Warmist crooks above: Keith "One tree" Briffa; Michael "Bristlecone" Mann; James "data distorter" Hansen; Phil "data destroyer" Jones -- Leading members in the cabal of climate quacks

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

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30 June, 2010

Another skeptical Greenie

By Peter Taylor, author of "CHILL"

Let me first defend my qualifications. I am a professional ecologist with published peer-reviewed papers on pollution issues, atmospheric dispersion, oceanic models and environmental impact assessment. I have critiqued computer models of both atmospheric and oceanic dispersion of pollutants (as well as running such models myself) and I have published a major review of the UN’s previous system of ‘dilute and disperse’ regulatory mechanisms based on computer models and environmental prediction – work that paved the way to legal reform at the UN and the introduction of the Precautionary Principle and Clean Production Strategies.

I detail this history in a chapter in my book and outline why I think it places me in a unique position to comment on the UN’s summary of the science. I cite 20 of my own papers and consultants reports, half of which are in peer-reviewed journals.

In all of that work I managed a multi-disciplinary team of natural scientists, engineers and sociologists. I have extensive experience of how panels, committees and institutions deal with complex science and most especially where large investments are made by the science community and major policy decisions by government and industry follow the scientific recommendations. In all of this time – over 30 years, I have come to know all the tricks, and for a great deal of that time, my research group in Oxford was funded largely by Greenpeace to expose those tricks and defend ‘the environment’. My group was also (eventually) taken on by our own government, the EU and the UN to advise on how to put things right...

As you know from my work on integrating renewable energy into the landscape, I accepted the standard model of CO2 impact up until about 2003. I had no reason to doubt it – presuming as everyone does that the greenhouse effect was ‘basic physics’.

I always regarded the modelling of impacts – especially regionally, as problematic, but assumed the atmospheric physics was simple science (it isn’t).

One of my former colleagues – Jackson Davis, professor of marine biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with whom I worked on marine pollution policy at the UN, went on to work with the Framework Climate Convention and the IPCC, and drafted the Kyoto Protocol.

Naturally, when I first reviewed the science and the IPCC reports, I sent him a draft of my work – and as you know, he endorsed the book.

I have not claimed to be a ‘climate scientist’ – the press do that, of course. But what constitutes a ‘climate scientist’ anyway? The chair of the IPCC is a railway engineer by profession! I have met computer specialists who qualify as climate scientists but who are little more than mathematicians with very limited knowledge or understanding of ecosystems. Likewise, there are atmospheric physicists who know nothing of the oceans, and oceanographers who know nothing of solar cycles (despite a wealth of oceanographic literature linking solar cycles to ocean temperatures), and vice versa.

The world of science is full of specialists and there are very few generalists. Almost nobody has the time to do what I did and spend three years reading the peer-reviewed literature across all the disciplines. Not even the Chair of IPCC.

So – in my defence, I have no qualms about wading in – indeed, I think I am well qualified to do so. Since writing the book I have visited climate labs in the USA and talked with people here – I have been received with respect and discussions have gone into great depth. Also, the first review of Chill has appeared in a climate journal, the Holocene – reviewed alongside Sir John Houghton’s updated classic on the issue (he is former chair and founder of IPCC) – and the reviewer concludes both books should be essential reading for any student of the topic. I actually have four outstanding requests to publish in peer-reviewed science journals on the climate issue – few people appreciate how much time it takes to prepare a paper to that standard of scholarship, and that it is a cost that has to be borne by the writer (academics do not have this problem!).

That said – I also need to point out that contrary to perceptions, I am not in major disagreement with the IPCC’s findings. You have to distinguish between the summary and press comment, and the actual working groups and the careful language they used.

We can all agree that the world has warmed during the 20th century. The question is whether that would have happened as part of a natural cycle, or whether it is mainly driven by carbon emissions. Contrary to perceptions, the IPCC infers that it is mainly due to carbon because the Panel’s understanding of natural cycles is very low and because the models do predict the warming that has been observed. In their key statement they say: the observed warming is unlikely to be due to known natural causes acting alone (my emphasis). They are well aware that other factors may be at play – in particular the relation of the solar magnetic cycle and the flux of radiation to the oceans. In my analysis of their work I conclude that the Panel is heavily weighted toward computer modellers and physicists and under-represented by palaeoecologists with a deeper understanding of cycles.

This argument forms the basis of my book – which is a summary of the arguments based upon the peer-reviewed literature (something I feel well-qualified to do) and where I conclude that recent evidence shows that the IPCC has erred and is reluctant to admit its error. I will go into more detail in the next posting on why I think this is the case and why recent changes in the climate and new publications confirm my view that the majority of the warming is natural and that we may be heading for significant cooling (as noted in last week’s New Scientist – ‘What’s wrong with the Sun’).

This conclusion has huge implications for policy. It means that if we achieve 50% emissions reduction (globally a very big ask) we will be dealing with such a small proportion of the driving force that it will have no significant effect on what the climate does. We should therefore focus on a policy of adaptation not mitigation. And yes, there are other reasons to wean ourselves off fossil fuels – but we can do that with greater regard for other objectives in sustainability, such as community, biodiversity and landscape.


Sun spot numbers running backward

Just when it looked like Cycle 24 was going to take off the sunspot numbers turned around and started declining. As some scientist have finally concluded we really do not know what is happening on the sun.

In the past, disappearing sun spots has been a precursor to long term periods of colder winters and summers. The Dalton Minimum was the most recent period from 1790 to 1830, weather stations experienced an average drop of 2.0C for 20 years. The Maunder Minimum was also a prolonged period of minimum sunspots from about 1645 to 1715, a period know as the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. Some years, rivers remained frozen well into summer.

The exact mechanism for the cooling is not know, but the historical records show that fewer spots leads to a colder climate. The current sunspots trends could indicate some long term cooling is on the horizon if history is a valid indicator.

There is some irony here, Mother Nature is turning down the earths thermostat and our government is setting in motion programs and legislation that will take control of our thermostats, all to stop the earth from warming from CO2 emissions. Either way, there are long term economic impacts. Stay tuned.


Some more of that pesky history

No wonder the Green/Left hate history and do their best to ignore it

This is the second sentence taken from the position statement at the Schools' Low Carbon Day site, part of their justification for wanting to worry schoolchildren about the climate: "Without very significant action, temperature changes of at least 2C, and possibly 3C or 4C are expected to happen by the end of this century."

Why would anyone believe this? The first, and most superficial, reason is that most of us rely on newspapers, magazines, and TV for information on climate. We have recently been faced with scary stories about global warming, later modified to the general-purpose, timeless, and incontrovertible 'climate change'. This sleight of hand allowed whatever natural disasters took place (floods, blizzards, hurricanes, etc) to be blamed on fossil fuels, while still retaining the same underlying threat of scary hotness to come.

This is not new. It is merely the media exercising its preference for bad news over good. Here are some media nuggets from the past, alongside the temperature trends for the time:

1) Cooling: approx. 1885 - 1915.

'Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age.' New York Times, October, 1912.

2) Warming: approx. 1915 - 1945.

'Next Great Deluge Forecast by Science: Melting Polar Ice Caps to Raise the Level of the Seas and Flood the Continents.' New York Times, 15 May, 1932.

3) Cooling: approx. 1945 - 1975.

'The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.' Nigel Calder, International Wildlife Magazine, 1975.

4) Warming: approx. 1975 - 2005.

'Scientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening, and almost nobody questions the fact that humans are at least partly responsible.' Time Magazine, 09 April, 2001.

5) Cooling next? The headlines have already started:

'The Mini Ice Age Starts Here: The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.' Daily Mail, 10 Jan, 2010.

How can we get these short-term trends into perspective?
At any time at any location on the planet, it will either be warming on average or cooling on average, depending on the period of time and/or the spatial area the averaging is taken over. Average your temperatures over a few years, and you have one trend, average over a few hundred years, you have another, over a few thousand, another still. So it is a messy business.

And to make matters worse, we have no temperature records at all except for the most recent centuries. A lack of thermometers, and earlier still, a lack of humans, over most of the life of the planet means that we guess at past temperatures using proxies, such as tree-rings (since one of many things influencing tree growth is temperature), isotope ratios in ice cores (since this ratio depends on the air temperature at the time of capture), and numerous other items such as fossils or pollen found in earth cores (since it may be possible to tie some of them to temperature bounds). Ancient documents and carvings permit speculation about harvest times, and major weather-related events such as floods and droughts. Archeological digs reveal details about diets and buildings, and geological explorations reveal previous sea levels, and the movements of continents.

On the really big picture, covering millions of years, we know (or think we do) that the planet was mostly ice-free at the poles. The relatively short periods when there are 'permanent' icecaps are known as Ice Ages. We are in one right now.

During Ice Ages, which can last many hundreds of thousands of years, there are warm spells known as Interglacial Periods, or just Interglacials.

During these interglacials, the ice cover disappears every summer in the temperature zones, such as most of North America, and Northern Europe. We humans thrive in such areas during interglacials, since we can grow crops, and not be displaced by inconvenient ice sheets. There is some evidence that the previous interglacial was warmer than our one (7).

Let us now home-in on the last 5,000 years:

We can see that on this big picture, we are in a cooling trend in what may well be near the end of our interglacial period. Superimposed on this trend, are many appreciable excursions, many of which are associated with clear effects on human settlements and civilisations.

Now let us home in on the past 1000 years or so. The global Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age are shown clearly on the temperature reconstruction used by the IPCC in 1990-2001.

There are hundreds of studies of the Medieval Warm Period showing up in many places across the globe - see Jo Nova's report here (9). However, it was not politically convenient for the IPCC to have such a period warmer than our own. In 2001-2003, they replaced it with the infamous 'hockey-stick' plot also shown in the diagram below, in blue. The dismal story of how this artefact was created and jealously guarded for years, is vividly told in Montford's book, The Hockey Stick Illusion (10). It is not an edifying tale, but it is well worth reading for insight into the unscientific attitudes and methods of the small core of alarmists whose temperature reconstructions were so gratefully adopted by the IPCC.

We have been on a gentle warming trend pulling out of the Little Ice Age in the 19th and 20th centuries at overall rates of around 0.6 to 0.7C per century in estimated global average temperature, with shorter-term periods of more rapid warming, or of cooling, superimposed in approximately 30-year long spells. These can be seen on the next graphic, constructed using Hadley Centre data (12) to demonstrate the striking similarity in warming/cooling cycles in the 19th and 20th centuries, despite, of course, the large differences in ambient CO2 levels between them.

But what of real temperatures, as opposed to reconstructions or constructed 'global averages'? The longest temperature record using thermometers is the Central England Temperature (CET) set, which extends back to the 17th century. The Czech physicist Lubos Motl has stepped through this set year by year, calculating the overall temperature trend for the previous 30 years at each step (13). He found nothing unusual about these trends in the 20th century:

'In the late 17th and early 18th century, there was clearly a much longer period when the 30-year trends were higher than the recent ones. There is nothing exceptional about the recent era.

You see, the early 18th century actually wins: even when you calculate the trends over the "sufficient" 30 years, the trend was faster than it is in the most recent 30 years. By the way, the most recent 1980-2009 tri-decade didn't get to the top 10 results at all; if you care, it was at the 13th place. You can also see that the local trends are substantially faster than the global trends: that's because the global variations are reduced by the averaging over the globe.

This helps confirm that nothing at all unusual has been observed in temperatures in modern times. Nothing unusual. Nothing untoward. Nothing to get alarmed about. The same is true of other climate measures such as rainfall, storm intensities and frequencies, sea surface temperatures, and polar ice fluctuations. The alarms of the alarmists are going off only in their computers, and not in the world outside.

So what can we say about the future? If we naively project the cooling/warming cycles alone, we can expect a cooling phase for the next 20 to 30 years or so, superimposed on a continuing slow warming.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Obama's "Green" policies killing American jobs already

Up to 1,000 jobs at Bucyrus International Inc. and its suppliers could be in jeopardy as the result of a decision by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, funded by Congress, to deny several hundred million dollars in loan guarantees to a coal-fired power plant and mine in India.

About 300 of those jobs are at the Bucyrus plant in South Milwaukee, where the company has 1,410 employees and its headquarters. The remaining jobs are spread across 13 states, including Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana.

On Thursday, the Export-Import Bank denied financing for Reliance Power Ltd., an Indian power plant company, effectively wiping out about $600 million in coal mining equipment sales for Bucyrus, chief executive Tim Sullivan said.

The fossil fuel project was the first to come before the government-run bank since it adopted a climate-change policy to settle a lawsuit and to meet Obama administration directives.

"President Obama has made clear his administration's commitment to transition away from high-carbon investments and toward a cleaner-energy future," Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said in a statement. "After careful deliberation, the Export-Import Bank board voted not to proceed with this project because of the projected adverse environmental impact."

The bank's decision is puzzling, Sullivan said, because the power plant will meet international standards and the bank's environmental criteria.

The plant is under construction in Sasan, central India, and is scheduled to be up and running in 2012. Coal mining will take place for the plant whether it's done with Bucyrus machines or equipment from China and Belarus, Sullivan said.

"Unless the Obama administration jumps all over this and corrects a wrong fairly quickly, I am confident this business is going elsewhere," Sullivan told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday. "The bank's decision has had no impact on global carbon emissions but has cost the U.S. nearly 1,000 jobs," he added.

The Export-Import Bank would not elaborate on the board's 2-1 vote - including Hochberg's - to deny the loan guarantees.

The U.S. State and Treasury departments recommended against making the loan guarantees. Neither agency could be reached for comment Saturday.

Political backlash

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Sen. Herb Kohl, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor, voiced their objections to the Export-Import Bank decision, which may be irreversible since there isn't an appeals process.

Doyle said he met with Hochberg to stress the importance of the mining equipment sale, which was contingent on the loan guarantees, for sustaining jobs here.

"I was absolutely stunned by their decision. It was the most shortsighted, unconscionable decision you could imagine, and I can't see any justification for it," the governor said.

Doyle said he hopes the bank's decision can be reversed before India turns to China or Belarus for mining equipment.

The decision could set a precedent that would keep other nations from buying U.S. mining equipment, especially since China offers discount financing on machines built there, which puts the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage.

"My discussions with the bank chairman were hardly confidence-building," Doyle said. "They really could not justify their decision except somehow, somebody told them that if the word coal is anywhere in a plan, then they can't move forward with it."

Obama is scheduled to be in Racine on Wednesday. Doyle said he wants to meet with the president and urge him to ask the Export-Import Bank to reconsider its decision. "I am a green-energy guy," Doyle said. "But I also understand that we need coal as a major source of energy. What that means is, we need to develop and support the technologies and businesses that are involved in the production of energy from clean coal. Bucyrus is one of those businesses."

Barrett, too, said he would press the issue with Obama.


Goose Eigg

Reality is a hard taskmaster

The Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland was hailed as the green future, when islanders installed a solar, wind and hydroelectric power solution to power their homes. All renewables, all the time. The green energy wet dream in action. When Eigg won a share in a 1 million prize in January for its devotion to green, the judges declared:
Good Energy CEO Juliet is vice chair of the judging panel that decided that Eigg, which reduced its CO2 emissions by 32% in a year, deserved a share in the top prize money. Here’s why: The day-to-day life on a small Hebridean island lashed by the Atlantic Ocean may present its own challenges, but the extreme weather makes it an ideal place to harness the elements and generate renewable power.

So how’s that working out, exactly? Not so well: Power rationed on ‘green island’ Eigg:
Weeks of what passes for heatwave conditions in the Inner Hebrides have caused water levels on the island’s three main burns to drop uncharacteristically low, cutting off the island’s hydroelectricity supply. The normally powerful Atlantic gusts in the tiny island south of Skye have also reduced to a pleasant breeze leaving the island’s wind turbines idle for hours on end.

Green energy is great, as long as you don’t mind going without power when the weather doesn’t cooperate. If Eigg was touted as the ideal place for renewable power and it doesn’t work, what hope is there for the rest of the world’s renewables efforts?

UPDATE: The UK mainland has the same reality to deal with as energy from renewables dropped 7.5%. Try selling more bird shredder farms on the back of that performance.


Reality is a hard taskmaster for Britain as a whole too

A mournful report frpm The Guardian below

Britain's renewable energy revolution suffered an abrupt setback this winter when the power supplied from wind, hydro and other "clean" sources fell, despite years of promises and policies to end the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and slash global warming pollution, the Guardian can reveal.

The news comes as the government will tomorrow unveil a major report (pdf) into how it will pay for the hundreds of billions of new spending needed to meet the UK's targets for renewable energy and cutting climate change emissions by setting up a new Green Investment Bank (GIB).

Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (pdf) show that the proportion of electricity supplied from renewable sources such as wind and hydro power fell 7.5% in the first three months of this year compared to 2009.

The drop was officially blamed mostly on a dry winter, which reduced power from water turbines, and low wind speeds, leading to the lowest absolute supply from those two sectors for four winters – as far back as the DECC figures recorded.

Experts also expressed concern that renewable energy could also have suffered from a hiatus in investment and from competition from cheap gas from overseas, as the government figures showed the UK became a net importer of gas for the first time in more than 40 years in January to March.

The latest renewable energy figures will be seized by critics and other experts who have long argued that the UK needs fewer reports and targets and more action to support and fund the long-promised low carbon transformation....

The Green Investment Bank Commission, set up by Chancellor George Osborne while the Conservative party was in opposition, is expected to recommend a bonfire of green business quangos, whose more than 2bn a year in grants could be used to fund the bank.

It also wants an estimated 40bn from sale of permits to pollute under the European trading scheme from 2012 to 2020 to be ringfenced to support the drive to decarbonise Britain's economy.

Pension funds, other institutional investors and even ordinary savers would also be offered a chance to contribute to the low-carbon revolution by buying green bonds and green individual savings accounts, under the plans.

The coalition government has said it will publish details of the new bank after the autumn spending review.

The DECC Energy Statistics for the first quarter of 2010 show renewable electricity fell from 6.7% to 6.2% of total supply. Supply from coal power also fell, while nuclear and gas generation increased, bringing the total electricity supply up slightly, by 1.1%, although consumption of electricity fell fractionally. Total energy consumption, including heating, fell by 1.1%.

RenewableUK, the industry lobby group, said the ongoing increase in wind power would reduce problems from relying on hydro schemes as climate change was expected to bring an era of less reliable rainfall.

However Sir David King, the government's former chief scientist and director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, said the figures highlighted the need for new nuclear generators to help cut emissions and keep power supplies reliable. "We can't rely too heavily on wind because it always requires a gas-fired turbine to be able to be switched on to provide alternative energy," he said. [With rare realism]



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29 June, 2010

American Physicist Joins Attack on Global Warming Theory

Another well-qualified voice is added to the growing dissent in debunking the discredited greenhouse gas theory

Dr. Charles R. Anderson makes his announcement on his website (June 28, 2010) in joining a growing band of professional scientists, international academics and climate experts prepared to put their reputations on the line and denounce the orthodox views held by an influential clique of discredited government climatologists.

The catalyst for the sudden willingness to speak out against the once widely accepted theory of global warming may be an impressive new online publication, ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?’ by Dr. Martin Hertzberg, Alan Siddons and Hans Schreuder.

The controversial paper refutes the greenhouse effect (GHG) by showing that by properly testing the theory it can just as easily be ‘proven’ that the Moon also exhibits a greenhouse effect: a nonsense proposition that discredits the entire hypothesis.

NASA Refuses to Reveal Secret Data

Anderson writes, “Despite the fact that NASA scientists are among the foremost promoters of catastrophic global warming due to man's use of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions, NASA scientists have long known that the moon exhibits a warming effect which is similar to the effect which on Earth is said to be due to greenhouse gases.”

Like others who now dispute the GHG theory Anderson berates the secrecy that has kept so much of the data under wraps. NASA is currently facing court action for refusing to disclose its data to independent analysts seeking to check the validity of its global warming claims.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Global Warming and Peer Review

A note from an unusual Leftist below

A continuing theme of this blog is going to be the nature of peer review and how it is not at all the reliable source of information on alleged global warming that leftists think it is. There are many avenues to explore in connection with this issue, but for now I simply want to quote a statement from the Chronicle of Higher Education for June 18th of this year (page A80). The quote is from a piece entitled, “We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research,” by Mark Bauerlein, Mohamed Gad-El-Hak, Wayne Grody, Bill McKelvey, and Stanley W. Trimble. Here is the quote:

“Experts asked to evaluate manuscripts, results, and promotion files give them less-careful scrutiny or pass the burden along to other, less-competent peers. We all know busy professors who ask Ph.D. students to do their reviewing for them. Questionable work finds its way more easily through the review process and enters into the domain of knowledge.... Aspiring researchers are turned into publish-or-perish entrepreneurs, often becoming more less cynical about the higher ideals of the pursuit of knowledge. They fashion pathways to speedier publication, cutting corners on methodology and turning to politicking and fawning strategies for acceptance.

“Such outcomes run squarely against the goals of scientific inquiry. The surest guarantee of integrity, peer review, falls under a debilitating crush of findings, for peer review can handle only so much material without breaking down. More isn’t better. At some point, quality gives way to quantity.

“Academic publication has passed that point in most, if not all disciplines – in some fields by a long shot.”

This is from an article that has nothing to do with global warming or climate science. It is simply talking about the state of academic publication these days, and it finds that state far from ideal. It nevertheless bears on global warming because everyone who believes in global warming talks about how reliable the science behind it is, and to prove it is reliable they point to peer review. But why believe that peer review is reliable? This quotation suggests it is not.


Acknowledging Recent Natural Cooling

In a paper entitled "A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008," which was published in Geophysical Research Letters, Perlwitz et al. (2009) recount some interesting facts about which many climate alarmists would rather the public remained unaware, including the fact that there was, in Perlwitz et al.'s words, "a precipitous drop in North American temperature in 2008, commingled with a decade-long fall in global mean temperatures."

Perlwitz et al. begin their narrative by noting that there has been "a decade-long decline (1998-2007) in globally averaged temperatures from the record heat of 1998," citing Easterling and Wehner (2009). And in further describing this phenomenon, they say that U.S. temperatures in 2008 "not only declined from near-record warmth of prior years, but were in fact colder than the official 30-year reference climatology (-0.2C versus the 1971-2000 mean) and further were the coldest since at least 1996."

With respect to the geographical origin of this "natural cooling," as they describe it, the five researchers point to "a widespread coolness of the tropical-wide oceans and the northeastern Pacific," focusing on the Nio 4 region, where they report that "anomalies of about -1.1C suggest a condition colder than any in the instrumental record since 1871."

So, pushing the cause of the global and U.S. coolings that sparked their original interest back another link in the chain which -- in their estimation -- connects them with other more primary phenomena, they ask themselves what caused these latter anomalous and significant oceanic coolings?

Perlwitz et al. first discount volcanic eruptions, because they say "there were no significant volcanic events in the last few years." Secondly, they write that solar forcing "is also unlikely," because its radiative magnitude is considered to be too weak to elicit such a response. And these two castaway causes thus leave them with "coupled ocean-atmosphere-land variability" as what they consider to be the "most likely" cause of the anomalous coolings.

In regard to these three points, we agree with the first. With respect to Perlwitz et al.'s dismissal of solar forcing, however, we note that the jury is still out with respect to the interaction of the solar wind with the influx of cosmic rays to earth's atmosphere and their subsequent impact on cloud formation, which may yet prove to be substantial. And with respect to their final point, we note that the suite of real-world ocean-atmosphere-land interactions is highly complex and also not fully understood. Indeed, there may even be important phenomena operating within this realm of which the entire scientific community is ignorant. And some of those phenomena may well be strong enough to totally compensate for anthropogenic-induced increases in greenhouse gas emissions, so that other natural phenomena end up dictating the ever-changing state of earth's climate, as could well be what has been happening over the last decade or more.

In light of these considerations, therefore, as well as the substantial strength and longevity of the planet's current cooling phase, the path of wisdom would seem to us to be to wait and see what happens next, in the unfolding biogeophysical drama of earth's ever-changing climatic path to the future, before we undertake to attempt to change what we clearly do not fully comprehend.


New Study: CO2 only rose after ice age ended, not before; global wind-shift to blame

A global shift in winds is what led to the end of Earth’s last ice age— an event that ushered in a warmer climate and the birth of human civilization. It is believed that, in the geological blink of an eye, ice sheets in the northern hemisphere began to collapse and warming spread quickly to the south.

Most scientists say that the trigger, at least initially, was an orbital shift that caused more sunlight to fall across Earth's northern half. But they could not explain how the south dealt with the shift so fast.

And now a team of researchers looked for an answer towards a global shift in winds and proposed a chain of events that began with the melting of the large northern hemisphere ice sheets about 20,000 years ago.

The melting ice sheets reconfigured the planet's wind belts, pushing warm air and seawater south, and pulling carbon dioxide from the deep ocean into the atmosphere, allowing the planet to heat even further.

Their hypothesis makes use of climate data preserved in cave formations, polar ice cores and deep-sea sediments to describe how Earth finally thawed out. "This paper pulls together several recent studies to explain how warming triggered in the north moves to the south, ending an ice age," said study co-author Bob Anderson, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

"Finally, we have a clear picture of the global teleconnections in Earth's climate system that are active across many time scales. These same linkages that brought the earth out of the last ice age are active today, and they will almost certainly play a role in future climate change as well,” he added.

"It's the great global warming of all time. We're trying to answer the puzzle: why does the Earth, when it appears so firmly in the grip of an ice age, start to warm?" said the study's lead author, George Denton, a glaciologist at the University of Maine.

Scientists have long suspected that carbon dioxide played a major role in the last ice age but have had trouble explaining the early warming in the southern hemisphere, where glaciers in Patagonia and New Zealand were melting before carbon dioxide levels rose significantly.

Some scientists suggest that a change in ocean currents, triggered by the freshening of the North Atlantic, caused this early warming.

But computer models using ocean circulation to explain the rapid warming in the south have been unable to recreate the large temperature jumps seen in the paleoclimate record.

Now, with the evidence for shifting southern hemisphere westerlies, the rapid warming is readily explained.

The study has been published in the journal Science.


BBC up to its old tricks

Let’s just remind ourselves, shall we, why the BBC is constitutionally incapable of reporting on global warming in a fair, balanced or indeed honest way. On 26 January 2006, the BBC’s not-notably-sceptical Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin organised a conference at BBC TV Centre called Climate Change – The Challenge To Broadcasting.

Perhaps it should really have been called The Challenge To Impartiality. It was co-hosted by the director of television Jana Bennett, the director of news Helen Boaden and held under the auspices of the BBC and two environmental lobby groups – The International Broadcasting Trust and the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme. The keynote speaker was the fanatically warmist ex-Royal Society President, Robert May, who proceded to assure the audience of around 30 key BBC staff and 30 invited guests, most of them environmental activists, that – as Bob Carter puts it in his superb Climate: The Counter Consensus – “the science supporting global warming was so certain that it was the BBC’s public duty to cease providing airtime to alternative viewpoints.” The BBC has been hideously biased in its coverage of AGW ever since.

Tonight’s Panorama is a case in point. Here is a blog by the programme’s producer Mike Rudin describing the piece of glib Warmist propaganda he is foisting on the licence-fee paying public this evening. See if you can spot the weaselry in this summing-up paragraph:
There is genuine uncertainty and disagreement about the exact scale and speed of human-induced global warming and crucially what we should do about it. But I was surprised to find how much agreement there is on the fundamental science.

Yep, what Rudin is trying to do is revive Al Gore’s discredited idea that there is a “Consensus” on global warming.

And here’s the cheaty way he goes about demonstrating it. He sends his reporter Tom Heap out to solicit the views of various “experts” with a chart called a Wall of Uncertainty.

(Top Gear may have its “Cool Wall”, but we have built a “Wall of Certainty” – Rudin confides to readers of his blog, showing this isn’t just a serious programme. It’s FUN too).

The expert panel is pretty evenly balanced. For the Warmists Professor Bob Watson, Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute. For the sceptics, Bjorn Lomborg and Professor John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. What Lomborg and Christy don’t appreciate until its far too late – ’twas ever thus with the BBC – is that the entire exercise is a total stitch up. They are there to give the illusion that all sides are being consulted. But note how loaded are the questions which they are asked:

“How certain are you that mankind is warming the climate?”

“How certain are you that C02 and the other things are greenhouse gases?”

“How certain are you that we are emitting more CO2 which is one of the greenhouse gases?”

Naturally the answer to all these questions, even from the most ardent sceptic Christy, is a “very.” That’s because there’s really no other honest answer to any of them.

But what does this prove? Absolutely nothing other than that on the subject of climate change, you’d be better off sticking your hand in a bag of amphetamine-injected rattlesnakes and hope not to be bitten than you would trusting the BBC.

This disgraceful programme – and you should be ashamed Jeremy Vine, for giving it your imprimatur by introducing such dross – quite deliberately misrepresents the sceptic position using a Straw Man argument, before drawing conclusions about the state of the AGW which are entirely dishonest. Here is what Rudin thinks the programme means:
Contrary to some of the newspaper headlines and blogs that suggest all global warming science is a con, they agreed that mankind is causing the planet to warm up.

Note that use of the straw man again. NOBODY believes that “all global warming science is a con.” NO ONE. Because if they did, when you think about it, that would mean discounting the expertise of climate scientists like Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, which obviously no climate sceptic is ever likely to do being as they are trusted, revered gurus of the climate realist movement.


Hockey Stick Science

From economist Eric Falkenstein

A.W. Mortford has a book out titled The Hockey Stick Illusion. It highlights how modern science is done (I read its 400+ pages in two days because it was fascinating). The main issues are not abstruse statistics, but rather detailed, parochial empirical issues.

Recent warming only seems alarming if recent temperatures are outside of normal historical fluctuations. As the medieval warming period when Vikings settled Greenland was obviously very warm, at least in Greenland, one might think that current temps are not that alarming. Thus, in 1998, when Michael E. Mann, Bradley and Hughes published a paper documenting that current temperatures are many standard deviations of their average since at least 1000 AD, it became the signature graph for the Global Warming Community.

Tree rings, or isotopic composition of ice cores (the ratio of 18O to 16O) and other things are related to temperature, and these are the types of things used to estimate temperature prior to 1880. As the 20th century temperature increase that has everyone worried is only 0.6 degree centigrade, one needs some serious precision to claim that temperatures in the past 1000 years did not vary above this level. There's no fundamental law that related tree rings or oxygen isotopes to temperature, these things just have an imprecise theory and some empirical support, but it's not calibrated like some calorimeter. To think you can know the temperature in 1100 with the kind of accuracy that Mann et al present is really absurd.

The problem is there are many temperature proxies, various tree rings, ice cores, all with different results (over 400 of them). Mann et al eventually used 112 (or 159) of them for their paper, which allows for a lot of cherry picking. Further, some series are truncated, some extrapolated, using seemingly innocuous phrases like "if records terminate slightly before the 1980 training interval, they are extended by persistence". That's one bizarre way to treat missing data. They also extrapolated certain time series that did not start or end at convenient times, all with a bias towards their end ('We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period' said one infamous email).

There's lots of fun data issues and rhetorical strategy presented in this book that highlights how real science is done. You have two sides with pretty strong end-views--global warming is unprecedented, or not--and while both claim to simply be interested in the objective truth, after 10+ years invested in one conclusion it defies credulity to think a researcher can address this question objectively any more. Basically, we have two sets of partisan scientists presenting their case, like paid lawyers.

As David Goodstein notes in his recent book On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science, a great quote from the great Richard Feynman: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself —and you are the easiest person to fool.... After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

The winner of this debate will be those who fooled themselves the least. Like a financial economist rigging his backtest, this may generate a publication but in the long run the data are what they are, and its best to have the facts on your side because eventually the facts win. Very few are committing conscious fraud, but rather, fraud of the more common sort, that of where a seemingly innocuous inaccuracy saves tons of explanation in their mind.

As Oscar Wilde noted, education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. Big debates are usually not centered on not singular facts or theories, but their many observations, knowing which are relevant, which are not. Knowing how to weight correctly is mainly an exercise in meticulous research and wisdom, and it especially helps to have correct or at least popular a priori prejudices.



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


28 June, 2010

Is there ANY Greenhouse effect at all?

The idea that CO2 has a "greenhouse" (temperature-raising) effect on the earth is increasingly being mocked as violating basic laws of physics. The latest mocker is Claes Johnson, a mathematics professor at the Kungliga Tekniska hgskolan in Sweden. (Kungliga Tekniska hgskolan translates as Royal Institute of Technology. KTH is one of Sweden's most distinguished universities). See below

AGW Myth of Back Radiation

AGW alarmism is based on an idea of "back radiation" or "re-radiation" from an atmosphere with greenhouse gases, but the physics of this phenomenon remains unclear.

To test if "back radiation" is a real phenomenon, we suggest the following experiment: On a night with moon-light so feeble that you can cannot read a newspaper, place yourself in front of a mirror letting the moonlight reflect from the newspaper to the mirror and back again, and check if you can now read. You will probably find that the paper is still unreadable, as if "back radiation" does not give more light.

To give this experiment theoretical support we consider the mathematics of wave propagation from a source at x=0 (Earth surface) to a receiver at x=1 (atmospheric layer) described by the wave equation (as a model of Maxwell's equations describing light as electromagnetic waves):

U_tt - U_xx = 0 for x in the interval (0,1)

with solution U(x,t) being a combination of waves traveling with velocity +1 and -1 along the x-axis, and with subindices indicating differentiation with respect to space x and time t. The boundary condition at the receiver may take the form

AU_t(1,t) + U_x(1,t) =0

with a positive coefficient A signifying:

* A = 0: soft reflection with U_x(1,t) = 0
* A large : hard reflection with U_t(1,t) = 0
* A = 1: no reflection: transparent absorption of all incoming waves at x = 1.

The basic energy balance is obtained by multiplying the wave equation by U_t and integrating
with respect to x to give:

E_t + AU_t(1,t)^2 = -U_x(0,t)U_t(0,t) = Input Energy.

where E(t) is the energy of the wave over the interval (0,1). Assuming that E(t) stays constant so that energy is no accumulating in the interval (0,1), we have that

Output Energy = A U_t(1,t)^2 = Input Energy.

In particular, with soft reflection with A = 0, the Input Energy is also zero. We learn that it is not possible to "pump the system" by reflection at x = 1: If you change from transparency with A = 1 to reflection with A = 0, the system reacts by refusing to accept Input Energy.

Ergo: Reflection/back radiation cannot increase the insolation to the Earth surface.

(Back radiation seeks support in a description of light as a stream of particles proposed by Newton, which was replaced by Maxwell's wave theory in the late 19th century).


What Does The U.S. National Climate Data Center (NCDC) Say About Global Temperatures & "Tipping" Points?

With all the recent talk about the warmest month, the warmest first 5-months of a calendar year, or the warmest calendar year-to-be (maybe), it's probably a good time to review past NCDC global temperature data in a context that goes beyond the extremely short-term periods of 1 month, 5 months or even a calendar year. As a reminder, it's fair to point out that alarmist-profiteers, such as politicians, global warming scientists, celebrities and reporters, want everyone to focus on short-term movements and the fear of "tipping points," and ignore the more critical, longer-term historical context. (click on any image to enlarge)

Global Temp Trends Panel1
Graphs 1A and 1B reveal that global temperatures have been experiencing a modest flat to cooling trend over recent years. Note that chart 1B actually includes the huge spike in temperatures due to nature's super El Nio - even with that impressive spike, global temperatures barely increased at a +0.60C increase per century. Think about it - that's 13 years of essentially very tepid warming (darn close to being flat) despite all the wild, hotter-than-hell predictions of the likes of John Kerry, Obama, Al Gore and James Hansen. 

Global Temp Trends Panel2
Charts 2A and 2B represent longer-term periods of distinct non-warming and warming periods, per the NCDC data. The great "global-warming" scare is primarily based on the 25 year period ending in 2001 (graph 2B). The temperature increase of a +1.60C per century trend for that recent period is not even close to being "unprecedented" warming, and is barely different than the warming that is shown in graph 3B. A +1.60C per century trend is a temperature blip that will absolutely not cause any of the popular catastrophic claims as eagerly publicized by the vast majority of Democrats/leftists/liberals/progressives.

Global Temp Trends Panel3 Above graphs 3A and 3B show the NCDC instrumental temperature record dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century.  Beginning in 1880, there was an extended cooling period. Graph 3B represents the 33 year warming duration that got its start around 1912. In terms of length and overall warming, the 1912-1944 warming is almost identical to the "Great Warming" of 1977-2001. Taking the above temperature data and putting it in a longer NCDC temperature record view, the below graph provides the needed context. 

NCDC Global Temps Since 1880 When all the warming and cooling periods are combined, there has been overall warming of +0.6C since 1880, which is entirely normal, considering the realism that world temperatures have been on a natural warming trend since the incredible coldness of the Little Ice Age. Even with the large increase of CO2 levels since 1880, the overall warming is nothing extraordinary or dangerous. And just to be clear, the natural cycles of warming and cooling will keep global temperatures from jumping to the ludicrous heights (as the red dots represent on the above chart) that warming alarmist scientists and eco-activists speculate about.
One last graph and note:

NCDC Fabricates Global Warming Did the "Great Warming" of 1977 to 2001 actually occur? All the previous charts are based on the NCDC "adjusted" global temperatures not the raw, original thermometer readings.

As the above chart reveals, the NCDC scientists have made every conceivable effort to adjust more recent temperatures to be warmer, and to make pre-1945 warming cooler. Although it's clear that global warming has taken place, there is a very high likelihood that a significant portion of recent global warming is of a human fabrication. Finally, have real-world temperatures reached a "tipping point"? The real-world facts don't support that hysterical speculation in the least - it's only in a eco-sexual fantasy dream of an Al Gore, and his ilk, where that climax occurs.


Amazongate: the missing evidence (Still missing)

The story of the IPCC’s claims about threats to the Amazon rainforest takes another bizarre turn

Last week the beleaguered global warming lobby was exulting over what it took to be the best news it has had in a long time. A serious allegation, which last January rocked the authority of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was “corrected” as untrue by The Sunday Times, the newspaper which most prominently reported it. The reputation of the IPCC, it seemed, had been triumphantly vindicated. The growing tide of scepticism over climate change had at last been reversed. But this episode leaves many questions unanswered.

The “correction”, gleefully quoted by everyone from the WWF and The New York Times to The Guardian’s George Monbiot related to what was known as “Amazongate”. This was one of the series of controversies which exploded round the IPCC last winter, when it was shown that many of the high-profile claims made in its 2007 report had been based on material produced by environmental activists and campaigning groups rather than on proper, peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

One example, also reported in The Sunday Telegraph, was the IPCC’s much-publicised claim that climate change, leading to a reduction in rainfall, was threatening the survival of “up to 40 per cent” of the Amazon rainforest. The only source the IPCC could cite for this in its report was a document from the environmental advocacy group WWF. But last week The Sunday Times, in its prominent “correction” to its own story, conceded that the IPCC’s claim was “supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence” after all. Not identified, however, was the nature of this peer-reviewed evidence. Where is it?

The story of “Amazon-gate” has unfolded through three stages. Step one was the passage in the IPCC report almost identical to one made in a non-peer-reviewed WWF paper of 2000 on forest fires in the Amazon. Specifically the IPCC stated that “up to 40 per cent of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to only a slight reduction in precipitation”. But the only source the WWF in turn had been able to cite to support this was a paper published in Nature in 1999, from a team led by Dr Daniel Nepstad, formerly employed by the WWF but now the “senior scientist” with another advocacy group closely linked to the WWF, the Woods Hole Research Center. Certainly Nepstad’s paper was peer-reviewed: however its subject was not climate change but the impact on the Amazon rainforest of “logging and fire”. It found that “logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40 per cent of the living biomass of forests”. This had nothing whatever to do with global warming but was cited as the origin of that “up to 40 per cent” figure later used by the WWF and the IPCC.

Step two, when all this was reported last January, was a disclaimer from the WWF, emphasising that its 2000 report did “not say that 40 per cent of the Amazon forest is at risk from climate change”. But it went on to say that the real source for its 2000 paper (which had been “mistakenly omitted”) was another paper, “Fire in the Amazon”. This was also written by Dr Nepstad, as head of yet another advocacy group linked to Woods Hole, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute. Although it was now being suggested that this paper should have been cited as the original source for the IPCC’s claim, it too was not peer-reviewed. Thus, twice over, the IPCC’s claim appears to rest both on non-peer-reviewed science and on studies not related to global warming at all.

So great was the IPCC’s embarrassment over these revelations that the story moved to a third stage. Various scientists, led by Dr Nepstad, suggested further studies which might justify the claim. But an exhaustive trawl through all the scientific literature on this subject by my colleague Dr Richard North (who was responsible for uncovering “Amazongate” in the first place), has been unable to find a single study which confirms the specific claim made by the IPCC’s 2007 report. If one exists we would very much like to see it.

There are several studies based on computer models which attempt to estimate the possible impact of climate change on the Amazon rainforest, but none of these have so far supported that 40 per cent figure. Other researchers in turn have been highly critical of these models, suggesting that they are too crude to replicate the complex workings of the Amazonian climate system and that all observed evidence indicates that the forest is much more resilient to climate fluctuations than the alarmists would have us believe.

Nothing did more to excite attention over the effect of climate change on the rainforest than the exceptional drought of 2005, just when the IPCC’s 2007 report was being compiled. Since then, however, abnormally heavy rainfall in the region has brought disastrous floods to Brazil, both last year and again last week.

In other words there is a real mystery here. Nothing so far made public seems to justify an assertion that the IPCC’s specific claim is “supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence”. In view of all the controversy this issue has aroused over several months, it might seem odd that, if such evidence exists, it hasn’t been produced before. Is it not now a matter of considerable public interest that we should be told what it is?

AS A PERSONAL footnote to this sorry tale, no one crowed more hysterically over this story last week (or got it more wrong) than The Guardian’s George Monbiot. Inter alia, he accused me and Dr North of having been “responsible for more misinformation than any other living journalists. You could write a book on all the stories they have concocted, almost all of which fall apart on the briefest examination.”

I would remind him that, on the only occasion he tried to do this, boasting that it had taken him just “26 seconds” to catch me out, he was soon forced to apologise to his readers that he had got his point hopelessly wrong, and that I was right. Silly old Moonbat should learn when it is wiser to hold his peace.


The FACTS about the Amazon rainforest

Excerpt from Willis Eschenbach

However, all of this, all of the claims and counterclaims, and the models, and Dr. Lewis’s letter, and the cited scientific documents, all run aground on one ugly fact:

The data shows no change in Amazon rainfall in a century of measurements

Figure 3 shows three different ground-based observational datasets, along with the recent Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite data.

Figure 3. Four Amazon rainfall datasets, covering the rectangular area shown in violet in Fig. 2 (2.5N–12.5S, 72.5W–50W). Note the generally good agreement between the four datasets (including the TRMM satellite data)

The main feature of this dataset is its stability. Note the lack of any trend over the last century, and the lack of any large excursions in the rainfall. It stays between two and two and a half metres per year. There are no really wet years, and no really dry years. 95% of the years are within 10% of the average rainfall. There are individual dry years, but no prolonged periods of drought.

So while Dr. Lewis says (correctly) that rainforest can change to savannah, he is not correct that 40% of the Amazon is at risk from a “slight reduction” in rainfall. More to the point, there is no evidence to indicate that we are headed for a reduction in Amazon rainfall, “slight” or otherwise. That is a fantasy based on climate models.

The reality is that despite the globe warming by half a degree or so over the last century, there has been no change in the Amazon rainfall. As usual, the IPCC is taking the most alarmist position possible … and Dr. Lewis is doing all he can to claim that the IPCC alarmism is actually good science.

Unfortunately for both the IPCC and Dr. Lewis, here at the end of a long, twisted, and rainy jungle trail, we find that the facts inconveniently disagree with their claims.


The modellers have learnt nothing

They are still doing what was recognized as bogus at least 30 years ago

If you gave me the following paper after replacing the author’s examples of econometric and energy models with climate models, I could not have told it had been written in 1981.

Ascher, W. (1981). The forecasting potential of complex models. Policy Sciences, 13(3), 247-267. doi:10.1007/BF00138485

Here are some extracts.

On the contrast between bad performance record and large volume of research:
Unless forecasters are completely ignorant of the performance record, or are attracted solely by the promotional advantages of the scientific aura of modeling, they can only be attracted to its potential benefits not yet realized.

On the difficulty of retrospective evaluation of model performance when there are competing scenarios:
When no scenario is designated as most likely, the scenarios must be regarded as exogenous factors, whose likelihoods are not at issue in the modeling exercise. The model produces a set of projections, each posited as correct if the corresponding condition or scenario were to hold, but without implying that any particular one will hold or that some are more likely than others. In this case, the retrospective evaluation of forecast accuracy must proceed by first establishing which condition actually prevailed, and then measure the discrepancy between the projection tied to that condition and the actual level of the predicted trend. If it is still too early to evaluate a set of conditional forecasts retrospectively, the spread of conditional forecasts of the same trend for the same year can be used as one indication of uncertainty or minimum error, but only if the conditional is the same for every forecast of the set.

On using model consensus to judge model validity:
[E]ven the agreement across models need not be an indication of validity; they could all be wrong. For example, all energy models predicting the 1975 levels of U.S. electricity, petroleum, and total energy consumption projected these levels higher than they actually turned out to be. This confident consensus was no guarantee that the models were correct then; any consensus among models’ predictions in the future may be equally misleading.

… [S]imilar models undergoing similar judgmental censorship by modelers holding similar outlooks on the future can so easily reassure all parties that the future is seen with certainty.

On using the fact that models are physically based as an argument for model correctness:
Complex models are formulated by specifying assumptions and hypothesized relationships as explicit, usually mathematical propositions. While this procedure is often very helpful in uncovering inconsistency and vagueness in the initial ideas or verbal formulations, it cannot establish the correctness of the model’s propositions. Models express assumptions, but do not validate them. If the modeler tries to ensure the validity of the model’s propositions by focusing on disaggregated behavior of presumably greater regularity, the problem of reaggregating these behaviors to model overall patterns becomes another potential source of error. If the modeler only includes relationships proven by past experience, there is no guarantee they will hold in the future. There is no procedure or format of model specification that guarantees the validity of this specification.

On the effort required:
Since rigorous, elaborate analysis [of models and their outputs]is time consuming and expensive, there has been a natural tendency for forecasters to pour their efforts into grand, once-and-for-all projects, carried out only infrequently and yet used long after they are produced because the immense effort makes them seem definitive.

On the likelihood of modelers to reconsider:
[A]fter the modeler has spent years developing optimization routines, apparent violations of … assumptions are more likely to be accommodated by patchwork modifications, or disregarded altogether as short-term aberrations, than they are to trigger the abandonment of the model altogether.

… [M]odel revision, which seems to the cynic to be an ad hoc effort to keep a fundamentally misspecified model more-or-less in line with reality, is often regarded by the model builder as the normal routine of science.


New Australian PM won't act on climate without consensus

Which she knows she won't get. Clever: Makes her sound good to the ratbags but costs nothing

Labor failed to convince the public a carbon tax was necessary, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says. Ms Gillard said she was concerned about the government's proposed emissions trading scheme because community consensus had not been achieved.

Asked if she was behind the delay of the ETS because it was hurting Labor, Ms Gillard said she had concerns. "I was concerned that if you were going to do something as big to your economy as put a price on carbon, with the economic transfer that implies... you need a lasting and deep community consensus to do it," Ms Gillard told the Nine Network. "I don't believe we had that last and deep community consensus."

