali had been planned to take the world along a path of severe CO2 restrictions, ignoring the lessons apparent from the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, the chaotic nature of the European CO2 trading market, and the ineffectiveness of other costly initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Balanced cost/benefit analyses provide no support for the introduction of global measures to cap and reduce energy consumption for the purpose of restricting CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, it is irrational to apply the 'precautionary principle' because many scientists recognize that both climate coolings and warmings are realistic possibilities over the medium-term future."

This letter's final paragraph noted the following: "The current U.N. focus on 'fighting climate change,' as illustrated in the Nov. 27 U.N. Development Programme's Human Development Report, is obstructing governments from adapting to the threat of inevitable natural climate changes, whatever forms they may take. National and international planning for such changes is needed, with a focus on helping our most vulnerable citizens adapt to conditions that lie ahead. Attempts 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."


Communist-run China has REAL pollution problems

In 2005, there were nearly 1,000 pollution-related protests a week in China, and the numbers have only increased since. The protesters run the social gamut, from impoverished villagers to the urban middle class. The government's response has been similarly varied, ranging from killing and beating protesters to launching investigations into the worst offenders.

Spring 2005: 30,000 villagers overturn buses, beat officials, and burn squad cars after police dismantle barricades set up by elderly protesters on a road to 13 polluting chemical plants.

July 2005: Protesting a pharmaceutical plant, hundreds of residents of the booming factory province Zhejiang riot for three nights. "They are making poisonous chemicals for foreigners that the foreigners don't dare produce in their own countries," a demonstrator tells reporters. "It is better to die now, forcing them out, than to die of a slow suicide."

December 2005: In the fishing village of Dongzhou, police kill up to 30 residents protesting a new coal-fired power plant.

January 2006: During weeklong riots against preferential zoning for chemical and garment factories, 60 Guangdong Province villagers are injured and one—a 13-year-old girl—is killed by police toting automatic weapons and electric batons.

Fall 2006: Villagers from seven Gansu Province towns protest for months against local zinc and iron smelters; half of the 5,000 villagers exhibit high levels of lead in their blood.

June 2007: Up to 20,000 middle-class Chinese congregate outside the city government headquarters in Xiamen to protest a proposed chemical factory. The protesters were alerted by an anonymous cell phone text message (rumored to have been sent by Xiamen University professors and students). The city cracks down on anonymous web posting.

July 2007: Farmers near Mount Emei in Sichuan Province block a highway, demanding $1.1 million in damages from an aluminum company they claim contaminated crops. Ten are injured and five detained when police clear the road.

The emergence of China as a dominant economic power is an epochal event, as significant as the United States' ascendancy after World War II. It is in many ways an astonishment, starting with the ideological about-face that enabled it, the throwing over of Maoist values for plainly capitalist ones starting in the late 1970s. So thorough is the change that the 19-foot-tall portrait of a stolid, potato-faced Mao Zedong that still looms over traffic-choked, commerce-suffused Tiananmen Square looks paradoxical, even startling, in seeming need of an update in which Mao winks—or sobs—in blinking neon. Meanwhile, inside Beijing's Forbidden City, the heart of old China, buildings with such intoxicating names as Hall of Preserved Harmony and Palace of Heavenly Purity bear signs reading, "Made Possible by the American Express Company." ...

The catch is that China has become not just the world's manufacturer but also its despoiler, on a scale as monumental as its economic expansion. Chinese ecosystems were already dreadfully compromised before the Communist Party took power in 1949, but Mao managed to accelerate their destruction. With one stroke he launched the "backyard furnace" campaign, in which some 90 million peasants became grassroots steel smelters; to fuel the furnaces, villagers cut down a 10th of China's trees in a few months. The steel ultimately proved unusable.

With another stroke, Mao perpetrated the "Kill the Four Pests" campaign, inducing the mass slaughter of millions of sparrows and a subsequent explosion in the locust population. The destruction of forests led to erosion and the spread of deserts, and the locust resurgence prompted a collapse of the nation's grain crop. The result was history's greatest famine, in which 30 to 50 million Chinese died.

Yet the Mao era's ecological devastation pales next to that of China's current industrialization. A fourth of the country is now desert. More than three-fourths of its forests have disappeared. Acid rain falls on a third of China's landmass, tainting soil, water, and food. Excessive use of groundwater has caused land to sink in at least 96 Chinese cities, producing an estimated $12.9 billion in economic losses in Shanghai alone. Each year, uncontrollable underground fires, sometimes triggered by lightning and mining accidents, consume 200 million tons of coal, contributing massively to global warming. A miasma of lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other elements of coal-burning and car exhaust hovers over most Chinese cities; of the world's 20 most polluted cities, 16 are Chinese.

The government estimates that 400,000 people die prematurely from respiratory illnesses each year, and health care costs for premature death and disability related to air pollution is estimated at up to 4 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Four-fifths of the length of China's rivers are too polluted for fish. Half the population—600 or 700 million people—drinks water contaminated with animal and human waste. Into Asia's longest river, the Yangtze, the nation annually dumps a billion tons of untreated sewage; some scientists fear the river will die within a few years. Drained by cities and factories all over northern China, the Yellow River, whose cataclysmic floods earned it a reputation as the world's most dangerous natural feature, now flows to its mouth feebly, if at all. China generates a third of the world's garbage, most of which goes untreated. Meanwhile, roughly 70 percent of the world's discarded computers and electronic equipment ends up in China, where it is scavenged for usable parts and then abandoned, polluting soil and groundwater with toxic metals.

Though government-run and heavily censored, the English-language China Daily has reported that pollution problems caused 50,000 disputes and protests throughout China in 2005. (See "The People's Revolution".) If unchecked, the devastation will not just put an abrupt end to China's economic growth, but, in concert with other environmentally heedless nations (in particular, the United States, India, and Brazil), will cause mortal havoc in societies and ecosystems throughout the world.

The process is already under way. During the Mao era, the People's Liberation Army ritualistically fired shells at the Taiwan-controlled island of Quemoy; now, the mainland spews garbage that floats across the mile-and-a-quarter-wide channel and washes up on Quemoy's beaches at the rate of 800 metric tons a year. Acid rain caused by China's sulfur-dioxide emissions severely damages forests and watersheds in Korea and Japan and impairs air quality in the United States. Every major river system flowing out of China is threatened with one sort of cataclysm or another, including pollution (Amur), damming (Mekong, Salween), diverting (Brahmaputra), and melting of the glacial source (Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra). The surge in untreated waste and agricultural runoff pouring into the Yellow and China Seas has caused frequent fish die-offs and red-tide outbreaks, and overfishing is endangering many ocean species.