The prime minister said she believed Australia should have a price on carbon. "I will be prepared to argue for a price on carbon... so that we get that lasting and deep community consensus," she said. "But we are not there yet."

Ms Gillard said the government could take practical measures. "I believe in climate change. I believe it's caused by human activity and I believe we have an obligation to act," she said. "And I will be making some statements about some further things we can do to address the challenge of climate change as we work to that lasting and deep community consensus."



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


27 June, 2010

Al Gore forgot about gravity (If he ever knew about it)

Some rather obvious but amusing stuff below. A melting Greenland would NOT raise North Atlantic sea levels. I gather that the post is based on a paper by Mitrovica et al. in Nature 409, 1026 (2001). Whether one icecap would melt and not the other seems improbable a priori but in fact temperature movements are far from uniform across the globe. And a scenario whereby Greenland would melt but not Antarctica could be envisaged. I gather that Antarctica is colder on average than Greenland.

I have tidied up the English below a bit. The German name of the site translates as "Climate Onion", which captures rather well the multi-layered effects at work on the climate

Global sea-level rise is caused by several factors, among which the most important the expansion of the water column due to rising ocean water temperatures and the melting of the polar ice-sheets. Both effects are obvious and do not require further explanation.

However, the shrinking of the polar land-ice masses does not lead to a sea-level rise uniformly distributed over the globe. Quite to the contrary, its fingerprint is substantially heterogeneous. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, most of the sea-level rise would occur in the southern Hemisphere. If, on the other hand, it is the West-Antarctic Ice sheet that collapses, Nature's wisdom would produce a targeted maximum of sea-level rise right in front of the White House. This surprising effect is caused by very well-known physics - gravitational attraction - but it is seldom found in the public discussion of global sea-level rise.

The mechanisms by which this spatial distribution of sea-level response to the collapse of polar ice sheets is not difficult to understand either, albeit its magnitude may be surprising for many of us.

Basically, sea-levels in the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific are affected by the additional gravitational pull of the large ice mass locked on top of Greenland. So Northern levels are a bit higher than they 'should be'. If this ice mass melts, the volume of the global ocean will increase accordingly and thus sea-level would tend to rise on average. But at the same time the gravitational pull that maintained the sea-leve in the Nordic seas will also disappear, and sea-level will tend to drop in those areas close to the present position of the ice-sheets.

The calculation of the final spatial distribution of this gravitational effect is somewhat complex, but can be done. Other effects come into play as well, but their magnitude is just able to slightly modulate the overall fingerprint of the gravitational pull. For instance, melting of the polar ice sheets and the subsequent distribution of water masses over the the whole ocean changes the rotational speed of the Earth - in a similar way as an ice skater turns more slowly when he extends his arms away from his body. This in turn slightly affects sea-level as well

It turns out that for the Arctic Ocean, the gravitational effect overwhelms the increase in ocean volume; so that melting of Greenland ice causes a drop of sea-level in this ocean (see Figure). For Northern Europe, both effects roughly cancel (see the zero isoline separating the dark blue and light blue colors). Sea-level rises unabated in the Southern Hemisphere. In the case of Antarctic ice melting, we roughly find a mirror image, with sea-level dropping in the Southern Ocean and rising in the Northern Hemisphere. For the case of melting of ice sitting on the West-Antarctic peninsula, the maximum sea-level rise occurs in the Western North Atlantic.

Greenland glaciers and glaciers on the Antarctica Peninsula- the area in the Antarctic continent at greatest risk of melting, may react in different ways to overall warming. West Antarctic glaciers terminate below sea-level and thus are exposed to a much greater degree to ocean heat flux and warmer water temperatures. It is therefore possible that the West Antarctic Ice sheet may turn to be less stable to higher temperatures than Greenland. On the other hand, temperatures are projected to rise more in the Arctic region than over Antarctica, so that in this end it is not quite certain which one of the polar ice sheets will be the major contributor to the ocean mass. This introduces further uncertainties to sea-level projections at regional scales.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

This cooling seems pretty global

Heavy snow for Europe's glaciers plus more Southern Hemisphere resorts open. Not mentioned below is recent unusually cold weather in Western Australia

# Up to 30cm (a foot) of new snow so far today around Queenstown's ski areas.

# Up to 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow in the Alps.

# Second Californian ski area to open in July.

# Cairngorm in Scotland wraps up seven month season.

# Argentina's resort start to open and more snow in Chile and South Africa. reports that more of Europe's glacier ski areas are opening and that they, along with the centres already open, are benefitting from heavy snowfalls in recent days.

More ski areas have also been opening in the southern hemisphere, where resorts in New Zealand are reporting up to 25cm of new snow so far today. In addition a third US area has announced plans to open its slopes in July.

There have been low temperatures and heavy snow on glaciers in the Alps in the past few days. With all three summer ski areas now open in France, this means 10 areas are offering powder snow conditions on their slopes at the moment!

In Austria the Hintertux glacier has reported 45cm (18 inches) of new snow it has a 590m vertical with 20km of pistes open, and a (6.5 foot) base. The Dachstein glacier has a210cm (7 foot) base and is reporting powder conditions. It's beginner park and super park are both open.

The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has also reopened, reporting another 5cm (two inches) of fresh snow on Tuesday, on top of weekend falls and a full 750 metres of skiable vertical.

The Mlltal glacier will re-open this Sunday, 27 June at 8am with about 9 km of groomed slopes open daily to 4pm through to the end of August. The centre currently reports up to 3.6m (12 foot) snow depths on the glacier.

Italy will also be up to four summer ski areas open by the weekend when Cervinia re-opens with fresh snow. It will join the still-open Presena glacier above Passo Tonale where just two advanced to expert runs are open, as well as Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, which has reported 20cm of new snow in two falls over the past few days.

In Switzerland it's still only Zermatt, Europe's highest ski area, which has 8km of runs open.

In France the ski lifts began running again at the weekend at Tignes on the Grande Motte glacier and in neighbouring Val d'Isere which joined Les 2 Alpes which re-opened a week ago.

In Tignes there's 20km of piste and a giant terrain park open, the snow base is 120cm (four feet) and there's been another 5cm of fresh snow. The slopes are open from 7:15am to 1pm, and located at an altitude ranging from 3,000 to 3,456 metres. The glacier features 12 ski lifts and can be accessed in seven minutes by the underground funicular.

Les 2 Alpes has 80cm (2.6 feet) of snow at 2600m and 2.8m (over 9 feet) up at 3200m with 12 slopes and the terrain park open at one of Europe's largest summer ski areas.

The only other places to ski in Europe are in Norway, where three glacier ski areas are open at Folgefonn with up to four metres of snow lying, Galdhoppigen with up to five metres of snow lying and Stryn with up to 4.5 metres of snow lying.

In Scotland more than 60 skiers took to the slopes at CairnGorm Mountain on the summer solstice on Monday 21st June 2010 to enjoy some midsummer skiing on the snow still lying there in the Ptarmigan bowl.

They were able to take advantage of the two rope tows which had been set up there by the resort's operators CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. Skiers had travelled from as far away as the Isle of Mull in order to be able to say that they had skied at midsummer at CairnGorm.

The 21st was the 147th day of skiing at CairnGorm since the season started on 28 November 2009 and brings to 145,007 the total number of skier days at the resort in what by any account has been an extraordinary season. There were 23 days when skiing was not possible due to high winds or access blocked by snow.

Last year 65,000 skiers visited the resort and only three years ago they had their worst season ever with only 38,000 skiers.

In North America the ski season ended a weekend later than expected in Utah when Snowbird decided to open last weekend after all, extending their 2009/10 season to 189 total days....

Conditions at most ski areas in Chile are looking good after the centres there reported receiving up to two feet (60cm) of snow in the past week, most of it just before the weekend. Chapa Verde has a 60cm (two foot) base and Chapelco 50cm (20 inches).

However Valle Nevado and the South American ' three Valleys' that surround it have some of the best conditions on the continent with more than 1.6m (over five feet) of accumulated snowfall to date. Portillo, which delayed its opening by a week, is now on schedule to open this weekend.

In southern Africa there's snow sports as well as World Cup football. Africa's Tiffindell is open for skiing and Afriski in Lesotho has had more new snow taking its base depth to 65cm (2.2 feet) with a 400m long slope open.

In Australia there's been no new natural snowfall for over a week now but temperatures are continuing to stay quite low so most resorts with snowmaking are making more, and resorts like Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Perisher have 40 or 50cm (16-20 inches) of snow on snowmaking areas, Thredbo has a little less.

More ski areas have been opening in New Zealand. Treble Cone, which has received excellent pre-season snow, will open tomorrow (Thursday 24 June) with the first lift running at 8.30am. There'll be Amisfield bubbles for the first 150 skiers on the lifts. Whakapapa is scheduled to open on Saturday 26th June.


Ozone, Ice Caps and Unintended Consequences

by Doug L. Hoffman

Hoffman makes a good point below about how CFC restrictions were mandated without a full understanding of the effects, but I hope he is accepting the shrinkage in the ozone hole "for the sake of the argument" only. As far as I can see, the fluctuations in the ozone hole in the 20 years since restrictions were in force are at best a random walk -- with the hole biggest quite recently: in 2006!

One of the central points presented in The Resilient Earth is the fundamental immaturity of climate science and how unreasonable it is to ask for accurate predictions working from the current state of both climate theory and available data. We used the formulation of the three pillars of science—theory, experiment and computation—as the framework of our argument. As an example why we take this stand consider a recent article in the journal Science.

A new study, appearing in the June 13th issue of Science, has found that the healing of the ozone layer, which is projected to occur sometime in the second half of the 21st century, may significantly affect the climate in Antarctica, and therefore, the global climate.

The Montreal Protocol, signed by 191 countries, helped phase out CFC production worldwide by 1996. Observations over the past few years indicate that ozone depletion has largely halted and is now expected to fully reverse. The ozone hole over Antarctica is closing and the climate of the Southern Hemisphere may change as a consequence, reversing the cooling trend seen there over the last 20-30 years. How does this help prove our case that climate science is immature and not able to provide the confident predictions of impending global warming and climatic disaster put forth by the IPCC and other pundits?

CFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, having an effect on the atmosphere similar to CO2 or methane. Basically, CFCs should cause the atmosphere to warm but, by destroying part of the ozone layer, they have had the opposite effect on Antarctica, causing that continent to cool instead. And now, because reducing CFC emissions is allowing the ozone layer to reform, removing CFCs is projected to cause more warming—exactly the opposite effect that was expected. So here is a linkage between chemical compounds in the atmosphere that had not been previously understood. In other words, the theory was incomplete. But that is not all.

The projections from the measured data, the experiment pillar, does not provide a clear picture of how fast the changes will take place or how significant they will be. In their prediction of future climate, many IPCC models did not consider the expected ozone recovery and its potential impacts on climate change. Other models that try to model the ozone changes predict that the Antarctic ozone hole will achieve full recovery in the second half of this century, which may have profound impacts on the surface winds and on other aspects of the Earth's climate, including surface temperatures, locations of storm tracks, extent of dry zones, amount of sea ice, and ocean circulation. The data are inconclusive and the models disagree.

“Our results suggest that stratospheric ozone is important for the Southern Hemisphere climate change, and ought to be more carefully considered in the next set of IPCC model integrations,” said Seok-Woo Son, lead-author of the study and a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). Meaning that the current IPCC models, the ones that all the global warming predictions are based on, are not correct. You can read more about this from the Science Daily website here.

As a result of this paper's findings we can say that climate theory was found to be incomplete, the data were inconclusive, and the various climate models don't agree but need to be updated to reflect the new findings. And as often happens when dealing the the complex system that regulates Earth's climate, the result of one human action seems to be having an effect opposite from the predicted. This points out a final point about predictions made by scientists—no computer model can predict the unforeseen, unintended consequences of future human actions. Many times an action is taken (eliminate CFC emissions) in order to achieve a result (save the ozone layer) and ends up having an unexpected side effect (warming Antarctica). Now consider that there are thousands of papers published in scores of journals every week—what new gaps in our understanding will be uncovered next? Do you still think that the IPCC can accurately predict what Earth's climate will do over the next 100 years?


Global Tropical Storm Days

Discussing: Wang, B., Yang, Y., Ding, Q.-H., Murakami, H. and Huang, F. 2010. Climate control of the global tropical storm days (1965-2008). Geophysical Research Letters 37: 10.1029/2010GL042487.


The authors write that "the impact of the rising sea surface temperature (SST) on tropical cyclone (TC) activity is one of the great societal and scientific concerns," and that "with the observed warming of the tropics of around 0.5C over the past four to five decades, detecting the observed change in the TC activity may shed light on the impact of the global warming on TC activity."

What was done

In pursuit of their ultimate objective, Wang et al. examined cross-basin spatial-temporal variations of TC storm days for the Western North Pacific (WNP), the Eastern North Pacific (ENP), the North Atlantic (NAT), the North Indian Ocean (NIO), and the Southern Hemisphere Ocean (SHO) over the period 1965-2008, for which time interval pertinent satellite data were obtained from the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center for the WNP, NIO and SHO, and from the U.S. NASA's National Hurricane Center for the NAT and ENP.

What was learned

The five researchers report that "over the period of 1965-2008, the global TC activity, as measured by storm days, shows a large amplitude fluctuation regulated by the El Nio-Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, but has no trend, suggesting that the rising temperature so far has not yet [had] an impact on the global total number of storm days," implying that "the spatial variation of SST, rather than the global mean temperature, may be more relevant to understanding the change of the global storm days."

What it means

Contrary to the climate-alarmist claim that global warming increases tropical storm activity on a global basis, the results of this study reveal that long-held contention to still be without merit, even with more than four decades of pertinent data in hand.


Climate science after the ‘hockey stick’ affair

The use and abuse of a single graph to justify action on climate change shows the need for healthy scepticism

By AW Montford ("Bishop Hill")

From the moment it appeared in 1999, it was clear the ‘hockey stick’ graph was going to be very, very important. The graph, which appeared in a paper by US climatologist Michael Mann and others published in 1999, is a reconstruction of global temperatures over the past thousand years. Since for most of that period there were no weather stations monitoring temperature, a variety of proxy temperature measures, like tree rings, needed to be used.

Two things are striking about the graph. Firstly, the period from the year 1000 right through to the mid-nineteenth century shows relatively steady temperatures, despite the widespread belief that there was a ‘medieval warm period’ from around about 950 to 1250 AD. Secondly, the temperatures in Mann’s graph lurch sharply upwards - hence the ‘hockey stick’ nickname - particularly during the twentieth century, suggesting that the world had been getting sharply warmer and would continue to do so.

Within a week of the graph’s publication there was an article about it in the New York Times. This was pretty amazing considering Michael Mann, the lead author of the paper, had only received his PhD a few months before. A couple of years later, it turned up in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), appearing five or six times, full size, full colour. It was fairly clear that the hockey-stick graph was important.

There was a BBC report some years later in which the reporter explained that it was really quite hard to overestimate how important the graph has been. In Canada, for example, the government even sent a leaflet out to every home in the country showing the conclusions of the graph: that current warming temperatures were historically unprecedented. That indicates how important, how influential this piece of research was. Indeed, it has been cited more than possibly any other paper in the field.

But then, in 2002/2003, a Canadian geologist called Stephen McIntyre came on to the scene. Having been a recipient of one of the Canadian government’s leaflets, he just thought the graph looked a bit, well, odd. So he went through the original research, and because of its rather dramatic shape showing steady temperatures for centuries and centuries and then a sudden lurch upwards in the twentieth century, McIntyre thought this just all seemed a bit dodgy.

This was partly due to McIntyre’s professional background in mining: in mining, the hockey-stick graph is a familiar phenomenon. It is a way for mining companies to encourage people to invest in them, so it probably set his alarm bells ringing.

Now McIntyre was to find two things wrong with Mann’s hockey-stick graph. The first was that the data behind the graph was inappropriate. Most temperature reconstructions use a very small number of tree-ring series. Mann’s hockey stick was rather different in that he used a much larger number, but the important tree-ring series within it were from one particular kind of tree called a bristlecone pine which grows for hundreds, possibly thousands of years and can be found in western America.

The problem, however, was that it was known that this kind of tree showed a growth spurt in the twentieth century, which meant that the pattern of the tree rings effectively had a hockey-stick shape. This was awkward since it was widely acknowledged that this spurt was not being driven by climate. Remarkably, one of Mann’s co-authors had even admitted this in a later paper, stating that the twentieth-century growth spurt was a mystery, but it was not climatic. So these tree rings were known to be problematic.

Following further research in 2004, McIntyre discovered a fragment of code from Mann’s statistical method – principal components analysis – on one of Mann’s own websites. There was an error in it, the effect of which was to overemphasise the bristlecone pines. So, while you had hundreds of tree-ring series, the only ones that mattered were the ones that were hockey-stick shaped.

This meant that it didn’t matter what data you put into Mann’s algorithm, if there was one series within it that had a hockey-stick shape there is a strong chance that, depending on the number of other series, a hockey-stick graph would emerge as the result. The algorithm was heavily weighted in favour of hockey sticks. It effectively disregarded any data that conflicted with, or contradicted, the hockey-stick finding.

It is now agreed – and expert panels have since looked at this – that the bristlecone pines are inappropriate as a proxy measure of temperature and that the statistical methodology used was biased.

Still, the argument that is now given as to why the hockey-stick graph was okay is that the other temperature reconstructions that have been created give broadly the same shape. It is debatable just how similar that shape is – many of them aren’t hockey-stick shaped at all, showing very high temperatures in the medieval period. They are more U-shaped, if you like. But the other factor here is that all these other temperature reconstructions use the bristlecone pines as well. Now, if you’ve got bristlecones in amongst a small number of tree-sing series, then you will invariably get a hockey-stick result.

So, to summarise: Mann’s method used a very large number of tree-ring series, but his statistical method ignored anything that was not hockey-stick shaped. In other reconstructions, fewer sets of data are used, but as a result the dubious bristlecone pine data has a greater impact on the final result.

McIntyre put his case against the hockey-stick graph down on paper in 2005, leading to quite a furore. The argument continues to this day. The IPCC is still trying to stand by Mann’s work, probably because it oversold the hockey-stick graph in the past and now finds it quite difficult to step back from it. It is even included in the Fourth Assessment Report of 2007. The IPCC is maintaining this argument that yes, there may have been problems with the statistics and with the data, but it gives broadly the same answer as the other temperature reconstructions. My impression is that the IPCC would like to drop it gently now without ever admitting what it got wrong.

After Climategate

In the wake of Climategate in late 2009, when a large number of emails and data from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia found their way into the public domain - leading to some fairly embarrassing revelations about the working methods and attitudes of both CRU researchers and their collaborators elsewhere - the climatology community is in a bit of a state of flux. There are people within that community who are maybe just shifting position a little and trying to put a bit of distance between themselves and the more advocacy-based scientists. Whether that leads to an eventual disowning of the hockey-stick graph itself remains to be seen.

I think from this point on we will hear far less about scientific consensus from the climatology community and far more about uncertainty and dissenting views. This is not to say we have heard the end of global warming – there’s too much money floating around for people just to drop it. Climatology has had huge amounts of money flung at it while the big energy companies have investments in renewable technology based on farming enormous subsidies.

These financial pressures are key to distorting the debate about climate. The problem for many climatologists is that they cannot come out and say that global warming isn’t a problem anymore because so much of their funding depends upon it. This is also one of the problems that the IPCC has: the very people who can answer the question on the future direction of climate also depend on the answer to that being that ‘yes, it’s a problem’ to continue receiving funding. It is a difficult problem, and it is one that you get when you have government-funded science.

As for McIntyre, although he is demonised as a Big Oil-funded troublemaker by green activists and advocacy-based scientists, he’s proven very difficult to attack because of his position: he does believe global warming is real, and he does think it is a problem. At the same time, he’s just the type of guy that is going to go out and find the truth no matter where it lies. There is a story that upon hearing the argument that if the hockey-stick graph is wrong, then the planet could be much more sensitive to rises in CO2 levels than previously thought, and therefore global warming could be even worse, McIntyre just shrugged his shoulders and said: ‘If that’s the answer, then that’s the answer and we’ll just have to find it out.’ His integrity as someone who will pursue the truth wherever it may lie is very hard to question.

In the aftermath of McIntyre’s work and Climategate, there is a growing middle ground where people have decided that everyone bashing one another just isn’t helping to clarify matters. What we have to do is follow the science. And that means that we have to be open, we have to be questioning, and scientists have to engage with people outside their own fields.


Addicted to oil? What a dumb idea

The oil-addiction theorists are really disgusted by the desires of stupid, greedy, uppity consumers

We’re addicted to oil. It’s official. The Western world is hooked on the black stuff and Americans are the biggest energy junkies of them all.

This oft-quoted, little-criticised idea has been around for years, but there has been a veritable addiction-to-oil blowout since the BP-hired drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon, sank in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April, killing 11 rig workers and depositing tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the sea on a daily basis.

The most high-profile airing of the oil-addiction idea came in President Barack Obama’s televised Oval Office address to the nation last week. ‘For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered’, he told viewers. ‘For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked - not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.’

The addicted-to-oil thesis is not a dry discussion of energy policy - rather it is a pointed attack on consumers. Underpinning this idea is a sense that relatively well-off Westerners are too stupid and too greedy to realise that their use of oil is a bad thing.

So Gregor Peter Schmitz, writing in Spiegel International last week, tried to give some context to the risky business of deepwater oil production. ‘[T]here is also a simple reason that BP and other oil companies are drilling at depths of up to 1,500 metres (4,900 feet), far from the coast. They are servicing a greed for cheap energy and resources that fuels 250million automobiles on America’s roads, keeps the country’s countless air-conditioners running and provides water for fantasy cities in the middle of deserts. There are 300million Americans - around five per cent of the global population - but they consume around 25 per cent of the world’s oil.’

Schmitz clearly regards Americans as petulant children, unwilling to accept the painful medicine of reducing oil consumption. He also criticises the fact that Obama himself is pretty vague about actually introducing incentives and taxes to move away from oil. Schmitz puts this down to the electoral disaster that befell former president Jimmy Carter when he told the US electorate that they had to reduce their energy usage: ‘That’s not the kind of thing Americans want to hear. In 1980, voters drove Carter out of office. In his speech, Carter called for 20 per cent of the United States’ energy to come from solar power by 2000 and for an end to dependence on foreign oil. Today, only one per cent of the energy America consumes comes from solar power, and two-thirds of its oil is imported from abroad.’

Yet Schmitz was left standing like a novice driving some solar-powered electric trike next to that Michael Schumacher of Grand Prix-level tree-hugging, anti-consumer bullshit, Naomi Klein. In an article published in the Guardian last weekend, Klein declared that the Gulf oil spill is nature’s slap in the face to us uppity humans who had the conceit to believe we could shape the world to meet our needs. ‘This Gulf coast crisis is about many things – corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it’s about this: our culture’s excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us.’

Klein argues that until the year 1600, or thereabouts, people saw the planet as a living organism, as Mother Earth, which provided for us but could also punish us, too. Then along came the idea that we could control nature, summed up by England’s quintessential Renaissance Man, Francis Bacon. Nature, he said, could be ‘put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man’.

Against Bacon’s rational, human-centred worldview, Klein offers us mysticism. She praises those ‘standing not in wonder at humanity’s power to reshape nature, but at our powerlessness to cope with the fierce natural forces we unleash. There is something else too. It is the feeling that the hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us. And thanks to BP’s live camera feed, we can all watch the Earth’s guts gush forth, in real time, 24 hours a day.’

Klein’s view is part of a veritable carnival of irrationality surrounding the Gulf oil spill. But while only the most foolish petrolhead would argue that there are no downsides to using oil - it does cause pollution, getting hold of it is sometimes tricky and dangerous, and it will probably become increasingly scarce in decades to come - there is a serious need for a sense of perspective. America uses so much oil because it is the wealthiest, most developed nation on Earth. Americans live in a remarkable variety of conditions from the freezing winters of Alaska to the baking heat of the Arizona desert. Yet they are able to survive with high living standards thanks to heating, transport, refrigeration, agriculture and water supplies made possible by human ingenuity - and fossil fuels.

When we find a viable alternative means of powering all these things, fossil fuels will become a minority interest. The reason that we have not done so already is because the alternatives - like solar, wind and wave power - have proven to be technically difficult to implement and considerably more expensive than fossil fuels. Realistically, we are a long way from being able to stop using oil, coal and gas.

In this light, it should be clear that our use of oil is not an ‘addiction’; we are simply making the most of a fantastic natural resource. We might as well say that we are addicted to food because we eat every day. Perhaps as a writer, Klein is ‘addicted’ to her computer keyboard because she uses it so frequently. A more sensible way of looking at the situation is that she uses the computer keyboard because it is a useful tool to enable her to share her thoughts with the world. Then again, perhaps Klein submits her articles to the Guardian by smearing tree sap on to some homemade papyrus and then gets the finished scroll delivered to London by a team of friendly dolphins.

The use of the term ‘addiction’ is no accident. It is an attempt to psychologise and pathologise what is in fact the attempt to satisfy perfectly rational human desires using the tools and resources available to us. The spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a significant problem which will take a lot of human energy - and a plenty of fossil-fuel energy - to sort out. Both the companies involved and the US government must take responsibility for doing that. But the most dangerous pollution of all is the hypocrisy of the relatively wealthy, who damn the very things that enable them to live so comfortably and who would happily condemn the rest of us to a life of shivering immobility.



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


26 June, 2010

A model way of conning us all

The article below by centre/Left economist Ross Gittins is about models of the Australian economy but everything said is at least as true of climate models

A new prime minister but the same old problem: the mining industry claims the resource super-profits tax would damage it and the economy, whereas the government claims it would be great for the industry and the economy.

And both sides have "independent modelling" to support their claims.

If that doesn't make you sceptical about the use of modelling in the political debate, it should. But if you need more, try this: the two seemingly diametrically opposed modelling exercises were undertaken by the same commercial firm, KPMG.

It's taking people - even those close to the political action - a long time to wake up to the truth that the use of modelling in political arguments is just a way of conning the electorate. The less you know about economic models and how they work, the more impressed you are by their seemingly authoritative results.

The economy is a highly complex mechanism, which economists don't understand all that well. When you construct a mathematical model of the economy, you end up with a hugely oversimplified version of the real thing.

Often you can't test what you'd like to test - and what the punters assume you tested - because the model isn't sophisticated enough or because the data series you'd need don't exist. You end up with a model full of "proxies" (the best substitutes you can find). You can't model shades of grey, so you make do with black and white.

In other words, you have to make lots of assumptions. Economists don't know how the economy works; they just have rival theories about how it works. So their models are based on one theory or another.

The results thrown up by models are based heavily on the assumptions used. Use this set of assumptions, get that result. Use a different set, get a different result. Tell them what results you'd like and competent modellers can find the assumptions that produce what you want.

Economists don't accept the results of someone else's modelling until they know what assumptions were used and decide whether they consider them realistic or consistent with their own prior beliefs. Ideally, they want to determine which particular assumptions are driving the results.

Honest use of modelling results highlights the key assumptions used. But that is never the way modelling results are used in the political debate. Rather, the people who paid for the modelling quote a version of the results as impressive as possible and quite unqualified. The assumptions on which the results are based are never mentioned. They're trying to con the uninitiated.

The government paid KPMG Econtech to model the long-run effects on the economy of the resource super-profits tax and the cut in the rate of company tax. The government says the results were a "reform dividend" of a 0.7 per cent increase in long-run gross domestic product and a long-run increase in real average after-tax wages of 1.1 per cent.

If the long run is 15 or 20 or 30 years (we're not told), that's a pretty modest dividend. And the key assumption? Apparently, that the changes would make the tax system more economically efficient (because economic theory says they would).

Get it? If you thought the modelling was testing whether the changes would be good for the economy, you were conned. All the modelling tells us is by how much the changes would benefit the economy if they're economically efficient as assumed . given all the other assumptions.


Some good advice that the Oxburgh inquiry ignored

Michael Kelly is Professor of Electronics at Cambridge. The paper records Professor Kelly's impressions as he reads through some CRU papers, the papers that Oxburgh was supposed to evaluate

Andrew Montford has succeeded in prying some important documents from the Oxburgh “inquiry”. These raise several important issues. The attachments here include Michael Kelly’s notes – see page 81 on.

These offer a few glimpses of sanity that were suppressed by Oxburgh in the “report”. Here is an interesting comment about IPCC (leaving aside, for now, the lack of “humility” in Jones’ exchanges with Mann):
Up to and throughout this exercise, I have remained puzzled how the real humility of the scientists in this area, as evident in their papers, including all these here, and the talks I have heard them give, is morphed into statements of confidence at the 95% level for public consumption through the IPCC process. This does not happen in other subjects of equal importance to humanity, e.g. energy futures or environmental degradation or resource depletion. I can only think it is the ‘authority’ appropriated by the IPCC itself that is the root cause.

Good question. How does this “morphing” take place, especially when the scientists in question act as Lead Authors and Coordinating Lead Authors of IPCC. Kelly continues:
(4) Our review takes place in a very febrile atmosphere. If we give a clean bill of health to what we regard as sound science without qualifying that very narrowly, we will be on the receiving end of justifiable criticism for exonerating what many people see as indefensible behaviour. Three of the five MIT scientists who commented in the week before Copenhagen on the leaked emails, (see!video/730) thought that they saw prima facie evidence of unprofessional activity.

“Receiving end of justifiable criticism”. I presume that Kelly is staying pretty quiet these days.

Kelly previously made a complaint that would not be opposed by the severest IPCC critic:
(i) I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of ‘computer’ experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real ‘real data’ might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models! That is turning centuries of science on its head.

(ii) I think it is easy to see how peer review within tight networks can allow new orthodoxies to appear and get established that would not happen if papers were wrtten for and peer reviewed by a wider audience. I have seen it happen elsewhere. This finding may indeed be an important outcome of the present review.

It would have been an “important outcome of the present review” had this finding appeared in the Oxburgh “report”. Or here;
My overriding impression that this is a continuing and valiant attempt via a variety of statistical methods to find possible signals in very noisy and patchy data when several confounding factors may be at play in varying ways throughout the data. It would take an expert in statistics to comment on the appropriateness of the various techniques as they are used. The descriptions are couched within an internal language of dendrochronology, and require some patience to try and understand.

I find no evidence of blatant malpractice. That is not to say that, working within the current paradigm, choices of data and analysis approach might be made in order to strain to get more out of the data than a dispassionate analysis might permit.

The line between positive conclusions and the null hypothesis is very fine in my book.

I worry about the sheer range and the ad hoc/subjective nature of all the adjustments, homogenisations etc of the raw data from different places


Canada's mad Jap is another Greenie who doesn't like answering questions

The genial public mask is not the reality

As we walked in to Cafe Crepe, I happened to notice Dr. David Suzuki sitting alone, having a bite to eat. For three years, I have been writing letters (see below) and trying unsuccessfully to communicate with Dr. Suzuki so I thought that perhaps I could just briefly introduce myself and give him a friendly handshake to go along with my name. As politely and as respectfully as I know how, I approached Dr. Suzuki to take the liberty of introducing myself. Actually, we have met before but that was years ago at the opening ceremonies of the Kitasoo/Xais-Xais cultural center in Klemtu.

"Dr. Suzuki, I wonder if I might introduce myself," I said, or something like that. "I'm Vivian, Vivian Krause," I said. He kindly stood up to shake my hand, I believe, but my name didn't seem to ring a bell so I added, "I've been trying to write you letters." Still, he didn't seem to place my name so I added, "I have a web-site, 'Fair Questions,' " I mentioned, adding that I would really appreciate it if I could speak with him or meet with him.

Then, he placed me, or so it seemed. "You're the fish farmer," he said. I had barely begun to explain that yes, I used to work in fish farming - seven years ago - but before I could say much Dr. Suzuki looked me straight in the eye and started telling me to f**k off. Not just once. Then, suddenly, he seemed to catch himself, and quickly sat down.

I was so stunned, I was speechless (which doesn't happen very often).

Dr. Suzuki went back to eating his crepe, or whatever he was eating.

I was rather offended. My camera happened to be hanging around my neck as just minutes earlier, I had been taking photos of my daughter and her girlfriends. As it turned out, I picked up my camera and took a photo, maybe two, I won't know how many I took until I get the film developed.

At that point, Dr. Suzuki stood up again and came towards me. He seemed very angry, maybe even furious. "Look," he said, "What do you want? " he asked me, twice, I believe. He was yelling at me by this time - or so it felt. He seemed so angry that I was afraid that he was going to hit me so I started to back up - which is not very easy to do at Cafe Crepe on Granville. I told him that what I want to know is how much American money his foundation has received, how many millions, or perhaps tens of millions. U.S. tax returns that I have seen show that U.S. foundations have paid about $US 10 Million to the David Suzuki Foundation.

"Why?" he asked me, adding, "What do you care?"

I answered Dr. Suzuki's question by saying that the reason that I care is because hundreds of people have lost their jobs because of his crusade against salmon farming. That isn't the only reason that I care but it is the reason that I happened to mention. (Another reason that I care is that with his false claims about PCBs in farmed salmon, and sea lice, it seems to me that Dr. Suzuki has sold our country up the river on the safety and sustainability of salmon farming, but I didn't get into that).

The reason that I care so much about jobs is because not all of us have a house on the water in Point Grey, another property in Toronto, another one in Australia, and another one on Quadra Island, like David Suzuki. Some of us have to struggle just to pay for one home that we don't even own - let alone a university education for our kids. When I worked in salmon farming in 2002 and 2003, a woman at the Englewood fish processing plant in Beaver Cove told me, "If I don't earn it, my son doesn't play hockey." That plant has since been closed. I just can't forget about her and her son.

Dr. Suzuki then told me, "Look, I'm just here for my granddaughter's graduation." That didn't surprise me. His granddaughter has been at our home on more than one occasion. Dr. Suzuki's granddaughter and my daughter are classmates. I had no intention of upsetting his evening or ours so I asked him if perhaps I could call him next week, or if he would prefer to call me. "No," he said, sitting down, looking into his plate again as his wife arrived at the table.


I Demand a Recount!

By Kenneth P. Green

It says something about the due diligence of Warmist ideologues when they can't even get a simple enemies list right

A new "study" (and I use the term lightly), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, attempts to counter the steady decline in the public's belief in scary climate projections by marginalizing those scientists who disagree with the "consensus" view of climate science defined by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. One of the co-authors of the new study on "Expert Credibility in Climate Change" is none other than Stephen H. Schneider, the Stanford biologist who famously told Discover Magazine that, in order to prompt action on climate change, "we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

The new study examines the publications and other activities related to climate science and climate policy of 1,372 climate researchers (myself included) and sorts them into two bins, one that is supposedly "convinced by the evidence" which led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to conclude that it is "very likely" that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for "most" of the "unequivocal" warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the 20th century," and another group that is "unconvinced by the evidence." One qualifies for the "unconvinced group" by having "signed statements strongly dissenting from the views of the IPCC."

Now, I was not surprised to find that I made the "unconvinced" list. But I was surprised to find out that they think I'm Canadian (I'm not), that I still work at the Fraser Institute (I don't), and that I have only published four-count' em, four!-publications on climate change!

Apparently, the researchers didn't feel the need to do much diligence when looking for publications of the sampled population. In my case, they probed Google Scholar searching for "K. Green." As I've virtually never published under "K. Green," it's not surprising they'd come up with so little. Just searching Google Scholar with my full name of "Kenneth P. Green" would have gotten them this list of 13 climate-related publications, while searching for "Kenneth Green" associated with one of my places of employment would have gotten them this list of 113 publications, about half of which are mine. Of course, working in think tanks rather than academia, the vast majority of my publications are in the "grey literature," which Google Scholar doesn't seem to capture fully, but which the head of the IPCC recently defended for inclusion in their assessment reports-the very documents claimed to define the scientific consensus. According to my AEI bio, I've put out more than 50 publications on climate change just since 2006. Googling ""Kenneth P. Green" "climate" comes up with 179,000 hits!

So, call me a skeptic if you will, but at least give me the credit I deserve. Coming in at only 319 out of about 500 skeptics? Absurd! I demand a recount!


An attack of humility from Warmist observers of Arctic ice

More sea ice appeared than anticipated, nearing its mean level from 1979-2007. But then ice levels plummeted through May and into June. Scientists have never seen the Arctic with less ice at this time of year in the three decades they've been able to measure it, and they expect below average ice for the rest of the year.

But looking ahead, the ultimate amount of sea ice melt is hard to determine. Some trends, like the long-term warming of the Arctic and overall decreases in the thickness of sea ice, argue for very low levels of sea ice. But there are countervailing factors, too: The same weather pattern that led to higher-than-normal temperatures in the Arctic this year is also changing the circulation of sea ice, which could keep it in colder water and slow the melting.

"For this date, it's the lowest we've seen in the record, but will that pattern hold up? We don't know. The sea ice system surprises us," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The loss of summer sea ice over decades is one of the firmest predictions of climate models: Given the current patterns of fossil fuel use and the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, sea-ice-free summers in the arctic are a virtual certainty by the end of century, and possibly much sooner. As the globe heats up, the poles are disproportionately affected. Warmer temperatures melt ice, revealing the dark sea water that had previously been covered. That changes the albedo, or reflectivity, of the area, allowing it to absorb more heat. That, along with many other feedback loops makes predicting change in the Arctic immensely difficult.

In 2007, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic declined rapidly. The drop from the previous year was so precipitous that it garnered worldwide attention and media coverage. In the last couple of years, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic, measured by the amount of square miles it covers, has recovered. This series of events, which underscored the year-to-year variability of the measurement, has made researchers cautious about describing events in the Arctic.

"In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that," Serreze said. "There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it."


Swedes go nuke

Oh the pain!

Sweden's parliament has overturned a 30-year ban on building nuclear reactors. The legislation will allow construction of up to ten from next year to replace the ageing ones that still produce 40 per cent of the country's electricity.

The vote was passed on a majority of two, with 174 voting for and 172 against.

Efforts to combat global warming have led to a revival of interest in nuclear power. Countries such as Britain, Italy and Finland are also planning to bring new reactors on line. Opinion polls now suggest most Swedes favour keeping nuclear plants.

But the vote does not necessarily secure a future for the country's reactors. The centre-left opposition, currently running neck and neck with the ruling centre-right in polls before a September election, will rescind the new law if they win the vote, said Tomas Eneroth, Social Democratic spokesman on energy.

In 1980, Swedes voted in a referendum to phase out existing reactors by 2010. Fears of nuclear power were then heightened by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

In 1997, however, the Scandinavian country scrapped plans for a phase-out of atomic energy, citing the need for cost-effective power for its large manufacturing and processing industries.



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


25 June, 2010

A "consensus" of one!

The IPCC gets more amusing by the day, a Czech climate skeptic blog, has posted today an interesting article "Judithgate: The IPCC was only one Solar Physicist" (google rough translation). Her name is Judith Lean. On the basis of this "consensus of one" solar physicist, the IPCC proclaimed solar influences upon the climate to be minimal.

Objection to this was raised by the Norwegian government as shown in the AR4 second draft comments below (and essentially dismissed by the IPCC): "I would encourage the IPCC to [re-]consider having only one solar physicist on the lead author team of such an important chapter. In particular since the conclusion of this section about solar forcing hangs on one single paper in which J. Lean is a coauthor. I find that this paper, which certainly can be correct, is given too much weight"...: continues [google translation + editing]: "As I wrote elsewhere (article on pmode ACRIM), Judith Lean, along with Claus Frohlich, are responsible for the scandalous rewriting of graphs of solar activity.

Satellites showed that the TSI (measured in watts) between 1986 and 96 increased by about one third. Judith Lean and Claus Frohlich (authors of the single study noted above) "manipulated" the data.

People who were in charge of the satellites and created the original graphs (the world's best astrophysics: Doug Hoyt, Richard C. Willson), protested in vain against such manipulation.

Wilson: "Frhlich has made changes that are wrong ... He did not have sufficient knowledge of (satellite) Nimbus7 ... pmode composites are useful for those who argue that global warming may be primarily due to anthropogenic causes."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

The entire basis of greenhouse theory is coming under question

In a new essay, a climate skeptic scientist uses simple examples to challenge the conventional greenhouse gas theory of man-made global warming.

The reason Earth faces no danger from this benign trace atmospheric gas is eloquently illustrated in, ‘Why Conventional Greenhouse Theory Violates the 1st Law of Thermodynamics.’ Author Alan Siddons offers his new essay as a follow up to his recent paper, ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon’ that he co-authored with Dr. Martin Hertzberg and Hans Schreuder.

Schreuder endorses his colleague's latest challenge to claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who assert that rises in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may cause runaway global warming because, “Just like the legendary phlogiston, academia has elaborate formulae for it yet it has never been proven to exist.”

Global Warming Theory Violates Law of Thermodynamics

Siddons, a respected climate researcher, refutes "the silly heating-via-reradiation hypothesis." Laying down his challenge the former radiochemist says, "my critics be damned" as his essay repeats the points of the earlier 'Moon Paper.'

"If a body can heat itself by absorbing its own radiation, and thereby emit more radiation, then it is necessarily emitting more radiation than it’s receiving." This, argues the skeptic, is absurd as it runs counter to the 1st law of thermodynamics.

Although gaining credibility within the online science community for his insightful analysis, Siddons admits that one or two of the more conservative climate skeptics, such as Richard Lindzen, have still to come round to his way of thinking.

Lindzen, holds that, "CO2 absorbs in the infrared and reradiates heat downward, thus heating the earth." This is challenged by Siddons who disputes this "incontrovertible fact" by applying real-world analogies such as solar ovens and mirrors to prove his point.

Real World Examples Challenge Greenhouse Gas Theory

Siddons shows that solar ovens, by use of multiple reflections, allow their interior to receive more rays from the sun, so the food gets much hotter than it otherwise would be. He explains, “The operant principle is akin to how stage lighting works. In the zone where the beams intersect, the photon density is greater so more light is delivered.”

The researcher goes on to show that the two light beams pass through each other, “they do not clash like the Light Sabers in Star Wars movies.”

Significantly, just as with a solar oven, objects under the intense beam of meeting spotlights not only make their target brighter (increasing the amount of light being reflected) but also increase the amount of light (energy) being absorbed, as any perspiring stage performer will testify.

Challenging the Back-radiation Notion

Siddons then takes this logic to the next step; “Now, you’ve been told that terrestrial infrared is re-radiated back to the earth’s surface and heats it. So let’s test this notion by turning a spotlight off and seeing if we can mimic a second spotlight with a mirror, which will provide re-radiation.”

As we know, the mirror will have no idea of what it’s reflecting. It can just as easily be visible light or infrared 'heat rays.' What we find is that whatever rays are reflected into our mirror they can never be reflected back any brighter.

Siddons urges his readers to test this principle, “Close as you hold the mirror to the bright spot, there’s no effect. You might notice, though, that offsetting the mirror a bit can illuminate a zone that’s in shadow. In this case, light reflected from the bright spot brightens a darker area. But the mirror cannot make the bright spot brighter.”

Thus we see no increase in the light intensity from so-called 'back radiation' with this experiment and thus no added heat to make up for the missing second spotlight.
Reflected Radiation Cannot Increase the Total Energy Emitted

Siddons, from exploiting real-world examples, thereby instructs the non-scientific reader in the lesson that “radiant energy can only light something that has less radiance. Brighter illuminates darker.”

The author then urges the reader to get a better sense of this by omitting the spotlight altogether and to imagine a surface radiating light on its own.

“There's no difference between them, and it shouldn't need explaining that the mirror image is not illuminating the very object that it's reflecting. But if the mirror isn't illuminating that object, the mirror isn't heating it either.”

A mirror adds no radiance to the object whose radiance it is reflecting. Yet a mirror’s re-radiation is entirely in one direction and many times greater than a gas which emits in all directions and which only absorbs a fractional amount of light in the first place. This alone proves that re-radiation cannot heat the earth.

Thus, we find that there is no "back-radiation" of any sort because we can detect no illuminative or thermal effect. Or more simply, heat does not flow from colder to warmer surfaces and therefore the greenhouse gas theory is disproved.

SOURCE (See the original for links, references etc.)

British Government Shuns Low-Carbon Agenda In Budget

Chancellor George Osborne has today left low carbon businesses disappointed with arguably the least green budget address in recent memory.

The low carbon economy and the need to cut carbon emissions barely received a mention as the chancellor's first budget address focused almost exclusively on the spending cuts and tax rises required to tackle the UK's budget deficit.

There were a few bright spots for green businesses as the chancellor confirmed that the coalition government would "bring forward" plans for a green investment bank, although he provided no further detail on how such a bank would operate.

He also said that the Treasury would "explore" proposals to replace Air Passenger Duty with a per plane levy that the Chancellor said would help to cut carbon emissions. However, a report on the proposal will not be delivered until the autumn, despite the reform being included in both the Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos.

Groups campaigning for a carbon tax and an overall increase in green taxation will have been left furious, after the Chancellor provided no further detail on how the government plans to impose a floor price on carbon and announced that there would be no increase in fuel duty.

There are also likely to be concerns over cuts to the system of capital allowances, which could limit the tax breaks firms enjoy when investing in energy efficient equipment.

However, those calling for increased investment in low carbon infrastructure, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers, were offered some cause for encouragement as Osborne insisted that the new government would not cut capital spending.

He confirmed that the coalition would move forward with plans for a series of rail upgrades, extended metro systems in Manchester and Tyne and Wear; an upgrade to Birmingham New Street; and electric rail links between Sheffield and Liverpool.

There were also elements of good news for green businesses and start ups after Osborne announced that he would cut corporate tax four per cent over the next four years.

But overall green business commentators were left disappointed by the budget.

"Sustainability was a major focus in the Chancellor's speech, but from an economic and fiscal perspective, rather than in relation to the environment," said Richard Gledhill, partner for sustainability and climate change at PricwaterhouseCoopers. "Climate change has hardly featured."

There were also fears that government spending on green projects could be slashed as part of the Whitehall's autumn spending review, after Osborne confirmed budgets at non-protected departments, including DECC and Defra, will fall by an average of 25 per cent over four years.


Sir Paul McCartney just can't let it be

Another gullible entertainer

The former Beatle predicted in an interview that the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might expedite a move to cleaner, renewable energy sources in the world.

Sir Paul could have stopped while he was ahead, but McCartney went on to compare people who don't believe in global warming to "those who don't believe there was a Holocaust."

"Sadly we need disasters like this to show people," McCartney said in an exclusive interview with The Sun. "Some people don't believe in climate warning -- like those who don't believe there was a Holocaust."

McCartney continued, "But the facts indicate that there's something going on and we've got to be aware of it if we want our kids to inherit a decent world, not a complete nightmare of a planet -- clean, renewable energy is for starters."

McCartney also defended President Obama's handling of the two-month-old crisis. "I don't accept the criticism of Barack over the oil spill," said McCartney, who met the president for the first time earlier this month. "I think he's been great. It's tough if we Brits whinge that he's whingeing at us. Tough, then don't spill oil."

A representative for McCartney in London said the singer would have no further comment.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of two books on environmental policy, blasted McCartney's comments.

"Was Posh Spice unavailable? I've seen quite a few reasons to look elsewhere than actors and crooners for deep thoughts on weighty policy matters," Horner wrote in an e-mail to "And this is certainly one of them."

Horner's message continued: "They've got computer model projections, Leonardo [DiCaprio] and the Cute Beatle. In the other corner are observations proving the models wrong, ClimateGate, NASA-Gate and the host of IPCC-Gates. "I'm comfortable with the balance of authorities here."


"Consensus" propaganda in the schools

The astonishing levels of hyperbole and calls for action on carbon dioxide (CO2) in particular, have encouraged many to take the message into schools, whether from the inside by professionals in education or government, or from the outside by those such as the 'Mothers Against Climate Change' whose website pushing 'Schools' Low Carbon Day' is the source of the quotations which I want to address in this series of 8 posts (1), each concentrating on a single chunk from their position statement. Although their mysterious website gives me no good reason to do so, I will treat it as coming from genuine concern over the future of our children. This is the first sentence of their statement on why we, and presumably our children too, should be worried about climate:

'Few scientists now doubt that due to human activity - burning fossil fuels and deforestation - the climate is changing.'

First, let me consider the literal interpretation of this sentence. It is true in the banal sense that everything participating in the climate system has some kind of effect on it. Be it cosmic rays, solar radiation, ice at the poles, ocean currents, mountain ranges, termites emitting methane, humans burning coal, or butterflies flapping their wings, the climate system spans so wide a range of space, time, and energy scales that they can all play their part along with countless others. One consequence of this swirl of varying factors and their interactions, is that the climate has always changed in the past, is changing now, and will not stop changing in the future. The challenge for those interested in climate science is disentangling their effects, using the very modest (compared with the scales of the system) and often very noisy data we have available.

So, let me now interpret the sentence as meaning that few scientists now doubt that human activity is a dominant driver of climate due to our recent burning of fossil fuels, and to deforestation. I want to concentrate here on the word 'few' and whether it might be better applied to the core group in and around the IPCC which has so successfully promoted alarm, rather than to the many scientists who have not been at all impressed by such promotions. The many thousands of scientists who have investigated the effects of climate change rather than their causes, I regard as of secondary importance here since 'causes' are our key concern for the time being.

I suppose many people would believe the sentence because, in essence, they trust the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), or organisational leaders such as some in the Royal Sociey of London who were keen to champion the IPCC position. But the IPCC is not worthy of our trust. Its story is one of goal-centred manipulation of people, processes, and publications from the very outset, see for example (2) and (3). It was invented not to explore climate change and report back, but instead to construct, and vigorously promote, a political platform calling for halting, reversing, or dramatically modifying industrialisation based upon a need to avert dramatic and dangerous temperature rises due to associated carbon dioxide releases. For many years, since at least the late 1960s, there has been a febrile and hostile-to-humanity culture amongst some environmentalists, and it continues to this day. Their doom-laden pronouncements are well-suited to sensation-seeking media, and have surely helped create the opportunities so well exploited by the IPCC, see for example (4) and (5).

The early moves in the 1980s and early 90s were spotted and opposed by 47 atmospheric scientists in a published statement (6):
'WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 27, 1992---As independent scientists, researching atmospheric and climate problems, we are concerned by the agenda for UNCED, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, being developed by environmental activist groups and certain political leaders. This so-called Earth Summit is scheduled to convene in Brazil in June 1992 and aims to impose a system of global environmental regulations, including onerous taxes on energy fuels, on the population of the United States and other industrialized nations.

Such policy initiatives derive from highly uncertain scientific theories. They are based on the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action. We do not agree.'

The IPCC structure allowed many hundreds of scientists to take part in reviewing and writing reports. They were then by-passed by a handful of core activists with final editorial rights over press releases, other publicity, and the far more widely read and promoted 'Summary Reports for Policy Makers'. Criticisms of the IPCC working group reports can readily be found on the internet. See for example (7) and (8). Some IPCC authors chose to resign (e.g. 9), others soldiered on in the hope of improving things (e.g. 10). The latest group of IPCC reviewers, clearly chosen to spread participation over as many countries as possible, rather than by expertise alone, is an ongoing reflection of a political rather than a scientific imperative (11).

There are many other theories of climate change, theories brushed aside by the IPCC but not refuted by it. A very brief and readable account of some of them is given here (12). Furthermore, despite their going against the new conventional wisdom, several hundred peer-reviewed scientific papers have been found which do not support specific aspects of the IPCC position (13). The climategate emails confirmed that there were journals in which such works would have had little or no chance of being published (e.g. 14 & 15).

So the 'few' in our sentence of interest here, clearly can apply to those scientists at the heart of the IPCC machinations. The way in which the infamous 'temperatures like a hockey stick chart' was produced, protected and promoted (16), and the climategate emails (17) themselves, reinforce this picture of a handful of plotters and schemers, so wedded to their cause that all critics are seen as enemies to be attacked. Wegman (18) reported a fairly close-knit network of 43, and the climategate emails feature a few of them. Others report around 50 to 60 or so key players at the heart of it all (19). The claims of a consensus by the IPCC have often been challenged, for example in this analysis by Monckton (20), and recently a law professor, treating IPCC as if were presenting a legal brief, found grounds to condemn their materials and their methodology (21).

There are some signs that the tide may be turning. The leaders of the Royal Society of London, a body explicitly excluding advocacy when founded, went overboard in their support for dramatic actions based on concerns over CO2. But this year, enough of its fellows objected to being misrepresented, and the society has agreed to review its postion, hinting at a more reasoned and temperate approach (22).

There also many open-letters and petitions from well-qualified scientists critical of CO2 being given such a prominent role in climate dynamics. For example, there is such a letter supported by some 395 scientists and others from relevant subject areas published in Germany last year (2009): (23). Several such petitions or open letters or senate testimonies, have been published over the years (e.g. see 24 and 25). More recently, an environmentalist author has written about his discoveries when he looked more deeply into the IPCC (26):
'I was shocked by what I found. Firstly, there’s no real consensus among the scientists in the UN working groups, especially around oceanography and atmospheric physics. The atmospheric physics of carbon dioxide for example is presented as being pretty straightforward: it is a greenhouse gas, therefore it warms up the planet. But even that isn’t settled. There’s a huge amount of scientific disagreement on how much extra heating in the atmosphere you will get from carbon dioxide. It is even broadly accepted that carbon dioxide on its own is not a problem...

'So behind the appearance of consensus and settled science, there is now this tremendous battle going on. The dissenting scientists are described by certain journalists and environmentalists as ‘denialists’ and ‘sceptics’ funded by the oil industry. This is simply not the case. There are top-level atmospheric physicists, oceanographers and solar scientists who do not agree that the case is proven for global warming...'

In summary, the reality is that a few dozen scientists were exploited by the political activists behind the IPCC, giving their views on CO2 and climate a prominence utterly undeserved, and which were too readily adopted as gospel by thousands of other scientists or geographers more concerned with the effects rather than the causes of climate change, e.g those investigating natural habitats, and who would no doubt have found that adding a passing reference to 'global warming' did their grant applications no harm at all. To those who gained from the self-reinforcing tidal wave of grants and job opportunities in 'climate science', must be added those investors who see billions of dollars of profit in carbon trading, those NGOs such as WWF who enjoyed a surge in donations, and those politicians who see the required massive taxation and government intervention in society as highly desirable ends in themselves.

On the other hand, there are a great many scientists who differ, and who have been seriously un- or under-represented in the world of politics, as well as in some scientific and environmentalist circles wedded to what has now become the establishment view. The word 'cabal' is more apt than the word 'consensus' when it comes to scientists and the role of CO2 in climate, the dramatisation of which has provided advantages for many thousands of people in science, in finance, and in politics. That does not make it right, nor does it make it sensible. Nor does it make the critical scientists deserve the put-down of 'few'. For those most qualified to discuss causes of climate change, they may well be the majority.

More HERE (See the original for links, references etc.)

Evangelicals and global warming

Since 2005, evangelicals have divided into two roughly opposing camps over the question of anthropogenic global warming. Official statements of the Southern Baptist Convention through its resolution process, its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the Cornwall Alliance have typically rejected the theory of anthropogenic global warming and catastrophic climate change predictions. They assert that it is more likely that global warming will be moderate and have moderate or even helpful effects on the environment over all. They also argue that the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is unlikely to have significant impact on global warming. These groups have focused primarily on the impact of climate-change policy on developing economies and the poor. On the other side, the Evangelical Environmental Network, through its Evangelical Climate Initiative and (as it seems) the SBECI have affirmed the existence and danger of anthropogenic global warming and have called for action to prevent it.

Despite conflict among evangelicals over the existence of anthropogenic global warming, there has been a great deal of consensus on the theological basis for addressing environmental degradation. Most evangelical statements appeal to the fact that God is the creator of the world as a basis for understanding the value of nonhuman creation, and many note that God is its owner. Virtually every evangelical statement on the environment and climate change acknowledges that God has commissioned humanity with the responsibility of stewardship/dominion over the earth and that the execution of this responsibility has been perverted by sin, with negative impact on the environment. Evangelicals have also, almost without exception, affirmed the responsibility of Christians to care for the poor as an important factor in considering environmental policy.

One major motivation for all of the evangelical statements on climate change has been a genuine concern for humanity’s treatment of God’s creation. Another motivation, no less important, has been an apologetic concern to engage non-Christians with a Christian witness. The heart of the evangelical witness in the world is the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone. Seeking the conversion of men, women, and children is the sine qua non of evangelicalism. The priority of missions and evangelism has made evangelicals cautious about the potential of social ministry to overtake and swamp concern for the souls of men. As a result, evangelicals have traditionally subordinated social ministry to evangelism by seeing social ministry as a means to win a hearing for the gospel. Evangelicals have heeded the warning of James 2:14–16 that a faith that does not meet real physical needs is of no practical value.

Care for the poor, while a real good in and of itself, also serves the furtherance of the gospel. This strategy explains, in part, why evangelicals have taken great pains to tie their concern for the environment to concern for the poor. Some appeal to Christ’s command to love our neighbor; most affirm our responsibility to care for the poor. The connection between care for the poor and environmental concern is the fact that both the environment itself and human treatment of the environment by the private and public sectors will affect the poor, especially in developing countries.

Unfortunately, the public-policy response to global warming proposed by some evangelicals makes actually helping the global poor more difficult. The resources of the developed world are vast, but they are still limited. Addressing global warming through capping carbon dioxide emissions at 20 percent of current levels by 2050 will be hugely expensive. Directing a large portion of our resources at this problem will mean that other problems cannot be met. We may be able to meet some needs, but we cannot meet them all. Furthermore, if global warming prevention strategies have a negative impact on the economies of developed countries (as seems likely), this will further shrink the pool of available resources for addressing the pressing needs of the global poor.

If helping the poor in developing nations is made more difficult by the public policy proposals of evangelical environmentalists, then these policies would also undercut the traditional evangelical strategy of using social ministry to win a favorable hearing for the gospel. Drastic reductions of carbon dioxide emissions call for sacrifice on the part of both rich and poor nations. The rich however, are better able to absorb these changes with only marginal adjustments to their lifestyle. The global poor face the more difficult choice. To poor nations, the choice between electricity from expensive and/or unreliable carbon neutral sources and inexpensive, reliable fossil fuel burning sources is no choice at all. If required to build only carbon neutral power plants, which they cannot afford, they will not have power at all. The result will be continued exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards that lead to disease, malnutrition, and early death.

To hear a Western (i.e., rich!) evangelical environmentalist tell the poor that they must sacrifice the technologies that would improve the length and quality of life for them and their families in order to achieve a merely speculative benefit they will never see can only make the poor less likely to listen to the gospel that the evangelical brings. Such disillusionment will only deepen when it is realized that those evangelicals continue to enjoy the same lifesaving technologies they are effectively asking the poor to forgo.



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


24 June, 2010

Behind the scenes at the Oxburgh inquiry

Oxburgh was led by the nose

Slowly, but surely, the curtain is being lifted on Lord Oxburgh's inquiry into the science of CRU. Today I received a response to my FoI request for the emails of Sir Brian Hoskins and Professor David Hand (both of Imperial College, London) related to the Oxburgh inquiry. They are going to make a bit of a splash I think.

The emails can be downloaded here. There's a file for each man's correspondence and another for the attachments to Hand's emails. There's a lot of administrative stuff, but there is much of interest and some that made me laugh out loud.

I particularly liked the bit where Oliver Morton of the Economist asks Oxburgh who chose the papers for the inquiry. Oxburgh replies:
Thanks for your message - the answer is that I don't know! What I received was a list from the university which I understand was chosen by the Royal Society. The contact with the RS was I believe through [redacted - probably Martin Rees] but I don't know who he consulted. [Name redacted], when I asked him, agreed that the original sample was fair.

A summary of the Hand emails is here. The Hoskins emails are here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

More Warmist crookedness

Scientific issues are always open to debate and challenge. Warmism is clearly not science. It just pretends to be

As part of his ongoing investigations into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, David Holland has used FoI to get hold of a pile of emails from Professor Brian Hoskins, then of the University of Reading and now at Imperial College. Readers will remember that Professor Hoskins amusingly rubber-stamped the list of papers chosen by UEA for the Oxburgh report.

I thought I'd highlight one particular email, which stands on its own as being something of an indictment both of the Royal Society and the IPCC. It's an email from an IPCC bigwig, Susan Solomon, who was in charge of the admin for the Working Group 1 report for the Fourth Assessment Report. Solomon sent it to Rachel Garthwaite of the Science Policy Unit of the Royal Society. Regular readers may remember Ms Garthwaite as the person who stopped answering my questions about who it was who wrote the IPCC's position papers on climate.

The email dates from 2006, nearly 9 months before the release of the Fourth Assessment Report. Garthwaite is trying to organise speakers to attend a Royal Society lecture to coincide with the report's publication. The email appears to be from Garthwaite with Solomon's inline responses:
RG: Thank you for calling last week and my apologies for having taken so long to get back to you. I am out of the office all of this week but wanted to reassure you that the Royal Society is still very keen to hold an event to showcase the WG1 report and we have taken your comments regarding the potential content of the meeting very seriously.

SS: thanks - I think it was very helpful.

RG: In terms of ensuring there are no climate sceptics present at the meeting, obviously this will be difficult to ensure if the meeting is open to members of the public.

SS: I didn't say anything along these lines. I fully expect some to be present in the audience.

RG: However we have no intention of inviting any known sceptics to the meeting, and certainly would not have invited representation on any discussion panel should we decide to have one.

SS:Yes, that is the point - they should not be invited to take the podium as speakers or panelists because that is simply not an appropriate representation of the state of understanding and uncertainty. The public has been confused enough by one side says this, the other that. This issue has gone far beyond that and this meeting should reflect that.

It's astonishing to see these two organisations, which are supposed to be neutrals in the climate debate, getting down and dirty, taking sides and doing their darndest to make sure their side wins. No sceptics allowed. In fact, Rachel Garthwaite goes on to try to persuade Solomon that the Royal Society event should be about policy matters rather than scientific ones.
RG: In terms of ensuring that the content of the meeting does not breach IPCC rules we will of course include both yourself and Tim Palmer in the organisation of the meeting to ensure the content reflects these rules while still meeting the needs of the Royal Society (ie that there is some element of policy discussion)...

SS: As you know, WG1 is the physical science report. I am concerned to understand what it is you are proposing. Please clarify what it is you are envisioning regarding 'some element of policy discussion'.

It's funny to see the Royal Society trying to argue that one of their events should be about policy rather than science. Does anyone seriously doubt that the Royal Society has become simply another arm of the government, a body to give a scientific gloss to whatever it is the government wants to do?


More on the "authoritativeness" paper

The claim that climate skeptics are intellectual lightweights and a tiny mirority in the scientific community has produced a lot of outrage among those implicated. So I reproduce below one of the better critiques of the paper. It is from a Warmist -- Prof. Judith Curry:

I’ve been looking at the database quite extensively. Even if you accept that the datbase is accurate and individuals have been accurately categorized, the big flaw in the analysis is this.

The scientific litmus test for the paper is the AR4 statement: “anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for “most” of the “unequivocal” warming of the Earth’s average global temperature over the second half of the 20th century”.

The climate experts with credibility in evaluating this statement are those scientists that are active in the area of detection and attribution. ”Climate” scientists whose research areas is ecosystems, carbon cycle, economics, etc speak with no more authority on this subject than say Freeman Dyson.

I define the 20th century detection and attribution field to include those that create datasets, climate dynamicists that interpret the variabiity, radiative forcing, climate modelling, sensitivity analysis, feedback analysis. With this definition, 75% of the names on the list disappear. If you further eliminate people that create datasets but don’t interpret the datasets, you have less than 20% of the original list.

The strong convictions of the other (larger) group of ecologists, economists etc strongly supporting the IPCC view, well it doesn’t seem to be coming from their own investigations on detection/atribution, but presumably from faith in the IPCC “system”, political reasons, whatever. In any event, their opinions on this should not carry any particular weight.

If you asked these 20% that are the experts on detection and attribution if they would prefer the litmus test statement to read “very likely” or “likely”, i suspect a large number would feel much more comfortable with the “likely” level of certainty, including many in main public supporters group. I think that some of the people in the skeptics group would actually be ok with the “likely” confidence level (e.g. Pielke, Michaels).

Also, with regards to the large number of people active in detection/attribution research that were not categorizable by the tenets of this study, i suspect there is a pretty much normal distribution, with many people being undecided, unconvinced by the high level of certainty often portrayed by the public spokespersons on each side.

Finally, a few comments on the utility of publication count and citation count as a useful metric for expertise, credibility, or impact in climate research. I would agree that there is probably a minimum level of publication numbers/citations to establish expertise, credibility or impact. But beyond this minimum, the numbers don’t scale all that well with overall impact in the field. Some of the true giants in the field don’t have very high numbers, and nearly all of the people (even associate/support scientists) involved in the creation of datasets that everyone uses (e.g. CRUT) have very high numbers.

I found the table including “fellows of a learned society” to be more interesting, which includes the scientists deemed by their peers to have had the greatest impact, and are sorted by number of publications rather than citations. Yes, some deserving people are not on this list particularly skeptics, but overall i think it is a better list to use for the non-skeptics in terms of evaluating influence. And if you cull this list to include only the scientists active in detection/attribution (which i have done), i think you have a more accurate list of the most influential scientists on this subject

So i think this is an interesting database (not convinced of its accuracy and not sure how to intepret some of the discrepancies i’ve identified). But I don’t think it was appropriately analyzed in the PNAS paper in context of “credibility” , particularly in how the scientists were classified.


NY Times Reporter Honored For Greenie Activism Disguised as Journalism

When journalists give an award to one of their own, you’d think they’d honor reporting that rises above that of others in journalistic quality. But that isn’t what happened when The Deadline Club, the New York branch of the Society for Professional Journalists, gave its Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting to The New York Times’ Charles Duhigg. Duhigg was the author of the series “Toxic Waters.”

Bestowing that award on Duhigg should be an affront to the memory of Daniel Pearl, who lost his life investigating Islamic terrorists in the heart of darkness. Duhigg, on the other hand, echoed the campaign of radical environmental groups seeking to scare people about the safe use of pesticides. These groups aren’t true environmentalists, but instead try to instill fear in anyone who eats produce, drinks water, or breathes air.

Duhigg’s reign of toxic terror focused on alleged dangers in drinking water. Consider the headline from the Aug. 22, 2009 installment of his series, “Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass.” The award-winning journalist allowed himself to be used as a pawn in a campaign against a long-used and important agricultural chemical, atrazine. That levels of atrazine in drinking water are barely measurable didn’t deter him.

“Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems,” Duhigg wrote. Especially in the Midwest, he found some spikes of atrazine concentration above the regulatory limit.

Duhigg also noted implied and overt allegations of reproductive abnormalities. However, those data come from frog studies that have been roundly dismissed by the scientific bodies that have objectively reviewed them, including the Environmental Protection Agency – no fan of industry. And the federal guidelines, which limit the annual level of pesticide contamination, not the occasional spikes, were in fact not violated.

The fact is atrazine has been safely and extensively used for more than 50 years to increase corn yields and reduce the need for other pesticides.

In other reports, Duhigg parsed local municipal water system records for evidence of malfeasance, chicanery, and greed in the monitoring of water systems nationwide. He was helped in his onerous endeavor by the stalwarts at the Natural Resource Defense Council, a well-known anti-chemical, anti-business activist group, best know heretofore for promulgating (with the crucial assistance of CBS News) the great Alar scare of 1989. The NRDC helped to gather damning evidence of water contamination.

The reporter and the activists did indeed find widespread evidence of lax regulation and less-than-ideal adherence to numerous regulatory strictures, with occasional spikes in the concentration of various pollutants and chemicals nationwide. But they found nothing that would impact human health.

This pattern was repeated over the course of the “Toxic Waters” series, with plentiful notations of briefly spiking pollution levels, but few of sufficient intensity or duration to warrant regulatory intervention. Duhigg attacked the EPA repeatedly for giving waterborne chemicals too easy a pass. But atrazine, for one example, has been evaluated rigorously by numerous scientific and regulatory bodies, including the EPA, and has been found to not even be a potential health hazard.

At the series’ conclusion, an objective outsider’s appraisal would have detected numerous “concerns” but no actual instances of human health impact from all the alleged violations. No surprise there; trace levels of chemicals are to be expected in our water (and air and food).


British Green Energy Plant is a Joke

THE new "green energy" biomass plant proposed for Leith would take at least 40 years to become carbon neutral, according to a new study. In the meantime, critics claim, the 360 million plant would actually set back Scotland's drive to cut carbon emissions.

A report by the Manomet Centre for Conservation Sciences in Massachusetts, US, said burning wood for power generation had generally been seen as "carbon neutral" because new trees would be planted to replace those used in the process. But it said a more complex picture was emerging, with the time taken for trees to grow meaning the creation of a "carbon debt" which would last for decades.

It said: "For biomass replacement of coal-fired power plants, the net cumulative emissions in 2050 are approximately equal to what they would have been burning coal."

On top of that, most of the two million tonnes of biomass needed every year for the Leith plant would come in by sea from North America, Scandinavia and eastern Europe, adding further carbon emissions.

Edinburgh North & Leith Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm has written to finance secretary John Swinney, highlighting the findings of the report.

He said: "The Manomet research suggests electricity from biomass creates a huge carbon debt which will only be repaid decades later from forest regrowth.

"Biomass fuels have a carbon footprint greater than coal burning for the first decades of their use and these are the most important decades in which to get CO2 reductions.

"Electricity from biomass would not therefore support the Scottish Government targets for defined CO2 emission cuts each year between now and 2050."

In his letter to Mr Swinney, he added: "I hope the Scottish Government will reconsider its enthusiasm for electricity from biomass in the light of this research."


More inhuman thinking from Peter Singer

Singer recently showed up in the online pages of the New York Times (naturally) opinion section asking “How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?”

He introduces us to the philosophical pedigree, starting with Arthur Schopenhauer in the 19th century and leading up to today’s South African philosopher David Benatar, that argues a good life is of no benefit the person that lives it, but a bad life causes suffering for the person that lives it. (This line of reasoning is technically known as “vita combibo, tunc vos intereo.” Look it up.)

This is where it starts getting really good. Singer plumbs the depths of his gigantic intellect to draw forth an example that will make it all clear to us lesser minds…
“Here is a thought experiment to test our attitudes to this view. Most thoughtful people are extremely concerned about climate change. Some stop eating meat, or flying abroad on vacation, in order to reduce their carbon footprint. But the people who will be most severely harmed by climate change have not yet been conceived. If there were to be no future generations, there would be much less for us to feel to guilty about.

So why don’t we make ourselves the last generation on earth? If we would all agree to have ourselves sterilized then no sacrifices would be required…

Of course, it would be impossible to get agreement on universal sterilization, but just imagine that we could…we can get rid of all that guilt about what we are doing to future generations — and it doesn’t make anyone worse off, because there won’t be anyone else to be worse off.”

There you have it. No alarmism here.



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


23 June, 2010

Climate scepticism due to ‘genetic disposition’, Warmists claim

Leftists have been "psychologizing" those who disagree with them since at least 1950, but the claims have never stood up to scrutiny

What role does the media play in curbing climate change? That's the question a diverse group of participants will grapple with at Deutsche Welle's annual Global Media Forum in Bonn which opens on June 21....

The annual media conference in Bonn brings together an eclectic mix of environment campaigners, entrepreneurs, journalists, artists, scientists, lawmakers and civil rights activists from around the world. "The Global Media Forum is international, it's interdisciplinary and interactive," said Ralf Nolting, head of Deutsche Welle Media Services, the organizers of the conference.

The aim of the meeting is to get key players from a range of fields at one table to identify problems and come up with solutions – this time the subject is the role of the media in covering climate change.

Countering climate change denial

There's little doubt that it's a timely topic. A recent international study conducted by market research institute Synovate in cooperation with Deutsche Welle, which polled 13,000 people, shows that a rethink of attitudes towards climate change and sustainability is sorely needed.

Deutsche Welle chief Erik Bettermann said he was particularly concerned about the growing denial of the seriousness of the problem. “We've been forced to conclude that knowledge of the effects of climate change is widely accepted, but at the same time the number of those who think 'it's not that bad,' is increasing – it's 10 percent after all," Bettermann said. In 2008, that number was found to be at four percent.

Among others, the former BBC correspondent, now psychotherapist, Mark Brayne will look at some of the psychological reasons for climate change denial.

Ralf Nolting said it was an important trend one couldn't afford to ignore. "It's simply the genetic disposition of people the older they get – that includes most people in key positions," Nolting said."

"In short, if someone has turned coal into energy all his life as an operator of a coal-fired electricity plant, then it's suddenly a psychological problem for him to accept solar cells or wind energy."


Warmists still trying to do science by consensus

They quite ignore the carrots and sticks which ensure that most climate scientists toe the line -- which is why it is always the facts that matter, not opinion of any sort:

Scientists who believe in man-made climate change are more esteemed than those who actively oppose the concept, according to a new paper. The study, which claims scientists who blame man for our changing planet are more highly regarded than those who do not, has been criticised by opponents who question its methods.

The analysis of climate scientists claims the "vast majority" of climate change researchers agree on the issue, and that those who oppose the consensus are "not actually climate researchers or not very productive researchers".

But experts said the paper divides scientists into artificial groups, does not consider a balanced spectrum of scientists, and is inherently biased due to the nature of the peer review process.

Judith Curry, a climate expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology – who was not part of the analysis – called the study "completely unconvincing" while John Christy of University of Alabama claimed he and other climate sceptics included in the survey were simply "being blacklisted" by colleagues.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined 1,372 scientists who had taken part in reviews of climate science or had put their name to statements regarding the key findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Scientists were grouped as "convinced" or "unconvinced", and researchers examined how many times they had published papers on the climate. The results showed that "unconvinced" scientists accounted for just three of the 100 most prolific authors on the subject, while "convinced" scientists also averaged more citations.

Opponents criticised the authors of the report for polarising all scientists into two distinct groups, rather than taking into account different shades of support for theories on climate change. Roger Pielke Jr, of the University of Colorado, told that some scientists were put into a group despite holding a more moderate viewpoint.

In one case a scientist who argued against immediate reductions to greenhouse gas emissions – a political rather than a scientific position – was categorised as "unconvinced", he said.

Critics also said the paper focuses solely on scientists who have made their position on climate change public – failing to consider those "unconvinced" scientists who choose not to speak out – and that the peer review process meant the consensus view was unfairly favoured.


Another comment (excerpt):

It's also hilariously wrong. As Roger Pielke Jr. notes on his weblog, his father, who firmly believes in man's impact on the climate, is rated as a skeptic, while James Hansen, who has repeatedly criticized the IPCC consensus (albeit for being too conservative) is mentioned as a supporter of the IPCC.

This will contribute to the feeding frenzy on climate change and distract (as it is meant to do) from real discussion of climate change issues.

Very much of a piece with the other junk coming out these days. Very much a symptom of a group that can no longer respond to the real arguments.

More HERE. And Roger Pielke Jr. has some detailed criticisms and Marc Morano has a roundup of commentaries on the paper -- commentaries that point out serious methodological weaknesses in it.

Plant Scientists: 'UK Crop Yields Unaffected By Climate Change'

FEARS that climate change will seriously affect crop yields in Britain by encouraging diseases are unfounded, scientists at Harpenden's Rothamsted Research have discovered.

Oil seed rape, the crop which carpets much of Hertfordshire in yellow in the summer, suffers from a disease that affects yield known as phoma stem canker, predicted to spread as the climate warms with with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

But newly-published research by Rothamsted scientists shows that another disease, light leaf spot, will retreat with climate change, while yield loss from stem canker can be countered by treatment.

Overall, the new research predicts, yield will drop only slightly, and, through the use of disease prediction systems, could even improve.


Federal Judge Blocks Obama's Offshore Drilling Moratorium in Gulf of Mexico

In a victory for drilling proponents, a federal judge struck down President Obama's six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, saying the administration rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger, too.

The White House promised an immediate appeal. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president believes strongly that drilling at such depths does not make sense and puts the safety of workers "at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford."

The Interior Department had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.

Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium. They argued it was arbitrarily imposed after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and blew out the well 5,000 feet underwater. It has spewed anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

Feldman sided with the companies, saying in his ruling the Interior Department assumed that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger. "The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an unprecedented, sad, ugly and inhuman disaster," he wrote. "What seems clear is that the federal government has been pressed by what happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm."

His ruling prohibits federal officials from enforcing the moratorium until a trial is held. He did not set a trial date.

The Interior Department said it needed time to study the risks of deepwater drilling. But the lawsuit filed by Hornbeck Offshore Services of Covington, La., claimed there was no proof the other operations posed a threat. Company CEO Todd Hornbeck said after the ruling that he is looking forward to getting back to work. "It's the right thing for not only the industry but the country," he said.

Earlier in the day, executives at a major oil conference in London warned that the moratorium would cripple world energy supplies. Steven Newman, president and CEO of Transocean Ltd., owner of the rig that exploded, called it an unnecessary overreaction. BP PLC was leasing the rig. "There are things the administration could implement today that would allow the industry to go back to work tomorrow without an arbitrary six-month time limit," Newman told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

The moratorium was declared May 6 and originally was to last only through the month. Obama announced May 27 that he was extending it for six months.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal and corporate leaders said that would force drilling rigs to leave the Gulf of Mexico for lucrative business in foreign waters. They said the loss of business would cost the area thousands of lucrative jobs, most paying more than $50,000 a year. The state's other major economic sector, tourism, is a largely low-wage industry.


Monsanto GM seed ban overturned by SCOTUS

The bio-tech company Monsanto can sell genetically modified seeds before safety tests on them are completed, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

A lower court had barred the sale of the modified alfalfa seeds until an environmental impact study could be carried out. But seven of the nine Supreme Court Justices decided that ruling was unconstitutional.

The seed is modified to be resistant to Monsanto's brand of weedkiller.

The US is the world's largest producer of alfalfa, a grass-like plant used as animal feed. It is the fourth most valuable crop grown in the country.

Environmentalists had argued that there might be a risk of cross-pollination between genetically modified plants and neighbouring crops. They also argued over-use of the company's weedkiller Roundup, the chemical treatment the alfalfa is modified to be resistant to, could cause pollution of ground water and lead to resistant "super-weeds".

But Monsanto says claims its products were dangerous amounted to "bad science fiction with no support on the record".


Can painting a mountain restore a glacier?
It is the first experimental step in an innovative plan to recuperate Peru’s disappearing Andean glaciers. The World Bank clearly believes the idea – the brainchild of 55-year-old Peruvian inventor, Eduardo Gold – has merit as it was one of the 26 winners from around 1,700 submissions in the “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” competition at the end of 2009.

Although he is yet to receive the $200,000 (135,000) awarded by the World Bank, his pilot project is already underway on the Chalon Sombrero peak, 4,756 metres above sea level, in an area some 100km west of the regional capital of Ayacucho.

There are no paint brushes, the workers use jugs to splash the whitewash onto the loose rocks around the summit. It is a laborious process but they have whitewashed two hectares in two weeks.

“Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat,” says Mr Gold. “I am hopeful that we could re-grow a glacier here because we would be recreating all the climatic conditions necessary for a glacier to form.”

If you had $200,000 to gift to Peru, a place where the GDP per capita is less than $5,000, would you spend it on a program to paint black rocks white in the hope of storing water and changing the local weather?

Reader John P points out that if you check the World Glacier Monitoring Service you will see that the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) of glaciers in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca is above 4900 m, that means that snow falling below that altitude does not remain over the whole year and melts. Even if it falls on the glacier ice, much less on whitewashed rocks. Besides, the impact of a few hectares of rock is minimal when compared with the atmospheric circulation or the impact of surrounding terrain.

You might wonder who in their right mind would spend that kind of money, and the answer is no one — at least no one would spend their own money — but your money, my money, paper money — sure. It’s good advertising for the World Bank, it creates news stories for the cause, and generates another set of vested servants agitating for a carbon credit currency.

The project description hints that as cold begets cold, so money begets money:
The project also will attempt to have the change in albedo over a “unit” surface area equated with carbon credits in order to generate a sustainable source of revenue generation for future project applications

Yet another kind of whitewash that generates revenue. Think about the possibilities? If painting things white “generates” money in carbon credits, then white cars ought to get a pump discount…

The list of Global Winning projects for 2009 refers to the act of pouring buckets of whitewash on rocks as an “Artisanal Industry”. I think the real craftmanship comes in writing grant applications. What will we see in 2010? Here’s a thought: white paint isn’t that marvellous at reflecting light. It has an emissivity of something like 0.9, but polished aluminium has an emissivity of 0.04, (reflecting lots more!). Suggestions for 2010? How about gift wrapping Mt Kilamajaro rocks in Al-Foil?

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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


22 June, 2010

It's methane wot done it!

Warmists have been riding the wrong horse. A new paleoclimate study shows that it is methane, not CO2 that affects warming. CO2 levels are tied to ocean circulation.

A small caution: The report below is based on a press release. There seems to be no peer-reviewed paper as yet

By examining 800,000-year-old polar ice, scientists increasingly are learning how the climate has changed since the last ice melt and that carbon dioxide has become more abundant in the Earth's atmosphere.

For two decades, French scientist Jrme Chappellaz has been examining ice cores collected from deep inside the polar ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. His studies on the interconnecting air spaces of old snow -- or firn air -- in the ice cores show that the roughly 40 percent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Earth's last deglaciation can be attributed in large part to changes in the circulation and biological activity of the oceanic waters surrounding Antarctica.

Chappellaz presented his findings today in Knoxville, Tenn. during the Goldschmidt Conference, an international gathering of several thousand geochemists who converge annually to share their research on Earth, energy and the environment. The event, hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is taking place June 13-18.

By measuring the carbon isotopes in the firn air, scientists can pinpoint the source of atmospheric carbon during the millennia. Because living organisms at the surface of the oceans tend to take up the lighter of the carbon isotopes, 13C, and this isotope is then released when the organisms decay, scientists know the higher concentration of 13C is originating from the oceans.

Normally, the organisms die, sink to the ocean depths, and decompose, releasing carbon that remains stored in the cold, deep waters for centuries. But a growing concentration of the isotope 13C in the air during the last deglaciation indicates that this "old" carbon from decomposition was released from the southern polar waters, where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current transports more water than any other current in the world. Here, oceanic circulation is increasing in intensity and the deep water is releasing carbon dioxide at the surface.

For two decades, Chappellaz has examined polar ice cores to decipher how the primary greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- have changed in concentrations and ratios since ancient times and what has caused those changes. He notably showed for the first time the tight link existing between atmospheric methane and global climate at glacial-interglacial time scales.



There is an earlier Chappellaz paper here which simply reports cyclic fluctuations in methane levels. As far as one can gather, the latest work goes further and looks for a relationship between methane levels and temperature.

Antarctic glacier melt maybe 'not due to climate change'

British and international boffins, having probed an Antarctic glacier which is thought to be a major cause of rising sea levels worldwide, report that increased polar ice melting may not be driven by climate change.

The massive ice river in question is the Pine Island Glacier, aka PIG to those in the field.

“Estimates of Antarctica’s recent contributions to sea level rise have changed from near-zero to significant and increasing," says Stan Jacobs of Columbia uni in the States. "Increased melting of continental ice also appears to be the primary cause of persistent ocean freshening and other impacts."

The PIG has flowed more and more rapidly into the Amundsen Sea since scientists have begun monitoring it, adding fresh water to the world's oceans. Like certain other regions the glacier is bucking the overall south-polar trend which has actually seen hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new sea ice accumulate around Antarctica in recent decades.

Many scientists have theorised that the PIG's accelerating flow is due to global warming. However, recent research - including surveys beneath the bottom of the floating, projecting ice sheet by Blighty's Autosub robot probe - indicate that this may not be the case. (The Autosub, famously, was powered by some 5,000 ordinary alkaline D-cell batteries on each trip beneath the ice, getting through some four tonnes of them during the research.)

It appears from the Autosub's under-ice surveys that the PIG's ice flow formerly ground its way out to sea across the top of a previously unknown rocky underwater ridge, which tended to hold it back. Many years ago, however, before the area was surveyed in much detail, the glacier's floating outflow sheet separated from the ridge top which it had been grinding away at for millennia and so picked up speed. This also allowed relatively warm sea water to get up under the sheet and so increase melting and ease of movement.

“The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge," says Dr Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey.

Jenkins, Jacobs and their colleagues write: "Once the grounding line began its downslope migration from the ridge crest prior to the 1970’s, a period of rapid change was inevitable, and since that time oceanic variability may have had relatively little influence on the rate of retreat".

Or in other words the glacier would have shown the same acceleration and thinning it has shown since the 1990s with or without climate change, perhaps accounting for its very rapid melting and the local contrast with the general picture of increased Antarctic sea ice.

The scientists' research is published by Nature Geoscience


Prof. Jon Krosnick: Another crooked (and stupid) Warmist

'When you don't like the poll numbers, make up your own poll'

Stanford University's Jon Krosnick ( has either been distorting climate polling to suit his ideological position for years or he is an utterly incompetent pollster. The solid bet is on the former.

Professor Krosnick's polling results are so woeful that both Pew Research Center Survey and Gallup polling recently took the time to harshly reprimand him for his shoddy work.

See: Warming propagandist Prof. Krosnick exposed: Pew research 'says that Krosnick's survey is marred by faulty methodology. ...used words that encourged a positive response'

Polling propaganda Prof. Krosnick slapped down by Gallup Polling! Recent polling 'shows demonstrable drops in Americans' acknowledgment of and concern about global warming')

Krosnick has been skewing polling results on global warming for years and has been getting caught every time.

See: Flashback 2008: Krosnick's long history of climate propaganda: 'Krosnick invents a consensus position: climate change is occurring. But this is a meaningless assertion, devoid of any scientific value the public can expect psychologists to be engaged in brainwashing them into accepting political propaganda' -- 'Krosnick conducted a poll amongst the public, to see if their beliefs match those of the scientists, but neglected to poll scientists to establish their views'

The latest Krosnick academic embarrassment started with his June 8, 2010 oped in the New York Times. (See: Huh? Stanford U. Prof. Krosnick: 'Huge majorities of Americans still believe earth has been gradually warming as result of humans & want gov't regs to stop it')

Krosnick's apparent eagerness to skew, propagandize and present intellectually dishonest and shallow polling analysis, simply stuns anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity with recent global warming polls.

The Financial Post's Lawrence Solomon reveals some of Krosnick's tactics in a June 21, 2010 article. According to the Financial Post, Krosnick did not release his full report for public scrutiny nor did he show the public the context for his questions.

The Financial Post reports that Krosnick lumped the phrase “global warming” in with “the environment.” Here is the question Krosnick asked: “What do you think will be the most serious problem facing the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it?” According to the paper, when put this way, 25% of the public responded with “Global warming/the environment.” But Krosnick doesn't tell us how many of that 25% choose global warming versus the myriad of other environmental issues.

What is most shocking about this point is that for two years running, all major polling has consistently revealed that not only is global warming/climate change the issue of least concern, but it is the lowest concern among all ENVIRONMENTAL issues! ....

For Krosnick to try to pull this low-brow tactic of combining climate and environment as though the public treats them identical, reveals that he is either ignorant of wealth of recent polls or he is deliberately trying to con the public and his own Stanford University.

The Financial Post further explains some of the sleazy polling tactics Krosnick regularly employs:

“Krosnick gets different results than other pollsters do by asking questions that some might consider bizarre. For example, when people told him that they didn't believe global warming was happening, he asked them to pretend they did by asking them,

“Assuming that global warming is happening, do you think a rise in the world's temperature would be caused mostly by things people do, mostly by natural causes, or about equally by things people do and by natural causes? He then lumped the pretend response from people who don't believe in global warming with a similar question asked of people who weren't pretending about their belief in global warming. ...

Poor Professor Krosnick. One headline last week said it all: Krosnick's Polling Con Job: 'When you don't like the poll numbers, make up your own poll'

The poor professor has not only been caught apparently manipulating data, but his methods have now been exposed for the entire world to see. Krosnick's academic integrity has now been elevated to the level of the “used car salesman” tactics of the UN IPCC and the Climategate professors.

More HERE (See the original for links)

IPCC Disinformation

The slide above comes from the presentation of Hans von Storch to the InterAcademy Review of the IPCC, presented earlier this week in Montreal. The slide references the misrepresentation of the issue of disasters and climate change by the IPCC. von Storch is very clear in his views: "IPCC authors have decided to violate the mission of the IPCC, by presenting disinformation".

Not only did the IPCC misrepresent the science of disasters and climate change, but went so far as to issue a highly misleading press release to try to spin the issue and put an unprepared IPCC WG2 chair on the BBC to try to defend the undefensible. I was promised a response from the IPCC to my concerns, a response that has never been provided.

A former head of the IPCC, Robert Watson, says the following in the context of the 2035 glacier issue, but could be equally applied to the disaster issue: "To me the fundamental problem was that when the error was found it was handled in a totally and utterly atrocious manner".

The IAC Review of the IPCC is fully aware of this issue, and it will be interesting to see what their report says on the topic. Meantime, the IPCC is continuing its preparations for its next assessment in business-as-usual fashion.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Germany: Solar power is unaffordable

Solar energy is getting more and more popular - and therefore unaffordable. Because the subsidies are guaranteed for years, the costs have risen to high double-digit billions. Even the industry recognizes that it cannot go on like this.

German Government support for solar power is leading to significant price increases for large electricity users in industry and for private users. Consumer organisations estimate that electricity prices are likely to rise by ten percent next year alone due to subsidies for green electricity. Industrial electricity prices in Germany are already high; through the promotion of green electricity they will reach peak prices in Europe

The ultimate cost drivers are mainly photovoltaic systems. Year after year their numbers are climbing much faster than predicted. Compared to previous estimates, the increase in capacity has risen tenfold this year. For each system, the Renewable Energy Act guarantees a feed-in tariff for 20 years, which is currently six times higher than the price of conventionally generated electricity. The additional costs are passed on to all electricity consumers. While prices for photovoltaic systems have fallen sharply in recent years, state subsidies have been only reduced moderately. As a result, the facilities have become very lucrative for operators. According to calculations by the Rhine-Westphalian Institute for Economic Research, the net cost to the taxpayer of all photovoltaic systems installed between 2000 and 2010 adds up to € 85.4 billion.

The promotion of renewable energy threatens to get out of control, warns Martin Kneer, chief executive of the Metal Trade Association. Excluded from the levy are only a few hundred companies, including extremely energy-intensive facilities, such as aluminium smelters.

A recent open letter by Johannes Lackmann has alarmed the photovoltaic industry. Lackmann is no enemy of renewable energies. On the contrary: He is firmly rooted in the green energy industry and was for many years president of the Association of Renewable Energies. Lackmann warns that companies in effect are placing themselves on par with outdated industries, which make up the lack of competitiveness by being subsidized. The Renewable Energies Act, which promotes green power, should not be used as a pillow. In his view, the photovoltaic industry threatens to overdo things – at the expense of electricity consumers.

Lackmann describes the consequences of a development that is heading for new highs this year. Because the promotion of green energy is so lucrative, more solar panel systems are now mounted on German rooftops than ever thought possible: The trade magazine "Photon" calculates that solar cells with a capacity of 8,800 Megawatts (MW) are added in 2010: the Rhine-Westphalian Institute for Economic Research (RWI) believes a figure of up to 9000 MW for more realistic. Compared to 2006, the newly installed capacity has increased by a factor of eleven. Even in 2007 it was assumed that a maximum 700 MW will have been added by 2010.

The completely unrestrained run on photovoltaic systems has immense consequences for all electricity consumers. For each installed system the Renewable Energy Act guarantees a fixed feed-in tariffs for 20 years, which exceed the market price of conventional electricity many times over. Facilities which go on line this year receive on average 31 cents per kilowatt-hour. This price is guaranteed by law until 2030. For comparison: at the power exchange EEX one kilowatt hour of conventionally generated electricity can be bought for around five cents. The difference is financed by all electricity consumers. Only for some energy-intensive industries there are exceptions.

According to calculations by the RWI, the net cost for all photovoltaic systems built between 2000 and 2010 over the respective 20-year funding period add up to €85.4 billion in real terms. This value corresponds to more than one quarter of Germany’s federal budget. Regardless, the contribution of solar power to total electricity consumption in Germany is very low despite the large sums of funding. It is around one percent.

According to calculations by the Consumer Federation (VZBV) the newly added photovoltaic systems in 2010 alone will cost German consumers €26 billion for the production life of 20 years. According to VZBV this will cause an increase in the price of electricity by ten percent in 2011. The energy suppliers have already announced price increases. The energy supplier RWE announced on Friday it would raise prices by 7.3 percent from August due to higher costs for green electricity.

The reason for this massive build up is obvious: while costs for the solar panels have fallen sharply in recent years, the feed-in tariffs have declined only slightly. The module manufacturers can still get quite high prices, which bring them high profits. At the same time, the feed-in tariffs guarantee plant operators a good business.

Negotiations about cuts in solar feed-in tariffs have been going on for months. The solar industry is vehemently resisting any downgrading - and is using political support by individual states. The lobby wants to prevent cuts planned by the Federal government by means of the Parliament’s lower chamber. The Conciliation Committee of the Bundesrat and Bundestag has set up a working group which is expected to come up with a compromise by 5 July. The final word, however, lies with the Bundestag.

From the perspective of Johannes Lackmann, the industry’s resistance to cuts is doing it no favours. He considers the proposal by the Federal government to cut the subsidies as overdue. Lackmann wants an automatic mechanism by which the feed-in tariffs are adjusted every six months without a long debate. From the perspective of the RWI, however, the Renewable Energy Act should be completely abolished. It does not even create incentives for investment in research and development: "Leading German solar companies spend less than two percent of sales on research and development. This puts them below the figure of Siemens," says Manuel Frondel, Head of Environment and Resources at the RWI. He thinks that targeted technology promotion is more useful than subsidizing the solar industry.


Japan Delays Emissions Trading Laws

Japan is the latest developed nation to see emissions trading plans delayed but has vowed to see legislation passed in time for the UN climate conference in Mexico at the end of the year.

The government has conceded it would not get climate legislation passed on schedule through the upper house in the current session of parliament ending this week. A mandatory emissions trading scheme is an important plank in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s climate change policy which has ambitious targets to cut greenhouse emissions by 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The United States and Australia have also seen government-supported cap and trade schemes run into trouble in the upper houses of their federal legislatures. Australia has put off its scheme until at least 2013 while the Obama administration is trying to rescue chances for the passing of a climate and energy bill in the US Senate this year amid fading hopes.

Reuters reports Japan’s environment minister Sakihito Ozawa telling a news conference the government’s aim now is to have the wide-ranging climate bill enacted by late November. But an upper house election in July threatens to reduce the government’s numbers leaving no guarantee it will be able to pass the controversial bill as it stands afterward.