The growing Chinese taste for furs and exotic foods and pets is devastating neighboring countries' populations of gazelles, marmots, foxes, wolves, snow leopards, ibexes, turtles, snakes, egrets, and parrots, while its appetite for shark fin soup is causing drastic declines in shark populations throughout the oceans; according to a study published in Science in March 2007, the absence of the oceans' top predators is causing a resurgence of skates and rays, which are in turn destroying scallop fisheries along America's Eastern Seaboard. China's new predilection for sushi is even pricing Japan out of the market for bluefin tuna. Enthusiasm for traditional Chinese medicine, including its alleged aphrodisiacs, is causing huge declines in populations of hundreds of animals hunted for their organs—including tigers, pangolins, musk deer, sea horses, and sea dragons. Seeking oil, timber, gold, copper, cobalt, uranium, and other natural resources, China is building massive roads, bridges, and dams throughout Africa, often disregarding international environmental and social standards.

Finally, China overtook the United States as the world's leading emitter of CO2 in 2006, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

All this is common knowledge among the scholars and activists who follow Chinese environmental trends. The news, however, has not yet shaken China out of its money-induced euphoria. One indication is that China's 10 percent growth rate takes no account of the environmental devastation the boom has caused. In June 2006, an official at China's State Council said environmental damage (everything from crop loss to health care costs) was costing 10 percent of its gross domestic product— in other words, all of the economy's celebrated growth. Vaclav Smil, a highly respected China scholar at the University of Manitoba, pegs the environmental-damage rate at between 5 and 15 percent, with 7 percent a "solid, defensible figure." Smil says that shorn of hype, China's growth rate is also likely 7 percent, "so basically every year environmental damage wipes out the gdp growth." ....

No sector better illustrates the vast reach and explosive impacts of China's manufacturing dominance than logging. At one end are the consumers in the United States, Europe, Japan, and China itself, who are mostly oblivious to the social and environmental destruction left by the Chinese-made furniture, plywood, moldings, and flooring they buy. At the other end are the wood suppliers, almost all poor countries with weak or corrupt law enforcement and a flourishing trade in illegal lumber. Among China's leading wood importers, Thailand and the Philippines have already been stripped of their natural forests; Indonesia and Burma are projected to lose theirs within a decade. Papua New Guinea's will succumb within 16 years, and the vast forests of the Russian Far East will survive no more than two decades. Even so, Forest Trends, a Washington-based nonprofit, estimates that China's wood imports will probably double over the next decade. Chinese manufacturers are already developing replacement sources in Africa, and South America's forests are under threat for a different reason: China's growing consumption of pork and chicken is fed by soybeans grown on newly cleared Amazonian land; by one estimate, 30 percent of the jungle could eventually be transformed into soybean fields.

Until 1998, China fed its wood mills trees from its own forests. That year, the middle reaches of the Yangtze River swelled with the region's biggest flood in more than 50 years, killing 3,000 people, destroying 5 million homes, and engulfing 52 million acres of land. As winter approached months later, 14 million were still homeless. The land, it turned out, had no defense against erosion left. Lakes and wetlands that once would have absorbed some of the rain had been drained to create farmland, and the forests that once held topsoil in place had been harvested. Torrential rainwater carried the topsoil to the river and then down it, until its bed swelled with new sediment and the floodwater rose above its banks. As a result, China declared a logging ban on what little remained of its old-growth forests. Most environmentalists applauded the ban until they grasped its corollary: Chinese companies began harvesting other countries' trees on an even grander scale.

Half a century ago, the world was much less dusty. Dust, after all, is nothing more than fine particles of soil, in contrast to larger particles known as sand. Many deserts are basins filled with dust and sand held in place by a protective crust of mosses, lichens, and soil bacteria. But modern civilization has exposed the fragility of these crusts as the human population has pushed impoverished migrants and profiteers onto marginal land. As the deserts deteriorate, they expand: Overgrazing of cattle, sheep, and goats causes grasslands to collapse, baring the underlying dust and sand to the mercy of wind. Sand is too heavy to travel more than a few miles, but dust can fly farther than many birds. If a storm system sucks it upward into the troposphere a few miles above the earth, it reaches a conveyor belt of powerful currents that can carry it across oceans and continents.

China now rivals North Africa as the world's leading producer of border-crossing dust. It has always been generously endowed with deserts—including the Gobi, Asia's largest (which China shares with Mongolia), and the forbidding Taklimakan, the world's largest sand dune desert—which cover more than a fourth of Chinese territory. Until recently, when programs to combat desertification began to make some progress, it lost a Rhode Island-sized parcel of land to desert each year.

Dust storms that now debilitate Beijing appear in records from as long ago as the 1200s, but they occurred less than once a year on average then; today they come at least 20 times a year. At their worst, the storms drape Beijing in a yellowish cloak that blots out the sun, shuts down air and road traffic, clogs machinery, and makes seeing across the street nearly impossible. Each year, they blow a million tons of dust through Beijing and several tens of millions of tons as far as the western Pacific Ocean, 7,000 miles away. Dust particles are so small—at most a seventh of the diameter of a human hair—that human lungs are defenseless against them. Frequent inhalation can cause coughing, painful breathing, bronchitis, asthma, permanently decreased lung function, and premature death.

Dust storms also set off ripples of harm. "When dust blows, what you are seeing are nutrients leaving a system—the ability of the soil to support agricultural crops is leaving," says Jayne Belnap, a research ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. "So you're setting up a dynamic that causes people to starve or to add more fertilizer to their soil. If they add more fertilizer, then the water becomes eutrophic, and it flows into the ocean and screws that up. It's just this huge hunk of 'uh-oh' on a massive scale. And every time we have an 'uh-oh' in a country, it doesn't matter where, it comes back and hits us."

That became clear in April 2001, when a satellite photograph showed a vast, perfectly coiled cyclonic spiral of white clouds intertwined with brown dust plumes centered over Inner Mongolia. Joseph Prospero, a leading atmospheric researcher at the University of Miami, called it "the most remarkable dust-storm image that I have ever seen." Visibility soon dropped close to zero in Beijing and driving was nearly impossible. Satellites tracked the dust as it moved across eastern China, the Yellow Sea, Korea, the Russian coast from Vladivostok to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Sea of Japan, and Japan itself. In less than a week, it crossed the Pacific Ocean, and produced thick haze as far east as Denver. High concentrations of dust were found as far away as Maine and Georgia and eventually in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa. Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington-Bothell, calculated that only a 20th of the storm's dust reached the United States, but that amount, 50,000 metric tons, was two and a half times as much as all U.S. sources typically produce in a day.

For all that, dust storms are merely the most dramatic example of an array of pollutants that Asian winds deliver to other countries. In 2003, Siberian forest fires covered 73,000 square miles, an area larger than North Dakota, and sent up a smoke plume that drove ozone levels above epa limits in Seattle, 5,000 miles away. The fires are assumed to be the work of arsonists intent on supplying Chinese sawmills with logs. A year later, clouds from Asia carried enough industrial pollutants across the Pacific to produce a sudden spike in measurements of mercury, ozone, and carbon monoxide at a monitoring station at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. Analysis of the pollutants revealed a chemical signature with what Jaffe calls "a very robust China fingerprint."

Much 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.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Newsweek's Prophetess of Doom Wonders 'Why We Were So Stupid' (Sharon Begley strikes again!)