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


21 June, 2010

Antarctica 4 C warmer 130,000 years ago

And pretty much all important organisms were the same 130,000 years ago as what they are today

According to a new paper, "The deuterium excess records of EPICA Dome C and Dronning Maud Land ice cores (East Antarctica)", by B. Stenni and 14 European co-authors -- which was published in Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (2010) -- new high-resolution ice core data from two sites in eastern Antarctica show temperature proxies more than 4C higher during the last interglacial (~130,000 years ago) than the present interglacial.

The high resolution data provides more accurate determination of the temperature proxies, shown at lower left of each graph above.

Unless you are a young Earth creationist, it should be obvious to you that the paper shows that comments that 4 C or even 2 C of warming would be threatening for life don't seem compatible with the reconstructions of the climate. Pretty much all important organisms were the same 130,000 years ago as what they are today.

The graph shows that the typical maximum-minimum temperature difference associated with the glaciation cycles is as high as 12 C, at least at various places. Any man-made correction that is much smaller than that should simply be viewed as unimportant - a tiny modification within the natural variability. Still, there will be people who will never be convinced by any empirical evidence.

In his article "Reluctance to let go", Sean Carroll urged the mankind to eliminate both religions and global warming realists. He doesn't seem to realize that the mental defects that lead him to his proclamations about the climate are at least as irrational as the spiritual drivers that lead other people to religions such as Christianity. And the Academia is unfortunately contaminated by thousands of similar Carrolls.


Currents and Current Cooling

Excerpt from another report on the IPCC4 conference

For years now, alarmists have arrogantly ignored the cooling we’ve experienced worldwide since 1999, continuing their demands that we sacrifice everything – jobs, money, comfort, progress and ultimately, freedom -- to halt fictitious “runaway global warming.” Such unfounded hysteria seems all the more inane after hearing the unvarnished truth from the experts at ICCC-4, beginning with their predictions that the global cooling will likely continue for the next few decades.

Geologist Don Easterbrook was one of many attending scientists attributing natural climate variations to solar irradiance and deep ocean currents. His ICCC-4 announced paper, The Looming Threat of Global Cooling, noted the undeniable link between the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) shifting to its warm mode in 1915 and 1977 and global warming resulting both times. Conversely, in 1945 and 1999 the PDO moved to its cool mode and the globe cooled right along, despite a rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 during the period. What’s more, climate changes in the geologic record show a regular pattern of alternate warming and cooling with a 25-30 year period for the past 500 years. Easterbrook thereby concludes that we should “expect global cooling for the next 2-3 decades that will be far more damaging than global warming would have been.”

Fig. 1 – From Don Easterbrook. Since 1900, global temperatures have closely correlated with the PDO Index. This belies AGW and portends a coming big chill

Easterbrook noted a strong correlation between PDO and solar activity, as did geophysicist Victor Manuel Velasco Herrara, who believes an even longer cold spell (60-80 years) has begun -- triggered by a decrease in solar activity. Habibullo Abdussamatov agrees, and illustrated how the 18 Little Ice Ages that occurred in the past 7500 years can all be attributed to “natural bicentennial variations in the average annual values of the total solar irradiance (TSI)” and its secondary subsequent feedback effects (natural changes in the albedo, water vapor abundance, etc.). Abdussamatov demonstrated that each time the TSI reached a peak (up to 0.2%) a period of global warming began “with a time lag of 156 years defined by the thermal inertia of the Ocean (despite the absence of anthropogenic influence).” Contrarily, “each deep bicentennial descent in the TSI caused a Little Ice Age.” Based on the present cycle, the astrophysicist expects “the beginning of the new Little Ice Age epoch approximately in 2014.”

Hurricane specialist William Gray also brought along some mighty convincing charts proving that most of the warming experienced in the past thousand years can be attributed to deep ocean circulations, strengthened and weakened by century-scale salinity variations. While the relationship of Sea Surface Temperatures to evaporation, rainfall and wind patterns, albedo and, ultimately, air temperature is complex and beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that this translates to ocean – not carbon -- driven global temperatures.

Gray believes the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a result of a multi-century slowdown of the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC), similar to that experienced in the 20th century and corresponded to similar warming. Conversely, the Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of stronger than average MOC, as we are beginning to see today. Gray, too, predicts that strengthening ocean currents portend global cooling over the next few decades, even as carbon dioxide levels continue to climb.

So how is it that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center just declared this year’s January-May period the warmest on record?

“If we torture the data long enough, it will confess”

AT readers are no doubt well aware that, thanks in large part to the efforts of WUWT’s indefatigable Anthony Watts, we’ve known for years that over 90% of American stations misreport temperature data by between 1C and 5C. Furthermore, “smoothing” adjustments to “homogenize” station data to that of surrounding stations and dismissal of the biasing phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect have grossly exaggerated 20th-century warming.

Not coincidentally, Dr. Craig Loehle concluded that after subtracting UHIE and other measurement artifacts, a 59 year natural cycle of warming and cooling remains. And while that cycle matches that of the PDO to a tee, the MSM respond as though only “deniers” could possibly suggest a link.

But last November we learned just how far ideologues at England’s Climate Research Unit were willing to go when glaring evidence that its scientists had doctored climate data to remove previous warm periods from the history books while exaggerating modern warming and suppressing modern cooling surfaced.

And further investigation uncovered by a team lead by ICCC-4 presenter Joe D’Aleo revealed that the two primary U.S. sources of global temperature have also been manipulating land-based instrumental readings. NOAA has been strategically deleting cherry-picked, cooler-reporting weather observation stations from the temperature data and NASA has intentionally replaced the dropped NOAA readings with those of stations located in much warmer locales.


It takes Britain for extremes of nuttiness

Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing!

Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing. Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing.

Critics of wind farms have seized on the revelation as evidence of the unsuitability of turbines to meet the UK's energy needs in the future. They claim that the 'intermittent' nature of wind makes such farms unreliable providers of electricity.

The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households. The electricity cannot be stored, so one solution – known as the 'balancing mechanism' – is to switch off or reduce the power supplied.

The system is already used to reduce supply from coal and gas-fired power stations when there is low demand. But shutting down wind farms is likely to cost the National grid – and ultimately consumers – far more. When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative 'green' subsidies for that electricity.

The first successful test shut down of wind farms took place three weeks ago. Scottish Power received 13,000 for closing down two farms for a little over an hour on 30 May at about five in the morning. Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid 15 to 20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid 180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.

It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.

Dr Lee Moroney, planning director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank opposed to the widespread introduction of wind farms, said: "As more and more wind farms come on stream this will become more and more of an issue. Wind power is not controllable and does not provide a solid supply to keep the national grid manageable. Paying multinational companies large sums of money not to supply electricity seems wrong."

Earlier this year, The Sunday Telegraph revealed that electricity customers are paying more than 1 billion a year to subsidise wind farms and other forms of renewable energy.

The proceeds of the levy, known as the Renewables Obligation (RO), are divided between the main renewable energy sources, with wind receiving 40 per cent, landfill gas 25 per cent, biomass 20 per cent, hydroelectric 12 per cent and sewage gas 3 per cent.

Professor Michael Laughton, emeritus professor of electrical engineering at the University of London, said: "People will find it very hard to understand that an electricity company is getting paid the market rate plus a subsidy for doing nothing. It is essentially a waste of consumers' money."

A National Grid spokesman said: "The trial demonstrates that wind can help balance supply and demand just like other generation types: this is potentially useful to us on warm but windy summer days when generation outstrips the low demand – and a higher proportion of generation is made up of wind and inflexible nuclear."

The spokesman added: "The trial is something supporters of wind energy should welcome, as it gives evidence to their case that wind generation does not bring insurmountable problems to balancing supply and demand."

A spokesman for RenewableUK, the trade body which represents the renewable energy industry, said all suppliers to the National Grid periodically were asked to reduce output to control the balancing mechanism. He said it was simply evidence of the growing part wind energy had to play in Britain's supply needs that turbines would occasionally be taken off the National Grid.

He added: "REF exists to misrepresent any piece of information and turn it into a scandal or crisis. The reality is the National Grid's job is to ensure we have adequate capacity to meet demand at any one time."


A forgotten past

If you think cars are dirty, just think about their precedessors like horse-drawn contraptions, steam locomotives and traction engines

One of the greatest legacies of the rise of the motor vehicle is the favour it did to the horse.... when horsepower meant exactly that, the horse had a terrible time of it.

Working horses in cities could live for as little as three years before they were fit for nothing more than dog food and glue, and it was only the coming of internal combustion that allowed them to shed the yoke of thankless service to humankind's unrelenting quest to improve its lot.

My relationship with horses has always been quite poor. They don't like me, and I'm not sure I really like them, or at least not as a means of transport. But I wouldn't want the witless beasts to suffer. A horse's brain is incredibly small, and quickly filled with the comprehension of its own misery, to the exclusion of all other thought, I reckon.

Horses also poo a lot. These days we see the brass-bedecked brewer's dray-horse as a happy throwback to a time of bucolic and pre-global innocence when life was sedate and conducted to the strains of olde English airs such as Early One Morning, Angels Guard Thee and The Ash Cloud. But no one mentions all the poo - tons of it, everywhere, and covered in flies.

I followed a troop of horses through town the other day, on a motorcycle, and every few dozen yards one of them deposited another malodorous mini-roundabout on the Queen's highway. It was like a shit slalom.

And this was just a dozen or so horses, not the many thousands that once tramped the roads of London. So the piston engine not only saved the horse from its burden, it saved us from its ordure. This was a good thing.

The steam engine also did its bit to save the horse, but dropped its own industrial excrement in the form of soot produced by burning coal. I reckon this was better than the horse poo, but still not great.

Before you all write in, I know the significance of coal in industrialising the world and making it a better place. I realise that coal, in a roundabout sort of way, saved trees as well. But I also think we may have forgotten just how dirty it was.

Walk into an old railway tunnel, a place not washed by the rain or cleaned up by ambitious local councils, and notice how blackened it is, even to this day, more than 40 years since the demise of steam on our mainline railways. Coal did that.

When steam engines were everywhere, and coal was burned in the home and in urban power stations, everything looked like that, including people's faces.

I have spoken recently to old men who recount how they had to swap the interchangeable collars of their shirts by the time they arrived at work because the ones they had put on after breakfast were by then already filthy. So the cult of coal gave us the fashion for coloured shirts with white collars, which is pretty unforgivable.

I sometimes think that everything must have tasted of coal in the olden days. That slightly dusty, faintly sulphurous quality is a tasting note revered by wine connoisseurs, but imagine if cornflakes were like that, or a prawn salad. Horrible. Internal combustion saved us from all this as well.

My point is this: the world is actually becoming cleaner, all other things concerning usage being equal. If everyone who now has a car had a horse or a traction engine, we would be consumed by cack within days.

Obviously, the car as we know it will soon be replaced. We don't know by what, but I bet it will be cleaner still, and whatever it is will be dirty compared with what comes after that. Pretty soon the world will be so clean that it will be perfectly possible to eat safely off any vaguely flat surface, or have your appendix out in the middle of the road.

The message, I think, is clear. Left to its own devices, humanity naturally embraces the thing we are constantly being nagged about - reduced emissions. How marvellous is that?


Green/Left War on Land Owners, Home Owners and Shareholders

Comment from Australia

The Carbon Sense Coalition today claimed that the war on carbon was just another battle in the long war on property rights by populists in Parliament.

Speaking yesterday at the well attended annual meeting of Property Rights Australia in Emerald, the Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that Mark Twain was right – “No man’s life liberty or property is safe while parliament is sitting”.

He added: “The war on property rights is always carried out under the spurious slogan of “the public interest”. “It is always secretly serving a private interest. “Mainly it is being used by politicians to buy votes from swinging voters or to attract green preferences.

“Currently ‘global warming’ and ‘carbon pollution’ are their preferred vote winners. As these scams are exposed as grubby schemes to serve private interests in the carbon trading and alternate energy industries, new slogans will be found. “But always it will be an attack on the right of property owners to use and enjoy the security of their own property.

“Farmers have been robbed of their rights by bans on controlling woody weeds and regrowth on their properties. Seaside property values are being damaged by sudden changes in zoning laws and development plans using the excuse of possible sea level changes. Shareholders in mining companies have seen the value of their retirement funds slump under the threat of super taxes needed by the federal government to balance the books after the extravagant stimulus packages and roof insulation disasters. Real job opportunities for aboriginal people are destroyed by ‘Wild Rivers’ legislation. Fishermen are being deprived of the right to fish, and foresters are locked out of the forests.

“And at this moment many property rights are being trampled to force feed the unnatural growth of the wind, solar and natural gas industries, using various spurious climate excuses. Those whose assets are suffering include landowners, miners, tax payers, shareholders and electricity consumers.

Mr Forbes advised members of Property Rights Australia to focus on the real problem, which is in parliament. “It is not other property owners such as miners, gas producers and native title claimants who are your main enemy – they too have bits of paper signed by politicians giving them rights which are often vague and, too often, overlap and degrade your property rights. These overlapping property rights are at the root of all discord between various classes of property owners.

“My advice to all land owners is “Know your rights, get good legal advice, negotiate hard with other conflicting property owners, but keep out of court battles with them – the only winners in that battle are the lawyers. “Focus your legal weapons and court actions on government property invaders, and make sure your politicians feel the heat.

“And as the global warming scam is exposed, watch for their next excuse for grabbing control of your lives and property. “There will be one – bio-diversity, sustainability, soil conservation, ocean acidity, saving something cuddly, energy conservation, or, most likely, all of the above.”


Guess who holds a patent for a carbon-trading plan

Disgraced Fannie Mae CEO set to cash in for millions

Former Clinton and Obama budget adviser Franklin Raines owns a key carbon-emissions patent he developed as CEO of the government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae, positioning him and his partners to make millions of dollars if it is used in any carbon-capping scheme implemented by the Obama administration.

Raines and his associates led Fannie Mae and Congress to believe Fannie Mae owned the patent, despite public records to the contrary, a WND investigation has found.

Raines and his partners carried out their plan by quietly filing for and receiving a second nearly identical carbon-emissions patent that superseded the first patent, according to government records. The second patent was never assigned to Fannie Mae or any other party.

As WND reported, an Enron-like accounting scandal enabled Raines to earn $90 million in his five years as Fannie Mae CEO, from 1999 to 2004....

As WND reported, Raines and two other top Fannie Mae executives agreed to pay $24.7 million, including a $2 million fine, to settle a civil lawsuit filed in December 2006 accusing them of manipulating Fannie Mae earnings, allowing executives to pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004.

Raines was forced to give up Fannie Mae stock options valued at $15.6 million as part of the settlement.

On July 17, 2008, the the Washington Post ran a profile piece on Raines stating he "has been quietly constructing a new life for himself" in which he takes "calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."



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


20 June, 2010

The Week That Was (to June 19, 2010)

By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

On Tuesday, IPCC Chairman R.K. Pachauri gave a rather remarkable interview on BBC, claiming that he welcomes a vigorous debate on the science of climate change. (See quote above.) Of course, the skeptics may continue to be a bit skeptical. Pachauri has called them “flat earthers” who should apply asbestos to their faces.

Given the revelations of ClimateGate, perhaps Pachauri is concerned about his job – one from which he claims he receives no income. Or, perhaps, he has genuinely undergone a remarkable transformation.

We shall have to wait and see. An early indicator may be if the IPCC actually tries to test some of the critical assumptions in the computer models, such as that water vapor amplifies (is a positive feedback to) the slight warming produced by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Another indicator could be attempting to establish empirical parameters on the effects of aerosols that are “hiding true global warming.” The acid test will be permitting skeptics to write dissenting views in the “Summary for Policymakers.” (One can always dream.)

The BP oil spill continues to have considerable political ramifications, with vengeance as a motivating factor for some. BP has been forced to set up, early, a $20 Billion fund to provide relief for those economically impacted by the spill – including those put out of work by the government’s declaration of a moratorium on all deep water drilling. As explained in last week’s TWTW, the administration attempted to justify this moratorium, claiming it was recommended by highly qualified engineers. The engineers would have none of that and stated they made no such recommendation for existing permits.

Efforts to control the extent of the spill are still underway. Unfortunately, in spite of administration claims that it has been in charge since day one, there still appears to be no one in charge and conflicting statements are the order of the day.

Politicians and the environmental industry are gearing up to make the most of this spill. Numerous articles and television broadcasts are long on adjectives and lurid photographs, but short on facts. What is the actual extent of the environmental damage? Clearly, no one can predict how long the aftereffects will remain, but it appears that once the well is shut off, most of the effects will disappear rather quickly.

What about the wildlife that is so frequently shown in photographs? US Fish and Wildlife has established a control center, monitoring affected birds, sea turtles, mammals, and reptiles. These are classified by alive or dead and by visibly oiled, no visible oil, or status pending. Visible oil on a dead animal does not mean the animal died from oil exposure. As of June 17, with 58 days of records, of the 1468 alive and dead birds collected, the total number of visibly oiled, dead birds was – 196 – a far cry from the impression one receives in the news reports. The data tables can be found at this web site

The fate of the cap and tax law (Kerry-Lieberman bill – S-1733) is uncertain. The administration is using the oil spill to justify penalizing oil as well as coal – thus further penalizing American prosperity. Proponents are also bringing up the issue of American security – reliance on oil from the Mid-East. Thus, it is useful to examine the source of imported crude oil by region as reported by the Energy Information Administration for 2009.

Of the 4,279,908 barrels of crude oil and similar products imported by the US, only 620,938 (14.5%) came from the Persian Gulf states which is less than the 899,370 barrels (21%) that came from Canada. The five major nations from which US imports oil are, in order: Canada, Mexico (10.5%), Venezuela (9.2%), Saudi Arabia (8.6%), and Nigeria (6.9%).

It is important to distinguish the uses of various fuels. Oil is the major transportation fuel and only about 1% of US electricity is generated from it. By contrast, coal is principally an electricity generating fuel with almost 50% of US electricity generated from it. As it is now being restructured, the targets of cap and tax will not only be electricity, but also transportation.

Last week, TWTW mentioned the review in Science of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. This week the George C. Marshall Institute issued its comments on this book which focused on the attack on three of the Institute’s founders: Frederick Seitz, Robert Jastrow, and William Nierenberg. The comments on Seitz suffice for all. Oreskes-Conway accuse Seitz of consulting with R.J. Reynolds to discredit studies showing a link between cigarette smoking and cancer.

The Institute admits that Seitz did consult with R.J. Reynolds – to guide a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in human health research and development at Rockefeller University, a leading bio-medical research institution. This effort funded the research by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, who received a Nobel Prize for his work on prions. Strangely, the Science article made no mention of this scientific research. If this scientific research is somehow “tainted”, how should one consider research at Duke University, founded with tobacco money, or Stanford University, founded with railroad money, or that at many other universities?


A Congressional candidate with a degree in Physics from Harvard is an outspoken skeptic

Mike Stopa is running for U.S. Congress from the third district of Massachusetts. His site is here

Global Average Sea Surface Temperatures Continue their Plunge

Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) measured by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite continue their plunge as a predicted La Nina approaches. The following plot, updated through yesterday (June 17, 2010) shows that the cooling in the Nino34 region in the tropical east Pacific is well ahead of the cooling in the global average SST, something we did not see during the 2007-08 La Nina event (click on it for the large, undistorted version):

The rate at which the Nino34 SSTs are falling is particularly striking, as seen in this plot of the SST change rate for that region:

To give some idea of what is causing the global-average SST to fall so rapidly, I came up with an estimate of the change in reflected sunlight (shortwave, or SW flux) using our AMSR-E total integrated cloud water amounts. This was done with a 7+ year comparison of those cloud water estimates to daily global-ocean SW anomalies computed from the CERES radiation budget instrument, also on Aqua:

What this shows is an unusually large increase in reflected sunlight over the last several months, probably due to an increase in low cloud cover.

At this pace of cooling, I suspect that the second half of 2010 could ruin the chances of getting a record high global temperature for this year. Oh, darn.

SOURCE (See the original for links & graphics)

The Unscientific American again

Does the "Scientific American" still employ scientists? They certainly still employ credulous journalists. I reproduce the first part of a rave by a panic-stricken little fluff-head below and follow with some comments by "eminence grise" Fred Singer. See also the article following the one below

The EPA found there is only a 1% chance of avoiding the increasing incidence of climate-caused catastrophes like floods, droughts and sea level rise without passage of this year’s American Power Act (APA) to place a cap on carbon emissions and then lower the pollution permittted each year.

This week the EPA released its findings on the environmental impact of the legislation: a 75% chance of a livable climate with passage of APA, only a 1% chance without it. Armageddon that is preventable, by our actions.

Yet, despite these truly dire findings for the real cost to us of inaction, news stories covered the estimate of the financial impact if we do act (20 – 40 cents a day or less than a postage stamp) but completely omitted any mention of the only 1% chance at a future in which to spend pennies, if we don’t act.

A 99% chance of catastrophe without legislation that is under threat of filibuster by the Senate GOP should be news to all US voters, including the increasing numbers of climate-related disaster victims, not just to readers of Wonkroom and the NRDC.

Especially when the odds are much better of keeping global average temperature rise below 2 C (or 3.6 F) if we pass climate legislation this year....


Fred Singer points out that the journalist has simply swallowed the EPA assertions, hook, line and sinker:

EPA's 'analysis' of the American Power Act is so bad, I wonder if a response to Scientific American is worthwhile.

1. It assumes a climate sensitivity that is not justified by any evidence

2. It ignores all forcings except CO2

3. It assumes that China and India will go along in rationing energy use

4. It uses the 'magic' 2 degC threshold -- for which there is no scientific evidence

5. It assumes that Floods, Droughts etc will all increase with temp

6. It ignores the benefits of GW and Increased CO2

7. It uses made-up risk probabilities, disguised as science


EPA's New Analysis of Cap and Trade: Same Old Faulty Logic

The Environmental Protection Agency released its economic analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman cap and trade legislation, the latest cap and trade bill to be released in the Senate. The result was nearly the same as the EPA’s analysis of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill passed in the House of Representatives last year: postage stamp per day costs. Instead of $176 per household for Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Lieberman would cost households $146 by 2050. Unfortunately for Americans, nothing substantial in the EPA analysis has changed; it is still unreasonable, faulty, and fragile. The reality remains that cap and trade is a substantial energy tax that will cause trillions of dollars in economic damage and kill jobs.

Inappropriate Use of Discounting

Most misleading in the EPA analyses of cap and trade is the use of discounting. A discount rate is an interest rate used to find present value of an amount to be paid or received in the future. In other words, present value analysis answers the question: How much would I have to have today in order to meet my financial obligations or pay certain costs in the future? Discounting is a legitimate tool in finance and for cost-benefit calculations. But discounting can give a much distorted view of costs, as is done by those misrepresenting the EPA analysis. Here’s an example to help clarify:

Imagine that a time machine takes analysts back to 1969 — a time when the average price of a new car was about $3,500. Once back in 1969, the exercise is to explain to Congress how much a new car will cost 40 years later in 2009. Having already lived to see 2009, we know the average price for a new car is about $23,000. But telling the Congress of 1969 that in 40 years cars will cost $23,000 would give an exaggerated notion of the cost increase, because inflation alone will have increased prices by a factor of 5.8. If inflation is taken into account, the price of a new car in 2009 is about $4,000 in 1969 dollars. This conveys the most meaningful measure of the cost.

Taking this inflation-adjusted (1969 dollars) $4,000 price of the average new car in 2009 and discounting it in the EPA fashion would generate a present value in 1969 of $562. This is clearly much less than the cost of an average car in 2009, even after adjusting for inflation.

What then is this $562? It is the amount when invested for 40 years, at an interest rate guaranteed to be 5 percent above inflation that would buy the $23,000 car. In other words, if a person in 1969 invested $562 at 9.72 percent interest (5 percent above inflation), letting the entire interest compound and paying no taxes, it would now amount to $23,000, enough to buy a new car.

The same holds true for the EPA’s use of discounting. The discounted value is not the amount households will have to pay each year, even with discounting. In the most generous case, the present value is the amount that would have to be paid for one year, right now, if the present value for each of the 40 years were paid in one lump sum right now — that is, if the cost for all 40 years were paid at once. So no matter how it is sliced, there is no sense in which a postage stamp (or even one dollar) per day reflects the annual cost of the cap-and-trade legislation.

Doesn’t Fully Measure Costs

The EPA uses household figures and measures consumption changes only. First, a household is not necessarily a family. The average household size is 2.6 people. Adjusting household size to a family-of-four standard adds another 53 percent.

Secondly, consumption changes are typically less than income changes, as families respond to income losses by saving less. When income drops, people prevent consumption from dropping by dipping into savings. In turn, lower savings reduces the ability of families to cope with other shocks and reduces their future income. Further, consumption comes from after-tax dollars, so losses in tax revenue do not show up in data on household consumption. The real economic cost is the loss of income. Change in national income, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), is a better measure of the overall economic impact of a policy.

In the end, Americans will be much poorer and the economy would be trillions of dollars weaker with climate change legislation in place than without it, as Heritage Foundation analyses of past cap-and-trade bills have shown.

Generous Assumptions

The EPA reports that “The APA is estimated to lead to a significant decline in electricity generation from non-CCS fossil fuels — a 23% decrease from 2010 levels by 2030 and an 81% decrease by 2050. This is in stark contrast to the expected steady increase in non-CCS fossil fuel electricity generation without the APA policy – a 22% increase by 2030 and a 56% increase by 2050.”

To get there, the EPA includes generous assumptions, specifically on the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the use of offsets and the increase in nuclear power. With CCS, even after extraordinary technological and economic hurdles have been cleared, there are more political and environmental obstacles to storing 15 supertanker’s worth of liquid CO2 every day. The considerable regulatory and legal hurdles to CCS
have been noted by the Congressional Budget Office:

“Similarly, generators would be unlikely to adopt technologies for the capture of CO2 and its sequestration in the ground unless an extensive regulatory structure was put in place to address issues involving property rights, rights-of-way for pipelines, and liability for emissions that escape from the ground.”

Anyway, it’s no surprise the costs are higher in the EPA’s model where CCS is delayed.

The use of offsets is another highly contentious program that is subject to fraud and will produce dubious results. With offsets a coal plant operator can forego cutting CO2 emission and, instead, pay someone else to do so. For instance, a company could pay a logger not to cut down trees, or they could pay someone to grow trees since trees absorb carbon.

Or a developing country can build a cleaner coal plant saying they were going to build a dirtier one while cashing a check from a developed country for the alleged carbon offset. Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, two lawyers working for the EPA who oversaw California’s cap and trade and offsets programs, have serious doubts about the effectiveness of the offset provision. They make a similar case with forest owners:

“[I]f the landowner wasn’t planning to cut his forest, he just received a bonus for doing what he would have done anyway. Even if he was planning to cut his forest and doesn’t, demand for wood isn’t reduced. A different forest will be cut. Either way, there is no net reduction in production of greenhouse gases. The result of this carbon “offset” is not a decrease but an increase — coal burning above the cap at the power plant.”

Another sign of problems with domestic and international offsets is that the Kerry-Boxer bill devoted 90 pages to outlining the regulatory structure for certifying and handling offsets.

Furthermore, trying to increase the production of nuclear energy in the United States, without proper regulatory and waste management reform, will stick us with only a handful of reactors—just the ones the government subsidizes through loan guarantees. Although the nuclear title in Kerry-Lieberman is strong on regulatory reform, it does little to address waste management and includes a host of subsidies for nuclear. This doesn’t get us the nuclear renaissance assumed in the EPA economic analysis.

No Green Stimulus, No Environmental Benefit, Minimal Oil Reduction

Even the most generous scenario in this EPA report shows that costs will be forced on the economy—higher energy prices and lost income. For every year reported, household consumption drops compared to a world without Boxer-Kerry. This is a climate bill and, even according to the EPA, it will reduce economic activity. Spinning this as a job-creating, green stimulus bill is simply untrue.

Regardless of whether the lower cost estimates are true, this bill provides negligible environmental benefit. Global temperature reduction from Kerry-Lieberman would be .077 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and 0.200 degrees by 2100. And despite the best attempt for politicians to marry the Gulf oil spill and cap and trade legislation, even the EPA analysis shows cap and trade will do very little to cut petroleum use (page 31).

Yet, after President Obama’s speech in the Oval Office, former Vice President Al Gore said, “Placing a limit on global warming pollution and accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies is the only truly effective long-term solution to this crisis.” Cap and trade is an effective solution to raise energy prices for years to come and choke our economy, but that’s about it.


The Immutable Law Of The Potomac

Sen. Joe Lieberman believes American households are "willing to pay less than $1" a day to stop global warming. The Connecticut independent needs a lesson in the history of government program costs.

Lieberman and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts introduced in May a nearly 1,000-page climate bill they say is necessary for cutting the man-made carbon dioxide emissions they believe are warming the earth. Their goal, through the legislation's cap-and-trade components, is to reduce CO2 emissions 17% below 2005 levels 10 years from now by setting prices on carbon.

A 74-page study by the Environmental Protection Agency released Tuesday said that the cap-and-trade provisions of the American Power Act would cost an average U.S. household from $80 to $150 a year. Lieberman was clearly pleased by the analysis.

But he nonetheless warned that "there'll be some people who will want to demagogue that politically" — before resorting himself to a bit of demagoguery by noting that the EPA's cost estimate is "less than $1 a day."

Lieberman should be disabused of this fantasy and shamed into telling the country the truth. The cost will be higher, much higher. A Heritage Foundation analysis of a similar cap-and-trade bill found that the legislation would by 2035 cause a total GDP loss of $9.4 trillion, reduce the average family's net worth by $40,000 and cost 2.5 million jobs.

In making his less-than-a-dollar-a-day claim, Lieberman ignores a law of the Potomac: Government programs are never as inexpensive as those who support them say they will be. Neither are the taxpayers as unmolested as the lawmakers who pile on larger loads of mandates promise they will be. It is the nature of government programs and regulations to cost more than their advertised price.

As we have noted before, no program has exceeded its projected costs more egregiously than Medicare. When it was created in 1965, the public was told that its hospital portion would cost a mere $9 billion by 1990. The real cost, though, was $66 billion.

For all parts of the Medicare program, the cost was projected to be $12 billion by 1990. Yet it actually cost $107 billion.

When a fourth part — the prescription drug benefit — was added to Medicare in 2003, Washington was still having trouble calculating future costs. When the program was being debated, the public was told it would cost $400 billion in its first decade. After it was passed, forecasts assumed the program would cost $534 billion across its first 10 years. Then, within the space of a few months, the projection jumped to $1.2 trillion.

The cost of Medicaid, the government's health care system for the poor, has followed an upward trend similar to that of Medicare. Launched in 1965, it was supposed to cost $9 billion by 1990. But after that quarter of a century, Medicaid's real cost was $67 billion.

A special hospital subsidy was added to Medicaid in 1987 that Washington said would cost $100 million in five years. Yet the government spent $11 billion on it.

The architects of Medicare and Medicaid should have learned from Social Security, which began collecting payroll taxes 28 years earlier. The tax rate needed to keep that monster fed has grown sharply, from 1% to 12.4%, (total of the combined "contributions" from both employee and employer).

Less than a dollar a day? Not a chance. And Lieberman should know better. He's been in Washington long enough to appreciate that spending estimates in that town are worth less than a congressman's word.

Even if the EPA estimate is correct, there is also the question of effectiveness. Why should Americans be forced to spend even a single dime on a program that's not needed and would be grossly ineffective? Not needed, because the scientists who believe in global warming are just guessing. And grossly ineffective because, according to climatologist Paul C. Knappenberger, the American Power Act would cut global temperatures by only 0.077 of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050 and 0.2 of a degree by 2100.

At less than a dollar a day, it's still a poor investment because there simply is no return. Paying for Lieberman and Kerry's vanity legislation would be like paying for a ride on a unicorn: The promise will never materialize.



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


19 June, 2010

Warmists forget the principle of parsimony

The principle of parsimony says that simpler explanations are to be preferred. Even I as a poor dimwitted social scientist know that to be a basic axiom in science. So why is it an amazing discovery that "The timing and the amplitude of temperature changes [in the Northern Hemisphere] are reproduced in the tropical temperatures. The patterns are incredibly similar."?

Surely normal, well-known principles of gaseous and heat diffusion would lead us to expect that without invoking carbon dioxide?

And the "discovery" that warming tends to be global will surely come as no surprise to Al Gore and all the other preachers of global warming! They too appear to assume that normal, well-known principles of gaseous and heat diffusion would lead us to expect warming to be global.

To help others get on top of this momentous discovery, I follow the BBC summary of the article below with the original journal abstract

A "global pattern" of change in the Earth's climate began 2.7 million years ago, say scientists. Researchers found that, at this point, temperature patterns in the tropics slipped into step with patterns of Ice Ages in the Northern Hemisphere.

They report in the journal Science that atmospheric CO2 could be the "missing link" to explain this global pattern.

The findings, they say, reveal a "feedback process" that could have been magnified by greenhouse gases. This loop of feedback could have intensified both the Ice Ages in the Northern Hemisphere, and temperature fluctuations in the tropics.

Professor Timothy Herbert from Brown University in Rhode Island, US, led the research. He and his colleagues, in the US and China, analysed mud cores from the seabed in the four tropical ocean basins - the Arabian Sea, the South China Sea, the eastern Pacific and the equatorial Atlantic Ocean.

These mud cores are laid down over millions of years - as sediments of dead plant and animal material sink to the ocean floor. So by analysing the chemical composition of this material - specifically the chemical remains of one ancient and tiny marine organism - the scientists were able to produce a timeline of temperature changes.

The team "found a fingerprint in the sequence of temperature changes" - a pattern that began 2.7 million years ago, Professor Herbert explained. He told BBC News: "The timing and the amplitude of temperature changes [in the Northern Hemisphere] are reproduced in the tropical temperatures. The patterns are incredibly similar."

He added that the study provided the first direct evidence of a global pattern in climate change that dated back almost three million years. Professor Herbert added that the "best global mechanism" to explain this link was the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Dr Carrie Lear, a palaeoclimate scientist from Cardiff University in the UK, agreed that carbon dioxide was the likely "culprit". She told BBC News: "This study reveals a feedback process that has magnified climate change since the inception of Northern Hemisphere glaciation 2.7 million years ago. "It seems the tropical warming caused by high CO2 levels set off a chain of events resulting in additional greenhouse gases, including water vapour, being released to the atmosphere, thus causing further warming."

Dr Lear said that such studies of past climate change were "invaluable in understanding the current climate system, and hence predicting future change".


Tropical Ocean Temperatures Over the Past 3.5 Million Years

By Timothy D. Herbert et al.

Determining the timing and amplitude of tropical sea surface temperature (SST) change is an important part of solving the puzzle of the Plio-Pleistocene ice ages. Alkenone-based tropical SST records from the major ocean basins show coherent glacial-interglacial temperature changes of 1 to 3C that align with (but slightly lead) global changes in ice volume and deep ocean temperature over the past 3.5 million years. Tropical temperatures became tightly coupled with benthic {delta}18O and orbital forcing after 2.7 million years. We interpret the similarity of tropical SST changes, in dynamically dissimilar regions, to reflect "top-down" forcing through the atmosphere. The inception of a strong carbon dioxide–greenhouse gas feedback and amplification of orbital forcing at ~2.7 million years ago connected the fate of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets with global ocean temperatures since that time.

Science 18 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5985, pp. 1530 - 1534

The threat from ocean acidification is greatly exaggerated

By Matt Ridley

As part of an `interview’ with me, New Scientist published a critique by five scientists of two pages of my book The Rational Optimist. Despite its tone, this critique only confirms the accuracy of each of the statements in this section of the book. After reading their critiques, I stand even more firmly behind my conclusion that the threats to coral reefs from both man-made warming and ocean acidification are unlikely to be severe, rapid or urgent. In the case of acidification, this is underlined by a recent paper, published since my book was written, summarising the results of 372 papers and concluding that ocean acidification `may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century’. The burden of proof is on those who see an urgent threat to corals from warming and acidification. Here is what I wrote (italics), interspersed with summaries of the scientists’ comments and my replies.

Take coral reefs, which are suffering horribly from pollution, silt, nutrient run-off and fishing - especially the harvesting of herbivorous fishes that otherwise keep reefs clean of algae. Yet environmentalists commonly talk as if climate change is a far greater threat than these, and they are cranking up the apocalyptic statements just as they did wrongly about forests and acid rain

Andy Ridgwell says `I agree that at least for some reef systems, other, and more local human factors such as fishing and pollution may be the greater danger’ and Jelle Bijma says `I do agree that, for example, pollution and overfishing are also important problems, some even more important than the current impact of ocean acidification’. It was not therefore accurate of Liz Else to say that the critics accuse me of failing `to recognize that there is more to the health of corals than the amount of bicarbonate in the sea’ They do not – she has misrepresented their views and mine.

Charlie Veron, an Australian marine biologist: 'There is no hope of reefs surviving to even mid-century in any form that we now recognise.' Alex Rogers of the Zoological Society of London pledges an 'absolute guarantee of their annihilation'. No wriggle room there.

Chris Langdon agrees that such claims `may be extreme’. None of the others provides any evidence to support such extreme claims. Yet these remarks were widely reported in the media.

It is true that rapidly heating the water by a few degrees can devastate reefs by 'bleaching' out the corals' symbiotic algae, as happened to many reefs in the especially warm El Nio year of 1998. But bleaching depends more on rate of change than absolute temperature. This must be true because nowhere on the planet, not even in the Persian Gulf where water temperatures reach 35C, is there a sea too warm for coral reefs.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg says that `the observation that corals grow in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures of 35 C does not mean that coral reefs will be able to adapt rapidly to the current upward shift in sea temperatures’ in other words, he concedes the point I was actually making: bleaching is caused by rate of change of temperature, not absolute level of warmth. This is not understood by many commentators on the subject in both the environmental movement and the media. I am glad to have it confirmed, because it corrects a widespread misunderstanding.

Lots of places are too cold for coral reefs - the Galapagos, for example.

Ridgwell says that `There are in fact several reef communities in the Galapagos, so the inference that the Galapagos is "too cold" is incorrect (or at best, mis-interpretable), although I agree that colder temperatures are likely an important factor in the dominance of non-reef coral communities in this location.’ Which is it? `Incorrect’ or `an important factor’? He concedes my point in his last phrase: `the dominance of non-reef coral communities in this location.’ The very few reefs are in the warmer parts of the Galapagos. Incidentally, Charles Darwin once wrote: `There are no coral-reefs in the Galapagos Archipelago, as I know from personal inspection’.

It is now clear that corals rebound quickly from bleaching episodes, repopulating dead reefs in just a few years,

None of the five challenge this statement. As an example, a study of Fiji’s reefs following a bleaching episode (Lovell and Sykes 2008. International Coral Reef Symposium) states: `Though variable, substantial recovery to pre-bleaching levels was seen within 5 years in many areas.’

which is presumably how they survived the warming lurches at the end of the last ice age.

Both Ridgwell and Hoegh-Guldberg claim that current rates of temperature change are unprecedented. Ridgwell says that the deglacial transition `was a few degrees centigrade in about 4000 to 5000 years. In the future, we are looking at a few degrees in a hundred years - perhaps 50 times faster (certainly, one to two orders of magnitude higher).’ Hoegh-Guldberg refers to a rate of change `that is many times higher than even the most rapid shifts in conditions seen over the past million years or more.’

These are astonishing statements to anybody with even a cursory knowledge of the scientific literature on the ending of the last ice age. The current rate of temperature change since 1975 is estimated at about 0.161 degC per decade (and is incidentally not statistically distinguishable from that in the 1860-1880 or 1910-1940 periods – see Roger Harrabin’s interview with Phil Jones here: By contrast the deglacial transition was characterized by `local, regional, and more-widespread climate conditions [which] demonstrate that much of the Earth experienced abrupt climate changes synchronous with Greenland within thirty years or less’ (Alley 2000. Quaternary Science Reviews 213-226), including `a warming of 7 C in South Greenland [that] was completed in about 50 years’ (Dansgaard, White and Johnsen 1989, Nature 339: 532). That is a change roughly nine times as fast as has happened since 1980 – in Greenland or anywhere else.

Another study gives even bigger numbers, saying that the `abrupt warming (10  4 C)’ at the end of the Younger Dryas and the warming at the end of a short lived cooler interval known as the Preboreal Oscillation `may have occurred within a few years’ (Kobashi et al 2008 Earth and Planetary Sciences 268:397).

Nor was this rate of change confined to Greenland. As one article summarises, `temperatures  from the end of the Younger Dryas Period to the beginning of the Holocene some 12,500 years ago rose about 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a 50-year period in Antarctica, much of it in several major leaps lasting less than a decade.’ (Science Daily, Oct 2 1998). It is remarkable how few scientists working on other aspects of planetary ecology seem to know about these recent conclusions of much faster changes in the past. No climatologist would these days claim that current rates of change are unprecedented in `the past million years or more’.

It is also apparent from recent research that corals become more resilient the more they experience sudden warmings.

None of the five challenges this statement, which is based on a paper by Oliver and Palumbi 2009 (MEPS 378:93), which concluded that corals are `tougher than we thought’ (interview with Science News May 22, 2009) and on Baker et al 2004 (Nature 430:741), who say: ‘The adaptive shift in symbiont communities indicates that these devastated reefs could be more resistant to future thermal stress, resulting in significantly longer extinction times for surviving corals than had been previously assumed.

Some reefs may yet die if the world warms rapidly in the twenty-first century, but others in cooler regions may expand.

Ridgwell agrees `that eventual colonisation and expansion of corals into regions previously too cold will, in theory, be possible at some point in the future’ so there is no inaccuracy in my statement. He merely says that it is `unclear’ whether dispersal and colonisation can occur fast enough to keep up with increasing temperatures.

Local threats are far more immediate than climate change.

Ridgwell agrees `that at least for some reef systems, other, and more local human factors such as fishing and pollution may be the greater danger’ but says this may not be true for those in protected areas – because the local threats there have been reduced. That is merely a statement of the obvious. But the greatest threats to coral reefs come outside protected areas.

Ocean acidification looks suspiciously like a back-up plan by the environmental pressure groups in case the climate fails to warm: another try at condemning fossil fuels.

A statement of my opinion based on what follows.

The oceans are alkaline, with an average pH of about 8.1, well above neutral (7).

Langdon confirms this: `Yes, it is true that the surface oceans are slightly alkaline at a pH of 8.1’ but then says that `the declining pH of the surface ocean is one of the most firmly established facts in climate change science.’ Is he implying that I dispute this? I do not. Incidentally, the pH of the ocean varies hugely, being below neutral in some inshore areas influenced by run off from the land. On some coral reefs it goes as low as 7.5 at night and as high as 9.4 in the day (Revelle and Fairbridge 1957).

Remarkably there are parts of the sea with pH already far lower than it can possibly go as a result of carbon emissions. In one hydrothermal spot off Iceland, it is 5.36-7.29.Yet four-decade-old mussels have learned to cope with even this acidity, though growing half as fast as in normal waters (Tunnicliffe et al 2009, Nature Geoscience 10.1038).

They are also extremely well buffered.

Langdon agrees: `And yes, the oceans are well buffered’.

Very high carbon dioxide levels could push that number down, perhaps to about 7.95 by 2050 - still highly alkaline

Presumably it is here that Bijma thinks I `introduce confusion about the term "acidification"’ merely because by saying that 7.95 is still highly alkaline, I am accurately reminding the reader that there is no prediction of the oceans becoming technically `acid’ – ie having a pH lower than 7. Far from introducing confusion, I was attempting to reduce the very confusion so often encountered by readers who think that acidification will lead to oceans that are actually acid. In any case, my statement is accurate.

and still much higher than it was for most of the last 100 million years.

Ridgwell agrees: `Ocean pH in the past (at least, according to published reconstructions) was indeed lower than now during the Cretaceous, and probably lower than anything we will manage in the future.’

Some argue that this tiny downward shift in average alkalinity could make it harder for animals and plants that deposit calcium carbonate in their skeletons to do so. But this flies in the face of chemistry: the reason the acidity is increasing is that the dissolved bicarbonate is increasing too –

Langdon agrees: `Matt is correct that bicarbonate concentrations are increasing’.

 and increasing the bicarbonate concentration increases the ease with which carbonate can be precipitated out with calcium by creatures that seek to do so.

Here there seems superficially to be a disagreement, but in reality there is none. Ridgwell, Langdon and Bijma say that carbonate levels fall rather than rise as a result of increasing dissolved carbon dioxide. But I don’t say that carbonate levels rise. I say that the biological precipitation of carbonate by organisms is easier at higher bicarbonate levels.

And Langdon confirms this: `Matt is correct that the skeleton and shell building of some species is unaffected or even increases under reduced pH’. My evidence? For example, Ries et al 2009 (Geology37:1131) found that in seven of the 18 species of calcifiers they observed `net calcification increased under the intermediateand/or highest levels of pCO2’. And that their results `suggestthat the impact of elevated atmospheric pCO2 on marine calcificationis more varied than previously thought, while Hendriks et al 2010 (Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 86:157) found that  the ion chemistry inside the bodies of calcifiers is more important than that outside them, and there is evidence that some of them – eg coccolithophores – actually find it energetically easier to deposit carbonate shells at slightly lower pH.

Even with tripled bicarbonate concentrations, corals show a continuing increase in both photosynthesis and calcification.

My source was the Herfort et al 2008 paper, which Ridgwell says is irrelevant, because of its experimental design. That’s his opinion, which others in the field do not share. In any case, my statement was a correct and precise description of the result.

This is confirmed by a rash of empirical studies showing that increased carbonic acid either has no effect or actually increases the growth of calcareous plankton, cuttlefish larvae and coccolithophores.

Hoegh-Guldberg disagrees: `Call it inconvenient but the vast bulk of scientific evidence shows that marine calcifiers such as coccolithophores, corals and oysters are being heavily impacted already by ocean acidification.’ He provides no reference.

By contrast, I cite Iglesias-Rodriguez et al 2008 (Science 320:336). They state: `From the mid-Mesozoic, coccolithophores have beenmajor calcium carbonate producers in the world's oceans, todayaccounting for about a third of the total marine CaCO3 production.Here, we present laboratory evidence that calcification andnet primary production in the coccolithophore species Emilianiahuxleyi are significantly increased by high CO2 partial pressures.Field evidence from the deep ocean is consistent with theselaboratory conclusions, indicating that over the past 220 yearsthere has been a 40% increase in average coccolith mass’.

As for oysters, Miller et al. 2009 (PLOS ONE 4: 10.1371) found that oyster larvae `appeared to grow, calcify and develop normally with no obvious morphological deformities, despite conditions of significant aragonite undersaturation,’ and that these findings `run counter to expectations that aragonite shelled larvae should be especially prone to dissolution at high pCO2’.

As for sea urchins, Lacoue-Labarthe et al. 2009 (Biogeosciences 6)  report that `decreasing pH resulted in higher egg weight at the end of development at both temperatures (p < 0.05), with maximal values at pH 7.85 (1.60 0.21 g and 1.83 0.12 g at 16C and 19C, respectively).’.

As for corals, Suwa et al. 2010 (Fisheries science 76) report that `larval survival rate did not differ significantly among pH treatments.’

Lest my critics still accuse me of cherry-picking studies, let me refer them also to the results of Hendriks et al. (2010, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 86:157). Far from being a cherry-picked study, this is a massive meta-analysis. The authors observed that `warnings that ocean acidification is a major threat to marine biodiversity are largely based on the analysis of predicted changes in ocean chemical fields’ rather than empirical data.

So they constructed a database of 372 studies in which the responses of 44 different marine species to ocean acidification induced by equilibrating seawater with CO2-enriched air had been actually measured. They found that only a minority of studies demonstrated `significant responses to acidification’ and there was no significant mean effect even in these studies. They concluded that the world's marine biota are `more resistant to ocean acidification than suggested by pessimistic predictions identifying ocean acidification as a major threat to marine biodiversity’ and that ocean acidification `may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century…Biological processes can provide homeostasis against changes in pH in bulk waters of the range predicted during the 21st century.’

This important paper alone contradicts Hoegh-Gudlberg’s assertion that `the vast bulk of scientific evidence shows that calcifiers… are being heavily impacted already’.

In conclusion, I rest my case. My five critics have not only failed to contradict, but have explicitly confirmed the truth of every single one of my factual statements. We differ only in how we interpret the facts. It is hardly surprising that my opinion is not shared by five scientists whose research grants depend on funding agencies being persuaded that there will be a severe and rapid impact of carbon dioxide emissions on coral reefs in coming decades. I merely report accurately that the latest empirical and theoretical research suggests that the likely impact has been exaggerated.


Rahming Through a Lame Duck Climate Bill?

Ominous words are emanating again from the president on climate change and energy independence, this time as "a response" to the Gulf oil catastrophe. Somewhere between the war rhetoric and comparisons to the moon landing, President Obama last night (vaguely) told Congress to pass the energy legislation that’s been languishing there since last summer.

Add that to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s speculation on June 8 that the Senate can pass it “this year” and obvious election difficulties for conservative Democrats if they vote for it, and it would appear that we’re headed toward a lame duck session in Congress.

The leadership of the House of Representatives could very easily change hands in the next Congress, and it is likely that major changes—though probably not involving a switch in majority—are on the horizon in the Senate. So, if the Senate indeed does pass far-reaching climate legislation after the election but before the new Congress sits, a compromise House-Senate bill will likely be negotiated by the party that the people have just thrown out of power.

Whatever the Senate passes, and whatever the House agrees to do with it, the legislation will fail to effect any change on climate. The House’s radical Cap-and-Trade bill, rushed through last June 26 (before any one had read it) will have virtually no effect on global warming, even by the year 2100, even if every nation that agreed to emissions targets under the United Nations’ (also ineffectual) Kyoto Protocol did the same.

Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind.) current Senate proposal isn’t cap-and-trade. Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of subsidies for energy sources no one would normally buy, and an unrealistic fuel economy mandate for autos. It does even less for climate than the legislation the House passed last year.

There are other Senate bills out there, too, from John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which are pretty similar to the House bill; there is also a bill from Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) which mandates costly and inefficient “renewables” that can’t make it on their own economic merits, and various other bills that are variants upon either cap-and-trade or renewable mandates.

None are popular. No matter what people think about global warming, good or bad, indifferent, strong or weak, or nonexistent, they simply aren’t willing to pay thousands of dollars for fuel taxes, emissions permits, or energy subsidies.

The administration gets this. They knew that people didn’t want their health care program, either. They simply don’t care.

The serious question is whether the President and his chief of staff will indeed have the political muscle to push a climate bill through after the November elections. A smarter move for the White House might be to just punt and wait for the next Congress, which will be guaranteed to do nothing on climate change, pushing the issue into EPA’s regulatory lap. While letting the EPA control our energy economy through force of regulation is a really bad idea, it would be less suicidal for the next Senate class up for re-election in 2012.

I hope the White House does NOT take my advice.

Despite the pomp of an Oval Office address, nothing is really new here. The fact that the White House is now floating the notion of passing ineffectual, expensive, and unpopular climate change legislation through a lame duck Congress is merely consistent with its previous behavior.


Oil: The Real Green Fuel

A rolling "dead zone" off the Gulf of Mexico is killing sea life and destroying livelihoods. Recent estimates put the blob at nearly the size of New Jersey.

Alas, I'm not talking about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As terrible as that catastrophe is, such accidents have occurred in U.S. waters only about once every 40 years (and globally about once every 20 years). I'm talking about the dead zone largely caused by fertilizer runoff from American farms along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya river basins. Such pollutants cause huge algae plumes that result in oxygen starvation in the gulf's richest waters, near the delta.

Because the dead zone is an annual occurrence, there's no media feeding frenzy over it, even though the average annual size of these hypoxic zones has been about 6,600 square miles over the last five years, and they are driven by bipartisan federal agriculture, trade and energy policies.

Indeed, As Steven Hayward notes in the current Weekly Standard, if policymakers continue to pursue biofuels in response to the current anti-fossil-fuel craze, these dead zones will get a lot bigger every year. A 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that adhering to corn-based ethanol targets will increase the size of the dead zone by as much as 34 percent.

Of course, that's just one of the headaches "independence" from oil and coal would bring. If we stop drilling offshore, we could lose up to $1 trillion in economic benefits, according to economist Peter Passell. And, absent the utopian dream of oil-free living, every barrel we don't produce at home, we buy overseas. That sends dollars to bad regimes (though more to Canada and Mexico). It may also increase the chances of disaster because tanker accidents are more common than rig accidents.

But wait a minute -- isn't that precisely why we're investing in "renewables," to free ourselves from this vicious petro-cycle? Don't the Billy Sundays of the Church of Green promise that they are the path to salvation?

This is infuriating and dangerous nonsense, as Matt Ridley demonstrates in his mesmerizing new book, "The Rational Optimist." Let's start with biofuels. Ethanol production steals precious land to produce inefficient fuel inefficiently (making food more scarce and expensive for the poor). If all of our transport fuel came from biofuel, we would need 30 percent more land than all of the existing food-growing farmland we have today.

In Brazil and Malaysia, biofuels are more economically viable (thanks in part to really cheap labor), but at the insane price of losing rainforest while failing to reduce the CO2 emissions that allegedly justify ethanol in the first place. According to Ridley, the Nature Conservancy's Joseph Fargione estimates rainforest clear-cutting for biofuels releases 17 to 420 times more CO2 than it offsets by displacing petroleum or coal.

As for wind and solar, even if such technologies were wildly more successful than they have been, so what? You could quintuple and then quintuple again the output of wind and solar and it wouldn't reduce our dependence on oil. Why? Because we use oil for transportation, not for electricity. We would offset coal, but again at an enormous price. If we tried to meet the average amount of energy typically used in America, we would need wind farms the size of Kazakhstan or solar panels the size of Spain.

If you remove the argument over climate change from the equation (as even European governments are starting to do), one thing becomes incandescently clear: Fossil fuels have been one of the great boons both to humanity and the environment, allowing forests to regrow (now that we don't use wood for heating fuel or grow fuel for horses anymore) and liberating billions from backbreaking toil. The great and permanent shortage is usable surface land and fresh water. The more land we use to produce energy, the less we have for vulnerable species, watersheds, agriculture, recreation, etc.

"If you like wilderness, as I do," Ridley writes, "the last thing you want is to go back to the medieval habit of using the landscape surrounding us to make power."

The calamity in the gulf is heartrending and tragic. A thorough review of government oversight and industry safety procedures is more than warranted. But as counterintuitive as it may be to say so, oil is a green fuel, while "green" fuels aren't. And this spill doesn't change that fact.


Spain's Solar Industry Faces Bankruptcy

Spain’s government will cut the revenue of most existing solar-power plants by 30 percent, a move that may bankrupt hundreds of companies that produce electricity using photovoltaic panels, a local trade group said.

The industry ministry, after negotiating with trade groups for weeks, plans to reduce the number of hours a day during which they may earn subsidized prices for clean energy, said Tomas Diaz, director of external relations at the Photovoltaic Industry Association in Madrid.

“It’s incomprehensible that the government is doing this,” Diaz said in a telephone interview after solar industry representatives met today with Deputy Industry Minister Pedro Marin. “We feel cheated.”

Solar executives, whose companies have invested more than 18 billion euros ($22 billion) in the last three years in Spain, have pressed the government for weeks to maintain prices guaranteed for 25 years under a 2007 law. The decision, which hasn’t been approved by the cabinet, would mean bankruptcy for most of Spain’s 600 photovoltaic operators, Diaz said.


Why Hybrids and Electric Cars are Currently Pointless Purchases

Have you ever noticed an ongoing trend occurring in the motoring world today? Right now car manufacturers around the world seem to be pretty worked up about trying to save planet Earth by producing electric cars and hybrids. Even sports cars like the Tesla Roadster have started to make themselves known and have found buyers. I suppose this is what happens when they get caught up in the hype caused by concepts like global warming, the supposedly shrinking supply of oil worldwide and people suddenly thinking that they are actually contributing to the facts stated before this. I personally have no interest in hybrids and electric powered vehicles and I would like to tell you why.

Let’s start with those pesky hybrids first. So you’re running a Toyota Prius, a Honda Civic Hybrid or that new Honda CRZ hybrid coupe that isn’t really fast in the first place. Why do you need to buy a car with two engines in the first place? While it is possible to get 50mpg out of a Prius it is also very possible to get the same mileage from a Honda Jazz VTEC, a Suzuki Swift 1.3-litre or a Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion 1.2. In fact you can get more mileage from those cars than you can get in the Prius. So why bother with the extra weight of the electric motor and heavy as heck batteries in the first place?

Car manufacturers aren’t thinking straight. They should just manage packaging of the cars and make them as efficient as possible instead of coming up with solutions that have actually the same impact and outcome as a properly and thoroughly engineered econo-mobile. Instead of the easy way out, they should be pumping their R&D fund into researching lean burn technology and other ways to make the internal combustion engine cleaner and more powerful. This isn’t something new but it is possible to make a 1.2-litre petrol engine make over 70 miles per gallon if they tried hard enough.

All this hybrid stuff does not really work as the petrol powered engine still has to kick in at speeds above 40km/h and who actually drives at 40km/h on the highway? It is pretty pointless as no one actually drives 40km/h anywhere except in a basement car park or when they are in a traffic crawl.

Okay. They may be in traffic jams most of the time and this is when the electric motor takes over. But when the traffic clears, its petrol power all the way, most of the time.

I also recently bumped into a Prius driven by someone who must have been heavy footed as he was flinging it into a corner and then gunning it out of the corner. How can you save the world with a hybrid if its driven like a pizza delivery boy trying to make the delivery on time? A re-education on how to drive is necessary to make high mileage in a hybrid. And actually driving like Mr Goodie Two Shoes isn’t too much fun (even though it’s right). You can get similar or better fuel efficiency in any BlueMotion Volkswagen. Ergo, the hybrid is a pointless piece of engineering.

Now most of you out there think that by running an electric vehicle like the sporty Tesla, you actually cut down of emissions, toxic gases and as a result you are saving the world. But this isn’t true as you are still using electricity to charge those heavy and bulky batteries that are used to power the electric motors in the electric cars. Now the power supply that you use comes mainly from power producing stations that generate electricity from diesel, gas and coal. Which is actually worse than any petrol or diesel powered new car sold on the market nowadays.

The thing is that the coal, gas or diesel power plants do not have any overly stringent pollution control systems like those you find in any modern car today. In a car you may have up to two catalytic convertors that clean up the air and in a large power plant I don’t suppose they have a ‘EURO V’ compliant system in place. So when you plug in your electric vehicle to the power grid, you add to the demand of power. If there are 1,000 electric vehicles in use that plug into the power grid at night, imagine a jump in power consumption. Such a jump will cause the electric company to ensure more power is being produced and this would increase the use of gas, coal and diesel at the power plants to ensure there is enough power supplied in the grid. This increases the amount of emissions released by power plants.

Now some of you may think that not all power plants are polluting. Of course if you 100% know that your electric car was powered by a hydro-electric dam or by wind generators or by solar power then you’re right, but I have to say that more than 80% of the power you get comes from the traditional gas, coal and diesel generators. For example, 40% of the pollutant emissions in the United States come from power generation. This is followed by transport emissions, of which airlines contribute even more than motoring. So if you plug in your car to the power grid, you just transfer the emissions to the power plants.

So the only thing you are helping is that you are centralizing all the emissions and pollutions to an area where the power is made. But the outcome is still the same. Imagine if last time your car made 5% of the pollution in your area and 95% is made by the power station in your area. Now with your electric car you don’t make the 5% worth of pollution as it is now transferred to the power plant. It still comes up to 100% although it is further away from you. This doesn’t solve the problem. It just transfers the problem elsewhere. Like sweeping stuff under the carpet.

Then you get to the batteries used by these hybrid and electric cars. Most are nickel-based and there are only a few locations worldwide that nickel is mined from. Most of the nickel comes from Canada, Russia, South America and China. As mentioned by that pretty famous motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson and a fact that is able to be confirmed by you readers out there if you do a search on the internet, is that the nickel is sourced from Russia or Canada, shipped to China, processed there and then sent to Japan to be packaged as batteries. In Japan, the batteries are then sent to the car manufacturing factory which may be another hundred or so miles away from the battery plant. The car is then shipped to car markets all around the world. So imagine the carbon footprint of these batteries even before they end up in your car that you bought in say, Austin, Texas.

Speaking of batteries, they are not cheap and do not last a lifetime. It has been said that these batteries (like the lithium ion battery pack) have an operating lifespan of around five years. If you intend to run your electric car for more than that you may have to change the batteries. Or if you’re unlucky it may last less than that. According to some it may cost $5,000 or more for a set of batteries.

Then you have to consider the cost of disposing the old batteries. Is it non-polluting? How are old batteries disposed off? Do you really know? If old batteries end up in India where it gets pulled apart by teenage boys trying to earn a Rupee is that environmentally friendly?

Even if the batteries last over five years will it hold a charge efficiently or do you need to charge more often? Is this an efficient thing to do? And if it does cost $5,000 to change a battery the cost is prohibitive to most people. Who would want to spend that much money on a 5 year old car especially if the market value of that car may be as much as the cost of the batteries? This would actually make owning an electric car even worse than owning a petrol powered car.

Now couple the facts above with the point that electric cars, while efficient in producing power with its linear power curve and instantaneous torque, have a ridiculously low range of travel. It truly is useless unless you are a person that works within five to twenty miles from your office. An electric vehicle has only a useful range of about 100miles or 160km. How little is this? Actually very little. In fact if you want to drive enthusiastically, and it is pedal to the metal most of the time your range actually drops dramatically. I know some of us commute more than 20 miles a day and having the range and speed limited to increase the range does not help at all.

Now you add the fact of refueling to the picture. One of the most tedious things in motoring is going to a petrol station, getting out and refueling your car. If you had a 20 mile commute, your full tank in a Honda Civic or even a gas guzzling Corvette ZR1 may last you a whole week but in a electric car you may need to charge every day or every two days depending on whether you drive like Mother Teresa or Michael Schumacher. It is going to be tedious to park at your garage, get out, pull out a cord from either the car or from the charging station, open up the car’s charging port, plug it in and wait for about six hours for the car to have a decent charge.



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


18 June, 2010

A reply to some Warmist rubbish

The George C. Marshall Institute has published a reply to the book, "Merchants of Doubt", which is just another vehicle for the usual "ad hominem" accusations from Warmists. Such accusations are of no scholarly or scientific worth but non-scholars sometimes are influenced by them so some reply is needed. Below is a summary of the full reply which the Institute has circulated by email. The full reply is available here.

If anybody is vulnerable to "ad hominem" accusations, Naomi Oreskes, one of the authors of "Merchants of Doubt" is. She is a history professor in her early '50s who got an absurd paper published in a major journal which reported UNANIMOUS support for man-made global warming among scientists. See here for one commentary on the dishonest way she arrived at that finding. So let me pay Naomi in her own coin: She is a dishonest political hack -- and ugly too

Replete with half-truths and mischaracterizations, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway's book besmirches the reputations of three great American scientists to silence dissent within the ranks of scientists and stifle debate among policy makers about how to respond to global warming. Their message is both anti-science and anti-democratic. Whether the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is desirable or not is irrelevant, the merits of their scholarship and its implications are clear.

Predictably, they create a tobacco strawman and knock it down to set the tone of a grand conspiracy to harm the public. Specifically, the work overstates the linkage between Dr. Seitz, a past president of the National Academy of Science - the nation's most senior scientific establishment, and a past president of a leading biomedical institution, the Rockefeller University in New York City, and R.J. Reynolds. Yes, Seitz helped establish an advisory committee to direct a research and development program upon his retirement as president of Rockefeller. Why? Because Reynolds and Rockefeller University (as well as the Rockefeller family) had a long-standing relationship and it was an opportunity to provide input into a multi-million dollar program in basic medical and human health research. Seitz assembled a team of eminent health scientists to provide insight and advice. What did the research contribute? A Nobel Prize, for one, while others included studies of the effect of renin on blood pressure, factors affecting cell development, and contributors to arterial sclerosis.

The very documents Oreskes and Conway cite to build the tobacco strawman reveal that Seitz and his colleagues did nothing more than direct an advanced research program. The underlying citations state the Seitz-led research program was independent of Reynolds and conducted by scientists and scientific institutions of the highest regard. Other than asserting guilt by association, Oreskes and Conway present no evidence that Seitz and his many colleagues were participants in some grand conspiracy. That conspiracy exists only in their minds.

Next Oreskes and Conway claim Seitz and the George C. Marshall Institute wrongly defended the creation of a ballistic missile defense. Yes, Seitz and his colleagues, Dr. Robert Jastrow and Dr. William Nierenberg, believed it was morally repugnant to allow citizens to stand defenseless before the prospect of nuclear annihilation as an intentional U.S. government policy. Construction of a defense was technically possible and would enhance the security of the United States, they believed. Others didn't and the debates across the foreign policy and scientific establishments were as charged and vociferous as any seen before or since. The facts are: the Soviet Union fell, President Reagan's advocacy of missile defense was part of the equation contributing to their fall, the emerging missile defense offers the prospect of security against rogue states and terrorists for whom traditional deterrence likely fails, and a world where nuclear weapons were rendered obsolete (Dr. Jastrow's 1983 book outlines steps toward this end) remains a goal of presidents of both political parties.

Next comes the charge that Seitz et al engaged in personal attacks on prominent climate scientists in hopes of fostering doubt about whether humans were causing global warming. If Oreskes or Conway had bothered to speak with anyone who actually knew or worked with these men, they would have quickly learned that they were men of principle, motivated by concerns about the erosion of scientific literacy and dangers of manipulation of science for political ends arising from that erosion. What caused them to look at climate change science? Curiosity about the scientific basis of claims of apocalyptic global warming and worry about the implications that political leaders would draw from potentially inflated claims. Each had decorated scientific careers and each had been leaders of world-class scientific institutions and participants on government-sponsored scientific panels. Jastrow was a professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth and founder of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Nierenberg was the head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Each had considerable experience working at the nexus of science and public policy and understood the role that scientific information played in shaping policy and political outcomes.

Oreskes and Conway claim an opposition to government regulation motivated the Institute's founders' positions on climate change. Speculating about what Drs. Jastrow, Seitz, and Nierenberg felt about global warming is unnecessary as they clearly described their concerns, "If the changes in our atmosphere are likely to cause consequences, we must understand the problems and promote sensible policies to remedy them. What would be unwise is to lapse into apocalyptic thinking or ostrichlike denial. We believe ourselves far more sophisticated, more enlightened, than preceding generations. Until we can calmly and objectively approach our environmental challenges without promoting public hysteria and exciting short-sighted, self-interested reaction, we cannot claim that we are." (Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem, Jameson Books, 1990: 92-93).

In fact, their work is remarkably prescient. Writing 20 years ago, Seitz, Jastrow and Nierenberg identified the critical variables affecting estimates of temperature and man's impact of climate that remain the central focus of the scientific debate today. They were: adjustments for uncertainty in the temperature observations (the quality of the surface temperature record has been shown to be in question); the effect of the ocean thermal lag (the role of the oceans and the movement of heat and carbon dioxide in the oceans remains an area of active study); adjustments for natural variability (our understanding of the natural patterns of Earth's climate is still under development); and procedures for estimating 21st century warming (a process based entirely on computer models and forecasts which have known limitations).

For its part, the Marshall Institute is not a "merchant of doubt." Our long-held position is simple - take action on climate change commensurate with the state of knowledge and have that action be flexible so it can adjust as our understanding of man's impact on the climate changes. Do we oppose cap-and-trade or Kyoto Protocol like policies? Yes. They are expensive and will yield little environmental return. Do we propose actions to take? Yes. Did Oreskes and Conway bother to inquire about them? No.

Oreskes and Conway's work is the latest in a long line of one-sided, fear mongering pseudo-exposes whose purpose is to incite and intimidate. Readers are left with a clear message --Doubt and dissent are dangerous and scientists that question the conventional view of climate change are corrupt charlatans in the pocket of industry. Doubt and dissent are cornerstones of the advancement of knowledge and the scientific process.

Greenie attempts to brainwash young minds

The post below is by physicist and statistician John Shade. His whole blog is devoted to coverage of the way kids are being propagandized

The remarkable spread of alarm about climate is worthy of much study. How did it take place? What led so many people to get so exercised when the case for alarm is so thin, being based as it is on the output of computer models preset to produce dramatic results linked to CO2 but requiring the insertion of a positive feedback mechanism never observed in practice, nor even likely to exist since it would presuppose a climate more unstable than is credible given the historical reconstructions we have.

These reconstructions include periods of far higher CO2 levels, major variations in solar input, dramatic transformations of the earth's surface, and extended periods of substantial volcanic activity. Over more recent periods, we have evidence that the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods were at least as warm, and possibly warmer, than the late 20th century climate, and that rates of temperature rise in the Central England Temperatures (the longest instrument record we have) have been higher than anything we have seen recently, and that the slow rises of global mean temperatures in the 19th and 20th centuries were both at about the same rates (0.6 to 0.7C per century) despite substantial differences in ambient CO2 levels. In summary, nothing particularly unusual has been observed in our climate in recent times.

We have a variable climate system, on a very large range of space and time scales, and we would be wise to resist over-reacting to the various cooling and warming cycles we have seen over the past few hundred years. (Especially if that over-reaction leads to reducing our energy supplies and our wealth, both of which increase our ability to cope with these inescapable cycles.)

The specious analogy with greenhouses being driven by differential radiative effects falls at the first hurdle, since that is not how they work. They work by suppressing convective and wind-driven mixing with the outside air, and these two processes of convection and wind, coupled with the transport and phase changes of water, are also the dominant movers of heat within the lower atmosphere in which we live.

Yet read the following extract (I have put it italics) from the website promoting Low Carbon Day for schools in the United Kingdom, and try to imagine what you would feel if you believed these words:

'Few scientists now doubt that due to human activity – burning fossil fuels and deforestation - the climate is changing. Without very significant action, temperature changes of at least 2C, and possibly 3C or 4C are expected to happen by the end of this century. Hundreds of millions of people may not have enough water. Floods, heat waves and droughts may affect millions more. The ensuing migration could make the world a very unstable place. And that's not to mention the 30% of species at risk of extinction. The effects of climate change are already being felt in Asia and Africa.

The truth is the worst will probably not happen in our lifetime. But it will happen in our children's lifetime. And it will happen big time during their children's lifetimes. Children born today will not be in a position of influence for 40 years, and by then it will be too late. The inertia in the climate system means that without action from us, by the time they can change the world, catastrophic warming will almost certainly be factored into the system.

And so we believe as adults we have a duty to change the world for them.’


If you were as convinced as them, perhaps you would be stirred to political action, or even lifestyle changes. But would you want to push the same message into schools? Is this not a totalitarian impulse you might wish to resist? Even as a believer, would you not want your children to have a more carefree time, allowing them to concentrate on their basic education rather than imposing adult anxieties and responsibilites on them? I guess some of us would, and some of us wouldn't. But right now, I am concerned that we are not being given the choice.

A great many people, the UK political class included, seem intent on capturing the hearts and minds of the young, and turning them into eco-worriers (what have I done wrong, what am I doing wrong?) and eco-agitators (I must make sure my parents and others do the right things). This seems to be the intention of this 'group of concerned mothers':

'Schools Low Carbon Day 24.06.10 is being organised by a registered charity set up by a group of mothers concerned about climate change. Schools Low Carbon Day is about educating children about climate change and inspiring children and their families to change their behaviour to reduce carbon emissions.'


I have concerns over every single sentence in those two paragraphs shown in italics. I will post more comments on them tomorrow.


New measures of Arctic ice thickness disappointing for Warmists

An electromagnetic "bird" dispatched to the Arctic for the most detailed look yet at the thickness of the ice has turned up a reassuring picture.

The meltdown has not been as dire as some would suggest, said geophysicist Christian Haas of the University of Alberta. His international team flew across the top of the planet last year for the 2,412-kilometre survey. They found large expanses of ice four to five metres thick, despite the record retreat in 2007.

"This is a nice demonstration that there is still hope for the ice," said Haas.

The survey, which demonstrated that the "bird" probe tethered to a plane can measure ice thickness over large areas, uncovered plenty of resilient "old" ice from Norway to the North Pole to Alaska in April 2009.

The thickness had "changed little since 2007, and remained within the expected range of natural variability," the team reports in the Geophysical Research Letters.

There is already speculation about how the ice will fare this summer, with some scientists predicting a record melt. Haas said he doesn't buy it. He said the ice is in some ways in better shape going into the melt season than it has been for a couple of years. "We have more thick ice going into the summer than we did in 2009 and 2008," he said.

Much will depend on the intensity of the winds, and how the ice fractures and is blown around, he said. "But any talk about tipping points, a sudden drop and no recovery ... I don't think it is going to happen."

The more likely scenario is that the ice will continue a decline that has been under way for at least 30 years, he said. There is likely to be plenty of variability in that decline, he added, with "extreme" melts in some years, followed by "significant recoveries like we saw last year."

Part of the problem with ice forecasting is that it is based largely on data from satellites. They are good at measuring the size of an area that is covered by ice, but tell little about the thickness of the ice -- which can measure in mere centimetres in the case of new ice, or metres in the case of ice that is several years old. "That makes a big difference in terms of how well it will survive the summer," said Haas.

His international team, supported largely by the German government, is adding a much-needed "third dimension" to the picture, by measuring ice thickness over large swaths of the Arctic. Instead of manually drilling cores into ice, they've taken to the air with a probe that dangles beneath a plane and can make thousands of measurements a day.

Last year's survey was the most extensive yet, and entailed towing the scanner beneath a DC-3 aircraft refitted as a flying laboratory. The Germans picked up the $300,000 cost of flying the plane across the Arctic.

The 100-kilogram instrument, a 3.5-metre-long white cylinder with a yellow tip, was cradled under the plane for takeoff and landing. Then it was lowered with a winch until it was just 20 metres above the surface, as the plane cruised along 100 metres above the ice at 240 kilometres an hour.

Every five metres along the 2,412-kilometre survey route, it emitted low-frequency electromagnetic signals. The signals penetrate the ice and propagate another signal when they hit liquid water, reflecting the thickness of the ice.

The survey showed the technique works on the large scale, the scientists report. And it gave an unprecedented view of the resilient metres-thick ice between Ellesmere Island and the North Pole, northeast of Greenland and into the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in the Western Arctic.

The team is planning more surveys for 2011 and 2012 as part of a program to check observations made with Europe's new "CyrosSat" satellite, launched this spring to study the world's ice.


Modern Farming has reduced CO2 emissions

Nasty news for inefficient "organic" farmers. This would make them villains if Warmists were rational -- but they're not so all is well for faddy farmers

Modern high-yield farming lowered the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the Earth's atmosphere toward the end of the 20th Century by a massive amount, according to a surprising study from researchers at Stanford University.

Technological advances in agriculture helped reduce greenhouse gas output by reducing the need to convert forests to farmland, the study said. Such conversion involves burning of trees and other naturally occurring carbon repositories, which increases emissions of carbon, methane and nitrous oxide.

If not for yield improvement techniques, which have dramatically helped corporate farms produce more crops with less land, authors of the study said an additional 13 billion tons of CO2 would have been loosed into the atmosphere per year.

"Our results dispel the notion that modern intensive agriculture is inherently worse for the environment than a more 'old-fashioned' way of doing things," said Jennifer Burney, lead author of a paper on high-yield farming to be published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Overall, the study estimated that new farming methods averted emitting as much as the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of CO2. That translates into as much as a third of the world's total greenhouse gas output since 1850, a date often cited as the start of the Industrial Revolution in the West.

The production and use of fertilizer has led to significant greenhouse gas emissions, Burney said, but that increase pales in comparison with what might have been had more forests and grasslands been shifted to agricultural uses.

"Every time forest or shrub land is cleared for farming, the carbon that was tied up in the biomass is released and rapidly makes its way into the atmosphere," said Burney, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford.

A co-author of the paper at Stanford, Steven Davis, added that the evidence points to spending on agricultural research as one of the best and cheapest ways to prevent new emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

To conduct the study, the academics looked at agricultural production between 1961 and 2005 and compared it to hypothetical models that estimated the amount of land that might have been converted if not for the so-called "green revolution" in modern farming. They found that improvements kept at least 317 billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere and possibly as much as 590 billion tons.

The researchers conclude by arguing for improvement of crop yields as part of any policy meant to reduce greenhouse gases.


The Great Wind Farm Disaster

Heard a great story the other day from Matt Ridley, author of the absolutely essential The Rational Optimist.

He bumped into an engineer who was hoping to land one of the lucrative contracts for the massive, insanely expensive offshore wind farm programme which Dave’s new “Greener Than Anyone” administration hopes will reduce Britain’s carbon footprint while simultaneously creating that the philosopher’s-stone-type marvel that some men do call Green Jobs.

“What’s the chance of them being built on time?” Ridley asked.

“Zero,” said the engineer.

“And once you’ve stuck these things in the sea-bed, how long do you think they’ll last?” Ridley asked.

“Oh, virtually no time at all.”

“So if these offshore wind farms are going to be impossible to put up and are going to fall down as soon as you do, why are you vying for this multi-billion pound government contract?” asked Ridley.

“Duh,” said the engineer.

When Mary Tudor died, she predicted, they would find Calais engraved on her heart. My prediction when my old mucker Dave Cameron pops off, they will find “wind farms” engraved on his. Of all the damage his lousy administration will do to this country of ours, none will be so mighty, permanent or thoroughly inexcusable as his wind farm programme.

Here’s further cause for gloom from the excellent German blogger P Gosselin, whose reports on what’s happening in Germany gives us an idea of the disasters coming our way soon.
Originally estimated to cost €189 million, the Alpha Ventus park has been plagued by cost overruns and delays. In late summer and autumn of 2008, bad weather made installation of the first 6 turbines impossible. Then the equipment to install the monster turbines was not available. Next there were major problems with the transformer facilities.

A few weeks ago the temperature of the bearings in the turbine made by Areva Multibrid was too high and thus they had to be taken out of operation. Now the turbines have to be removed from their 500+ ft. high towers and the bearings have to be replaced. Repair works will take weeks and extend into late summer. It’s still unclear if the other four of the Multibrid turbines have a problem. The remaining 6 turbines are made by Repower and are reported to be running smoothly. There are no reports on how high the costs for the troublesome dismantling and repair works will run.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the construction works on the massive Bard Offshore 1 commercial windparks have been delayed as a 300-foot foundation column crashed onto the construction ship Wind Lift 1 three weeks ago. Now other turbines have to be thoroughly inspected. The Bard project foresees the installation of 320 five-megawatt class turbines over the coming years. The cost for the first 80 Bard turbines alone is climbing far beyond original estimates. First they were estimated to cost over €500 million. Now it’s estimated costs will exceed a billion euros. German online newspaper projects the costs will even reach €1.2 billion.

The promoters of the offshore projects cannot say they weren’t warned of the risks of installing windparks in the North Sea’s harsh conditions. The Nysted offshore windpark and Horns Rev park in Denmark are examples, and have struggled with big problems. For example in 2007 a transformer malfunction occurred at Nysted just 4 years after being commissioned, causing a months-long shutdown. At the Horns Rev windpark there were problems with the turbines only 2 years after they had gone into operation. World leading turbine manufacturer Vestas had to remove all 80 turbines, haul them onshore and perform extensive repairs. Luckily these turbines were only of the smaller 2 to 2.3-MW class, and so much easier to do repair works. Repairs and maintenance on the 5-MW monsters will be much tougher and expensive.

But as long as windpark companies continue to have the full backing of wasteful governments, costs won’t matter.

Amen, brother.


Australia: Behind Closed Doors, Warmist Scientists Ponder Credibility Crisis, New PR Strategy

The only strategy they have is to say "trust us", which is a bit of a laugh in view of their compulsive secrecy about their data and the "adjustments" they make to it

Scientists and academics from some of Australia's top national institutions met in Sydney today to discuss how to improve public awareness of the science behind climate change. [Way to go! If they manage that NOBODY will believe in global warming! What will people say when they find that it is all based on very shaky guesswork?]

Representatives of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology want to develop a "national communication charter" to win back public support for action on climate change.

The Australian government postponed its carbon trading scheme earlier this year until 2013 citing a lack of public and political support for reducing carbon emissions.

A number of recent polls have suggested that controversy over the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data on Himalayan glaciers and the University of East Anglia leaked emails debacle have damaged public perception of climate science.

One poll by the Lowy Institute for International Policy showed that the number of Australians who wanted action on climate change immediately had dropped from 68 per cent in 2006 to 46 per cent this year.

Australia's chief scientist Penny Sackett addressed the conference, which was closed to the public.

Cathy Foley, president of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, told the Melbourne Age that scientists wanted Australians to have better access to the latest climate change evidence.

"We want... the public and parliamentarians who are making decisions on what we have to do to manage or deal with climate change actually understand what the science is and are able to cut through the noise that's been coming about," she said.

Foley said a well organised and well funded movement of climate sceptics had increasingly captured the public's attention. "We are concerned the debate around climate change has become a left-wing versus right-wing debate, or a kind of religious argument, when it should really be about the strength of the scientific evidence," she added.

In March, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology published a snap shot report on climate change showing Australia had warmed significantly in the past 50 years and warning that "climate change is real".

The government committed AU$30m (US$25.6m) for a national campaign to educate the public on climate change in the budget last month, and one of the aims of today's meeting was to develop a strategy to advise officials on how best to spend the money.



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


17 June, 2010

Another Maunder worth knowing

The Maunder who identified the "Maunder minimum" was Edward Walter Maunder (1851-1928) who while working at The Royal Observatory, Greenwich discovered the dearth of sunspots during the 1650-1700 period. But there is another Maunder still alive who has long been a big wheel in climate studies. Is he related to the previous Maunder? He does not say. But what he does say is well worth noting. I reproduce below most of one of his webpages

The information given on this web page, and the other pages given below, is provided by Dr John Maunder, President of the Commission for Climatology of the World Meteorological Organization from 1989 to 1997, who over the last 55 years has been involved in the "weather business" in various countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK , through activities in national weather services, universities and international organizations, and publications including four books : "The Value of the Weather" (1970), "The Uncertainty Business - Risks and Opportunties in Weather and Climate" (1986), "The Human Impact of Climate Uncertainty - Weather Information, Economic Planning, and Business Management " (1989), and the "Dictionary of Global Climate Change" (1994). The information is prepared so as to provide a "need to know" background on climate change, and "global warming" with the aim to promote a better understanding of this complex matter.

Among other things the author was the only New Zealander invited, along with 100 other experts, to the "original" international conference on ".., the role of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in climate variations and associated aspects " held in Villach, Austria in October 1985. The findings of this conference led to the development in 1988 of the Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

There are a variety of viewpoints on this subject (covering the full range from those who consider that we ARE the weather makers, to those who consider that we are NOT the weather makers and that climate change is mainly a natural event). I have provided web links to a selection of what I consider to be relevant sites, covering both sides of the story.

1. For a direct link to my web page on "Climate Change: Is "Nature" or "Man" in Control? see

2. For a direct link to my web page on "The Maunder Minimum" ... A second coming? see

3. For a direct link to my web page on long-range rainfalls forecasts for New Zealand see

4. For a direct link to my web page on electricity price forecasts in New Zealand see

5, For a direct link to my web site on monthly rainfalls in Tauranga, New Zealand from 1898 to 2010 see

6. For a direct link to my web site on monthly temperatures in Tauranga, New Zealand from 1913-2010 see

For further information please contact Dr John Maunder at


Rescue from the Climate Saviors

The Hockey Schtick is honored to present the English release of Rescue from the Climate Saviors, a lay explanation of the physics underlying the fictitious dogma of climate alarmism. KE Research GmbH, a German public policy consultancy firm, prepared the report based on interviews and editing assistance from noted German theoretical physicists Ralf D. Tscheuschner & Gerhard Gerlich, authors of the peer-reviewed paper "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects within the Frame of Physics", and numerous other German climatologists, physicists, and scientists. KE Research encourages all to freely distribute the report by any means (in unchanged form) and is forwarding copies to all members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, and legislators worldwide.

Conclusions of the report include:

1. The terms “greenhouse effect” and “greenhouse gas” are misnomers and obstruct understanding of the real world.

2. Earth has a natural “cooling system”. If the planet warms, it will automatically raise its cooling power.

3. An increase of earth temperatures is only achievable if the heating power is stepped up: first to “load” matter with more energy (i.e. to raise temperatures) and then to compensate for the increasing cooling, which results from the increase of IR radiation into space.

4. CO2 and other IR-active gases cannot supply any additional heating power to the earth. Therefore, they cannot be a cause of “global warming”. This fact alone disproves the greenhouse doctrine.

5. The “natural greenhouse effect” (increase of earth temperatures by 33C) is a myth.

6. IR-active gases do not act “like a blanket” but rather “like a sunshade”. They keep a part of the solar energy away from the earth’s surface.

7. IR-active gases cool the earth: 70% of the entire cooling power originates from these molecules. Without these gases in the air, the surface and the air immediately above the ground would heat up more.

8. The notion that a concentration increase of IR-active gases would impede earth’s cooling is impossible given the true mechanisms explained above.

9. As a consequence the very foundation of the “Green Tower of Climate Dogma” crumbles. Computer models alleging to forecast warming based on “greenhouse effects” are worthless, and any speculation about the “impact of climate change” accordingly dispensable.

10. Since the greenhouse hypothesis has been disproven by the laws of physics, it is only a matter of time until the truth becomes public opinion.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Disproving Man Made Global Warming

by Girma Orssengo, PhD

Does human emission of CO2 cause global warming? This is a scientific question and can be answered using the scientific method with observed global mean temperature data.

A graph of global mean temperature from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia is shown in the above graph

The first period is from 1910 to 1940 & the second period is 60-years latter from 1970 to 2000. After human emission of CO2 for 60-years, the rate of change of global mean temperature of 0.15 deg C per decade from 1970 to 2000 is nearly identical to that of 0.16 deg C per decade from 1910 to 1940. That is, after a 5-times increase in human emission of CO2, there was no increase in the rate of increase of global mean temperature. This data contradicts the theory that human emission of CO2 causes global warming.

In addition, the data shows that the pattern of the global mean temperature is cyclic as shown in the following graph.

This graph shows the following:

1) 30-years of global cooling from 1880 to 1910.
2) 30-years of global warming from 1910 to 1940.
3) 30-years of global cooling from 1940 to 1970.
4) 30-years of global warming from 1970 to 2000.

Based on the above pattern, assuming there is no shift in climate in the coming 20 years compared to the last 130 years, it is reasonable to predict:

5) 30-years of global cooling from 2000 to 2030.

If this prediction is realized then the cyclic nature of global mean temperature will be confirmed. Otherwise, it will be rejected. This will be clear just in the next five to ten years.

If this cyclic nature of global mean temperature is confirmed, this will disprove man made global warming.


Thomas Kuhn And The Catastrophic Climate Paradigm

The past six months has seen a series of unprecedented setbacks for the cause of catastrophic man-made climate change: the collapse of the Kyoto process; the release of incriminating Climategate emails; the discovery of the shoddy standards of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the mounting evidence that a job-creating green industrial revolution is a fantasy; and the growing suspicion by the public that it has been sold a bill of goods.

The British Royal Society recently released a statement that “Any public perception that the science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect,” thus contradicting its own former president, and true believer, Lord May. And if the science isn’t settled, there can hardly ever have been “consensus” on the issue.

A forthcoming paper by Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, from which the Climategate emails emerged, admits that the actual group involved in the “consensus” that “human activities are having a significant influence on the climate” was in fact “only a few dozen,” rather than the thousands invoked by the IPCC.

Last week, economist Richard Tol, one of the IPCC’s own lead authors, suggested that the whole IPCC process should be suspended until the selection of authors has been fixed. This week, the IPCC’s head, Rajendra Pachauri, who has previously accused skeptics of flat Earthism and “voodoo science,” suddenly had a Damascene conversion as to the validity of dissent. “I am not deaf,” he wrote, “to those who do not agree with the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. Nor, indeed, to those who do not agree with the findings — or, in some cases, the existence — of the IPCC.”

But while such newfound humility (even though still embracing bogus “consensus”) is welcome, every country on Earth is still officially committed to catastrophic man-made warming as a reality that demands a draconian policy response. The erection of such a massive commitment on such shaky foundations begs for explanation, and must be put in both a larger political and psychological context.

Hubristic overestimation of human significance — in this case both for doing harm and correcting it by policy — may be the fundamental reason for broad acceptance of man-made climate change theory. The notion that man’s sinful and selfish ways will be punished goes back to the myth of the Flood. In many ways, belief in climate apocalypse reflects similar moralistic disapproval of “materialist” Western society, and the claim that its wealth has been bought at the expense of others, including now that of “future generations.”

This quasi-religious belief is particularly appealing to the political and bureaucratic classes, because it provides new justifications for intervention to correct the imperfections and ongoing inequities of perpetually demonized capitalism. In a classic example of psychological “projection,” however, alarmists claim that it is their opponents who are tainted by “greed” and “self-interest.”

One insufficiently addressed question is why scientists would allow themselves to be recruited to essentially political objectives. Another is why they seem so resolutely committed to increasingly shaky theories, and lash out at critics. Surveys have shown that natural scientists tend to be left-liberal in their leanings. Many perhaps believe that a world with more top-down economic control and greater transfers to poor nations is desirable whatever the realities of climate science, and that given the possibility (however remote) of man-made climate catastrophe, that it is appropriate to adopt the “precautionary principle.”

Such a mindset can be buttressed by the way science is done. In his classic book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn noted that scientific groups adopted, and committed to, “paradigms,” which then became fundamentally unquestionable. That stance was hardened further when moral values, such as being “socially useful,” were involved.

The IPCC came with its moralistic paradigms pre-installed.

Kuhn noted that “professionalization” of any paradigm leads to “an immense restriction of the scientist’s vision and to a considerable resistance to paradigm change.” He even suggested that a scientist, as a captive to a paradigm, is “like the typical character of Orwell’s 1984, the victim of a history rewritten by the powers that be.”

Kuhn also suggested why catastrophic man-made climate change theory — even if it is found to have been greatly exaggerated, or even falsified — will take a good deal of killing. “The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm,” he wrote, “is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.” The problem is that there is no other clear and simple climate theory to which to be “converted” at the moment.

Kuhn noted that the Earth-centred Ptolemaic system of astronomy, based on elaborately waltzing planets, “worked” for a long time, but eventually became a monster whose complications overwhelmed its usefulness. Then along came Copernicus. The resultant destruction of the Earth-centred universe led to enormous soul-searching, as did Darwin’s vaporizing of the assumption of biological “progress” towards divine ends.

For most modern liberals, including many scientists, the market sun still goes round the government Earth, and it’s a paradigm they are reluctant to change. Policy skeptics, by contrast, who are still trying to establish the revolutionary and counterintuitive insights of Adam Smith, point out that carbon rationing, green industrial strategy and aid transfers under the aegis of “clean development” are — whatever the science — economic junk.


Reality Check: Unstoppable Coal

As the new BP Statistical Review shows, coal, which last year’s report pointed out was the fastest-growing source of energy, was the only major source of fossil fuel energy that didn’t fall last year. It remained flat, while oil and natural gas consumption fell; total primary energy consumption was down 1.1 per cent.

Coal is highly polluting, but also reasonably a cheap and geographically distributed source of energy. Analyst/economist/blogger Gregor MacDonald has written a lot about the world’s increasing use of coal in recent years.

We’ve put together a chart showing that coal - as a proportion of primary energy consumption — is reaching levels not seen for several decades. Since 1971, to be precise:

In fact, as Gregor points out, oil’s share is falling:

Most of it is used for electricity, but with oil production becoming ever more difficult and expensive, the rise of coal raises a somewhat uncomfortable prospect if one believes that demand for transport liquids is relatively inflexible. Transport liquids are also rather difficult to substitute for, in contrast to electricity.

And there does appear to be growing interest in converting coal to liquid fuel (coal-to-liquids or CTL). South Africa is the only existing scale producer of CTL,according to the World Coal Institute. But China is very keen, declaiming its leadership in the field with six projects under development. There are projects planned in Australia and the US.

In the US, a pro-CTL group touts the fuel as a way of improving US energy security. But as environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Fund points out, CTL involves almost double the emissions of conventional oil-derived transport fuel.


Sen. Graham Admits Legislation is Not About Climate

They’re not giving up on more government control of the private sector through “cap and trade” legislation. This much can be derived from recent news coverage. Remarkably, Sen. Lindsey Graham admits that “energy” legislation has nothing to do with the environment; a crucial point that goes missing in coverage

President Obama is using the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as a new rationale for energy legislation that has been stalled on Capitol Hill. The New York Times comes oh, so close to properly informing its readership of the sincere motivations standing behind “cap and trade” schemes in one of its latest reports.

Unfortunately, the newspaper’s enthusiasm for statist policies precludes from asking the right questions where the sleight of hand at work in Washington D.C. is actually quite evident.

The key player here in Sen. Lindsey Graham as he has been working in close concert with Democratic colleagues and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). TimesCheck has noted in the past how Graham became the new Republican liberal media darling in light of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) rightward shift. Graham withdrew his support for a repacked “cap and trade” bill after Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested that climate change would take a back seat to immigration.

Until the actual causes of the BP oil spill are exposed and understood, he remains reluctant to reactive “cap and trade” in total but has expressed support for a water down energy bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman. The Times reports as follows:

“Mr. Graham said that until the causes of the BP oil spill were identified and addressed, he would not vote for any sweeping climate change legislation. Instead, he endorsed a bill introduced last week by Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, that sets higher fuel economy standards for cars, provides incentives for the development of alternative fuels and imposes stricter efficiency standards on buildings. The Lugar proposal includes no cap on carbon emissions but would seek to reduce greenhouse gas pollution through energy-saving steps.

`I’m not going to take a vote on the floor without a rational policy because we’re in the middle of a major oil spill,” Mr. Graham said. “I’m not going to put that on the table until I find out what happened in the gulf and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

Mr. Lieberman said the oil spill made it more urgent to enact comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. He acknowledged, however, that the measure he and Mr. Kerry sponsored lacked the votes it needs and would probably be carved up and served in combination with other bills like Mr. Lugar’s.”

But the most important quote from Sen. Graham that deserves mention is left out of the equation. When he asked about his support for an earlier bill the Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lieberman had co-sponsored, Graham made the following admission:

“It’s not a global warming bill to me,” he said. “Because global warming as a reason to pass legislation doesn’t exist anymore.” He also explained: “There is no bipartisan support for a cap-and-trade bill based on global warming.”

In other words, the overarching purpose here is government control and government regulation as opposed to environmental edification. That’s big news but the point is lost on the liberal news media, which sympathizes with government takeovers of the private sector.

The public should know that the political class was merely using global warming as a duplicitous and misleading rationale to distract away from expensive and intrusive policies. But the tone and direction of the Times report suggests that policymakers maintain noble objectives.