Some journalists are so confident that we're already cooked by global warming that they're scolding ignorant Americans in advance for all the now-unpreventable doom that's coming our way. Newsweek's Sharon Begley rings in the new year by shaking her head at the Stupid, Soon to Be Overheated Majority and how we'll have to adapt to being cooked:
As scientists and policy types figure out what changes will be necessary to cope with global warming, it's obvious that massive sea walls will be required to hold back rising oceans, that enormous new reservoirs will be needed to cope with the alternating droughts and deluges that many regions will suffer and that a crash program to develop heat- and drought-resistant crops would be a good idea if people are to keep eating.... It's such a polite, unthreatening word: "adapt."

The kind of thing you do as you roll with the punches or keep a stiff upper lip, modifying your behavior to a new situation. But as it will be used in 2008, adaptation is a euphemism for widespread, expensive changes that will be needed to cope with climate change. Although some adaptations will be modest and low tech, such as cities' establishing cooling centers to shelter residents during heat waves, others will require such herculean efforts and be so costly that we'll look back on the era beginning in 1988, when credible warnings of climate change reached critical mass, and wonder why we were so stupid as to blow the chance to keep global warming to nothing more extreme than a few more mild days in March.

I'd love to see Begley face the idea that news magazines and other scientific sages saw the opposite weather threat in the 1970s. As R. Warren Anderson and Dan Gainor laid out in the Business and Media Institute report Fire and Ice:
Weather warnings in the '70s from "reputable researchers" worried policy-makers so much that scientists at a National Academy of Sciences meeting "proposed the evacuation of some six million people" from parts of Africa, reported the Times on Dec. 29, 1974.

That article went on to tell of the costly and unnecessary plans of the old Soviet Union. It diverted time from Cold War activities to scheme about diverting the coming cold front. It had plans to reroute "large Siberian rivers, melting Arctic ice and damming the Bering Strait" to help warm the "frigid fringes of the Soviet Union."

Newsweek's 1975 article "The Cooling World" noted climatologists' admission that "solutions" to global cooling "such as melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers," could result in more problems than they would solve.


Cause Versus Effect In Feedback Diagnosis

Greenies need feedbacks in their models to magnify the small warming observed in the late 20th century into something big enough to be threatening in the future. Article below by Roy W. Spencer notes some problems in quantifying actual feedbacks

On August 8, 2007, I posted on the possibility that our observational estimates of feedbacks might be biased in the positive direction. Danny Braswell and I built a simple time-dependent energy balance model to demonstrate the effect and its possible magnitude, and submitted a paper to the Journal of Climate for publication.

The two reviewers of the manuscript (rather uncharacteristically) signed their names to their reviews. To my surprise, both of them (Isaac Held and Piers Forster) agreed that we had raised a legitimate issue. While both reviewers suggested changes in the (conditionally accepted) manuscript, they even took the time to develop their own simple models to demonstrate the effect to themselves.

Of special note is the intellectual honesty shown by Piers Forster. Our paper directly challenges an assumption made by Forster in his 2005 J. Climate paper, which provided a nice theoretical treatment of feedback diagnosis from observational data. Forster admitted in his review that they had erred in this part of their analysis, and encouraged us to get the paper published so that others could be made aware of the issue, too.

And the fundamental issue can be demonstrated with this simple example: When we analyze interannual variations in, say, surface temperature and clouds, and we diagnose what we believe to be a positive feedback (say, low cloud coverage decreasing with increasing surface temperature), we are implicitly assuming that the surface temperature change caused the cloud change - and not the other way around.

This issue is critical because, to the extent that non-feedback sources of cloud variability cause surface temperature change, it will always look like a positive feedback using the conventional diagnostic approach. It is even possible to diagnose a positive feedback when, in fact, a negative feedback really exists.

I hope you can see from this that the separation of cause from effect in the climate system is absolutely critical. The widespread use of seasonally-averaged or yearly-averaged quantities for climate model validation is NOT sufficient to validate model feedbacks! This is because the time averaging actually destroys most, if not all, evidence (e.g. time lags) of what caused the observed relationship in the first place.

Since both feedbacks and non-feedback forcings will typically be intermingled in real climate data, it is not a trivial effort to determine the relative sizes of each. While we used the example of random daily low cloud variations over the ocean in our simple model (which were then combined with specified negative or positive cloud feedbacks), the same issue can be raised about any kind of feedback.

Notice that the potential positive bias in model feedbacks can, in some sense, be attributed to a lack of model "complexity" compared to the real climate system. By "complexity" here I mean cloud variability which is not simply the result of a cloud feedback on surface temperature. This lack of complexity in the model then requires the model to have positive feedback built into it (explicitly or implicitly) in order for the model to agree with what looks like positive feedback in the observations.

Also note that the non-feedback cloud variability can even be caused by .(gasp). the cloud feedback itself! Let's say there is a weak negative cloud feedback in nature. But superimposed upon this feedback is noise. For instance, warm SST pulses cause corresponding increases in low cloud coverage, but superimposed upon those cloud pulses are random cloud noise. That cloud noise will then cause some amount of SST variability that then looks like positive cloud feedback, even though the real cloud feedback is negative.

I don't think I can over-emphasize the potential importance of this issue. It has been largely ignored - although Bill Rossow has been preaching on this same issue for years, but phrasing it in terms of the potential nonlinearity of, and interactions between, feedbacks. Similarly, Stephen's 2005 J. Climate review paper on cloud feedbacks spent quite a bit of time emphasizing the problems with conventional cloud feedback diagnosis.

I don't have an answer to the question of how to separate out cause and effect quantitatively from observations. But I do know that any progress will depend on high time resolution data, rather than monthly, seasonal, or annual averaging. (For instance, our August 9, 2007 GRL paper on tropical intraseasonal cloud variability showed a very strong negative cloud "feedback" signal.) Until that progress is made, I consider the existence of positive cloud feedback in nature to be more a matter of faith than of science.


Anthropogenic Global Warming is Nonsense

These days it is well nigh impossible to not be aware of the 'Global Warming' hysteria. From the doomsday movies, to alarming media headlines, to politicians scrambling over each other to get on the green bandwagon, one thing is clear - it's not politically correct to question it. When I first decided to look into what all the fuss was about on climate change, I was not opinionated on the subject at all. From what I understood then, the only difference between the global warming alarmists and me was a difference in opinion on the economics involved. That has now completely changed.

They have engaged in exaggeration and deception on just about every single last aspect of climate change. In fact, the only thing I can really confirm for you is that carbon dioxide has a 'greenhouse effect' in our atmosphere, and we are responsible for 0.28% of it [6]. Actually, even the word "greenhouse" is misleading because that implies a restriction on convection currents, which is not physically accurate. The moon doesn't have an atmosphere and experiences an average surface temperature of 107øC and -153øC for day and night respectively, which is obviously a much larger range compared to Earth's. The best explanation for how an atmosphere's "greenhouse" effect acts, is it increases the planet's heat capacity (i.e. it holds more energy and thus takes longer to heat up and cool down) and thus makes the climate more gentle and hospitable.