“Images of gushing oil and dying pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico have stirred anger and agony in Washington,” the report says. “But are they enough to prod the Senate to act on long-delayed clean energy and climate change legislation?

“Energy, maybe,” the report continues. “Climate, probably not. There is growing sentiment for a measure that penalizes BP, imposes higher costs and tougher regulations on offshore drillers and takes some steps toward reducing overall energy and petroleum consumption.”

No matter what the rationale, the political class is determined to subtract away from private enterprise and to further burden America’s already beleaguered taxpayers. That’s the story.



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


16 June, 2010

The changeable sun

Horrors for the Warmists. They normally ignore totally the possibility that solar changes may be what drive earth's temperature changes. Note however below that it's not only the sun that is changing. For once the sun IS acknowledged below as a source of climate change -- and in the Warmist "New Scientist" at that.

That solar activity has dropped and we have had a lot of unusually cold weather in the last 2 years is just coincidence of course. Not that you would know we have had any unusually cold weather from the "massaged" statistics of Hansen & Co. As in Orwell, Big Brother "revises" the past

SUNSPOTS come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only for them to fade away again after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

The stakes have never been higher. Groups of sunspots forewarn of gigantic solar storms that can unleash a billion times more energy than an atomic bomb. Fears that these giant solar eruptions could create havoc on EarthMovie Camera, and disputes over the sun's role in climate change, are adding urgency to these studies. When NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory almost 15 years ago, "understanding the solar cycle was not one of its scientific objectives", says Bernhard Fleck, the mission's project scientist. "Now it is one of the key questions."

Sun behaving badly

Sunspots are windows into the sun's magnetic soul. They form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localised drop in temperature which we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun. "During this transition, the sun is giving us a real glimpse into its interior," says Hathaway.

When sunspot numbers drop at the end of each 11-year cycle, solar storms die down and all becomes much calmer. This "solar minimum" doesn't last long. Within a year, the spots and storms begin to build towards a new crescendo, the next solar maximum.

What's special about this latest dip is that the sun is having trouble starting the next solar cycle. The sun began to calm down in late 2007, so no one expected many sunspots in 2008. But computer models predicted that when the spots did return, they would do so in force. Hathaway was reported as thinking the next solar cycle would be a "doozy": more sunspots, more solar storms and more energy blasted into space. Others predicted that it would be the most active solar cycle on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun.

The latest solar cycle was supposed to be the most active on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun

The first sign that the prediction was wrong came when 2008 turned out to be even calmer than expected. That year, the sun was spot-free 73 per cent of the time, an extreme dip even for a solar minimum. Only the minimum of 1913 was more pronounced, with 85 per cent of that year clear.

As 2009 arrived, solar physicists looked for some action. They didn't get it. The sun continued to languish until mid-December, when the largest group of sunspots to emerge for several years appeared. Finally, a return to normal? Not really.

Even with the solar cycle finally under way again, the number of sunspots has so far been well below expectations. Something appears to have changed inside the sun, something the models did not predict. But what?

The flood of observations from space and ground-based telescopes suggests that the answer lies in the behaviour of two vast conveyor belts of gas that endlessly cycle material and magnetism through the sun's interior and out across the surface. On average it takes 40 years for the conveyor belts to complete a circuit (see diagram).

When Hathaway's team looked over the observations to find out where their models had gone wrong, they noticed that the conveyor-belt flows of gas across the sun's surface have been speeding up since 2004.

The circulation deep within the sun tells a different story. Rachel Howe and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, have used observations of surface disturbances, caused by the solar equivalent of seismic waves, to infer what conditions are like within the sun. Analysing data from 2009, they found that while the surface flows had sped up, the internal ones had slowed to a crawl.

These findings have thrown our best computer models of the sun into disarray. "It is certainly challenging our theories," says Hathaway, "but that's kinda nice."

It is not just our understanding of the sun that stands to benefit from this work. The extent to which changes in the sun's activity can affect our climate is of paramount concern. It is also highly controversial. There are those who seek to prove that the solar variability is the major cause of climate change, an idea that would let humans and their greenhouse gases off the hook. Others are equally evangelical in their assertions that the sun plays only a minuscule role in climate change...


3 Papers: Alarmist Glacier Claims are Overblown

Three peer-reviewed studies published within the past 2 weeks alone have indicated alarmist claims of anthropogenic, unprecedented, rapid glacier melt are overblown:

1. Climate Change Will Affect the Asian Water Towers

* IPCC claim of Himalayan glacier melt by 2035:
* "overstated by several hundred years"
* "oversimplified"
* "impact less than anticipated"
* IPCC false claims were "a first-rate disaster"
* "some scientists saw the error and tried to alert senior authors, but it was "too late" to get the report corrected"

2. 100-year mass changes in the Swiss Alps linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

* "half of the glacier loss in the Swiss Alps is due to natural climate variability— a result likely to be true for glaciers around the world."
* "current glacier retreat might be equally due to natural climate variations as it is to anthropogenic greenhouse warming."
* "Glacier mass loss was particularly rapid in the 1940s and since the 1980s. "

3. Is the recessional pattern of Himalayan glaciers suggestive of anthropogenically induced global warming?

* "the rate of recession of most of the glaciers in general is on decline"
* "These observations are in contradiction to the widely popularized concept of anthropogenically induced global warming."
* "It is believed that the rise of temperature of around 0.6C since mid-nineteenth century is a part of decadal to centennial-scale climatic fluctuations that have been taking place on this Earth for the past few thousands of years."


New Miskolczi Paper: CO2 not cause of Global Warming

Ferenc Miskolczi, a former NASA physicist, has a forthcoming paper to be published in Energy & Environment which shows empirically that change in the greenhouse effect due to CO2 would likely have been detected if it had been present in the last 61 years. Miskolczi also demonstrates that the IPCC-claimed positive feedback from water vapor does not exist.

The Stable Stationary Value of the Earth’s Global Average Atmospheric Planc-weighted Greenhouse-Gas Optical Thickness

by Ferenc Miskolczi Energy & Environment, 21:4 2010.


By the line-by-line method, a computer program is used to analyze Earth atmospheric radiosonde data from hundreds of weather balloon observations. In terms of a quasi-all-sky protocol, fundamental infrared atmospheric radiative flux components are calculated: at the top boundary, the outgoing long wave radiation, the surface transmitted radiation, and the upward atmospheric emittance; at the bottom boundary, the downward atmospheric emittance. The partition of the outgoing long wave radiation into upward atmospheric emittance and surface transmitted radiation components is based on the accurate computation of the true greenhouse-gas optical thickness for the radiosonde data.

New relationships among the flux components have been found and are used to construct a quasi-all- sky model of the earth’s atmospheric energy transfer process. In the 1948-2008 time period the global average annual mean true greenhouse-gas optical thickness is found to be time-stationary.

Simulated radiative no-feedback effects of measured actual CO2 change over the 61 years were calculated and found to be of magnitude easily detectable by the empirical data and analytical methods used. The data negate increase in CO2 in the atmosphere as a hypothetical cause for the apparently observed global warming.

A hypothesis of significant positive feedback by water vapor effect on atmospheric infrared absorption is also negated by the observed measurements. Apparently major revision of the physics underlying the greenhouse effect is needed.


Whitewash versus Paint

The northern summer months mean winter in the Antipodes so we drove to Anthony Watts‘ presentation in the dark even though it was only 6 pm. He was the principal author of Watts Up With That?, a climate change skeptic’s blogsite that gets about 3 million hits per month. And now he was in Australia on a speaking tour. The site has a large following in Australia probably due to two things. The first is his symbiotic relationship with the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt, who is Australia’s blogger/mainstream journalist — a combination you don’t often see — who appears to combine the strongest features of both and who quotes Watts continuously and extensively so that climate skepticism has become as it were, the new occult knowledge. Second, Watts’ focus on the weather taps into a major preoccupation in Australia: crops.

As a consequence there is, one may be surprised to learn, a Climate Skeptics Party in Australia and a huge appetite for knowing Watts Up With That. Climate change is a much bigger political issue in Australia than in the USA. The audience filed into the auditorium with a near-religious reverence for Watts. He was preceded by two speakers, one an economist and the other an expert on the effect of solar cycles on climate. The first argued that CO2 was undervalued and the second explained the effects of sunspots on cloud formation. But it was Watts presentation that stole the show. Why?

Not for any superiority in presentation. What distinguished it from theirs was that Watts talk wasn’t really about a logical argument. It was about how to create a logical argument of sufficient authority to challenge the establishment. He was describing an open source research project, though perhaps much of the audience failed to realize it. Watts reeled them in as good speakers do, by telling them a story. He described how he had originally been a Global Warmist who had experienced a Pauline conversion on the most innocent of grounds. He had fascinated by measuring instruments and gadgetry and always had been. After retiring from a career as a TV weatherman he began to wonder whether a change in the specification of the paint used to coat temperature measuring stations might have anything to do with the rise in recorded readings. It was a simple enough idea. When temperatures were first collected the temp stations consisted of a whitewashed birdhouse like structure with a mercury thermometer in it. As recently as the 60s the whitewash was still used to maintain a consistency in experimental apparatus. And then the weather service changed the spec to paint. So he asked: Watts Up With That?

Watts bought a bunch of standard measuring stations and coated one with whitewash and the other with the newly specified paint and found the painted stations gave higher readings than the stations finished in the older calcium carbonate. This disturbed him but as way led on to way it brought him face to face with another discovery. Most of the temperature stations had been sited, for ease of reading, right next to buildings else urban sprawl had overtaken them so that stations formerly standing in a field were now in the middle of parking lots, sewage plants, airports and heat sinks of a similar nature. Watts was now confronted with the possibility that his whole belief structure was wrong because the data on which it was established was erroneous. Somewhere along the line a light bulb went on his brain and the fun began.

My guess is that the former weatherman understood something that neither of two pure academicians who preceded him fully grasped. If he was going to challenge the established storyline he was going to need power. Where did it come from? Power comes from owning information; second power comes from being able to gather info that nobody else can. So he began an open source project to study as many temperature recording sites as he could. Watts’ biggest asset was not his scientific background but an organizational/businessman’s ability and the media practicioner’s understanding of how to use publicity. In this instance he decided to use his blog to solicit volunteer data gathering. The result was SurfaceStations.Org.
In 2007 Watts launched the “” project, whose mission is to create a publicly available database of photographs of weather stations, along with their metadata, in response to what he described as “a massive failure of bureaucracy to perform something so simple as taking some photographs and making some measurements and notes of a few to a few dozen weather stations in each state”. The project relies on volunteers to gather the data.[8] The method used is to attract volunteers of varying levels of expertise who undertake to estimate the siting, usage and other conditions of weather stations in NOAA’s Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) and grade them for their compliance with the standards published in the organization’s Climate Reference Network Site Handbook.[9]

Soon after launching the project, when 40 or so of the 1221 USHCN climatological surface temperature monitoring stations had been surveyed, Watts stated that his preliminary findings raised doubts about NOAA’s temperature reporting. “I believe,” he said, “we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment.”[10] By 2009, the project had documented over 860 stations using over 650 volunteers.[11] In a report entitled Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?, published by the Heartland Institute,[11] Watts concludes that “the errors in the [U.S. temperature] record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature…during the twentieth century.

Watts’ presentation at the hall consisted of seemingly unending stream of slides from his volunteers showing not just US, but foreign weather stations sited in the most laughable of ways: in the path of jet exhaust, air conditioning heat dumps, fermenting sewage plants, concrete heat sinks, in close proximity to machinery, motors, engines, incinerators and even atop tombstones. He then proceeded to flash a series of infrared images of the same sites showing the surrounds of the temperature stations all lit up. Then he piled Google Earth image upon Google Earth image of the temperature collection sites in winter showing the snow stretching far and away but for the little islands of heat in which the gauges were located.

It was a tour de force. He understood the power of irrefutable reptition. Following the old rule of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them”, Watts pitched his message to the denominator everyone could grasp. He had a weatherman’s instinct for making a complex subject concrete and in your face. But he could do this only because he had mobilized a legion of part time snoops, guys who would drive out to airports near them, walk around universities to snap photos of temperature stations, go down some dirt road to find an obscure little measuring device or spends hours on Google Earth zooming in on a known coordinate. He could do this because he had a dataset — a dataset not even the weather service had. His open source project gave him more information about the condition of their terrestrial network than the weather service had.


Billions for Green Jobs - Whatever They Are

Buried deep inside a federal newsletter on March 16 was something called a "notice of solicitation of comments" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.

"BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs," said the note in the Federal Register, which is widely read by government bureaucrats and almost never seen by the general public. But the notice said there is "no widely accepted standard definition of 'green jobs.'" To help find that definition, the Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions.

The notice came only after the department scoured studies from government, academia and business in search of a definition. "The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment," the notice said. Beyond that blinding insight, a precise definition has eluded Labor Department officials.

On Capitol Hill, a staffer for Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was poring through the Federal Register and spotted the note. Then he went to the Department of Labor website, where he found a number of announcements like these:

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training Through Recovery Act

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces $150 Million in "Pathways Out of Poverty" Training Grants for Green Jobs

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs

In the staffer's mind, two and two came together. The Labor Department is shoving money out the door for "green jobs," yet at the same time is admitting it doesn't know what a "green job" is.

Cue Grassley, a longtime watchdog of funny business in the federal bureaucracy. In a June 2 letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Grassley noted that there was an enormous amount of money in the $862 billion stimulus bill for those still-undefined green jobs.

"According to the administration, the Recovery Act contains more than $80 billion in clean-energy funding to promote economic recovery and develop clean-energy jobs," Grassley wrote. "However, it has come to my attention that the (Labor Department) is just now attempting to define what a 'green job' is. Interestingly, this comes more than a year after the Recovery Act was signed into law and after millions of dollars in funding have already been distributed for green jobs."

Since the Labor Department is looking for a definition after spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on green jobs, Grassley asked, then what definition of green jobs did it use when it spent the money? The question applies beyond the Labor Department. What about all the other government agencies that are spending zillions on green jobs? They don't have a widely accepted definition, either.

Grassley voted against the stimulus. But since it passed, he wants to hold the administration accountable for the money. "This inquiry is a measure of oversight to make sure the money is spent the way supporters of the legislation said it would be spent," he says. "I'm asking how the administration is distributing the money for what it said would go to clean-energy jobs. If the criteria were too broad or poorly defined, the money might be going for other kinds of spending."

So far, the Labor Department has not yet responded to Grassley, and a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, even as it searches for the definition of a green job, the Labor Department is assuring Congress that everything is going gangbusters on the green-job front. "The demand for green-job training opportunities is enormous," Solis told a Senate committee in March, adding that the Labor Department had by that time already spent $500 million on green jobs, with more to come. "The department has been unable to keep pace with the record number of applications for grants."

Last year, Republicans complained that the Obama administration planned to spend billions on an ill-defined concept of green jobs. Now, billions have been spent, and many more will be spent, and the administration still can't tell you what a green job is. Just look at the Federal Register.

President Obama says he values accountability. How about accounting for those green-job billions?


Was Margaret Thatcher the first climate sceptic?

Margaret Thatcher was the first leader to warn of global warming - but also the first to see the flaws in the climate change orthodoxy

A persistent claim made by believers in man-made global warming – they were at it again last week – is that no politician was more influential in launching the worldwide alarm over climate change than Margaret Thatcher. David Cameron, so the argument runs, is simply following in her footsteps by committing the Tory party to its present belief in the dangers of global warming, and thus showing himself in this respect, if few others, to be a loyal Thatcherite.

The truth behind this story is much more interesting than is generally realised, not least because it has a fascinating twist. Certainly, Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988. With her scientific background, she had fallen under the spell of Sir Crispin Tickell, then our man at the UN. In the 1970s, he had written a book warning that the world was cooling, but he had since become an ardent convert to the belief that it was warming. Under his influence, as she recorded in her memoirs, she made a series of speeches, in Britain and to world bodies, calling for urgent international action, and citing evidence given to the US Senate by the arch-alarmist Jim Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

She found equally persuasive the views of a third prominent convert to the cause, Dr John Houghton, then head of the UK Met Office. She backed him in the setting up of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on "human-induced climate change".

Hadley then linked up with East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to become custodians of the most prestigious of the world's surface temperature records (alongside another compiled by Dr Hansen). This became the central nexus of influence driving a worldwide scare over global warming; and so it remains to this day – not least thanks to the key role of Houghton (now Sir John) in shaping the first three mammoth reports which established the IPCC's unequalled authority on the subject.

In bringing this about, Mrs Thatcher played an important part. It is not widely appreciated, however, that there was a dramatic twist to her story. In 2003, towards the end of her last book, Statecraft, in a passage headed "Hot Air and Global Warming", she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views.

She voiced precisely the fundamental doubts about the warming scare that have since become familiar to us. Pouring scorn on the "doomsters", she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of "costly and economically damaging" schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.

In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. Alas, what she set in train earlier continues to exercise its baleful influence to this day. But the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of "climate sceptics" has been almost entirely buried from view.



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15 June, 2010

The IPCC consensus on climate change was phony, says IPCC insider

I append below this comment by Lawrence Solomon a few further comments of my own -- JR

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider. The actual number of scientists who backed that claim was “only a few dozen experts,” he states in a paper for Progress in Physical Geography, co-authored with student Martin Mahony.

“Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous,” the paper states unambiguously, adding that they rendered “the IPCC vulnerable to outside criticism.”

Hulme, Professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia – the university of Climategate fame — is the founding Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and one of the UK’s most prominent climate scientists. Among his many roles in the climate change establishment, Hulme was the IPCC’s co-ordinating Lead Author for its chapter on ‘Climate scenario development’ for its Third Assessment Report and a contributing author of several other chapters.

Hulme’s depiction of IPCC’s exaggeration of the number of scientists who backed its claim about man-made climate change can be found on pages 10 and 11 of his paper, found here.


1). Hulme has always been a bit of a puzzle. Although sitting at the centre of Warmism, he has long sounded a very reluctant Warmist. And his latest paper is a very scholarly one revealing a wide knowledge of the relevant literature -- and since knowledge of the relevant facts is a very good antidote to Warmism, one can see where the reluctance is coming from.

2). A curious feature of the paper is his use of Marxist language. He speaks of "producing knowledge" rather than "establishing the facts", for instance.

3). A more amusing feature of his paper is the deference he shows towards social scientists who claim that the IPCC doesn't pay much attention to them. What credibility the IPCC has depends very much on its pretensions to promulgating good physical science. If it included rantings from sociologists and their ilk it would stand out like dog's balls what a Leftist madhouse it was. One would have thought that Hulme would have known that and acknowledged it. I personally hope that the next IPCC report DOES include lots of input from social scientists. That would make it a very easy target indeed -- particularly for me, given my social science background.

4). My synthesis of the 3 points above is that Hulme is a very smart man who not only knows the truth but also knows on what side his bread is buttered and also is good at hedging his bets. He keeps on side with everyone, including Marxists and sociologists (but I repeat myself) while still telling enough of the truth to survive the forthcoming collapse of the Church of Climate change with some honour intact. Two quotes from Hulme below which echo what unbelievers have been saying for a long time.

Nordlund (2008) examined 13,000 cited references in Working Groups 2 and 3 of IPCC AR4 for evidence of work related to the `futures' community - work either published in core futures journals or by known futures experts. His argument was that for an assessment which is so heavily futures-oriented, the inclusion of futures research in the 2007 Fourth Assessment was depressingly thin; the IPCC would benefit from assessing research from a community which specialises in `the philosophical and methodological aspects of prediction and forecasting'

Claims such as `2,500 of the world's leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate' are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields

-- JR

More crooked Warmist statistics: Butterflies are NOT emerging earlier

Comment on Kearney et al., 2010 by Marc Hendrickx

I have obtained the same data used in this study as Kearney et al. and am unable to confirm the results for the historical observation data. I count 239 observations made in Oct-Dec from 1942 to 2009. The annual data show a wide range of earliest observation dates (Figure 1), and at face value the use of 5 year or 10 year averages appears to be a convenient statistical method that hides the very wide spread of observation dates.

Applying a linear regression to a graph of the earliest observation date for each year indicates a trend of -0.7 days per decade. However, with an R2 of 0.0091 the trend has no statistical significance. Based on a 10 year average of earliest observance dates, Kearney et al., 2010 claim -1.5 days per decade with R2 of 0.766. This is an artifact of averaging the dataset, and misrepresents the wide spread of observation dates and resulting uncertainty in trends.

Regardless of any trend noted, there remains a major problem using this "opportunistic" data as a proxy for emergence. This has been poorly discussed in the paper and requires further comment. Indeed the caption for Figure 1a is incorrect and misleading. The graph is in fact a measure of earliest "observance" times, not emergence. This should be amended here and elsewhere in the paper (eg Abstract).

Using this "opportunistic" data to establish emergence is like dating a volcanic eruption based on collection dates of samples housed in a museum. The historical trends identified simply reflect variation in the time collectors have ventured out to observe and collect butterflies. The databases in question do not record a single observation of natural emergence of H.Merope. Indeed no work has been published that records natural emergence times for the butterfly concerned.

In order to establish a change in emergence, the authors should actually be observing emergence. The proxy used is simply not close enough. I understand this is difficult because the "bugs" are small and difficult to observe under natural conditions.

There remains considerable temporal bias in the data, with over 50% of total observations post dating 1990. There is also a considerable bias in observation locations, with the vast majority collected in Melbourne's east and none in the vicinity of Laverton, the weather station that was used to characterise temperature change over the whole of the study area (Figure 2).

The other issue relates to the use of this Laverton weather station to characterise temperature over the very large and geographically diverse study area, amounting to approximately 12,000km2 (37.60-38.54 S, 144.17-145.48 E). The paper does not mention well documented Urban Heat Island effects over Melbourne that encompasses Laverton that have clearly affected temperature at this station over the period of study (see Morri and Simmonds, 2000 and Torok et al., 2001).

Close examination of other stations in the study area shows a wide variety of temperature trends (Figure 2). It seems the authors have chosen one station that favours their theory without adequately explaining why others should be rejected. The choice of Laverton with its inherent problems of Urban Heat Island effects are not sufficiently explained.

Trends for other stations (eg Durdidwarrah) fall well within the limits of natural temperature change indicated by Kearney's Figure 1d and provide an indication that observed temperature trends over parts of the study area can be adequately explained by natural factors without recourse to warming through increased green house gases.

Based on these points, I believe that the authors' conclusions remain unsupported by the data presented.

In addition, there is apparently an error in the discussion section where the trend from the previous version (-1.6) is used.


Kearney, Michael R., Natalie J. Briscoe, David J. Karoly, Warren P. Porter, Melanie Norgate, and Paul Sunnucks. "Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming" Biol. Lett. published online before print March 17, 2010

Morris C.J.G and Simmonds I., 2000. Associations between varying magnitudes of the urban heat island and the synoptic climatology in Melbourne, Australia. International Journal of Climatology 20: 1931-1954.

Torok S.J, Morris C.J.G., Skinner C. and Plummer N., 2001. Urban Heat Island features of southeast Australian towns. Australian Meteorological Journal 50:1-13.


Lies to cover up Warmist fear of the facts

Comment by Steve McIntyre:

Marcel Crok of the Netherlands had an interesting exchange with the Netherlands-based InterAcademy Council this week – see his blog post here.

Noticing that the InterAcademy Council’s IPCC Review was holding hearings in Montreal and that presenters were being imported from Europe (e.g. Robert Watson, Hans von Storch), Marcel wrote to the IAC at 4 pm on Thursday June 10 (see here for full letter):
Given the fact that the meeting is in Montreal and that both McIntyre and McKitrick live relatively close from there (compared to Watson and Von Storch for example), this means that the IAC Panel has decided deliberately not to seek evidence from them.

This screams for an explanation in my opinion. A clear explanation from the IAC Panel about this decision would therefore be highly appreciated.

William Kearney, titled as Spokeperson for InterAcademy Council Review of IPCC, Amsterdam, and Director of Media Relations, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. wrote back to Marcel at 6:52 pm Friday June 11 (00:52 a.m. Saturday June 12 Dutch time) saying that members of the panel were interviewing
“dozens of scientists and other stakeholders with insight and views on the IPCC process, such as Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick” as follows:

Given that the InterAcademy Council committee reviewing IPCC processes and procedures expects to deliver a peer-reviewed report by Aug. 30, it has limited time for presentations at its public meetings and therefore has chosen speakers who are current leaders of IPCC or who can offer representative and varying perspectives of IPCC processes based on prior IPCC experience.

Meanwhile, members of the committee are interviewing dozens of scientists and other stakeholders with insight and views on the IPCC process, such as Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. A questionnaire also has been sent to hundreds of scientists and stakeholders, and posted to our website so the public has an opportunity to offer input. The presentations, interviews, and answers to questionnaire all will be taken into consideration as part of the committee’s review.

“Interviewing dozens of scientists and other stakeholders with insight and views on the IPCC process, such as Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick”.

In fact, neither Ross nor I have been interviewed by them nor have we been approached by anyone from the InterAcademy review as to our availability for an interview – something that might have been easily arranged while members were in Canada. One really wonders why organizations like this make untrue statements, when they are certain to be checked.

The InterAcademy Council did something else that was, shall we say, a bit sly. When Marcel wrote to them on Thursday, not only had we not been included in the “dozens” to be interviewed, we had not even been included in the “hundreds” to whom questionnaires had been sent.

At 4:53 pm Eastern June 11, they sent me the standard questionnaire. An hour or so later, they emailed Marcel, saying that they were “interviewing dozens of scientists and other stakeholders with insight and views on the IPCC process, such as Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick”.

The email enclosing the questionnaire began:
The InterAcademy Council has established a committee to conduct an independent review of the policies and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A critical element of the committee’s analysis is the opinions of knowledgeable experts and thoughtful observers regarding IPCC’s processes and procedures for producing assessments. Only a few such individuals can interact with the committee at each meeting. Consequently, the committee has carefully selected a limited number of thoughtful individuals to provide written comments. On behalf of the committee chair, Harold Shapiro, and vice-chair, Roseanne Diab, I would like to invite you to respond to the questions below.

They told Marcel that the questionnaire had been sent to “hundreds” of scientists, but their email to me told me that “the committee has carefully selected a limited number of thoughtful individuals” and that I was fortunate enough to be chosen. It must have been a lucky day for me as I got several emails from people in Africa telling me that they had also carefully selected me as their beneficiary. If all of these careful selections prove out, it will have been a good day.


Prof. Bellamy joins march against British wind farm

Hundreds of protesters were joined by conservationist David Bellamy on Saturday in a march against a proposed wind farm. Campaigners said about 350 people took part in the protest through an area of the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, where 48 turbines could be built. The Say No To Fallago group argues that unspoiled countryside will be threatened by the construction.

Developers insist the area is remote and would enjoy access to a nearby power line - and accused Bellamy, who is a professor of adult and continuing education at Durham University and a special professor of botany at Nottingham Unviersity, of being "discredited" for his views on climate change.

A formal decision on the application is due from a second public inquiry.

In a statement, Professor Bellamy said: "The outcome of the public inquiry into this wind farm application will be a watershed moment. "If it is approved, the Scottish Government will be declaring open war on Scotland's countryside - no landscape will be safe from industrialisation by these high rise wind machines."

Protest spokesman Mark Rowley said: "We have really touched a nerve and we feel that those who cherish the importance of Scotland's rural landscapes are behind us."

Andrew Shaw, managing director of developer North British Wind Power, said just six houses are within about three miles (4.8km) of the site. He added: "The site is also crossed by a massive power line which inevitably involves degradation of the area. But it also means the wind farm could be connected to the grid."

Mr Shaw said "posturing" from protesters should not be allowed to cloud the decision of the public inquiry. And he criticised Prof Bellamy's involvement, adding: "He was discredited by many in the scientific community a long time ago."


No sign of global warming on Australia's ski fields

Quite to the contrary. The slopes are open unusually early

VICTORIA'S ski-fields have enjoyed the best opening of the season in years, the resorts say, with enough snow and selected lifts operating for revellers to take to the slopes on skis and boards.

Snow began falling on the mountain resorts of Mount Buller and Mount Hotham in the past week, and both have bolstered coverage with man-made snow.

The sun was shining, the sky blue and the air crisp and dry at both resorts yesterday.

For the first time on the Queen's birthday opening weekend since 2003, three of the 13 ski lifts at Hotham were operating and three runs were open: Summit Trainer, Playground and the Big D, said resort spokeswoman Gina Woodward. "It hasn't got warmer than minus 3 for at least the last week," she said. "That's pretty cold for Australia - there's no sign of climate change around here right now."

Skiers had an average of 13 centimetres of snow under their skis on the runs. "Last night it dropped down to minus 6.3 and we made another 15,000 cubic metres of snow," Ms Woodward said. "Things are looking good for the coming weeks."

At Mount Buller, people were skiing on this opening weekend for the first time since 2007, said Buller Ski Lifts spokeswoman Rhylla Morgan. Snow depth ranged from 18 to 45 centimetres. Four of the 22 lifts were operating, with Bourke Street, Baldy and Shaky Knees runs open.

"It's been an absolutely amazing opening weekend … the mountain looks absolutely spectacular," Ms Morgan said. "We started grooming [the slopes] a few days ago. This morning, when the sun came up, the runs were completely smooth and looked like carpet."

Ms Rhyll said the temperature was expected to peak at about 3 degrees yesterday, and was expected to drop to about -5 or -6 overnight, which was ideal for making snow. "We had about 15 centimetres of natural snowfall just before the weekend," she said. "We have prime conditions for making snow … to give Mother Nature a hand. "To have this much of the mountain open and people skiing on the opening weekend is cause for celebration."

About 10,000 people were venturing to Mount Buller for the opening weekend, and in their hundreds to Mount Hotham, according to official estimates.


THEORY: The reason the Obama Administration is not allowing flyovers or proper reporting on the Gulf Spill is that it’s MUCH MUCH MUCH worse than the government is letting on

I don't entirely buy this theory at this stage but I do find hard to understand a lot of what Obama has done and said. If only America still had an oil-man as President! -- JR

Let us prove or disprove this theory, as speculated on this site, The Oil Drum, that the reason the Obama Administration is employing draconian tactics to hamper full reporting and visual images of the Gulf Spill Disaster is that it’s a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse problem than the government is letting on.

So far, the mystery’s involved:

(1) maintaining a no-fly zone over the spill

(2) preventing reporters from getting close to the spill

(3) using military at Grand Isle, Louisiana under tight security lockdown…for SOMETHING

(4) warehouses full of oil containing boom that aren’t being used

(5) the refusal to act on any of the plans Governors Jindal, Barbour and others have been trying to get the federal government to focus on

It feels like the Oil Drum piece might be on to something, in that they speculate the oil’s not leaking from the Deepwater Horizon shaft, but instead it’s leaking up from the sea floor itself… and that the oil’s somehow coming up not from a hole that can be plugged, but from a gash in the seabed that can’t be fixed.

If this is true, then BP is not to blame for what’s happening, as much as Obama wants to pin everything on this one British company to destroy it (and all the British pensions that are linked to its stock).

If this is true, then it’s a disaster only a demigod can avert and contain. Thank goodness all that Hope and Change from 2008 installed just such a Lightbringer with the power to lower the oceans and heal broken souls… and, we assume based on his own proclamations of godlike wonder, repair the sea floor.

Read what they’re saying over at Oil Drum, then come back here and let’s see how deep we can all dig into this… and see if the theory proves true that the reason the Obama White House is not acting in this matter is because they know there is nothing they can do to stop this, and aren’t yet prepared to announce the real scope of the problem at hand.



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


14 June, 2010

The Week That Was (To June 12, 2010) from SEPP

By Ken Haapala

In recent months, global warming alarmists have lamented that they need to do a better job communicating to the public. Apparently, they have found their voice in: argumentum ad hominem. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have authored a new book titled “Merchants of Doubt.” TWTW will reserve specific comments on the book until later. For now, it is sufficient to discuss the review of this book, and eight others from the alarmist chorus, by Philip Kitcher, Department of Philosophy at Columbia University, as published in Science Magazine. One quote from the book, used in the review, provides an adequate summary:

“There are many reasons why the United States has failed to act on global warming, but at least one is the confusion raised by Bill Nierenberg, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer.”

Governments have spent tens of billions of dollars on global warming alarmism. The environmental industry has spent hundreds of millions touting it. Yet, these three gentlemen are singled out as a principal reason for the derailment of the global warming express. Their powers of persuasion must be super-human.

Throughout his review, the good Professor of Philosophy fails to differentiate between Medieval science, when knowledge was believed to come from authority (expert opinion), and modern, empirical science where knowledge comes from rigorous application of the scientific method – with all relevant physical evidence considered. He considers expert opinion satisfactory.

The Professor states that the issue may be too complex for many to understand. That argument would, of course, apply to both sides. But complexity is not a sufficient reason to accept the views of those who claim to be authorities, yet ignore the physical evidence contradicting their views.


On Thursday by a 53 to 47 vote, the US Senate defeated a proposal to remove from EPA the power to regulate carbon dioxide. Perhaps the length of the bill was confusing. After passing legislation ranging over 1,000 pages long without reading it, senators may have been perplexed by a simple bill which had a published length of eight lines.

The dire, false claims from the environmental industry were predictable. Comments by some senators were equally absurd. Senator Barbara Boxer (D. California) declared voting for the bill was equivalent to repealing the laws of gravity.

The Kerry-Lieberman cap and tax bill is in difficulty because it has provisions for off-shore drilling – which, thanks to the BP spill, is in great disfavor. Proponents of cap and tax are now endeavoring to produce another bill without off-shore drilling.


The BP oil spill continues to illustrate the inability of the Federal Government to work effectively with BP and local governments to contain the damage from the spill. EPA’s erratic actions concerning use of chemical dispersants were presented last week. According to reports, EPA also objected to the proposal from Governor Jindal of Louisiana to build berms to protect the coastal wetlands and shorelines. The berms would have openings, thus would not be 100% effective. Apparently, EPA’s thinking is that a break in the berm is similar to a breach in the dyke – a small breach will flood the entire area – and did not consider the possibility of partial protection from a berm.

Upon request from the administration, seven members of the National Academy of Engineering made recommendations on drilling in light of the BP disaster. According to their statements, the engineers recommended that new deep-water drilling permits be suspended for six months and a temporary pause in drilling be implemented for already-permitted deep-water wells so that additional testing can be done. The administration claimed the engineers recommended a six month moratorium on all such drilling which they did not. Fortunately, the engineers stood up to this distortion.


Last week’s TWTW referenced articles on NASA-GISS predicting that 2010 may become the hottest year on record, surpassing its surface record established in 1995. On his web site, Roy Spencer reports that the May satellite data indicates a temperature of 0.53 degrees C above the satellite norm and temperatures, thus far for 2010, are slightly less than the satellite record established in 1998. The Hadley Center did not agree with NASA-GISS in its projections of surface temperatures for 2010, but stated NASA-GISS extrapolates Arctic temperatures where Hadley Center does not.

The comments prompted a visit to the Danish Meteorological Institute web site which posts daily mean temperature measurements above the 80th parallel. See here. Up to the last few weeks, the daily mean temperatures were generally above the mean values calculated for the period 1958 to 2002. The calculated mean values range from about 243 degrees K to 275 degrees K, or slightly above freezing at 273.15 degrees K (0 degrees C).

What is interesting is reviewing the graphs of the data over the previous years. In the winter, the measured temperatures frequently varied from the mean values by ten degrees or more. In the spring and fall, measured temperatures frequently varied from the mean values, but by a lesser extent. But the measured temperatures for the approximately 70 days of summer, when temperatures were above freezing, were strikingly consistent, showing little variation from the calculated mean, throughout the entire 51 year period covered.

It will be interesting to compare these measurements with NASA-GISS extrapolations in the upcoming summer.


The deep oceans drive the atmosphere

Ever wondered how the whole planet could suddenly “get warmer” during an El Nino, and then suddenly cool again? William Kininmonth has the answer. As I read his words I’m picturing a major pool of stored “coldness” (bear with me, I know cold is just a lack of heat) which is periodically unleashed on the surface temperatures.

The vast deep ocean abyss is filled with salty and near freezing water. In years where this colder pool is kept in place we have El Ninos, and on years when the colder water rises and mixes up near the surface we have La Ninas. The satellites recording temperatures at the surface of the ocean are picking up the warmth (or lack of) on this top-most layer. That’s why it can be bitterly cold for land thermometers but at the same time the satellites are recording a higher world average temperature, due to the massive area of the Pacific.

In other words, just as you’d expect, the actual temperature of the whole planetary mass is not rising and falling within months, instead, at times the oceans swallow the heat on the surface and give up some “coldness”. At other times, the cold stays buried deep down and the heat can collect and loll about on the surface.

William Kininmonth was chief of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology from 1986 to 1998. Below, he describes how a vast pool of cold water filled the deep ocean abyss over 30 million years, and why this water and the currents that shift it have a major impact our climate. The so-called Bottom Layer is not just pockets or pools, it forms around Antarctica, then sinks and flows along the bottom all the way across the equator and into the Northern Hemisphere. Bear in mind the average depth of the ocean is around 4 kilometers, and yet almost all the water below a depth of 1000 m is around 4C or colder.

The Antarctic Bottom Water itself is close to 0C. The equivalent heat energy of the entire atmosphere is stored in just the top few meters of water. It gives us all some perspective on the relative importance of different factors affecting the climate. His thoughts are in response to the latest debate essay from Dr Andrew Glikson, so the figures 1 and 2 come from that article.

Kininmonth points out that small changes in the rate of the Thermohaline Circulation (also known as the Ocean’s Conveyor Belt) makes a huge difference to all corners of the globe, and that the climate models make large assumptions about the flow of energy. Since the cold bottom layer was created by a kind of “Antarctic Refridgerator” (set into play by the circumpolar current) this colossal cold pool of water will presumably hang around until the continents shift. That’s quite a few election cycles.

Much more HERE

A 2000-Year History of Climate Change in Alaska reveals a Medieval warm period there too

Warmists claim (without proof) that the Medieval warm period was a local North Atlantic phenomenon. Alaska, however is in a very different climate zone from the North Atlantic. It is in fact in the Pacific, funnily enough

We have heard a lot of late about Alaska and other parts of the Arctic experiencing temperatures that are without precedent over the last one to two millennia, along with all sorts of calls for the United States to repent (of its usage of fossil fuels) and thereby return the climate of the planet back to what it was like before the Great Flood (of CO2 into the atmosphere). But are we really that powerful, in terms of what some people claim we have done to earth's climate in the past and what they say we can do about it in the future?

In an important study that appeared a few years ago in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Hu et al. (2001) addressed this question by noting that "knowledge of natural climatic variability is essential for evaluating possible human impacts on recent and future climate changes." Hence, as they continue, they say they "conducted multiproxy geochemical analyses of a sediment core from Farewell Lake in the northwestern foothills of the Alaska Range," obtaining what they describe as "the first high-resolution quantitative record of Alaskan climate variations that spans the last two millennia." So what did they find?

The team of five scientists say their results "suggest that at Farewell Lake SWT [surface water temperature] was as warm as the present at AD 0-300 [during the Roman Warm Period], after which it decreased steadily by ~3.5C to reach a minimum at AD 600 [during the depths of the Dark Ages Cold Period]." From that point in time, they say "SWT increased by ~3.0C during the period AD 600-850 and then [during the Medieval Warm Period] exhibited fluctuations of 0.5-1.0C until AD 1200." Completing their narrative, they say that "between AD 1200-1700, SWT decreased gradually by 1.25C [as the world descended into the depths of the Little Ice Age], and from AD 1700 to the present, SWT increased by 1.75C," the latter portion of which warming initiated the Modern Warm Period.

In commenting on these findings, Hu et al. remark that "the warmth before AD 300 at Farewell Lake coincides with a warm episode extensively documented in northern Europe -- whereas the AD 600 cooling is coeval with the European 'Dark Ages'." They also say that "the relatively warm climate AD 850-1200 at Farewell Lake corresponds to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, a time of marked climatic departure over much of the planet." And they say that "these concurrent changes suggest large-scale teleconnections in natural climatic variability during the last two millennia, likely driven by atmospheric controls."

Noting that "20th-century climate is a major societal concern in the context of greenhouse warming," Hu et al. conclude by reiterating that their record "reveals three time intervals of comparable warmth: AD 0-300, 850-1200, and post-1800," and they say that "these data agree with tree-ring evidence from Fennoscandia, indicating that the recent warmth is not atypical of the past 1000 years," in unmistakable contradiction of those who claim that it is.

The great importance of these observations resides in the fact that they testify to the reality of the non-CO2-induced millennial-scale oscillation of climate [see Climate Oscillations (Millennial Variability) in our Subject Index] that brought the world, including Alaska, significant periods of warmth comparable to, or in some cases actually greater than, that of the present some 1000 years ago, during the Medieval Warm Period, and some 1000 years before that, during the Roman Warm Period. These earlier periods of warmth were unquestionably not caused by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (which were 100 ppm less during those periods than they are today), nor were they due to elevated concentrations of any other greenhouse gases; they were manifestly due to something else, which fact makes it very clear that the warmth of today could be due to that same "something else" as well.

To rant and rave, as climate alarmists do, about what's been happening in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic over the past few decades and claim, without reservation, that it is the result of CO2-induced global warming is unconscionable, especially when hard scientific evidence such as that provided by Hu et al. - and many others (see our Subject Index for much, much more) - has been around for years. It is clearly not science that is fueling the fervor for fossil fuel abandonment, it is politics, pure and simple -- or perhaps we should say politics not so pure and not so simple.



The Senate just claimed the title of the world's most delusional body by refusing to strip unelected EPA bureaucrats of the power to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This was the day freedom died.

One wonders why we have a Congress at all. The 53 profiles in cowardice that could not get a cap-and-tax bill through the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to let the Environmental Protection Agency keep the unprecedented power Congress did not expressly give it. It is power that the EPA arrogated to itself through regulation to control every aspect of the American economy and our very lives.

This country was born over anger at taxation without representation. Regulation without representation may spark another revolt come November. The Tea Party movement began precisely because of such arrogant disregard for the wishes of the American people. Unlike health care reform, this time the cowardly lions of the Senate couldn't even do it themselves and ceded their authority to the EPA.

It was only a motion to proceed to consideration of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's resolution (S.J. Res. 26) which, under a forgotten provision of the Contract With America, lets legislators veto a "major rule" by any regulatory agency within 60 days of publication. It needed just 51 votes; it got 47.

All 41 Republicans, including newbie Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted not to shred the Constitution. The motion attracted, for various reasons, the votes of six Democrats — Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, the departing Evan Bayh and even Jay Rockefeller, who for once chose jobs over ideology.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin accused the Republicans of choosing "political science over the real science," even after the EPA's junk science based on the manipulation of data by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been exposed as a manufactured fraud.

The case for climate change has collapsed — a fact recognized, finally, by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who, with Democrat John Kerry and independent Joseph Lieberman, once hoped to work out some kind of compromise legislation with a token nod to domestic energy production.

Last week, Graham told reporters he would vote against the climate bill he helped author. "The science about global warming has changed," Graham told reporters Wednesday on why he was backing an energy bill by Sen. Dick Lugar. "I think they've oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they've been alarmist and the science is in question."

Hardly a profile in courage, since the legislation wasn't going anywhere, but welcome aboard nonetheless. The science behind cap-and-trade is not only in question, it's nonexistent. The Earth is demonstrably cooling, and the trend will likely continue for decades, according to scientists who don't tamper with the data.

So delusional are Senate Democrats that California's Barbara Boxer, in trying to advance her own failed cap-and-tax bill, said on the Senate floor: "I'm going to put in the record ... a host of quotes from our national security experts who tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be over the next 20 years the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way." So, forget that Iranian nuke.

This is a Congress full of hypocrites who complain about executive branch power under Republicans but are willing to give the EPA unprecedented power because they don't have the votes for cap-and-trade. "Who elected the Environmental Protection Agency?" asked Wyoming Republican John Barrasso. It is a question we, and the voters, ask too.


'Green New Deal' is a raw deal for the U.S.

Europe's path deeply inhuman, economically destructive

By Holger Krahmer (Holger Krahmer is a German Liberal and a member of the European Parliament's environment committee)

The financial crisis and subsequent recession in the United States have prompted some to begin calling for a completely new kind of economy. This new economy would be based on environmental values, a so-called "Green New Deal" to be ushered in by President Obama and leaders in Europe. The plan includes cap-and-trade legislation, new spending on "green" jobs, subsidies for favored firms and technologies, and trade restrictions against out-of-favor products and industries.

The United States is the world's most crucial economic engine, and before it goes much further down this road, it might want to look at Europe's experience with a similar deal. It has done little to help the environment but much to harm consumers and the broader economy.

In Europe, green ideas have been in fashion for two generations and have driven policy to a much greater extent than in the United States. Despite this, we have not witnessed a sizable green wave of new jobs, as evidenced by our unemployment rates, which are routinely several percentage points higher than in America.

The green movement has succeeded in generating increased government spending and subsidies at taxpayer expense. Much of this spending has been directed toward inefficient renewable-energy projects, such as solar and wind power. In my own country, these subsidies appease Germany's mighty pro-green lobby, but they have done little to put downward pressure on unemployment, and their contribution to Germany's overall energy mix is small.

Germany, like the United States, is a major industrial and manufacturing powerhouse. It continues to rely on fossil fuels and will do so for a long time to come. There is no escaping this fact, no matter what the Green New Deal enthusiasts say.

To that end, it's important that Washington not make some of the mistakes we in Europe have made. Specifically, U.S. political and industry leaders should be careful not to follow Europe's path of buckling under to "greenmail," which undermines sound policy and genuine sustainable economic growth.

Here is what has happened in Europe: Caving to pressure from alarmist environmental groups, European companies such as Carrefour, Metro AG and Unilever have elected to halt the purchase of certain food, industrial and paper products from developing countries. The green groups claim these products, made in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, harm rain forests and other critical habitats.

However, several reputable studies show that nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the global trade in goods created in these areas provides jobs and incomes to those desperately in need of economic advancement. These economic advances make environmental improvements in their home countries possible. The irony is that by refusing to trade with producers from these developing countries, European companies are making the global environment worse, not better.

Consider the global trade in paper products that are produced in Southeast Asia. This has been one of the great economic success stories of the region, as undeveloped countries such as Indonesia tap their environmental resources - in this case, renewable forests - to create products for exchange in global markets. The resulting pulp and paper industries employ hundreds of thousands of people across Southeast Asia, giving them good jobs and a chance to provide steady livelihoods for themselves and their children. This has been crucial to establishing a middle class and promising a better economic future for all in the region.

But radical environmental groups, mostly based in Europe, claim that the purchase of paper goods from these countries harms wild habitat. This is untrue. Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia have some of the strongest wildlife and rain-forest protections in the world. They have set large swatches of their land off-limits, out of the reach of industrial interests. Their commitment to their own natural environments far exceeds anything in Europe's own environmental history.

But facts rarely stop green pressure groups once they fixate on a target. The eco-activists pressure Western companies - via greenmail campaigns - to stop purchasing these goods, thus harming the economic prospects of Southeast Asia. The activists believe this is part of the larger Green New Deal they are orchestrating. But it's a raw deal for the workers of developing countries and the consumers of Europe and the United States. And it does nothing to protect the environment.

Of course, this fits well with the agenda of the environmental left, which wants to limit consumer choice for wealthy Westerners and prevent the poor in developing countries from kick-starting economic growth. For too long, Europe has been complicit in perpetuating these deeply inhuman policies. It will be an even greater economic and humanitarian shame if America follows suit.