But let's step back for a moment from the atmosphere and talk about Earth's historical and current temperatures. Global warming alarmists would have us believe that we are now seeing a global temperature at a height not achieved for a very long time. This is simply not true. We have seen temperatures even within the last 1,000 years higher than our present, which is not even a blip in Earth's history.

Possibly the most infamous display of this garbage is the "hockey-stick graph". Although Mann et al compiled it in 1998, it was not until 2003 that the first independent person was able to look at the algorithms used in the graph, because they refused to release it. It turned out that, even using completely randomized data, one could create a graph that looked exactly the same because the algorithms had a bias to exaggerate the last century!

Not only that, but it should be obvious from the fact that the Vikings were settling and farming Greenland from the 9th to the 13th century, in places now covered with permafrost and ice, that this graph is just total nonsense! Of course, this was not before the graph had been used as the backdrop for the 2001 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. You would have thought that was a pretty good indication of their scientific integrity, but I promise you it gets much, much worse.

Perhaps even more interesting than the inability of the IPCC to verify its data before using it at all, let alone as a centerpiece, or subsequently apologising after it became public how fraudulent the graph was, is the fact that environmentalists to this day still use this graph to illustrate their points. Al Gore's entire sensationalist "documentary" (boy is that charitable) revolves around this widely discredited graph and others like it. It should honestly occur to us that anyone who continues to use this graph to support their arguements has little interest in actually presenting reality. The IPCC used to publish the real temperature data on the past millennium in its earlier reports, but not anymore because it's an inconvenient truth to their agenda.

What about recent temperature rises in the last century? Surely it is impossible to deny that we are seeing warming now at an unusual and alarming rate? Well, you'd be surprised. Measuring Earth's average temperature to any interesting degree of precision is a considerably complex task. Even defining exactly what the absolute surface air temperature means is challenging, giving plenty of room for pursuing an agenda.

The vast majority of graphs you've seen on this subject will have come from data using land-based measurements, as these allow the graph to continue back beyond the 1970s. There are numerous problems with land-based measurements, ranging from the fact that land only accounts for 30% of the planet's surface, to urban heat islands and other effects from changes in local land use.

Dr. Dick Morgan, former advisor to the World Meteorological Organization and climatology researcher at University of Exeter, U.K. says, [7] "Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (the 2D representation of a sphere which exaggerates the polar area) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance."

However, in the last 30 years we've had consistent measurements from weather balloons and satellites, which produce much more reliable results for obvious reasons, and what we've observed from this equipment is a only a very slight warming trend. This data should be puzzling to the people who built the climate models for the IPCC, because they actually predicted the reverse - the troposphere should be warming faster than the surface if the current warming is due to the 'greenhouse effect'.

While we're on the subject of climate models, I'd like to say a few things. Climate models are in their infancy. They are highly dependent on the assumptions that go into them, and there are a lot of them. In fact, there are so many assumptions and parameters that it is genuinely possible to create any relationship you like. Climate models are made fun by the inclusion of "positive feed-backs" (multiplier effects) so that a small temperature increment expected from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide invokes large increases in water vapor, which seem to produce exponential rather than logarithmic temperature response to CO2.

It seems to have become somewhat of a game to see who can add in the most creative feedback mechanisms to produce the scariest warming scenarios from their models, but there remains no evidence that the planet behaves in such a manner. Not only is it highly debatable as to whether water vapour acts as a positive or negative feed-back, but what has been observed in laboratories is that CO2 actually has a logarithmic relationship with temperature [i.e. it takes a big increase in of CO2 to produce a small rise in temperature]. The IPCC literally made its entire conclusion from the results of 6 models. Three of these were extreme scenarios with numbers like a global population of 15 billion by 2100 (almost all demographers expect our population to level at 9 billion), and even the 3 that were `moderate' were predicting things like the annual rainfall in Ireland should be equivalent to the Sahara's. Today. The unreliable nature of these models probably helps to explain why the IPCC cut almost of all its predictions by a third from 2001 to its most recent report.

They also failed to predict the fall in methane levels we've seen since 2002, and their predictions for sea temperatures have been halved due to "incorrectly calibrated instrumentation". As the saying in computer programming goes; "Garbage in, garbage out".

There is an erroneous assumption flying around these days that CO2 is somehow an important forcing factor on the global climate, when every last piece of empirical evidence shows otherwise. Al Gore, and I'm positive he's not the only one, has a graph with 500,000 years of ice core samples showing their chronological temperature and respective CO2 levels. There is a nice correlation, and the two are definitely linked, but he lies and pretends the relationship is the other way around.

In every single time period it is clear that CO2 levels always trail temperature changes by 500-800 years. Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia had the following to say about this; [8] "Al Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak, that they are pathetic. The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science." The historical evidence consistently shows temperature is independent of CO2. In fact, 450 million years ago when we were in the depths of the coldest period the Earth has had in half a billion years, CO2 levels were 10 times above today's! Even using the last century as evidence for a dependent relationship is meaningless. 65% of the warming this century occurred in the first three decades, and then, while CO2 levels continued to rise, temperatures fell for four decades in a row.

Another misconception that seems to be rife at the moment is that somehow CO2 is a pollutant. I'm sure that you've all learned that this gas is actually fundamental to our existence, but this seems to be as good a time as any to re-cap. Estimates vary, but somewhere around 15% seems to be the common number cited for the increase in global food crop yields due to increased carbon dioxide since 1950. This increase has both helped avoid a Malthusian disaster and preserved or returned enormous tracts of marginal land as wildlife habitat that would otherwise have had to be put under the plow in an attempt to feed the growing global population.

Commercial growers deliberately generate CO2 and increase its levels in agricultural greenhouses to between 700ppmv and 1,000ppmv to increase productivity and improve the water efficiency of food crops far beyond those in the somewhat carbon-starved open atmosphere. CO2 feeds the forests, grows more usable lumber in timber lots, meaning there is less pressure to cut old growth or push into "natural" wildlife habitat, makes plants more water efficient, helping to beat back the encroaching deserts in Africa and Asia and generally increases bio-productivity. If it's "pollution," then it's pollution the natural world exploits extremely well and to great profit. What should be obvious is that increases in CO2 directly increase the vitality of the bio-world. It is no wonder that the Sahara has shrunk 300,000 km^2 in the last couple decades, or that the dinosaurs managed to find the sustenance to survive, despite their size, in an era with 5 times our current CO2 levels.

The last myth I'd like to debunk is the idea that global warming is necessarily a bad thing, regardless of whether we have any significant control over it, or that historically warm periods have been the most prosperous for humans. By far the most hyped consequences are increasing intensities of weather storms, and rising sea levels. Global storm intensities are dominated by the temperature difference between the equator and the poles, and it really is that simple. Even by the IPCC's own admission, in manipulating the area of the poles using the Mercator system to distort the global temperature, the poles must be warming at a rate faster than the equator and this subsequently leads to gentler storms, despite the media explicitly or implicitly making an attempt to blame every last weather anomaly on "climate change".

Ah yes, you say, but that would imply that we are in danger of rising sea levels because the warming would melt the ice at the poles. Well, consider this. Since the last ice age 18,000 years ago the global sea level has risen by 130 meters, and is still doing so at a current rate of around 20cm per century, which is dwarfed by local tectonic movements. This will obviously displace people, but it will pale in insignificance when compared to the migrations over the next century caused by other factors such as geographical changes in important resources, fresh water locations, industrialization, etc.

Dramatic pictures of breaking seasonal ice is just patent propaganda, the reality is that Antarctica's ice mass has now been growing for the last 30 years against a 6,000 year trend of melting, and it contains over 90% of the world's land ice (sea ice, by Archimedes's principle, does not affect sea levels). Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, [9] "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems."

Our climate is changing, just as it has always done, and always will. In fact, the only constant about our climate is that it changes, which makes you realise the term "climate change" is at best meaningless, and at worst intentionally ambiguous. It feels silly that I need to say this, but clearly it has to be done. The main determinant of our climate is not some gas, which comprises 0.038% of the atmosphere, but the Sun, the planet's orbital eccentricities and axial wobble, cosmic ray flux, and other celestial factors. Greenhouse gases play an important role, but a passive one.

It should not come as a surprise that our entire solar system has been warming for the last quarter century, or that the most accurate weather forecasts come from algorithms that concentrate on solar fluctuations and cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are responsible for cloud formations, which are central to the overwhelmingly most important greenhouse gas. Water vapour accounts for 95% of the `greenhouse effect' and, apart from the elaborate positive feed-back systems in their models that have no actual basis with reality, the global warming alarmists have completely ignored it. This is staggering because H20, by a country mile, in its gas, liquid, and solid form dominates all other terrestrial climate factors.

More here


Some development organisations, journalists and government officials celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol with a giant birthday cake. Spirits were high as many seemed content with the progress made since COP-12, and the potential for a post-2012 treaty.

But though the cake may have been sweet for COP-13 attendants, life will remain bitter for the majority of the world's poor who are set to lose heavily from a post-2012 deal. As Barun Mitra of India's Liberty Institute, one of the 42 members of the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, explains:

"The problem facing hundreds of millions of poor people throughout the world is not that they consume too much, but that they hardly have any reliable and efficient sources of energy, clean water or a secure supply of food. All of these will be jeopardized in a world that is made much poorer through a post-2012 agreement which essentially inhibits economic growth.

To expect or ask that the poor sacrifice today for the sake of the rich tomorrow is not only immoral, but it also ignores the plight of poverty faced by millions today".

Though activists claim to be acting on behalf of the poor, the measures they propose would only cause harm. Instead of such hyperbole, we need to consider why countries like India have created abundance from scarcity and have adapted to changing circumstances. After the major famine of 1965-66 which killed 1.5 million people, India was considered a basket case. Today, India is poised to become a net food exporter. The improvement in India's agriculture was due to a number of factors, including:

* access to new technologies such as hybrid seeds, agro-chemicals, and irrigation
* relatively greater market access
* secure land tenure
* vibrant democracy.

The situation is no different globally. Worldwide, in the past 50 years, agricultural yields have improved year on year. Fundamentally, this demonstrates that activists utterly fail to understand that given the chance, people are able to raise themselves out of poverty.

If governments really care about the present and future of the world's 800 million undernourished people, they would take the costless and effective steps of removing trade and regulatory barriers that only serve to make food and associated technologies far more costly. Tragically for their poorest citizens, Sub-Saharan African countries worry about the impact of climate change - but continue to apply an average import tariff of 33.6% on agricultural imports.

The cake and policies wheeled out in Bali will hardly help the hungry or the poor. The way forwards is home-grown adaptation through technology and trade, which will allow people to raise themselves out of poverty.


A backpacker's guide to eco-death

"Into the Wild", Sean Penn's film about the anti-materialist Christopher McCandless, reminds us why being 'one with nature' is no picnic

Christopher McCandless could in many ways be seen as a misanthropic environmentalist's messiah. The inspiration behind Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild, McCandless' story was recently turned into a film by Sean Penn. After graduating from college in 1990, he renounces his family and material goods, donates his life savings to charity and wanders round America preaching against human relationships before going off to eat berries and roots in the Alaskan wilderness. And to top it all off, he ends up doing his bit to prevent overpopulation, finding inner peace whilst starving to death.

Since Krakauer's account of the sad death of McCandless was published in 1995, it has intrigued countless backpackers travelling the world. Several folk songs have been written about him. With the release of Penn's film, which unlike its counterpart The Beach does justice to the book, it looks like the legend of McCandless will grow further.

In many ways McCandless has become the Kurt Cobain of the travelling world. Clearly a man who had the potential to do something important with his life, the only thing really remarkable about McCandless compared to his peers is that he ended up dying young in mysterious enough circumstances to allow everyone to have an opinion about how it happened. McCandless did little of significance in life, but was fortunate to have inspired a Krakauer, an impressive investigative journalist with a passion for the outdoors and a flair for storytelling.

A few years ago, after announcing ambitious plans to trek in the Himalayas, I recall being begged to read Into the Wild by a fellow traveller on a Thai beach. She thought I could learn much from his experiences: the subtext being that I should water down my plans or end up dead. Being 22 and, like McCandless, feeling pretty much invincible, it did nothing to temper my risk-taking.

I found that there is typically at least one Chris McCandless-type skulking in the shadows of almost every youth hostel in the world. His background was pretty normal. Raised in a middle-class family, he graduated from Emory University with flying colours and decided to `live like common people', exploring America on a shoestring budget instead of following the carefully laid path towards becoming a wealthy lawyer laid out for him by his unhappily married parents.

The film is split into various `chapters' representing McCandless' `rebirth' upon setting out on his travels, through adolescence and eventually to wisdom. It's wrong to structure the story in this way - after all, the film is solely about a young man coming of age. There is little wisdom in McCandless' utterings, which are often quotes from Thoreau, Tolstoy or Jack London that he's trying on for size, or adolescent fantasies about becoming an `aesthetic voyager', aiming to `kill the false being within'. When asked what his problem is over a beer with a farmer, the best McCandless can do is to angrily chant `society, society' over and over again, feebly elaborating on this by naming `parents, politicians and pricks'.

While it would be easy to jeer at such statements, McCandless simply wasn't yet adult enough to effectively articulate what his concerns were. (A problem that the aging Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder, who performs the film soundtrack, remains afflicted with: the best he can do is whinge that `society you're a crazy breed'.)

The greatest wisdom McCandless seems to have attained by the end of the film is that if you live in the wild for any sustained period of time, it stops becoming a game and becomes a deeply unpleasant experience. His comments on day 100 of his `great Alaskan adventure' captures this well: `Made it! But in weakest condition of life. Death looms as serious threat. Too weak to walk out, have literally become trapped in the wild - no game.'