If the Science Is Solid, Why Stoop?

By Stanley W. Trimble (Stanley W. Trimble is professor of geography at UCLA)

I must preface my remarks by saying that I believe that there has indeed been climate warming over the past few decades and I believe that human action may be one of the causes. While Climategate may bring into greater question some of the work underlying climate warming, it decidedly does not disprove it.

Having said that, I must add that Climategate is, in my view, the greatest science scandal in my lifetime. Beyond any scientific implications are the implications of the behavior of the East Anglia scientists and their correspondents - suppressing information, denigrating those who don’t agree with them, trying to deny others access to scientific journals, questioning motives, and conniving to disfellow skeptical colleagues. These are the earmarks of zealotry. While maybe not illegal, they are most certainly unethical. Civilized people, much less scientists, just don’t do those things - but then, apparently they do.

Some time ago, I published a piece about the double standard in environmental science.

Springing from experiences in my own specialty (soil erosion) the main message was that it was much more difficult to publish a skeptical piece or “good news” than a jeremiad. I said that I suspected that environmental zealots, acting in the usual arrogant politically correct guise, tried to suppress skeptics and even viciously discredit them when possible. But my proof was limited to mainly circumstantial evidence and the actions of a few environmental extremists; and there was no smoking gun to expose a general conspiracy to do these unethical deeds. But with Climategate, there is.

Indeed, Climategate seems to prove most of the points I made in that essay. I wish to make only five points here:
1. The rush by some climate warmers to dismiss this scandal, claiming it’s just vernacular conversation ("boys will be boys!"), is bankrupt. These apologists need to get a grip on reality. This stuff was not taken out of context: indeed, the context is quite clear. They were wrong and the climate warming establishment should acknowledge this. And if they don’t, we have every right to suspect they are in on it too.

2. Was East Anglia targeted by the hackers because they knew this skullduggery was going on - or did the hackers simply tap into a random sample of widespread skullduggery? If the latter, we truly have something to worry about and it raises the stakes by perhaps orders of magnitude. Is this merely the tip of a dark and dangerous iceberg?

3. Climategate leaves no doubt that at least some zealots connive to exclude skeptical environmental science from refereed scientific journals. Then, the ploy is to invoke democracy ("The overwhelming majority of papers in peer-reviewed journals support..."). Where would this have left Darwin or Einstein?

4. The environmental zealots like to paint skeptics or “deniers” (or “denialists") as on the make for money - money generally characterized as coming from, you guessed it, “big corporations.” But even if that’s so, it’s the science that should be on trial, not the funding. What we do know, and what many Greens don’t want the public to know, is that some of them are riding their own gravy train. Neither funding agencies nor scientific journals want to hear about environmental successes. They want environmental problems, the bigger, the better.

Of course, this means more money for research, more likely publication of one’s papers in scientific journals (bad news is good news), and the approbation of like-minded academic colleagues. And with that, one’s career accelerates with lucrative promotions, speaking tours, and prestigious awards. As I noted in my aforementioned article, it’s no accident that prestigious journals keep picking the same people to review papers and books and especially to write op-ed

If the Science Is Solid, Why Stoop? An Environmental Scientist Parses Climategate 55 pieces. They know what they want and the revelations from Climategate show us why. To summarize, any academic careerist is well advised to be an environmental zealot. That’s where the rewards are. Skeptics are sidelined as soon as possible. It’s the Greens who are getting the largesse, academic and otherwise, not the skeptics.

5. As we can see from Climategate, climate warmers can do some dastardly things to the scientific process and to scientific colleagues. But the most despicable thing they do is to call skeptics “deniers.”

What they are doing, of course, is trying to connect environmental skeptics with Holocaust deniers. If their science is so solid, why must they stoop to such measures? And why hasn’t the rest of the climate warming establishment condemned this and other vilification tactics? I’m proud to be a skeptic. Skepticism, in my view, is the watchword of good science. It is the process of challenging, perhaps even if Hegelian, that keeps the scientific enterprise honest and moving forward. The recent editorial by Donald Kennedy, then editor-in-chief of Science, proclaiming that the climate war was over, that the “warmers” had won and no one else need apply, is in my view a travesty - and Orwellian. (Donald Kennedy, editorial, “Climate: Game Over,” Science 317, issue 5387, July 27, 2007, 425-27.)

Any idea in applied science is always open to question. Period. (PDF) H/T PopularTechnology.



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


13 June, 2010

The United Nations pisses into the wind

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says. To show my respect for their wisdom, I am having roast lamb for my dinner today

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: "Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels."

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said: "Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products - livestock now consumes much of the world's crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides."....


Ten Myths of Addressing Global Warming and the Green Economy

The debate on policy responses to climate change is fueled by an array of myths, ranging from assumptions that high carbon taxes will generate needed clean innovations to the belief the U.S. is the natural leader in the clean energy sector. If we are to effectively address climate change while at the same time become globally competitive in the clean energy industry, policies need to be guided by careful and reasoned analysis.

In the report ITIF dismantles the top ten myths in the debate, which are:

1. Higher prices on greenhouse gases are enough to drive the transition to a clean economy

2. The U.S. can make major contributions to solving climate change on its own

3. Cap-and-trade is a sustainable global solution

4. We don’t need innovation; we have all the technology we need

5. “Insulation is enough” (e.g. energy efficiency will save us)

6. Low growth is the answer…just live simply

7. Information technology (IT) is a significant contributor to climate change

8. Going green is green (e.g., it makes economic sense to go green)

9. We are world leaders on the green economy, and it’s ours for the taking

10. Foreign green mercantilism is good for solving climate change (and good for the U.S.)

SOURCE. (Link to full report at source)

An unusually sober debate about global warming

It's rare for a climate debate not to descend into acrimony, but I attended one last week that didn't.

This one pitted against each other the sociologist and New Labour philosopher king Anthony 'Third Way' Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics, and former Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. Giddens was speaking at the invitation of Lawson's new climate policy think tank. This doesn't have a collective view and won't challenge the "science" and so won't be boxed in by the "skeptic" label, which it rejects - but wants to provide a focus for some analysis of the policy.

And it was very well timed, because the public debate is in a kind of paralysis. During the election, the issue was almost completely absent, while in the debates, it merited one question, prompting identical pledges of self-sacrifice from the three party leaders.

Although the political elite is almost entirely signed up to mitigation policies, the reality is that they can't introduce them, because it means electoral suicide. Mitigation entails a world of pain - with jobs lost, higher energy costs and a lower standard of living. This appeals to a few puritans - the kind of people who mourned the end of rationing, perhaps - but not the general public. So we've seen Australia drop its emissions trading scheme, and in the US, the only Republican backer of a climate bill change sides.

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, suggests another reason for the lack of momentum. Up until about two years ago, he points out, environment ministers would regularly meet at global conferences, and make grand proclamations. They set the policy. But since then, finance ministers and prime ministers and presidents have taken control of the policy, and they've done the maths. So what pledges politicians continue to make, are ever more meaningless.

A recent poll here failed to show an increase in the number of self-described "skeptics", but agnosticism and indifference rule. Which, when you think about it, is a very pragmatic and typically English response to religious or political ideologues.

The debate

First their positions, in a nutshell, then their responses to an interesting set of challenges from the audience.

Giddens said "the science" showed humans were wreaking terrible havoc on natural systems, that this science was robust, and the science also had a clear policy message: we must change our ways. "We're interfering in the climate in a radical and irreversible way ... We must take action now," he said. But Giddens had a Plan B. He added that even if all this was mistaken, oil prices would rise in the future, and energy conservation and "energy security" were key policy areas. These provided alternative justifications for his desired policies, which were pretty much the same either way.

Lawson said the science was anything but robust ("It's more uncertain the more you look"), but that didn't matter so much as choosing the right policy responses. For Lawson, efforts to reduce CO2 emissions were all futile gestures - they wouldn't work, and they'd only end up costing us dearly. That's because China and India will not halt economic development, which for now, is largely dependent on abundant and cheap fossil fuels. He described the UK Climate Change Act, which commits the UK to tough reduction targets, as a piece of "post-Imperial arrogance." "CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] was a more intelligent form of unilateralism than carbon unilateralism," said Lawson.

You can see the weaknesses. For Giddens, the scientific elite makes the policy: and the One True Policy is to stop emitting carbon now! But the science doesn't really favour any policy - that will be for us to decide democratically, presumably after we've weighed up the costs and risks of all the policies.

Believers in radical and irreversible anthropogenic climate change like Giddens view Lawson's adaptation-first argument as reckless and insane, and probably morally negligent, too - although if Giddens holds this view, he was too polite to express it here. But the adaptationists' argument is based on the premise that future generations will be wealthier than we are, so the costs of adapting will be lower as each year passes.

Adaptation is winning, and it's gained some surprising support recently - even from some academics who raised the climate alarm in the first place, in the Hartwell Paper.

So I could sense some hedging of bets. Giddens said the value of adaptation policies had been underestimated, and he was surprisingly wary of many of the environmentalists' emblems - particularly wind power. At the same time, he had a hunch that things would be far worse than predicted, based on the idea that the IPCC was a bureaucratic process that needed to compromise, and tended to play down the scariest scenarios.

Lawson chuckled and disagreed, pointing out that the IPCC had ceased being an independent body and become a political one: its goal was causing governments to change policies. He recommended that after the next climate jamboree in Cancun in December the coalition government take a completely fresh look and rethink its policies.

Both found the energy choices being made today unrealistic. "Wind power would only ever be marginal," agreed Giddens.

Lawson was typically dismissive of the LibDems' position - that nuclear power must receive no subsidy, but that wind power would be allowed "massive and exorbitant subsidies … it's a curious prejudice that leads to this doctrine". Wind power is really as carbon intensive as anything conventional, because it needs fossil fuels as a backup for when the wind doesn't blow - a point Giddens acknowledged. Lawson pointed out the pioneers of wind power had all stopped: Denmark, Spain and now Germany - as all had to admit it didn't make sense. Giddens sort of agreed:

"The knock-on effects were complicated, but wind had not paid back the investment. There was a net cost to the German economy". Giddens thought money would be better spent researching other areas - such as energy storage. Lawson agreed - it had been almost thirty years since he'd been energy minister, and there had been no progress in energy storage since then.

In response to the concerns raised by retired engineer Bill McAuley, editor of Imperial Engineer, Lawson regretted that the carbon obsession was crowding out other research, even environmental research. Lawson told the story of a researcher who wanted to look into the issue of toxic waste, but was told he wouldn't get funding unless he could find a connection to climate change. Of course, there was no connection, and he didn't get his funding. Additional concerns were raised about the costs for industry and business. These rarely get a look-in on mainstream environmental coverage.

An environmental lawyer rose to his feet and attempted a grand summing up. Couldn't we all conclude, he claimed, that everyone agreed on one thing: that we all had to lower carbon consumption, and without pausing for punctuation, he continued that we would then need global legislation to enforce this, and "international courts" too.

Imagine - a lawyer calling for international eco-courts. Think of the air miles for environmental lawyers! That's what you call chutzpah, and you don't really pull one like this over on Nigel Lawson. He thanked the lawyer for his creative interpretation, but said it didn't reflect his position at all.

And all too soon, the debate had to end.


One thought that occurred to me, listening to the mitigation vs adaptation argument, was much how the label "denier" betrays an almost existentialist fear. The adaptationists' argument is powerful precisely because it illuminates a fatal weakness in the approach that environmentalists had adopted throughout the past 15 years, and which until recently. had been so successful. The Achilles heel is the presumption that "the science" dictates "the policy", and we must all accept their (mitigation) policies without question.

Adaptation is a very well-aimed bullet indeed: if you shoot the "scientific" case, or merely question the logic, then the whole cut-carbon mitigation strategy loses its justification. And it isn't just the specific policies but perhaps an entire belief system and world view that dies with it.


IPCC: This Time Will be Different (Not)

By eminent young (41) Dutch economist, Richard Tol

Much has been said about the procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But at the end of the day, everything comes down to people. The average IPCC author is smart enough to violate the spirit of any rule while complying with its every letter. The right group of people would produce a sound and honest report even if there were no rules at all.

That is why my submission to the review panel of the Inter Academy Council focuses on the selection of lead authors. The panel will announce its findings at the end of summer – and the IPCC will announce the authors for the Fifth Assessment Report next week.

This is very unfortunate. I think that the IPCC should suspend the AR5 process, fix the procedures for nominating and selecting authors, and postpone the report to 2015. I’d rather bet on New Zealand winning the world cup.

That said, the leaders of Working Group 2 are making an effort. I have been critical of the IPCC. I think that climate change is real, really caused by humans, and a problem that should be solved – but I also think that there are bigger, more urgent environmental problems (let alone other problems) and that the policies put forward by our dear leaders are ineffective, misdirected and needlessly expensive. Nonetheless, WG2 has put me forward as a convening lead author of one of the chapters in AR5.

I tentatively accepted, knowing that this would be a lot of difficult work under immense scrutiny.

Guess what? Although the Irish government nominated me, it will not financially support my participation – not even travel costs – because of … substantive differences over environmental policy.

Political interference in the IPCC continues.


More on the UN biodiversity report

Supreme indifference to the facts

Yesterday I posted about how the UN TEEB report had an error in the very first chapter relating to forest cover. There are two more errors I'll cover now, relating to two more items on this scary list:

However, the levels of many of the benefits we derive from the environment have plunged over the past 50 years as biodiversity has fallen dramatically across the globe. Here are some examples:
• In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk by approximately 40%. Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover. The decline continues (FAO 2001; 2006).

• Since 1900, the world has lost about 50% of its wetlands. While much of this occurred in northern countries during the first 50 years of the 20th century, there has been increasing pressure since the 1950s for conversion of tropical and sub-tropical wetlands to alternative land use (Moser et al. 1996).

• Some 30%of coral reefs – which frequently have even higher levels of biodiversity than tropical forests – have been seriously damaged through fishing, pollution, disease and coral bleaching (Wilkinson 2004).

• In the past two decades, 35% of mangroves have disappeared. Some countries have lost up to 80% through conversion for aquaculture, overexploitation and storms (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005a).

• The human-caused (anthropogenic) rate of species extinction is estimated to be 1,000 times more rapid than the “natural” rate of extinction typical of Earth’s long-term history (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005b).

Let's take the wetlands claim first. Their reference for the 50% reduction claim is Moser et al. 1996, referenced as: Moser, M., Prentice, C. and Frazier, S. (1996) A Global Overview of Wetland Loss and Degradation. Available at (last access 6 May 2008).

That link no longer works, this is the correct link. However the report was wrong to cite this source, as this claim is only quoted in the article. Here is the excerpt where it was quoted:

In a very generalized overview, OECD (1996) states:

"Some estimates show that the world may have lost 50% of the wetlands that existed since 1900; whilst much of this occurred in the northern countries during the first 50 years of the century, increasing pressure for conversion to alternative land use has been put on tropical and sub-tropical wetlands since the 1950s.

No figures are available for the extent of wetland loss worldwide, but drainage for agricultural production is the principal cause; by 1985 it was estimated that 56-65% of the available wetland had been drained for intensive agriculture in Europe and N America; the figures for tropical and subtropical regions were 27% for Asia, 6% for S America and 2% for Africa, making a total of 26% worldwide. Future predictions show the pressure to drain land for agriculture intensifying in these regions."

OECD is the correct source. It is referenced in Moser as: OECD/IUCN. 1996. Guidelines for aid agencies for improved conservation and sustainable use of tropical and sub-tropical wetlands. OECD, Paris.

I found it here. Here is what the source says:
The drainage of wetlands has always been seen as a progressive, public-spirited endeavour which enhanced the health and welfare of society, to alleviate the dangers of flooding, improve sanitation, and reclaim land for agriculture. Some estimates show that the world may have lost 50 per cent of the wetlands that existed worldwide since 1900; whilst much of this occurred in the northern countries during the first 50 years, increasing pressure for conversion to alternative land-use has been put on tropical and sub-tropical wetlands since the 1950s. In northern countries, the consequences of this loss such as decline in fisheries productivity, greater intensity of major flooding, and loss of biological and landscape diversity, and amenity value has led to efforts to preserve and restore wetlands.

No figures are available for the extent of wetland loss worldwide, but drainage for increased agricultural production is the principal cause; by 1985 it was estimated that 56 - 65 per cent of the available wetland had been drained for intensive agriculture in Europe and North America; the figures for tropical and subtropical regions were 27 per cent for Asia, 6 per cent for South America and 2 per cent for Africa, making a total of 26 per cent worldwide. Future predictions show the pressure to drain land for agriculture intensifying in these regions.

Wetlands may be lost completely by drainage or infilling, but many of the benefits can be lost even if the wetland itself remains, but in a degraded state. Pollution or the overuse of wetland products (e.g. by deforestation) are examples of this.

They don't cite any source for their 'some estimates show' claim, but it hardly matters because they openly admit "No figures are available for the extent of wetland loss worldwide". Remember the original claim: "Since 1900, the world has lost about 50% of its wetlands"

From an estimation with no source to a verified fact, in just three sources. This is like a citation version of the telephone game.

Much more HERE

The Right to Choose - For Farmers in Haiti

The Monsanto Company is learning a valuable lesson in Haiti: no good deed goes unpunished at the hands of radical anti-corporate elements of Western society.

Like so many other concerned citizens, Monsanto responded to the tragic January 12 earthquake that further devastated this impoverished country. It worked for months with Haiti’s Agricultural Ministry to select seeds best suited to local climates, needs and practices, and to handle the donation so as to support, rather than undermine, the country’s agricultural and economic infrastructure.

From Monsanto’s extensive inventory, they jointly chose conventionally bred hybrid (not biotech / genetically modified / GM) varieties of field corn and seven vegetables: cabbage, carrots, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, spinach and melons. Instead of giving the seeds to farmers, the company worked with the USAID-funded WINNER program, to donate the seeds to stores owned and managed by Haitian farmer associations. The 475 tons of hybrid seeds will then be sold to many thousands of farmers at steep discounts, and all revenues will be reinvested in local agriculture.

Other companies and donors are providing fertilizers, insecticide and herbicides that will likewise be sold at a discount. The companies, Agricultural Ministry, farmers associations and other experts will also provide technical advice and assistance – much as the USDA’s Cooperative Extension System does – on how, when and whether to use the various hybrids, fertilizers, and weed and insect-control chemicals.

The goal is simple. Help get the country and its farmers back on their feet, improve farming practices, crop yields and nutrition levels, and increase incomes and living standards.

The reaction of anti-corporate activists was instantaneous, intense, perverse, patronizing and hypocritical. Monsanto wants to turn Haiti back into “a slave colony,” ranted Organic Consumers Association founder Ronnie Cummins. Hybrid and GM seeds will destroy our diversity, small-farmer agriculture and “what is left of our environment,” raged Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, leader of the Peasant Movement of Papaye.

Other self-anointed “peasant representatives” waded in. The seeds are genetically modified and “will exterminate our people.” Farmers won’t be able to afford the seeds or feed their children. The fertilizers are carcinogenic. Fungicides on the seeds are toxic poisons. “Seeds are the patrimony of humanity.” We support “food and seed sovereignty.” Traditional seeds and farming practices “provide stable employment” for the 70% of Haitians who are small farmers. And of course, “Down with Monsanto.”

Various U.S. churches and foundations chimbed in. “Spontaneous” protests were organized in several Haitian and American cities. At one, hundreds of marchers wore identical shirts and hats, which even at a combined value of just $5 represented two weeks’ income for average Haitian farmers: 40 cents a day. One wonders how many would have shown up without these inducements.

Indeed, this abysmal income underscores the terrible reality of life in this island nation, even before the earthquake, and the perversity of this campaign against “corporate control of the food system.” Instead of “seed sovereignty,” the activists are ensuring eco-imperialism and poverty sovereignty.

Forty years ago, Haiti was largely self-sufficient in food production and actually exported coffee, sugar and mangoes. Today, the country imports 80% of its rice and 97% of the 31 million eggs it consumes monthly. Two-thirds of Haiti’s people are farmers (roughly equivalent to the United States just after the Civil War), but their crop yields are among the lowest in the Western Hemisphere.

Few of Haiti’s rural families have running water or electricity, and women spend hours a day cooking over open fires. Many contract serious lung diseases as a result, and life expectancy is twelve years lower than for people on the Dominican Republic side of the island.

Google satellite images reveal a lush green eastern DR two-thirds of Hispaniola – in stark contrast to the deforested, rutted, brown, impoverished Haitian side, from which enormous quantities of soil are washed into the ocean every year. Roads are so rutted and awful that Peace Corps workers report traveling four hours by truck to go 60 miles. Many rural people cannot afford to feed their children, leaving hundreds of kids in poor highland areas literally starving to death.

Hybrid seeds can help Haitians climb out of this morass. They’re no silver bullet, but they are one of the cheapest, easiest and best investments a farmer can make. By simply planting different seeds and adding fertilizer, farmers can dramatically increase crop yields. A similar Monsanto donation of hybrid maize (corn) seeds and fertilizer to Malawi farmers in 2006 generated a 500% increase in yields and helped feed a million people for a year.

In the United States, organic and conventional farmers alike plant numerous hybrids. They cost more than traditional, open-pollinated seeds, but the payoff in yield, revenue, and uniformity of size, quality and ripening time makes the investment decision easy. Between 1933 and 2000, U.S. corn yields likewise expanded fivefold – thanks to hybrids, fertilizer, irrigation and innovative crop management practices – and today, hybrid or GM hybrid crops are planted on virtually every American field.

Some of the Haitian corn donation will be used to improve chicken farming and egg production. Most will likely be used in staples like sauce pois – corn mush topped with black or red beans combined with coconut milk, hot peppers, onions, garlic and oil. The thickness of the bean sauce reflects a family’s income, and “wealthy” families often accompany the sauce with rice, instead of corn mush. The veggie seeds will add variety to family diets, and provide a source of income via sales at local markets.

The hybrids will also help Haiti adopt truly sustainable farming practices: higher crop yields, greater revenues and better nutrition for more people, at lower cost, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, requiring less time in fields, and enabling more farmers to specialize in other trades and send their children to school. In short, greater opportunity and prosperity for millions.

And yet, activists continue to spew forth invective, preposterous claims and disinformation – primarily through the Huffington Post and several other websites. Hybrid seeds don’t regenerate, they assert; wrong – they do and can be replanted, though they will not pass all their best traits down to subsequent generations, which is one reason farmers typically buy new seeds. The seeds are poisonous, they fume; false – the seeds are treated with fungicides that are used safely all over the USA, Western Europe and Latin America, to keep seeds from being destroyed by fungus before they germinate.

(For additional information and discussions, see plant geneticist Anastasia Bodnar’s Biofortified website.)

Monsanto will not force farmers to plant hybrid seeds – or say they can’t replant what they collect from previous harvests. Indeed, hybrids were widely just 30 years ago by Haitian farmers, who know what they are looking for in a crop, how to assess what they have planted and harvested, and whether they want to invest in specific seeds. They should be allowed to make their own decisions – just as others should be permitted to plant whatever traditional, heirloom or open-pollinated seeds they wish.

“We reject Monsanto seeds,” say anti-hybrid activists. They might, and that’s fine. But thousands of other Haitian farmers want to plant Monsanto seeds. Their right to choose must also be respected – not denied by intolerant protesters, who are largely funded and guided by well-fed First World campaigners.

After years of vicious assaults by agro and eco purists, Monsanto’s corporate skin is probably thick enough to survive these lies and often highly personal attacks. Other companies, however, might lack the fortitude to provide their expertise and technology after future disasters, in the face of such attacks.

That is almost certainly an objective for many of these anti-technology, anti-corporate groups. Monsanto has no maize financial interests in Haiti and only a tiny vegetable operation, and I have no financial interest in Monsanto. But for the world’s most destitute people, it would be a tragedy of epic proportions.



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


12 June, 2010

Surface temperature measurements: how reliable?

Transcript of an interview with Anthony Watts on the ABC: Australia's main public broadcaster. The interviewer is Michael Duffy, a former Labor Party politician, but a rational one

Michael Duffy: First up, climate sceptic Anthony Watts. Anthony is a weatherman with KPAY AM radio in California, he's been a weatherman for 25 years. He also runs a very popular climate change sceptic blog,, and as well in 2007 he founded This is a very interesting website, it invites readers to visit America's official climate monitoring stations and describe their physical location, often with the help of photos that are then posted on the website.

The results can be quite surprising; they show stations next to air conditioner outlets, for example, or in the middle of asphalt-coated car parks. Anthony Watts is about to begin a speaking tour of Australia. I caught up with him at his home in California late last week.

Your blog is hugely popular, I think it's the most visited climate site in the world, isn't it?

Anthony Watts: It is. It caught me quite by surprise but it now regularly exceeds two million visits per month and we get visitors from all over the world. When we compare the traffic to other climate sites, surprisingly it is the largest climate related informational site in the world.

Michael Duffy: Can you tell us a bit about the work that you've done on America's network of climate monitoring stations? I know this is very important and we might need to take our listeners through it step by step. First of all, can you tell us something about the size of the network?

Anthony Watts: The size of the network is 1,221 different stations around the US, so it's quite large. It's taken us three years now to get over 1,000 stations surveyed. What we discovered was that there was a very simple rule that the Weather Service had put in place a long time ago called the 100-foot rule which basically said that you're to keep the weather station measurement instruments 100 feet away from other biasing influences such as buildings, asphalt, trees, structures, heat sources, whatever. And in our survey we discovered that 89.7%, almost 90% of all the stations that we surveyed, over 1,000 of them, didn't meet the government's own criteria of 100 feet.

Michael Duffy: What does one of these stations look like?

Anthony Watts: Typically a station looks like one of three kinds, depending on where it's at. The old traditional station is what's called a Stevenson screen, it looks like a slatted wooden box on stilts and it has a rain gauge next to it, and inside the wooden box they have an old style mercury thermometer that records the maximum and minimum temperatures for the day.

The newer electronic station looks like what some people describe as a beehive on a post, like a series of stacked dinner plates that are sitting on top of a metal pole about four and a half feet high. And then it has a cable that runs into the structure where the observer's office or their domicile or home is and they read the temperature remotely there. That caused a problem with a lot of the placements because the Weather Service personnel when they were converting these in the '80s and '90s weren't given any specific construction tools other than a shovel and a pickaxe and so oftentimes they could not get the trenching where they had to lay the cable past things like sidewalks or roadways out to where the old weather station used to be, which might have been further away from the building. So we've found a trend towards these new electronic thermometers moving closer to buildings and closer to heat sources.

Michael Duffy: You talked earlier about the 100-foot rule, why is that important, why is the siting of each of these stations significant?

Anthony Watts: The Weather Service and the National Climatic Data Centre created a new network in response to the problems that they recognised that started in 2002 called the Climate Reference Network where they add an even more stringent set of exposure rules, much more stringent and much more detailed than the 100-foot rule. They rated them by categories and by quality.

The reason for keeping things away from the thermometer is that if you start building up things around a thermometer...let's say the thermometer is originally in a grass field and around that grass field you get development, buildings go up, roadways get put in, sidewalks get put in and so forth. And then all of a sudden you have things that are close to the thermometer that retain heat overnight, such as asphalt, and as anyone can tell you, if you have a very hot day and then you at midnight go out to a football field in the middle of the football field and measure the temperature there on the grass and then walk over to the football field's parking lot and measure the temperature there, you're going to see a significant difference.

And so what happens is that this overnight release of heat from things like asphalt, concrete and buildings bias those night-time temperatures upwards. And when you average temperatures, the highs and the lows for the day, that shifts the average temperature higher.

Michael Duffy: Checking that large number of stations must have been quite an effort, how did you go about it?

Anthony Watts: I employed social networking. I'd never done a project like this before, and so we took a bit of a gamble. I worked with Dr Roger Pielke at the University of Colorado to get the project initially set up, and he supervised the method and the way we were gathering data, and then we used blogs and other types of social networking environments to advertise the project and created a series of simple steps that people could follow to locate the station, photograph and document the station, get a GPS reading and then submit that information to our central website where it could be posted, checked for quality control and then evaluated for the station rating tag.

Michael Duffy: Have you visited many of the stations yourself?

Anthony Watts: I've done a large number of them. I've done I would say now about 180 different stations, in California, in Nevada (I did most of those stations), in Texas, Oklahoma and Southern Kansas and parts of Arkansas I did a number of stations, and I did that because we had a huge gap, a missing gap of stations there that needed to be filled in. I also did some in Idaho and in Oregon for the same reason. So yes, I've done about 180 stations, and the experience that I had parallels what the rest of the observers had and that is the vast majority of them don't follow the basic simple exposure rules set down by the Weather Service, the 100-foot rule.

Michael Duffy: You must have driven a lot of miles.

Anthony Watts: I would say I've logged 8,000 miles in driving to surveying stations over the past three years.

Michael Duffy: It's quite an effort, and I should say to our listeners that you've got some very striking photographs on your website, and we'll give a link to that website. Can I ask you then, to summarise, what have you found having visited so many of the stations, how well are most of them sited?

Anthony Watts: The project summary is basically this; the majority of stations are out of compliance with the Weather Service's own siting rules, and while the compliance itself is clear and no-one denies that, the question then becomes how has that affected the temperature record. Dr Pielke, his research group and myself are now in the process of finishing a paper for submission to a peer reviewed scientific journal that illustrates what we found in the way that siting difference has affected the US temperature record. And I can say with certainty that our findings show that there are differences in siting that cause a difference in temperatures, not only from a high and low type measurement but also from a trend measurement and a trend calculation.

So we believe that the United States temperature record is biased by this problem, and that the problem also extends worldwide. We have found similar kinds of problems throughout the world. For example, in Rome the airport there has a similar problem. In Sydney there's a weather station downtown that has similar kinds of problems. Baltimore had a station close because they had been giving erroneously high readings and the Weather Service recognised it. So the problem is real and the problem has contributed to a change in the data. Right now we're just finishing up calculations of the magnitude.

Michael Duffy: In which direction does the bias lie? Are you suggesting that the temperature has not got as hot as the American official historical record suggests?

Anthony Watts: That's correct. It's an interesting situation. The early arguments against this project said that all of these different biases are going to cancel themselves out and there would be cool biases as well as warm biases, but we discovered that that wasn't the case. The vast majority of them are warm biases, and even such things as people thinking a tree might in fact keep the temperature cooler doesn't really end up that way.

In fact if you have a thermometer underneath a tree, while it might suppress the daytime high a little bit because it suppresses the amount of direct sunlight, it also elevates the night-time low in a much greater fashion, particularly in the summer because the leaves of the tree reflect the infrared radiation back down towards the ground. What we've discovered is that this effect is fairly pronounced.

In fact the National Weather Service, after we were going around and looking at different stations and identifying these problems, they were following us and actually closing stations in our wake. They closed the Marysville station which was originally the one that tipped me off to this problem, and they also closed one in Telluride Colorado that was right under a tree, they closed it specifically for that reason because they realised the night-time temperatures were no longer accurate.

Michael Duffy: Can you tell us anything at all about the scope of the bias that you're presently calculating? Do you think it might actually pretty much negate any suggestion there's been an increase in temperature?

Anthony Watts: It does not negate it completely, it is a contributor. First of all I want to make it clear that there is an effect from carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, I'm not disputing that. However, what we are disputing is that in the surface temperature records of the US and the world, the effects of urbanisation, the poor siting and a combination of those two can affect the temperature record in such a way that it biases the temperature record upwards.

Michael Duffy: It's the case, isn't it, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put out a paper referring to other papers by Matthew Menne and Thomas Peterson, and they claim that people have already done the sort of calculation you're now doing and come up with a result that in fact these poor sitings have not affected the trend. What would your response to that be?

Anthony Watts: I think before I respond to what their results were, I should tell you a little bit about their methodology. They borrowed (and I use that term loosely) some of my early data that I had published up to the website to help my volunteers locate stations. We had 43% of the network surveyed at that point, and I had never published any other data beyond that, and I advised them when they started doing this work that that data that they used had not been quality controlled yet, it was there just for the purposes of locating stations, and the data contained in it hadn't been quality checked, and it was far from complete. It had biases in it related to the spatial representation in the US, those holes that I tried to fill in, for example, in the middle of the country, in rural areas in the middle of Texas and Oklahoma and Idaho, away from cities. That data didn't have those things. And so what they ended up with was a set of data that was mostly urban, mostly around cities, not quality controlled and not complete, and they used that data because they were so keen on discrediting our work that they rushed to get that out.

And I made complaints with the journal saying that the use of my data to publish a paper that I hadn't even finished yet was wrong and it violated professional standards, and they went ahead anyway and did it. So I think that their methodology speaks to the credibility of the results.

Michael Duffy: And do you have any idea when your forthcoming paper will appear?

Anthony Watts: We are very close to finishing the final copy on it, and we have two independent review teams do statistical analysis on it. I did not do any statistical analysis myself, my job was the data gathering and the quality control process. So we are very close to finishing that, literally within days. The question will be how long will it take to go through the journal and peer review process.

Some papers we have seen from the sceptical side of science have taken as long as 18 months to get processed and go through that whole chain of review. We hope it will be sooner than that. We'll be submitting it to the same journal for review that Mr Menne's and Mr Peterson's papers went to. Hopefully they will see that as a value to get a counterpoint view and move it through as quickly as their paper got reviewed and published which was on the order of about five to six months. So we hope that we'll be able to get the same kind of expedience in our review.

Michael Duffy: We'll keep an eye on that and look forward to covering it when it comes out. Anthony Watts, thanks for joining us today, and good luck when you come to Australia.

Anthony Watts: I'm looking forward to it.


Greenies building a fallback position for the demise of belief in global warming

World governments are meeting this week to try to set up a new international body that would put the global destruction of the natural world on an equal footing with the threat of climate change.

The proposed new organisation would be modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up 22 years ago. Since then, it has launched global warming and climate change to the top of the political and economic agenda.

The meeting, at Busan in South Korea, follows growing evidence in the last few years about the huge rate of destruction of species and the ecosystem services they provide for humans – from regulating local weather and fertilising soil to providing a rich gene pool for medical researchers.

Another major report this summer, commissioned by the United Nations, is expected to say that the economic benefits of policies to protect and restore biodiversity are worth 10 to 100 times the costs

"If the true value of ecosystem services – economic, social and spiritual – were factored into decision-making, wetlands, forests and reefs would be viewed and treated very differently," said French ecology secretary, Chantal Jouanno, and campaigner Janet Ranganathan in an article for the Guardian.

"How to ensure cross-governmental participation and buy-in is therefore the key question for countries gathering at Busan.

"The future health of the natural world, and humanity's wellbeing, may depend on it."

The proposed "IPCC for nature" could provide regular, independent reports on the state of global and regional biodiversity – reflecting the IPCC's five-yearly assessments of the state of climate science, forecasts for impacts and advice about how to tackle the problem.

Perhaps more important would be the symbolic significance of an organisation which sent out a message that governments and global organisations were finally taking the biodiversity crisis as seriously as they have climate change, say supporters.

"Climate change may have captured public attention, but the global collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity is equally threatening to human wellbeing," said Ranganathan, a vice-president of the World Resources Institute.

"The IPCC helped give climate change a global profile. The time has come for an IPCC for nature."

The creation of the body, provisionally named the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), was first formally proposed last year.

This week delegates from 97 governments and 50 organisations are meeting for what could be the official go-ahead for the new body.

More HERE. (See the original for links)

Biodiversity scare just as poorly founded as global warming

Commentary on the report above

Shock! The UN is using protection of the natural world as a reason to make massive changes to the global economy? This sounds familiar, which I’m sure is why Morano posted it. Whenever the UN puts out a report that involves the world spending a lot of money, I get suspicious, so I decided to take a look at the interim report (the final isn’t going to be published until later this year). Here is the report.

I started at Chapter 1. On the second page of Chapter 1 (page 12 on the pdf) there is a short list of items showing how the earth has lost its biodiversity:
However, the levels of many of the benefits we derive from the environment have plunged over the past 50 years as biodiversity has fallen dramatically across the globe. Here are some examples:

• In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk by approximately 40%. Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover. The decline continues (FAO 2001; 2006).

• Since 1900, the world has lost about 50% of its wetlands. While much of this occurred in northern countries during the first 50 years of the 20th century, there has been increasing pressure since the 1950s for conversion of tropical and sub-tropical wetlands to alternative land use (Moser et al. 1996).

• Some 30%of coral reefs – which frequently have even higher levels of biodiversity than tropical forests – have been seriously damaged through fishing, pollution, disease and coral bleaching (Wilkinson 2004).

• In the past two decades, 35% of mangroves have disappeared. Some countries have lost up to 80% through conversion for aquaculture, overexploitation and storms (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005a).

• The human-caused (anthropogenic) rate of species extinction is estimated to be 1,000 times more rapid than the “natural” rate of extinction typical of Earth’s
long-term history (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005b).

If you read this list you can see why we need to take urgent action. Forests have disappeared in 25 countries, and in 29 they have lost 90% of their forests. Half of the worlds wetlands have gone in only a century. Species are going extinct 1,000 times more quickly because of humans. This is frightening.

This also sounds familiar. Making startling claims about how much damage humans are doing to our planet is nothing new. But just because something is startling doesn’t mean it isn’t true, and these claims have citations, so let’s look at them.

The source for the claims about the 30% reduction of coral reefs isn’t peer-reviewed, but otherwise it at least matches the source.

The source for the claims about Mangroves isn’t peer reviewed, although that source references a Science article, and the claim does match the source. So far, two of these five claims at least match their source.

However, the rest are all estimations or patently false. Not only that, but none of the references for the entire first chapter of the TEEB report are peer-reviewed. They are nearly all (UN) government reports or environmental institute reports. Not only do they entirely rely on non-peer-reviewed material, but their claims don’t even match their cited sources. Let’s start with the first claim:
” In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk by approximately 40%. Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover. The decline continues (FAO 2001; 2006).”

FAO 2001 and 2006 are referenced as:
FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2001) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. [Found here]

FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2006) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005. [Found here]
None of these claims are in the FAO reports. In fact, one of the claims is roundly contradicted by their own source. They claim that “Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries”, yet the FAO report says (page 14 of 2005 report):
“Seven countries or areas have no forest at all, and an additional 57 have forest on less than 10 percent of their total land area.”

This is repeated and gone into more depth in the report but the numbers are the same. Only 7 countries are without forests, not 25. The other claims are not in the report, the article doesn’t talk about forest loss before the 1940′s when countries started to report the state of their forests. Also, there is no mention at all of “another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover”. Where did these claims come from?

Another UN document. Surprised? This time it is the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Chapter 21, Forest and Woodland Systems. Here is part of the first claim in the ‘Main Messages’ section at the beginning of the document:
In the last three centuries, global forest area has been reduced by approximately 40%, with three quarters of this loss occurring during the last two centuries. Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.

This is practically verbatim to the TEEB claim. They clearly cited the wrong source.

The claim itself is suspect. The first part, about 40% reduction, appears here (pg. 588):
From today’s perspective, however, reagricultural impacts on overall forest cover appear to have been slight. Since that time, the planet has lost about 40% of its original forest (high certainty), and the remaining forests have suffered varying degrees of fragmentation and degradation (Bryant et al. 1997; Matthews et al. 2000; Ball 2001; Wade et al. 2003). Most of this loss has occurred during the industrial age, particularly during the last two centuries, and in some cases much more recently. Some analyses have yielded substantially smaller estimates. Richards (1990), for example, estimates global loss of forests to have been only about 20%.

Just reading this leads to some uncertainty, they admit that some research indicates that it has only been 20% loss. Also, all of those references (except Wade et al. 2003) are done by environmental groups. But the real deception is in the statistic itself. The implication of including this statistic is that this loss of forest is bad, but clearly this isn’t the case as the study itself admits in the very next sentence:
Much of the progress of human civilization has been made possible by the conversion of some forest areas to other uses, particularly for agricultural expansion.

Even if the 40% statistic is accurate, it is hardly a cause for concern in and of itself. It reflects mankind’s progress to this point, to be able to tame the outdoors and provide ourselves with food.

The second half of the claim “Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover” is not mentioned in the report at all. If you find it in there please let me know. As I mentioned before, it is contradicted by their cited source, which claims only 7 countries have no forest and the FAO report makes no mention of the 90% claim.

I’ll address the other two errors in another post, this one has gotten quite lengthy.

I’m uncertain why, but UN reports seem to have difficulty correctly citing their claims. It doesn’t seem as though using one UN report is any better than using another UN report (FAO paper versus Millennium Assessment), so why can’t they keep their citations straight? Also, the reliance on other UN reports seems to cast serious doubt on the report itself. Of the 16 references for Chapter 1, 7 of them are from UN reports (along with 4 news articles and 5 reports from environmental groups). I don’t know what the full report will look like this summer, but just the very first chapter of this report is pretty pathetic.


A 35-Year History of Caribbean Coral Reefs

Discussing: Schutte, V.G.W., Selig, E.R. and Bruno, J.F. 2010. Regional spatio-temporal trends in Caribbean coral reef benthic communities. Marine Ecology Progress Series 402: 115-122.


Climate alarmists are quick to contend that earth's coral reefs are headed to hell in a handbasket, as it were, with Pelejero et al. (2010) arguing that the oceanic changes we are facing today, in pCO2 and in pH, "are happening ~100-times faster than during glacial-interglacial transitions," and that "the average surface pH levels that oceans have reached today are already more extreme than those experienced by the oceans during the glacial-interglacial changes and beyond, probably being more extreme than at any time during the last 20 million years."

What was done

In a study designed to determine regional-scale trends in coral cover on Caribbean reefs over the last 35 years in each of seven sub-regions -- which effort could logically be expected to shed light on the impacts of the highly-hyped oceanic changes lamented by Pelejero et al. -- Schutte et al., as they describe it, "analyzed the spatio-temporal trends of benthic coral reef communities in the Caribbean using quantitative data from 3,777 coral cover surveys of 1,962 reefs from 1971-2006."

What was learned

Schutte et al. determined that from 1971 to 1980, annual Caribbean-wide coral cover averages were highest and without trend, with all but two values falling between 30 and 40%. Then came the largest one-year decline in coral cover of the entire record -- a precipitous drop from about 37% to 12% between 1980 and 1981 that corresponded in time, in their words, "with the beginning of the Caribbean-wide Acropora spp. white band disease outbreak," after which (from 1982 to 2006) they note that "coral cover has been relatively stable," with values ranging from about 15% to 22%.

What it means

Clearly, the temporal history of Caribbean coral cover change does not bear any resemblance to the gradual and continuous decline that could have been expected from the concomitant increase in oceanic pCO2 and decrease in pH. Indeed, after suffering the sharp one-year decline caused by the white band disease outbreak, coral cover once again stabilized, which phenomenon, in the words of Schutte et al., "could be interpreted as relatively good news" -- which it truly is -- although they state that this pattern "could also be a temporary plateau preceding a potential collapse in coral cover." Then, again, we could just as easily say it could also be a temporary plateau preceding a potential increase in coral cover. (Isn't speculation wonderful?)


Oil fuels better lives

by Jeff Jacoby

AS THE DEEPWATER HORIZON SPILL continues to foul the Gulf of Mexico, pundits and policymakers everywhere are once again reaching for the A-word.

The BP disaster, proclaims Washington eminence David Gergen, is "a wake-up call to end our addiction to oil."

Without "a real climate bill," warn the editors of The Washington Post, "America might be addicted to oil a lot longer than it needs to be."

We must "begin to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil," intones Senator John Kerry on ABC, while syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman lambastes "the powerful lobbies and vested interests that want to keep us addicted to oil."

To be sure, this isn't a new trope. Barack Obama liked to say during his presidential campaign that we are bankrolling "both sides of the war on terror" through our "addiction to oil." George W. Bush, a onetime oilman, memorably announced in his 2006 State of the Union address that "America is addicted to oil." According to Nexis, the media database, the metaphor dates back at least as far as 1974, when psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote in the New York Times that "oil addiction is equivalent to drug addiction."

But it's not.

The explosion of BP's oil rig in the Gulf has been a calamity in so many ways, above all the loss of 11 human beings. With hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil gushing daily from the crippled wellhead, the environmental impacts have been excruciating. BP is responsible for a dreadful mess, one that will take years and many millions of dollars to clean up.

Awful as the catastrophe has been, however, life without oil would be far, far worse.

Americans consume oil not because they are "addicted" to it, but because it enriches their lives, making possible prosperity, comfort, and mobility that would have been all but unimaginable just a few generations ago. The life of a heroin junkie is pitiful, desperate, and unproductive; his addiction undermines his health and overpowers his self-control. Almost by definition, an addiction is something one is healthier without. But oil-based energy improves human health and reduces poverty -- it makes life longer, safer, and better. Addictions debase life. Oil improves and expands it.

"Oil may be the single most flexible substance ever discovered," writes the Manhattan Institute's Robert Bryce in Power Hungry, a new book on the myths of "green" energy. "More than any other substance, oil helped to shrink the world. Indeed, thanks to its high energy density, oil is a nearly perfect fuel for use in all types of vehicles, from boats and planes to cars and motorcycles. Whether measured by weight or by volume, refined oil products provide more energy than practically any other commonly available substance, and they provide it in a form that's easy to handle, relatively cheap, and relatively clean." If oil didn't exist, Bryce quips, we'd have to invent it.

Of course there are problems created by oil, as the Deepwater Horizon calamity so heartbreakingly demonstrates. But most things of great value come with downsides. There are 40,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year, but no rational person suggests doing away with cars, trucks, and highways. Airplanes sometimes crash and boats sometimes sink, but air and sea travel are not derided as "addictions" we need to break. Iatrogenic deaths due to hospital infections, medication errors, or unnecessary surgery number in the scores of thousands annually, but who would recommend an end to modern medical care?

Someday there may be an energy source that is as abundant, efficient, clean, and economically viable as oil. But nothing available today fits that bill -- certainly not biofuels, wind farms, or solar power. Besides, it isn't only energy products -- gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, propane -- that we get from petroleum. Crude oil refining also makes possible plastics, synthetic fibers, lubricants, waxes, asphalt. "Other products made from petroleum," notes the US Energy Information Administration, "include ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, CDs and DVDs, tires, ammonia, [and] heart valves." The list could be expanded almost endlessly.

The United States consumes more than 300 billion gallons of oil per year, nearly two-thirds of it imported. There is no denying the drawbacks associated with oil, but its advantages ought to be equally undeniable. American wealth, progress, and autonomy -- the most dynamic and productive economy in history -- would be impossible without it. What we have isn't an addiction, but a blessing.


Failed EPA Votes Undermines Economy

United States Senators went on record this afternoon and the result was unfortunate. 53 Senators voted against a resolution offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would have disapproved of the Environmental Protection Agency’s backdoor global warming regulations. Today’s outcome was a victory for anti-growth environmentalists, but a devastating loss for the American people.

The EPA’s regulations will marginalize any potential economic recovery by making investment and job creation more expensive. Why? Because the costs of regulation are staggering. The EPA estimates the average permit will cost applicants $125,000 and 866 hours of labor. Some businesses will simply close. The lucky ones will move overseas, cancel expansion plans and just lower wages. All of those are bad options considering the American economy has lost nearly 8 million jobs over the past 30 months.

Despite the outcome of today’s vote, many liberals recognize the EPA cannot be left to its own devices, which means there will be other, more subtle efforts to limit the EPA’s regulatory dragnet.

Chief among them is a proposal offered by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). His proposal would simply delay the implementation of the EPA’s regulation. Delaying these destructive regulations is not inherently bad, but it does not address the fact that bad regulations are indeed coming. It creates regulatory uncertainty is bad for the economy and bad for the American people.