The tragedy is that McCandless wasn't able to escape from the wild and rejoin society with his realisation that `happiness is only real when shared'. Instead he had to stoically resign himself to his fate. As the traveller I met on the Thai beach understood, the main lesson you would derive from McCandless's experience in the wild is that the Scouting motto `be prepared' has a lot going for it. However, actor-turned-director Sean Penn seems to think otherwise, saying he believes we can learn much from McCandless' `lack of addiction to comfort, that is so uncommon and is so necessary to become common, or humankind doesn't survive the next century'.

Leaving aside Penn's ill-founded pessimism, surely we can find better models for survival than Chris McCandless! One of his final notes strongly suggests that, had he survived, even the wild man himself would be deeply cynical of someone attempting to idealise his trip into the wilderness: `I am all alone. This is no joke. In the name of God, please remain to save me.'

Despite the director's intentions, the film remains deeply moving. Although the images of nature and the American landscape are indeed awe-inspiring, the most beautiful parts of the film are in the human interactions. McCandless seems to have left an impression on many people on the road, not due to his patronising, half-baked anti-materialist ranting, but due to the fact that he had a vision for what he wanted to do and was doing it with immense energy and enthusiasm.

The great shame is that he didn't have the chance to direct this energy into a greater project than a badly conceived trip into the wilderness.



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, January 01, 2008

In 2008, let us challenge the Politics of Apocalypse

In the past year, the threat of doom - from weather, terror or disease - became an everyday, even banal issue. It's time to inject a dose of humanism into public debate

From global warming to obesity, bird flu to terrorism: 2007 was the year when the threat of an apocalypse became an everyday, even banal public issue. It was a year of ceaseless alarmist warnings about an ever-expanding number of calamities facing the planet.

Either directly or indirectly, this year virtually every significant problem was linked to the frenzied crusade to halt global warming. As I write this end-of-year piece, I hear that Paul McCartney wants everyone to give up eating meat and go vegetarian, because apparently that's the single best way to combat climate change.

Political speeches and public pronouncements are increasingly peppered with health warnings and sermon-style advice. In 2007, calls for restraint, austerity, asceticism and less frantic consumerism have gained a cultural force that is unprecedented in modern times. Goodness and moral virtue are the defining features of the carbon-free or at least carbon-lite life that we are all meant to aspire to. Is it any surprise that there is now a serious discussion about imposing a `carbon tax' on families who have more than two children?

Probably the single most significant event of 2007 was the publication in February of the Fourth Assessment Report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From an historical perspective, the most important thing about this event was not anything that the report contained, but rather the impact it had on public life.

The Western media and many policymakers embraced the pronouncements of the IPCC as if this body was a divine oracle. The IPCC's report was represented as the final Word on the future of humanity - and now, any doubt expressed on the issue of climate change is looked upon as an act of bad faith or `denial'. `The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over', warned David Miliband, then UK environment secretary.

The fear market in apocalyptic scenarios continued to flourish in 2007. Almost every week we were told that `the situation' is far worse than we originally thought. So-called scientific reports insist that soon global warming will trigger a huge extinction of plants and animals, giving rise to a situation where the fate of humanity itself will be threatened. After returning from a trip to the Antarctic, Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN, reported that the ice shelves have already started to break up. `These scenes are as frightening as a science fiction movie', he said, before adding that `they are even more terrifying, because they are real'.

Public figures appear to have lost the capacity to reassure or lead people. Instead, they frequently opt for evoking frightening futuristic scenarios where the line between fiction and reality become unclear. In every respect, the sensibility that underpins public debate today can be described as a `crisis of nerve'. This crisis over the future coexists with a powerful sense of disorientation about the status and worth of the human species itself. Increasingly, humanity is represented as the biggest problem on the planet, rather than as the harbinger of a better future.

In response to the growing influence of misanthropy, Pope Benedict XVI, in his message for World Peace Day on 1 January 2008, felt the need to remind his audience that `respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man'. That the Pope felt it was necessary to remind people of the unique status of the human species is telling indeed; it shows that we really do live in an era when most leaders find it difficult to believe in anything other than a scary future, and where it takes a Pope to remind them that humans are actually quite special.

One consequence of Western societies' obsessive preoccupation with the apocalypse-to-come is that less and less creative energy is devoted to confronting the all too important problems that exist in the here and now. Take the global credit crunch unleashed by the sub-prime home loan crisis this year for instance.

In terms of its material impact, this was arguably the most significant event of the year. After more than a decade of economic stability, the world economy faces the threat of a major recession with important implications for people's lives.

This threat may not make an exciting plot for a sci-fi movie, but it has a direct bearing on the quality of life of millions of people. It also raises important questions about an economic system that is so heavily reliant on using fictitious capital to reproduce itself. Unfortunately, however, today's future-frightened public debate about economics seems more interested in finding ways to transform capitalism into a carbon-free, green-leaning system than in discussing the steps we need to take to minimise the destructive impact of a global recession on people's lives and aspirations.

Events over the past 12 months suggest that what we think and how we think influences how we experience our reality. Compared with the past, people living in most parts of the world today experience less pain, debilitating disease and death than ever before. We are far better placed to deal with the outbreak of new diseases or unexpected weather incidents than we were even 20 or 30 years ago. And yet we continually fear the worst.

Worst-case thinking, the principal legacy of 2007, will most likely thrive in the years ahead. That is unless we can rediscover a sense of purpose in what it means to be human.


Mankind is more than the janitor of planet Earth

I am avowedly atheist. But listening to the bishops' drab, eco-pious Christmas sermons, I couldn't help thinking: `Bring back God!'

He might be the Archbishop of Canterbury, and thus guardian of the Anglican faith. But every time I see Dr Rowan Williams' smug face or hear his social-worker voice, I feel like breaking at least one of the Ten Commandments (I'll leave it to readers' febrile imaginations to guess which one).

They say we get the leaders we deserve. We also get the bishops we deserve. And in an age of petty piety, where relativistic non-judgementalism coexists with new codes of personal morality, giving rise to a Mary Poppins State more than a Nanny State, it's fitting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a trendy schoolteacher type who dispenses hectoring ethical advice with a smarmy grin rather than with fire-and-brimstone relish.

In his Christmas sermon, delivered at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams finally completed his journey from old-world Christianity to trendy New Ageism. His sermon was indistinguishable from those delivered (not just at Christmas but for life) by the heads of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Williams did not speak about Christian morality; in fact, he didn't utter the m-word at all. He said little about men's responsibility to love one another and God, the two Commandments Jesus Christ said we should live by. Instead he talked about our role as janitors on planet Earth, who must stop plundering the `warehouse of natural resources' and ensure that we clean up after ourselves.

Williams has clearly been reading the Good Books - not the Bible, but those Carbon Calculator tomes that are clogging up bookshop shelves around the country, and which instruct people on how to live so meekly that they leave no imprint whatsoever on the planet or human history. He said that Earth does not exist only for `humanity's sake'; it also exists `in its own independence and beauty. not as a warehouse of resources to serve humanity's selfishness'.

Williams warned that our greed - presumably our insatiable lust for warm homes, cars, cookers and other outrageous luxuries - is killing the planet. He welcomed the fact that mankind is `growing in awareness of how fragile [the planet] is, how fragile is the balance of species and environments in the world and how easily our greed distorts it'. In 2008, we must take more seriously our `guardianship' of the Earth, he declared (1).

Williams isn't the only leading Christian who has sold his soul to Gaia and traded in Christian morality for the pieties of environmentalism. The Reverend John Owen, leader of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said in his Christmas sermon that everyone should remember his or her `duty to the planet'. He urged people to recycle leftover food, and `redouble [your] efforts to take action and campaign against climate change' in the coming year (2). Meanwhile, the Vatican is taking steps to become the world's first carbon-neutral sovereign state by planting trees in a Hungarian national park to offset the CO2 emissions of the Holy See. Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, says that in 2008 there should be the `dawn of a new culture, of new attitudes and a new mode of living that makes man aware of his place as caretaker of the earth' (3).

The reduction of man to an eco-janitor, a being who creates waste and thus must clear it up, is more than a cynical attempt by isolated Christian leaders to connect with the public. Yes, Williams, Owen, the Holy See and Co. no doubt hope and believe (mistakenly, I'm sure) that adopting trendy Greenspeak will entice people to return to the church. But the move from focusing on love for God and one's neighbour to focusing on `respect for the planet' represents more than a rebranding exercise: it signals a complete abandonment by the Christian churches of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. And in this sense, it is not only God that is being downgraded by the new nature-worshipping priests; so is humanity itself. And that's enough to make even a committed atheist like me worry about the current direction of the Christian churches.

Christian teaching was once concerned with man, meaning and morality, with questions of free will, inner life and human destiny. As it happens, atheists, at least progressive ones, were concerned with exactly the same things. The chasm-sized difference between atheists and Christians occurred over the question of whether the moral meaning of man came from within or without; whether, as some atheists believed, the purpose of humanity was to be found within humanity itself; or, as Christians believed, humanity achieved meaning only through an external deity, God.

Where Christian morality granted man a diluted form of free will - underpinned by the idea that, yes, we make free choices, but God is the ultimate arbiter of our destiny - progressive atheists emphasised complete free will, arguing that only through full freedom of thought and a human-centred morality could humans remake the world in their own image and according to their own needs and desires.

Christians and atheists may have spent much of the past 200 years at each other's throats, but they inhabited the same moral plane. Theirs was literally a struggle for the soul of humanity. Today, by contrast, Christian leaders have abandoned questions of morality and free will. They now view people as little more than waste managers, `caretakers', eco-binmen, whose job is to sweep up after themselves and keep the planet in good nick. Instead of remaking the world in anybody's image - whether it be God's, man's, Buddha's or L Ron Hubbard's - man must simply adapt to his surroundings like an amoeba; indeed, he must minimise as much as possible his impact on the planet. Old Christians taught us that `the Kingdom of God is within you' (4), which was their flawed way of saying that man is a sovereign being, free and morally responsible. Today Christians say: `You are merely guests in the Warehouse of Resources. So be quiet, don't get any ideas above your station, and please shut the door when you leave.'

The cult of environmentalism embraced by the Christian churches does away with morality altogether. Some sceptics claim that environmentalism is a new form of moralistic hectoring; it is better to see it as amoralistic hectoring. In judging everything by how much CO2 or pollution it creates, environmentalism dispenses with questions of moral worth and judgement. So a flight to visit a newborn nephew in Australia (5.61 tonnes of CO2) is as wicked as taking a flight to Barbados to lounge in the sun; and the transportation of delicious food from Africa to Britain is as unforgivable as the transportation of weapons and drugs from Latin America to Los Angeles: after all, both involve exploiting the `warehouse of resources' and upsetting the `fragile balance of species and environments', as Williams put it (5). When human actions are judged by their levels of pollution alone, the issue of meaning - of why we do things, who we do them for, and how we might do them better - is implicitly downgraded.

This is why in his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury quoted extensively, not from the Bible, but from Richard Dawkins, who is considered by many to be the Rottweiler of the New Atheism. What today's eco-Christians and New Atheists share in common is a view of man as animalistic and degraded, as a `mammal' (as Christopher Hitchens describes us in his book God is Not Great) which ought to take its place alongside other mammals on this mortal coil. On the way in which religion distorts people's minds, Hitchens writes: `What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees?' (6) Where Williams and other eco-Christians see mankind as merely a cog in the planetary wheel, Hitchens and other New Atheists see mankind as only the sum of his genes, still, in essence, a monkey.

If yesterday's Christians and atheists inhabited the same moral plane, fighting tooth and nail over the purpose of mankind, today's eco-Christians and New Atheists inhabit the same amoral plane, bickering with each other but also frequently agreeing that man is a bit of a shit.

`Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves round man as long as he does not revolve around himself', said Marx (7). Many of the great atheists of old were concerned with making man the centre of his moral universe; with freeing him up to become the `superhuman' that he aspired to be, but which he could only glimpse in an illusory God (8). Today, by contrast, both eco-Christians and New Atheists want to bring man and God crashing back down to Earth. so that we can set about cleaning it up like the good little earthly janitors we are. At a time of such low horizons, is it any wonder that some people still do cling on to God, and seek transcendence from mundane everyday life through a belief in divinity? There is more humanity in their `superhuman' delusions than there is in the monkeyman realism of eco-Christians and New Atheists.


Many factors led to 2007's record low in Arctic sea ice

To get stuff published in most mainstream sources, you usualy have to put what you say in a way that does not challenge Warmism. The article below is an example of that. It rightly shows that many factors led to the recent arctic melt. It was clearly not just global warming. In interpreting that, however, they conveniently overlook that the arctic has had big melts before (See e.g. here) and that it was ONLY the arctic that melted recently. The antarctic ice grew, if anything. So whatever happened recently, the influence concerned was undisputably NOT global

A variety of climatological factors converged this year in a perfect storm that dramatically melted the Arctic Ocean's ice cover to a record low. The abrupt downturn could be a harbinger of ice-poor summers for decades to come.

In late summer, scientists reported that Arctic sea ice had shrunk to cover only about 4.2 million square kilometers (SN: 10/13/07, p. 238). That area is about 38 percent below the long-term average for late-summer ice coverage. Moreover, it's a striking 23 percent below the previous record low, set just 2 years ago. An adverse combination of factors contributed to this year's steep decline, researchers noted last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

First, a long-term trend in thinning and shrinkage of Arctic ice set the stage for this year's meltdown, says Jinlun Zhang, an oceanographer at the University of Washington in Seattle. End-of-summer ice coverage has been declining by about 11.4 percent per decade since 1979. Also, average ice thickness decreased by about 1.13 meters, or 22 percent, between 1981 and 2000.

Second, Zhang notes, unusually strong summer winds pushed much of the ice out of the central Arctic, leaving a large area of thin ice and open water. Third, a decrease in cloud cover in the Arctic-a trend suspected but not confirmed earlier this year (SN: 6/16/07, p. 382)-allowed more sunlight to reach the ocean. Because open water absorbs more of the sun's radiation than snow-covered ice, it significantly boosts warming trends both for the ocean and for the atmosphere above it (SN: 11/12/05, p. 312). This so-called ice/albedo feedback accelerated this year's melting, says Zhang.

In parts of the Arctic Ocean this year, sea surface temperatures were 3.5oC warmer than average and a full 1.5oC warmer than previously recorded highs, says Michael Steele, also of the University of Washington in Seattle. All that warm water chewed away at Arctic ice from below. In some parts of the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska and western Canada, ice that started the summer 3.3 m thick ended up measuring just 50 centimeters, says Donald K. Perovich, a geophysicist at the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.

About 70 cm of that shrinkage resulted from melting of the ice's upper surface-a typical amount for the summer, says Perovich. However, a whopping 2 m or so of that erosion, about five times the normal summer loss, occurred from below.

The thinning conceals the true extent of ice loss, says Perovich. "There's a lot less ice there than we think," he notes. "And the farther we go down this path, the harder it is to get back."

Indeed, the Arctic meltback may be self-perpetuating, says Steele. In some areas, the average date for winter freeze-up is now 2 months later than usual. The extra heat absorbed during summer months will suppress ice thickness by as much as 75 cm, about half the growth in thickness during an average winter.


WGIII - But is it Science?

Following our breakdown of the expertise comprising the IPCC's WGII, we've now done the same for WGIII, "Mitigation of Climate Change".

First, the numbers: Of 270 contributors, 66 were from the USA and UK. We haven't been able to establish the expertise and discipline of 12 of those - yet. 14 contributors had expertise in physics, chemistry or engineering. 4 from other engineering disciplines. 2 were bio/geochemists. 5 were from forestry ecology, or soil science. 2 had expertise in law. There were 7 social scientists, and a whopping 20 economists.There were no obvious instances of administrative assistants or web designers being included on the list, unlike WGII.

However, the 12 contributors we couldn't locate don't appear to possess a great deal of the academic credibility Andrew Dessler demands, and work for business or the US EPA - no surprises there. There appear to be fewer PhD candidates, and among the contributors who did not work in the private sector, most had academic positions. The best in the world though? It didn't seem likely.

The presence of 27 economists/social scientists again gives the lie to the claim that the IPCC is an institution made up entirely of climate scientists. WGIII explains their function as follows: In the first two volumes of the "Climate Change 2007" Assessment Report, the IPCC analyses the physical science basis of climate change and the expected consequences for natural and human systems. The third volume of the report presents an analysis of costs, policies and technologies that could be used to limit and/or prevent emissions of greenhouse gases, along with a range of activities to remove these gases from the atmosphere. It recognizes that a portfolio of adaptation and mitigation actions is required to reduce the risks of climate change. It also has broadened the assessment to include the relationship between sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

Winston Churchill once quipped:If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of then is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three. Somehow, the IPCC has managed to stuff more than 20 economists in a room, and achieved a "consensus". Remarkable. Once upon a time, economics was a matter of politics. Now, it seems, economics is as much a matter of rock-solid objective fact as physics.

The problem is, though, that environmental economic orthodoxy cannot be challenged politically - especially in the UK - because all politicians hide behind the "scientific consensus", even though it is formed by a large number of economists and social scientists. And in case anyone is in doubt that the whole '2500 scientists of the IPCC' thing isn't common currency in political debate about the state of the planet...

Drawn up by more than 2,500 of the world's top scientists and their governments, and agreed last week by representatives of all its national governments, the report also predicts that nearly a third of the world's species could be driven to extinction as the world warms up, and that harvests will be cut dramatically across the world

writes The Independent this very month. Or: For the first time in six years, more than 2,000 of the world's top scientists reviewed and synthesized all of the scientific knowledge about global warming. The Fourth Assessment Report makes clear that the accelerating emissions of human-generated heat-trapping gases has brought the planet close to crossing a threshold that will lead to irreversible catastrophe.

Yet like Cassandra's warning about the Trojan horse, the IPCC report has fallen on deaf ears, especially those of conservative politicians, even as its findings are the most grave to date writes Salon.

And then there's Kofi Annan, no less: We must also be ready to take decisive measures to address climate change. It is no longer so hard to imagine what might happen from the rising sea levels that the world's top scientists are telling us will accompany global warming. Who can claim that we are doing enough?

For any (ahem) sceptics out there, note that this is firmly within the territory of WGII and WGIII, in that it is about predictions, and not scientific evidence for climate change and its causes to date.

In November, we ran a post about Green MEP Caroline Lucas' comments about there being just 8 years left to create policies to save the planet. Well, when you hear scientists say that we have about eight years left in order to really tackle climate change, I don't think what the public actually want is cautiousness.

When we rang them, Lucas's press office cited WGIII AR4 as the basis for her comments. As a result of her campaining - in part - the EU passed legislation to cap emmissions from aircraft on that same day. The same arguments, based on the same 'consensus' created by WGII and WGIII are being made by the major UK political parties, who, as we have also reported, are promising 60, 80 and 100% carbon reductions by 2050. Science or politics - wodjafink?


Tim Flannery says Japan's whaling is 'sustainable'

Coming from one of Australia's top Greenies, this is going to put a spoke in a few wheels. And for once I think that there is little doubt that Flannery is right. The objection to whaling (which I share) is sentimental rather than scientific

ENVIRONMENTALIST and 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery has declared his support for the hugely unpopular Japanese whaling program. As Australia prepares to monitor the whaling fleet in Antarctica amid rising diplomatic tensions with Japan, Professor Flannery says there is nothing unsustainable about its annual cull of up to 1000 whales - particularly the common minke whale. "In terms of sustainability, you can't be sure that the Japanese whaling is entirely unsustainable," Professor Flannery said. "It's hard to imagine that the whaling would lead to a new decline in population."

But the staunch environmentalist, influential scientist, author and climate change crusader said he was pleased Japan had decided to ditch plans to kill up to 50 threatened humpbacks this summer. "I'm very relieved to see the humpback whale quota dumped," he said.

But the 935 minke whales that Japan aims to kill each year under its so-called scientific whaling program should not threaten the survival of that species. Professor Flannery said there were much bigger threats to marine biodiversity and sustainability, including to the future of krill, small crustaceans essential in the sea food chain - and the main sustenance for whales in the Southern Ocean. Krill populations are declining as a result of over-fishing and because rising sea temperatures are killing off their food sources.

Professor Flannery said he was more concerned about those issues "where our future is most under threat, which is not the minkes". However, he is worried about how the whales are slaughtered, saying he would like to see them "killed as humanely as possible".

Professor Flannery's views have not changed since his comments on Japanese whaling back in 2003. In a paper published that year in Quarterly Essay he argued that smaller-brained whales could be hunted sustainably. "If these animals are closer in intelligence to the sheep than the dog, is it morally wrong to eat them if they can be harvested sustainably?" he wrote. Japanese whalers have begun their hunt in Antarctica and plan to harpoon almost 1000 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales.



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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