According to Greenwire (subscription required), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised the Senate would vote on Rockefeller’s proposal before the elections. The article implied Reid’s promise was designed to prevent the Murkowski resolution from passing.

Another potential alteration of the EPA’s regulatory scheme comes from Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Robert Casey (D-PA), both of whom voted against Senator Murkowski’s resolution. Their approach is rumored to “protect” small businesses while focusing the economic pain on only the biggest emitters. Any student of economics knows those so-called “big emitters” will pass those costs along businesses and families. Even worse, the plan would only “protect” the little guy until 2016.

While those two policy prescriptions are misguided, the real danger is that Senators will use this failure as an excuse to move forward legislatively on a cap-and-trade scheme or renewable electricity mandate. A Heritage analysis found that the House-passed global warming bill would destroy 2.5 million jobs and $9.4 trillion in economic growth. Similarly, an analysis of a renewable electricity mandate would reduce employment by more than 1 million jobs, add to our national debt and undermine our quality of life.

By voting against the Murkowski resolution, Senators have failed to address the primary concern of Americans—the economy.



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


11 June, 2010

UN’s New Climate Chief Says There May Never Be A Global Treaty

Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican who on July 8 will take the helm of the United Nations body that organizes global climate-change treaty talks, said an all- encompassing deal is unlikely to happen in her lifetime.

Governments must instead focus on making incremental efforts to end global warming because the response “is going to require the sustained effort of those who will be here for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” Figueres, 53, told reporters today in Bonn, where the latest two-week round of talks is taking place.

“I do not believe we will ever have a final agreement on climate change, certainly not in my lifetime,” Figueres said. “If we ever have a final, conclusive, all-answering agreement, then we will have solved this problem. I don’t think that’s in the cards.” [...]

Tensions remain. Beck and Bangladeshi envoy Quamrul Chowdhury both said a legally binding treaty needs to be agreed on at the next major summit in Cancun in November and December.

Delegates from the European Commission and Japan have already said a treaty is unlikely this year and more probable at a 2011 summit in South Africa. Brazil’s Serra said a deal is preferable this year, though unlikely, and that Cancun should be seen as a “stepping stone.”

“If we can’t deliver at Cancun, and if we are shown the road to Cape Town or any other cities, it will be unfortunate,” Chowdhury said. “To build trust we have to come up from our boxes, from our party positions. We have made some effort but we have to cover many more miles.”

Figueres said it’s up to nations to decide whether they want to devise a new legally binding treaty in Cancun, which is to start in late November. She said the ever-changing science means any agreed upon goals may need to be revised further.


Not Published In New Scientist

An inconvenient rebuttal

In your special (21 May) report on denial you speak of “climate deniers”. This is a curious term (who denies the existence of climate?) that appears to be deployed to smear reputable scientists who react sceptically to the “hockey stick” peddled by Sir John Houghton and the IPCC.

You (Jim Giles page 42) ride to the defence of Sir John, former chair of the IPCC, who denies ever having said, “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen”. Apparently no one can trace the source of this quotation so you denounce it as a denialist smear.

Here are some things he has said, on a record (Sunday Telegraph interview 10.9.95) from which he has not resiled.

“If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

And who might be responsible for this disaster? Apparently not just us: “God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same.”

And “God does show anger. When He appeared to Elijah there was earthquake wind and fire.”

Perhaps your readers can spot the difference between Sir John Houghton’s non-alarmist scientific take on climate change and that of a Muslim cleric who was recently widely reported (e.g. Iranian cleric: Promiscuity, sin cause earthquakes but God may be holding his fire) to have attributed the risk of earthquakes in Iran to sin – in the form of loose women wearing short skirts.


Meet the Green who doubts ‘The Science’

The author of Chill explains why he’s sceptical about manmade global warming — and why greens are so intolerant

Peter Taylor

The science around climate change is not as settled as it’s presented as being. I used to think it was, until about 2003 – and then, feeling that the remedies being proposed for climate change would be more damaging to the environment than climate change itself, I took it upon myself to look at the science.

In my book on biodiversity, Beyond Conservation, I had mentioned in one of the chapters that perhaps the man-made global warming theory was not all it was being cracked up to be. The changes we are seeing now, I wrote, suggested that some other processes were at work. I then took time out, visited the science libraries, and checked the original science upon which today’s models are based.

I was shocked by what I found. Firstly, there’s no real consensus among the scientists in the UN working groups, especially around oceanography and atmospheric physics. The atmospheric physics of carbon dioxide for example is presented as being pretty straightforward: it is a greenhouse gas, therefore it warms up the planet. But even that isn’t settled. There’s a huge amount of scientific disagreement on how much extra heating in the atmosphere you will get from carbon dioxide. It is even broadly accepted that carbon dioxide on its own is not a problem. So, you can double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and get half to one degree warming, which is within the natural variability range over a period of 50 years from now at the current rate of emissions.

The role of water vapour in planetary warming is also open to questioning. While it is presented as being a heat amplifier, in fact because it can turn into cloud it could actually regulate temperature instead. As it turned out, at the very beginning of the UN discussions, Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, and a leading expert appointed to the committee because of his meteorological expertise, was saying precisely that: the amplification effect asserted cannot be relied upon to increase warming because the vapour could turn into cloud. This needed to be proved before basing assumptions on it. But Lindzen was overruled. Despite still being a key part of the IPPC process, he is now vilified by the press and by the environmental movement. So even on the most basic science of the atmospherics, there is doubt.

Or take oceanography. Most of the heat of the planet is not contained in the atmosphere; it is in the oceans. And what happens in the oceans is absolutely vital to the dynamics of heat moving around the planet. So while of course it is possible to warm up the planet to an additional extent as a result of human activity, if the planet then lets more heat out than it would normally do, then it will balance out. That is to say, you have only to produce less cloud over the oceans and the oceans will release heat to space. Like CO2 itself, the atmosphere doesn’t actually hold heat – it simply delays its transmission to space.

The real dynamic of the planet is to do with clouds, yet this area of science – oceanography and cloud cover – is incredibly uncertain. When I first looked at the basic science, the findings were surprising. Over the global warming period – which I limit to the past 50 or so years – the globe didn’t warm at all between 1950 and 1980, even though carbon dioxide emissions were going through the roof due to the postwar expansion of industry; global temperatures stayed pretty much flat.

The real global warming took off in the 1980s and 90s, through to about 2005. (In the last 10 years it’s actually plateaued.) That period of 25 years, from around 1980 to 2005, coincided with changes in the ocean and cloud cover – that is, there was less cloud and more sunlight getting through to the ocean. And this can be seen in the satellite data on the kind of energy that’s coming through (short-wave energy, which is the only energy that heats water – infra-red energy coming from CO2 cannot heat water). So when you look at the real-world data, the warming of that entire period seems to be due to additional sunlight reaching the oceans.


X-Factor Hid Fakery in the Greenhouse Gas Theory

by John O'Sullivan

NASA added the ‘x-factor’ into their man-made global warming equations and wrongly doubled the greenhouse gas effect. It’s due to vectors, says new research

Independent analysts who recently examined NASA's Earth’s energy budget numbers have found climatologists working for the U.S. space agency have not been applying the mathematical rules applicable to vectors in their greenhouse gas equations, at least since 1997.

The monumentally embarrassing oversight multiplied the heating properties of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by an extra factor of two: the so-called hidden ‘x-factor.’ Whether the error was intentional or accidental may never be proved. One NASA climate expert quit over the global warming controversy.


New astronomical model outperforms Warmists in predicttion

Dr. Nicola Scafetta writes:

I believe that you may be interested in my last published work.

This paper suggests that climate is characterized by oscillations that are predictable. These oscillations appear to be linked to planetary motion. A climate model capable of reproducing these oscillation would outperform traditional climate models to reconstruct climate oscillations. For example, a statistical comparison is made with the GISS model.

Here’s the abstract at Sciencedirect:
Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications

By Nicola Scafetta

Abstract: We investigate whether or not the decadal and multi-decadal climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. Several global surface temperature records since 1850 and records deduced from the orbits of the planets present very similar power spectra. Eleven frequencies with period between 5 and 100 years closely correspond in the two records. Among them, large climate oscillations with peak-to-trough amplitude of about 0.1 $^oC$ and 0.25 $^oC$, and periods of about 20 and 60 years, respectively, are synchronized to the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn. Schwabe and Hale solar cycles are also visible in the temperature records. A 9.1-year cycle is synchronized to the Moon’s orbital cycles. A phenomenological model based on these astronomical cycles can be used to well reconstruct the temperature oscillations since 1850 and to make partial forecasts for the 21$^{st}$ century. It is found that at least 60\% of the global warming observed since 1970 has been induced by the combined effect of the above natural climate oscillations. The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030-2040. Possible physical mechanisms are qualitatively discussed with an emphasis on the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators.

A free preprint copy of the paper can be found here. (PDF available in right sidebar)

Basil Copeland and I made some similar observations in the past, but we did not examine other planetary orbital periods. Basil also did a follow up guest post on the random walk nature of global temperature.

This paper opens up a lot of issues, like Barycentrism, which I have tried to avoid because they are so contentious.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Warmist can't take the heat

by Andrew Bolt in Australia

HMM. So how has Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery got away with it for so long? Answer: because he seems nice.

Oh, and because journalists just won't hold our leading global warming spruiker to account for his litany of dud predictions, exaggerations, falsehoods and bizarre conflicts of interest.

But on Wednesday - and give him credit - he wandered into our studio at MTR 1377 for some reason best known to himself. Was it a false confidence, born of years of near unquestioned adulation? Was it that being named Australian of the Year in 2007 made him feel above any pesky but-but-butting from the few media sceptics?

Or was it - as the following transcript suggests - that Flannery, now head of the Rudd Government's Coast and Climate Change Council, has an eerie ability to forget inconvenient truths about his past finger-wagging?

Whatever. What we do know is that our chat this week was the first time I can recall that Flannery, the highly influential author of The Weather Makers and chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, has been confronted at length.

Read on, to see how even this giant of warming alarmism dealt with it. You may well then wonder if the great warming scare of the past decade would ever have taken off had more journalists fact-checked the wilder claims and predictions of not just Flannery, but other professional scaremongers such as Al Gore, David Suzuki, Peter Garrett, Rob Gell and Bob Brown.

Flannery started our interview by paying out on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for walking away from what he'd sold as "the great moral and economic challenge of our time".
Flannery: I'm unlikely to vote for him because my trust has been eroded away. He promised to deliver an emissions trading scheme and he's then withdrawn that with very little justification.

Bolt: He said he wouldn't move now until the rest of the world did something, which is a direct repudiation of what he said before. But, Tim, part of the reason that he's backed down is that there's been a great swing in sentiment against this kind of thing. There's a rising tide of scepticism. How much are you to blame for some of that?

Flannery: There is some swing in sentiment. And I think it's very hard to maintain any issue with that sort of very high level of support for a long time ...

Bolt: But, Tim ... I'm wondering to what extent are you to blame for rising scepticism about some of the more alarming claims about global warming.

Flannery: Well, many of the things that scientists highlight may happen are very alarming. They're not alarmist but they are worrisome. Rises in sea level for instance are a significant issue.

Bolt: Well, let's go through some of your own claims. You said, for example, that Adelaide may run out of water by early 2009. Their reservoirs are half full now. You said Brisbane would probably run out of water by 2009. They are now 97 per cent full. And (you said) Sydney could be dry as early as 2007. Their reservoirs are also more than half full. How can you get away with all these claims?

Flannery: What I have said is that there is a water problem. They may run out of water.

Bolt: 100 per cent full, nearly!

Flannery: And thankfully, Andrew, governments have taken that to heart and been building some desalination capacity such as in Perth.

Bolt: Only in Perth.

Flannery: No, there's plans in every capital city ...

Bolt: No, no. You said Brisbane would run out of water possibly by as early as 2009. There's no desalination plant, there's no dam. It's now 100 per full.

Flannery: That's a lie, Andrew. I didn't say it would run out of water. I don't have a crystal ball in front of me. I said Brisbane has a water problem.

Bolt: I'll quote your own words (from the New Scientist June 16, 2007): "Water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months." That was, on the timeline you gave, by the beginning of 2009. Their reservoirs are now 97 per cent full.

Flannery: Yeah, sure. There's variability in rainfall. They still need a desal plant.

Bolt: You also warned that Perth would be the 21 century's first ghost metropolis.

Flannery: May ... Right? Because at that stage there had been no flows into that water catchment for a year and the water engineers were terrified.

Bolt: Have you seen the water catchment levels? Here, see, they're tracking above the five-year level ...

Flannery: You want to paint me as an alarmist.

Bolt: You are an alarmist.

Flannery: I'm a very practical person.

Bolt: You said (in The Guardian, August 9, 2008) the Arctic could be ice-free two years ago.

Flannery: No, I didn't ...

Bolt: I'm asking ... whether (you) repent from all these allegations about cities running out of water, cities turning into ghost cities, sea level rises up to an eight-storey-high building. Don't you think that is in part why people have got more sceptical?

Flannery: I don't, actually, because some of those things are possibilities in the future if we continue polluting as we do. And we've already seen impacts in southern Australia on all of those cities. Everyone remembers the water restrictions and so forth ...

Bolt: You warn about sea level rises up to an eight-storey building. How soon will that happen? Thousands of years?

Flannery: Could be thousands of years.

Bolt: Tens of thousands of years?

Flannery: Could be hundreds of years ... The thermodynamics of ice sheets are very, very difficult to predict.

Bolt: Should we ... have nuclear power plants (to cut our warming emissions)?

Flannery: In Australia, I don't think so. We've got such a great load of assets in the renewable area that I don't think there's an argument here that they are ever going to be economic.

Bolt: Four years ago you did. What changed your mind?

Flannery: No, I never did. I've always had the same argument.

Bolt: No, no, no. Here's your quote: "Over the next two decades Australians could use nuclear power to replace all our coal-fired power plants. We would then have a power infrastructure like France and in doing so we would have done something great for the world." That was your quote.

Flannery: I don't recall saying that at all.

Bolt: You wrote it. You wrote it in The Age (on May 30, 2006). There it is, highlighted.

Flannery: Well, very good.

Bolt: That's the point, you know, you make these claims and when people confront you, you walk away from them.

Flannery: But that was about "may" ... Australia may be able to do that. It's not what I recommend and I never have recommended it ... We are going to see a whole lot of other technologies and innovations which are now well under way which we could use instead of nuclear power.

Bolt: Such as?

Flannery: Such as concentrated PV technology, geothermal technology, wave power, wind power ...

Bolt: You're an investor in geothermal technology, aren't you?

Flannery: Yeah, I am. Indeed.

Bolt: How come you don't declare that (in most media interviews promoting geothermal power)?

Flannery: Well, I've just done it.

Bolt: You've invested in a (Geodynamics geothermal) plant in Innamincka and you said the technology was really easy. How come that plant ...

Flannery: Not really that easy.

Bolt: Well, yes. It's actually had technological difficulties and it's been delayed two years because it's not that easy, after all, is it?

And we could have gone on - to discuss the $90 million grant the Rudd Government last year gave to Flannery's Geodynamics.

Or to ask about the preferential treatment the Government also gave to Field Force, a "green loans" company Flannery spruiked for.

Or to ask how much Flannery profits from preaching doom.

Or to wonder how this green crusader could lend his name to Sir Richard Brazen's planned joy rides in space.

Or to ask him to explain his concession last year that, despite his great scares of rising heat, "there hasn't been a continuation of that warming trend" and "the computer modelling and the real world data disagrees".

Yes, you may think I'm just picking on details. But details are like pixels - put enough together and they form a picture.

Flannery's details, unquestioned, form a terrifying picture that has helped to panic millions of people into believing their gases could kill our world.

But, once challenged, those same details of Flannery form a very different picture - of self-serving scaremongering with not much more than hot air to sustain it.



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


10 June, 2010

More secrecy and indifference to due process from government Warmists

The Oxburgh inquiry did make some limited criticism of the frauds at UEA but basically exonerated them. Steve McIntyre was curious to learn about how they came to their conclusions:

In response to my inquiry asking for a copy of any document setting out the terms of reference of the inquiry, Lord Oxburgh stated:

"I am afraid that I am not able to be very helpful as none of the documents about which you inquire exists"

And later:

"The only written record, apart from any notes that individuals may have kept privately but of which I am unaware, is our final report that was agreed unanimously. Similarly the terms of reference were given to me verbally and are encapsulated in the introductory paragraphs of our report."

In response to a previous inquiry, Kerry Emanuel, a member of the Oxburgh panel, stated:

"As for the written documentation, such as our charge, we were at one point asked not to circulate those, and while that restriction may no longer be in force, I feel a little reluctant to pass those along without checking first. The cleanest way for you to get that material is to ask Ron Oxburgh for it"


See here for more background

Glaciers' wane not all down to humans

Wow! The article below is from "Nature" -- normally a fanatically Warmist publication. "The times they are a'changing" -- slowly

The Great Aletsch Glacier is ill. Over the course of the twentieth century, the largest Alpine glacier, in Valais, Switzerland, receded by more than two kilometres, and Switzerland's 1,500 smaller glaciers are not faring any better.

Is it all down to man-made global warming? Not according to a recent study, which finds that about half of the glacier loss in the Swiss Alps is due to natural climate variability — a result likely to be true for glaciers around the world.

"This doesn't question the actuality, and the seriousness, of man-made climate change in any way," says Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, who led the study. "But what we do see is that current glacier retreat might be equally due to natural climate variations as it is to anthropogenic greenhouse warming."

"This is the first detailed attribution of known climate forces on glacier behaviour," says Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, who was not involved in the study. "Given the importance of glaciers to local water supply, this is essential information."

Researchers have long suspected that glaciers respond sensitively to natural climate swings such as those caused by the rhythmic rise and fall of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures by up to 1 C roughly every 60 years. This Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), driven by changes in ocean circulation, is thought to affect phenomena including Atlantic hurricanes and rainfall in Europe.

In most places, historical records of glacier retreat and local climate are too sparse for researchers to separate the effect of this natural cycle from that of man-made warming. In the relatively well-monitored Swiss Alps, however, Huss and his team managed to gather some 10,000 in situ observations that had been made over the past 100 years, and constructed three-dimensional computer models of 30 glaciers. By comparing a time series of daily melt, snow accumulation and ice and snow volume readings of the glaciers with a widely used index of the AMO, they teased out the impact of natural climate variability. Although the mass balance of individual glaciers varied, the long-term overall trend followed the pulse of the AMO.

Since 1910, the 30 glaciers have lost a total of 13 cubic kilometres of ice — about 50% of their former volume. Brief periods of mass gain during cool AMO phases in the 1910s and late 1970s were outweighed by rapid losses during warm phases in the 1940s and since 1980, when temperatures rose and more precipitation fell as rain than as snow. The scientists believe that these changes are due to the combined effects of the natural cycle and anthropogenic global warming, which now seems to have a greater role than early in the twentieth century.

Natural climate variability is likely to have driven twentieth-century glacier shrinkage and thinning in other parts of the world, says Kaser. For example, his own research on the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania suggests that their dramatic recession is mainly due to multidecadal fluctuations in air moisture.

"The widespread idea that glacier retreat is the sole consequence of increased air temperature is overly simplistic," he says. "Glaciologists have known for more than 50 years that glaciers are sensitive to a variety of climate variables, not all of which can be attributed to global warming."

Questions about the effect of global warming on glaciers hit the headlines earlier this year, after an error was found in the latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, which wrongly stated that most Himalayan glaciers could disappear by the year 20353. The resulting furore put the IPCC's credibility under scrutiny, and has triggered an independent review by the InterAcademy Council in Amsterdam, which represents 15 national academies of science.

But scientists don't expect the latest findings on Swiss glaciers to rekindle the controversy. "Without studies like this, climate science would actually be less credible than it is," says Martin Beniston, a regional climate modeller at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who was not involved in the study. "Problems related to global warming are caused by a subtle mix of human activity and natural changes, and these new findings are a rare opportunity to illustrate this complexity in a comprehensible way. It is a question of scientific honesty to admit that not all the effects of climate change are solely the result of increased greenhouse gases."

Beniston adds that recognizing the role of natural climate shifts doesn't diminish the problem. "Even if greenhouse gases contribute just 50% to glacier retreat, this is anything but negligible." Although Himalayan glaciers may not be as vulnerable as the IPCC report originally suggested, the European Alps, where most glaciers are already in decline, could lose up to 90% of their glaciers by the end of the century, says Kaser.

The authors of the latest study cautiously suggest that a phase shift in the AMO might give a reprieve to Great Aletsch and other Alpine glaciers in the next decades, but Beniston is doubtful. "We may see a temporary slowdown, but I fear in the long run the still fairly modest greenhouse effect will outweigh any Atlantic relief."


Our hero Barbara Boxer

We've spent a lot of time and, well, energy warning against costly carbon controls, yet we must admit the fruits of our earnest labors pale in comparison to those of Senator Barbara Boxer. That's odd because Boxer is an avowed environmentalist and chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Her honest job description might be, "To pass the most annoying, burdensome legislation possible."

However, it's hard to argue with the lady's results. Her resolute leadership has torpedoed two major climate bills -- so far. While we continue to disagree with Boxer vehemently, her record of unmitigated failure is a "platform" around which we can rally.

Democratic challenger and popular blogger Mickey Kaus tried to make an issue of her ineffectiveness in the run-up to today's primary. He invited her to a debate on May 25, which she refused to attend. Kaus had a cardboard box stand in for her on the podium. With the aid of some audio clips, he debated the box. One of the audio clips was of Boxer flipping out when a member of the U.S. military referred to her as "ma'am." The most effective dig was yet to come after the debate, on Kaus's campaign website: "The box gave an honest answer when asked to list Sen. Boxer's major legislative accomplishments."

Boxer's bungling of global warming legislation has been impressive. If we had decided to plant a mole in the Democratic Party to scuttle the legislation, we're honestly not sure we could have done any better. In late 2007, for example, soon-to-retire Senator John Warner, a powerful Republican representing Virginia, lent bipartisan cover to a major cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme he co-authored with Joseph Lieberman. After passing through committee that December, the Warner-Lieberman climate legislation had the big mo, and gave us a big headache.

Then Boxer got hold of it. Over the next six months, she changed it, adding hundreds of pages. By the time she unveiled her version of the bill, the topic had become stale. The legislation fizzled and the defeat was embarrassingly bipartisan. Cap-and-trade is a Democratic Party platform plank, but ten senators from Boxer's own party sent her a letter explaining that they could not vote for her bill.

June 29, 2009 left the high water mark for climate change policy. On that day, the House of Representatives enacted a cap-and-trade scheme, the Orwellian-titled American Climate and Energy Security Act. It was the first time the Congress had put a price on carbon, a.k.a. taxed energy. Environmentalists were thrilled, and we were dismayed.

We needn't have feared, because Boxer released the companion bill in the Senate. She outraged Republicans on her committee by refusing to deliberate the bill. In particular, she barred any economic analysis. Republicans boycotted, thereby denying Boxer a quorum for a vote. She found a procedural loophole, and passed it out anyway. Her Democratic colleagues in the Senate were put off by Boxer's partisan pique. The legislation was immediately shelved and now John Kerry is trying to put together a new bill, without the aid of Boxer.

Boxer's political kiss of death no doubt arises from her peculiar notions of how climate policy works. In an October 2009 interview with C-Span, she praised a recent, precipitous drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Now, she was right about that. Emissions had fallen. But regulation had next to nothing to do with it. The drop was caused by an economic recession. Inadvertently, Boxer praised economic stagnation and undercut the Obama administration's entire rationale for green jobs. She affirmed a causal connection between greenhouse gas emissions reductions and decreased economic growth.

On energy and climate policy, we could not be further from the positions staked out by Boxer. And that's why we find it so heartening that she looks set to sail through her party's Potemkin nomination process. As long as she is in charge of climate policy, we can all breathe a little easier.


Why they love the ritual of recycling

The real purpose of recycling is not to ‘save the planet’ but to remind us how wasteful and destructive we are

‘You should treat people with respect instead of having a bunch of bin inspectors, bin police.’ Eric Pickles, the communities secretary in Britain’s new Lib-Con coalition government, has announced that the government will not be pressing ahead with a ‘bin tax’ or ‘pay-as-you-throw’ schemes designed to charge householders based on the amount of non-recycled waste they dispose of.

Yet Pickles is proposing a new approach that is simply a bit more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’. (On the same day, however, Bristol city council announced plans to introduce smaller bins and fine residents up to 1,000 if they don’t separate their waste correctly. Plus a change…) The incentive schemes Pickles is offering in place of a ‘bin tax’, which would reward people for recycling rather than punish them for not recycling, still assume that the tedious business of separating our waste for recycling is the best way of dealing with rubbish. Which it isn’t.

The power to trial pay-as-you-throw schemes was legislated for in the UK Climate Change Act of 2009. Five local authorities were allowed the opportunity to test out the scheme. However, none of them actually tried it. Pickles’ new alternative is based on a different scheme piloted in Windsor and Maidenhead, a local authority west of London. An American company, RecycleBank, is working with the council to offer householders rewards for recycling. Residents sign up for a RecycleBank account and then receive points for how much material they put in their recycling bins. They can then exchange those points for discounts at local shops or give their points, as cash, to charity.

Getting rewarded for doing ‘the right thing’ seems like a pretty good idea. ‘It does not put the costs up’, Pickles told BBC News. ‘Actually, what it does is it increases the recycling rate and puts money into the local economy.’ But this money is not being magicked up out of thin air. Rather it represents the saving made by councils by not having to pay the punitive costs for sending rubbish to landfill because instead they are encouraging local residents to sort the rubbish out. As RecycleBank boss Matthew Tucker told spiked last year: ‘For every tonne that we help a council divert from landfill, we take a percentage of that saving. If the council doesn’t save, we don’t make any money.’ (For a fuller discussion of the pros and cons of recycling, see Recycling: an eco-ritual we should bin, by Rob Lyons).

The saving comes from the severe regime put in place to encourage councils (with a financial gun to their heads) to stop using landfill to dispose of waste. There are two elements to this. Firstly, there is the landfill tax. This is charged on every single tonne of ‘active’ waste (in other words, anything that might decompose, including wood and plastic as well as food) that goes to landfill. The current rate is 48 per tonne. On top of this, councils are also set targets for a maximum total amount of waste going to landfill. If they breach those levels, a fine of 150 per tonne is imposed.

There are numerous other ways to dispose of waste other than landfill and recycling. For example, many more councils in the UK now use incinerators (or, to use the proper parlance, energy-from-waste facilities) to burn waste and generate electricity. If a combined heat and power scheme is tacked on, then the waste heat can also be used to heat local offices, factories and homes. So some councils have quickly built energy-from-waste facilities to get round these fines and taxes.

However, there are also recycling targets imposed by law in addition to the landfill taxes, targets and fines, with the aim that one third of waste will be recycled within five years.

This is Alice-in-Wonderland economics. Landfill is so much cheaper than recycling that in order to get councils to change their waste disposal policies, absolutely swingeing charges must be put on to landfill. Only then does recycling start to make financial sense. Yet with a little ingenuity, we can get most of the benefit of recycling more cheaply and more conveniently.

For example, one of the main justifications for recycling is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In turn, one of the main sources of such emissions in relation to waste is the methane gas - the same stuff that powers your cooker or central heating - produced when waste rots at the dump. But modern landfill schemes can capture this gas - called biogas - and burning it already makes a small but pretty reliable contribution to UK energy production.

Even recycling itself doesn’t need to be such an almighty pain in the neck. While Pickles and others have highlighted the rewards side of the Windsor and Maidenhead success story, the other element is something called co-mingling. Basically, instead of following endless arcane rules on which kind of rubbish goes into each of the veritable epidemic of multi-coloured containers that local authorities currently provide, with co-mingling there are just three containers: wet waste, like food; dry recyclables, like paper, plastic, card, metals and so on; and everything else. The dry recyclables are then separated out by machine at a depot. The machines aren’t quite as good as doing it all by hand - yet - but they’re still pretty good.

By taking out much of the confusion and hassle associated with separating waste, householders are more likely to do it. This convenient solution, however, doesn’t play well with greens. This is partly because of an obsession with recycling every last iddy-biddy bit of waste. But the main reason why co-mingling irritates greens is because if you take away the complexity of recycling, the ritual of thinking about it and doing it - if it’s barely any more than shoving stuff in the bin, just like it used to be - then we don’t have that daily eco-message drummed into our heads: ‘We are greedy, wasteful people who throw too much stuff away.’

There would be no point in spending lesson after lesson at primary school teaching kids about how to recycle, and why to recycle, if it’s just sticking stuff in the same bin. For greens, the attraction of complex, confusing systems of recycling is that they remind us, as we carry them out, what wasteful and destructive creatures we are. It is more like penance than a practical activity.

When pressed, the more sensible recycling advocates will admit that separating out our waste - like another fashionable idea, banning plastic shopping bags - has little impact on the environment. They will also admit that recycling schemes will always require a certain amount of subsidy. (What’s a few hundred million quid between friends when the national debt is heading rapidly towards a trillion pounds?) Household recycling is a waste of money and time that only makes sense as a form of self-punishment for the eco-sin of consumption.

In other words, those who want us to recycle our rubbish are really trashing us.


Climate summits as dumb as G20

Let’s hope our media in future will apply the same healthy skepticism to the UN’s never-ending global gabfests on climate change as they are to the looming G8/G20 fiasco scheduled for later this month in Canada.

Because whether it’s another UN meeting on global warming of the type we saw in Copenhagen last December or the upcoming G8/G20 in Muskoka and Toronto, both are examples of pointless, wasteful globalization run amok.

Both see world leaders descend on unsuspecting cities with armies of sherpas and bureaucrats in tow, needlessly disrupting the lives of the locals in response to artificial dates set on a calendar, rather than prior negotiations producing any international agreement of substance. Both are unnecessary, outdated dinosaurs in an age of instant global communications.

In both cases, the physical preparations for holding these wasteful extravaganzas, and the uber-excess exhibited in staging them, overshadow any previously agreed to motherhood statement that may emerge. (Copenhagen failed to produce even that.)

Finally, both processes see the leaders of the developed world decreeing to people in the developing world how they must live, an exercise in futility and arrogance, which presumes human behaviour can be changed by international edicts imposed from the top down, rather than by internal, domestic support built from the ground up.

One interesting sidelight of comparing G8/G20 meetings to climate change negotiations is that the same people who call themselves anti-globalization protesters when it comes to the former, typically and hypocritically, support the latter, even though climate change treaties are globalization on steroids.

My QMI colleague Greg Weston broke on Sunday a story that has become emblematic of the justified public anger in Canada over the $1 billion taxpayer-financed cost of staging the G8/G20 in Muskoka and Toronto.

While spent mainly on security, the budget includes such inanities courtesy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government as constructing a fake lake in the Toronto media centre, ostensibly so international media unable to follow the G8 leaders to Muskoka — meaning virtually all of them — will know what our cottage country is like and promote it as a tourist destination to their domestic audiences. In other words, it’s just another example of outrageous, wasteful spending.

Just as it was when the UN held another of its never-ending global warming gabfests in Bali, Indonesia, one of the world’s most exclusive holiday resorts, in December 2007. This, presumably, so delegates flown in from around the world on the public’s dime courtesy of their captive, domestic taxpayers, could look appropriately hot and sweaty as they expressed concern about “global warming” in outdoor media interviews, while racing between meetings in five-star, air conditioned hotels, generating in 12 days enough greenhouse gas emissions to power a mid-sized African country for a year.

The next big UN meeting on climate change is scheduled for December in (of course) Cancun, to pick up wherever it was Copenhagen left off.

Let’s hope, this time, the media treat this event with the skepticism it deserves, as they are the G8/G20 in Canada. Including asking any delegate pointing to the Gulf of Mexico and crying crocodile tears about the horrendous BP oil spill, exactly how they got to Cancun — as in by jet, or by flapping their magic green fairy wings? Because denouncing BP, which deserves it, is easy. Getting off oil is hard.


Dangerous paranoia about "chemicals"

There is a report published a few years ago called Making Sense of Chemical Stories, which attempts to point out some very basic concepts that most people are not grasping about chemicals. We need to see things clearly and not through a telescope of activism which makes it impossible to see the whole picture. We live in a world where pollution has become “the cause” for celebrities of every ilk. Movies, television and sports notables will come out and take a position on subjects of which they know little or nothing about. We have been inundated by so many articles and television shows regarding chemicals that we in the developed world (which owes so much to chemicals) have become chemophobic.

Malaria in the developed world is thought of as being impossible. Why? DDT largely eliminated it in developed countries! Our economy, which supports a life style that most would not be willing to give up, came about as a result of an innovative chemical industry. Our ability to feed ourselves, and huge portions of the rest of the world, is a direct result of that research. Research that resulted in the Green Revolution, for which Norman Borlaug was largely responsible, literally saved millions of lives with extensive use of high yield varieties of crops, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Chemistry!

During my young years it was not uncommon for mothers to take their dry foods such as pasta, rice and beans and dump them into a boiling pot of water and wait with a strainer to filter out the dead bugs that would float to the top. We would be outraged now if that happened. The chemical industry provided the answers for that. Pesticides were developed that gave us not only abundant foods, but mostly pest free foods.

Why then do we strive to be kept away from “that stuff”? Why do we have the attitude that all manufactured chemicals must be avoided at any cost? The universe (that includes us by the way) is made up of chemicals. I see advertisements that claim something is chemical free. If it is chemical free it doesn’t exist. We can’t survive without them because we are them. In fact Americans live longer, healthier lives than Americans have ever lived as a result of our chemical rich society and environment.

I have great cartoon in my computer that shows two cavemen sitting in a cave and one of them says, “Something is just not right. Our air is clean, our water is pure, we get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free range, and yet nobody lives past 30.”

In 1840 when everything was “natural” the average life span was approximately 40. Today, when everything that is important in our lives was created by manufactured chemicals the average life span is about 80. What part of that is so hard to grasp? We live longer as a direct result of those chemicals and it is obvious that these chemicals, when properly used, are not damaging the environment or us, no matter what the activists say, the BP oil spill notwithstanding.

A cup of coffee contains 11 chemicals that are considered carcinogenic. You will be exposed to more carcinogens in that one cup of coffee than all the carcinogenic potential of all of the pesticide residue on all of the food you will eat in one year.

City councils all over the country have taken up the cause of banning potentially harmful substances that have already been tested, regulated and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. We have to ask; why they have decided to take up this task? Is it because they spent three hundred million on research and came to a different conclusion than did the EPA? Is it because these city councils are filled with toxicologists and chemists who looked at the original research and decided that the scientists who performed the research were lackeys of the chemical companies and their work should be dismissed? Or is it perhaps a case of merely taking the word of anti-chemical activists who may have even less scientific acumen and less qualified to determine the worth of these products than these local politicians. Then again, they may even number themselves among them. Try and picture a society that would elect all of their officials from the Sierra Club or PETA.

A city council in California wanted to ban dihydrogen monoxide because it burns human tissue in its gaseous state and prolonged use in its solid state could cause severe tissue damage. What is dihydrogen monoxide? Water! Were they embarrassed when they found out what it actually was? Probably not, after all, their intentions were good. I would rather their actions were correct.

The EPA is spending a fortune to promote IPM and Green Pest Control. The School Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) has been introduced and re-introduced in Congress. Why? Because they “know” so many things that simply aren’t true and they have the power and money to promote these untruths. Name one thing you know for sure about IPM. You can’t. It is indefinable and Green Pest Control is even worse. Everyone has his own ideas about IPM. Such foolishness is seen for what is worth in the third world where children are dying because of a lack of pesticides. Is it our desire to become one with the third world? The actions of anti-pesticide activists indicate that is exactly what they want, and EPA is part and parcel of this outcome.

When we read labels at the grocery store it gives the impression we are being poisoned because we clearly don’t understand the chemical terms. Whether chemicals are naturally occurring or manufactured they have been given names and reading those names do not give most of us any clue as to whether they are safe or not. In short, we don’t know what is good or what is bad. DDT has saved more lives than any chemical naturally occurring or otherwise in human history, and yet we hear how terrible it is. And I will state this again. Everything everyone “knows” about DDT is a lie. Those who actually read books about the “research” done by Rachel Carson realize that she was not a great scientist. She was a great writer, but it turned out to be science fiction.

(I would like to recommend reading Klaus and Bolander’s 1972 issue of “Ecological Sanity” and Roberts and Tren’s “The Excellent Powder, DDT’s Political and Scientific History”, which just came out. )

If we actually look at the facts we will find that most of what comes from the greenies is a lie. Not necessarily lies of commission, which they are guilty of, but mostly lies of omission. The end result is the same. For them to satisfy their egos and enact their entire slate of feel good policies people must die. Why? Because their policies kill people! We have the evidence of science and the truth of history, which proves it beyond any shadow of a doubt. The “conventional wisdom” of the activists was nothing more than the “philosophical flavor of the day”, and has not become traditional wisdom. Wisdom becomes traditional when it stands the test of time. Greenie wisdom has not stood against the march of time or the uncovering of the facts, that is why they have to move from one "crisis" to another. Something must always be on a back burner for them to expoit because it soon becomes obvious that the latest one is a lie, such as anthropogenic climate change AKA Global Warming. No matter how many times a lie is told (even if everyone believes the lie) it will never become the truth! As Benjamin Franklin said, “truth will very patiently wait for us”. What is of concern is how much damage will be done until we find it. The world has suffered upwards of 90 million deaths from malaria and upwards of 13 billion unnecessary cases as a result of banning DDT in 1972. How much patience can the world afford while truth waits for us?

Recently there appeared a CNN special report called “Toxic America” which falsely claimed “that trace levels of environmental chemicals are causing myriad disease in America, from cancer to diabetes and more. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan from the American Council on Science and Health stated “It was worse than I could have imagine. “ She went on to say that “The most shocking part of it was that they recruited people from certain towns who thought that they were harmed by chemicals, and brought them all together to talk about how dangerous these substances are.” ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross agreed with Whelan saying that, “Their segment about so-called ‘toxic towns’ was bizarrely unscientific. When a physician bills himself as an expert and gathers people in a room who believe they were sickened by chemicals, taking a show of hands to see who believes they were harmed, there’s no scientific basis to that whatsoever.”

These "chemical scare” specials from the media are a no win situation for real scientists unless the entire scientific community stands up and condemns them. The emotional drama of parents who have lost children to cancer, and who believer trace chemical elements are reasonable for their death, will be so emotionally overwhelming to any viewing audience that no matter how accurately you present the actual science and no matter how logical your arguments are; emotions will triumph over actual science every time. And our corrupt media and the green movement knows it.

Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to reality. At the end of WWII the world’s population was approximately 2 billion people. Currently we have about 6.7 billion. It took thousands of years to get to 2 billion and yet in less than 75 years we have soared to 6.7 billion and we live in a chemical rich society. When tested, our bodies will show over 2 hundred different chemicals produced by the chemical companies…and we live longer healthier lives than ever in human history. Somewhere there is a serious disconnect between what we see going on in reality and what we are being told. Is it possible that what we are being told is merely the propaganda of an irrational and misanthropic movement with an agenda? Could be!



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


9 June, 2010

The EPA's Reckless Endangerment

This week, the Senate is expected to vote on S.J. Res. 26, Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon dioxide endangerment finding that was infamously issued on December 7th, 2009.

The resolution is cosponsored by most of the Senate Republican Caucus as well as Democrat Senators Blanche Lincoln (LA) and Ben Nelson (NE), leading “aides predict it will easily clear the 51-vote threshold for passage,” as reported by Roll Call.

The American people can only hope. The EPA’s alarmist decision greatly understates the impact of restricting and reducing carbon emissions — which means limiting energy use — on global population sustainability and economic growth. The American people (and everyone else) depend upon petroleum, gasoline, diesel, coal, and natural gas to do just about everything, including getting to work, delivering goods and services, heating their homes in the summer and cooling them in the winter, and providing hot water.

But it goes deeper than that. The population explosion over the past 200 years is entirely owed to the Industrial Revolution that was fueled in large part by increased energy output. The necessary consequence of dramatically reducing energy consumption — and the food production, medical advancement, and economic growth that depends on it — would have to be a commensurate, significant decrease in the human population.

Really, it all depends on just how draconian the agency’s restrictions of carbon emissions are. How much of a price will be placed on carbon emissions by the agency? If it’s too high, the impact could be devastating, resulting in the means of sustaining the world’s population being suddenly restricted or gradually reduced.

Either way, people will die.

Ironically, in its finding, the agency claimed that the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “threaten[s] the public health and welfare of current and future generations” with increased heat waves, more-intense hurricanes, floods, storm surges, rising sea levels, erosion, wildfires, drought, and even allergens and pathogens. The EPA also predicts the displacement of indigenous populations, the eventual decrease of food production and agriculture, and the reduction of forest productivity.

With predictions that dire, one would expect that the finding shall become the foundation for the EPA to incrementally regulate, restrict, and eventually prohibit emissions of carbon dioxide by motor vehicles and industry.

Maybe, if the people are lucky, the very air we all exhale shall remain unregulated, although given the broad nature of the finding, there certainly would be nothing to stop regulation in this arena — except for the Constitution. Liberty lovers may be out luck, however. The lack of constitutional authority for a federal agency to issue such a dictatorial proclamation has already been ignored by the Supreme Court in 2007, when the nation’s highest court ruled that carbon dioxide could be regulated by the EPA as a “pollutant.”

Making matters worse, in its finding the EPA disregarded the downward trend in global temperatures over the past decade despite increased carbon emissions, as documented by APS Physics Christopher Monckton of Brenchley. It ignored the failed projections of increased temperatures by the International Panel on Climate Change and other proponents of the man-made global warming hypothesis. It suppressed internal dissent at the agency, as when Dr. Alan Carlin submitted comments against the EPA’s finding.

The EPA even overlooked the impact of the Climategate scandal where it was revealed that global temperature data was manipulated and exaggerated by climatologists, and then utilized to promote public policies such as the endangerment finding, the punitive carbon emissions cap-and-tax now being considered in Congress, and the damaging Copenhagen Protocols that would have been an extension of the Kyoto-era restrictions on energy output.

That alone should be cause for Senators to vote in the affirmative on Murkowski’s resolution repealing the EPA’s endangerment finding. It is devoid of all of the most important recent revelations in climate science, including the serious doubt that has been cast upon the premise that man is even responsible for fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature.

In the end, the finding — and whatever tyrannical restrictions on energy use result from it — will ultimately prove more dangerous than man-made global warming ever could have been. As written by Monckton, “The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”


The EPA Runs Amuck

By Alan Caruba

Here’s what my friend, Dr. Kenneth P. Green, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, had to say about the energy and environment “advisor” to President Barack Obama:

“Carol Browner’s selection as ‘energy coordinator’ (sometimes called energy czar) virtually guarantees that the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies will be anything but moderate.”

“Her two terms as Environmental Protection Agency boss were marked by adversarialism, punitive enforcement actions, draconian tightening of environmental regulations and the message that business is destructive of the environment and dishonest about the cost of environmental regulations.”

And that was just the nice things he had to say about Browner. It is worth noting that Browner has been the lead spokesman about the BP oil spill for the Obama administration after it became obvious that Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, was generating negative public reaction to his ‘get tough’ approach and there have been few public statements issued by Dr. Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy.

The current administrator of the EPA is Lisa Jackson who learned her trade working under Browner until she was picked to head the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A Browner acolyte, Jackson has presided over an EPA run amuck.

Jackson will be remembered for leading the EPA fight to get carbon dioxide declared a “pollutant” that can then be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This is the same reasoning put forth by the constantly renamed Cap-and-Trade Act that is was a “climate” bill and has now become something else. It is based on the same totally bogus “science” that gave us “global warming” until Mother Nature decided that the Earth should begin to cool about a decade ago.

President Obama just announced that, just like the much-hated healthcare reform bill, he is going to devote himself to getting Cap-and-Trade passed by Congress. Combined, they should be called The Destroying America’s Economy Act.

Suffice to say that, other than oxygen, carbon dioxide is the other gas on which all life on Earth depends. It’s what all vegetation “breaths” and, coincidently, it is what all humans and other animals exhale. It has nothing to do with the climate.

Dr. Green points out that, “When it comes to climate change, she is a disciple of Al Gore for whom she worked from 1988 to 1991,” adding that “Browner believes that ‘climate change is the greatest challenge ever faced’ and that the EPA is the agency to face it.”

I have been watching the EPA in action since it was created in the 1970s by Mr. Watergate himself, Richard Nixon. It has since expanded like a cancer cell, doing a lot of damage along the way. There must be a sign on the wall of EPA headquarters that says, “If it’s a chemical, we will ban it.” On May 24, the EPA announced it was discussing the perils of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. Please, let’s do nothing to disperse the oil!

From its earliest days, the EPA set out to ban or limit the use of any and all pesticides nationwide. They have never stopped. It is essential to understand that what passes for EPA “science” is merely a charade to advance their agenda.

It can cost up to $15 million or more for a company to get a pesticide registered for use. If you take away the pesticides, all that’s left is the pests, but this simple truth is lost on the EPA. They have come up with a proposed new “permit requirement that would decrease the amount of pesticides discharged to our nation’s waters and protect human health and the environment.” If you really want to protect human health, you have to kill the billions of insect and rodent pests that have always spread disease.

So far in the last month, the EPA has announced they will release “a draft health assessment for formaldehyde that focuses on evaluating the potential toxicity of inhalation exposures to this chemical.”

Also announced was news that the EPA “is initiating a rulemaking to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows and basement backups.” They are “reviewing” Florida’s coastal water quality standards, a move that will wreak havoc on its agricultural and tourist industries.

Another EPA announcement noted that “It just got harder for a TV to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star. Starting May 1, 2010, TV’s that carry the government’s Energy Star label are, on average, 40 percent more efficient than conventional models.” This is all done in the name of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions” when, in fact, this is the baseless justification for the global warming hoax.

If at this point, you are beginning to think the EPA is just a tad intrusive regarding your basement backup problems, the kind of television set you should purchase, and other previous decisions such as how much water your toilet can use or the banning of incandescent light bulbs nationwide, you will be happy to know that in May the EPA took the time to “encourage ways to travel green by checking into an Energy Star labeled hotel.”

While in the hotel, you are advised to “turn off the lights and TV when leaving the hotel room”, “adjust the thermostat to an energy-saving setting so it doesn’t heat or cool the room while empty”, “to open curtains to take advantage of daylight when possible”, and “re-use linens to save both water and energy.”

If, by now, you’re getting the feeling that the EPA is more intrusive into the most mundane aspects of your life than any other government agency or combination of agencies, you’re right.

And very little of it has anything to do with protecting your health or the environment. It has everything to do with advancing a fanatical green agenda intended to threaten every form of energy production, manufacturing process, property rights, and your right to make a wide range of personal lifestyle decisions.


James Hansen and Climate Change; NASA’s Disgrace

Christopher Horner requested information from National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) through Freedom of Information (FOI) and now reports, “We have asked the court to order NASA – which has evaded our Freedom of Information Act requests for three years – to turn over documents related to global warming activities undertaken by federal employees.”

It’s the pattern of blocking seen throughout the official climate science community

Recently the University of Virginia asked the courts to block requests for information from Attorney General Cuccinelli on the Michael Mann situation. What do they have to hide? We’re talking about scientific claims at the basis of massive global energy and economic policies. The taxpayer funds the work and will be impacted, yet they’re denied access.

Who Is In Control?

Public image is a major concern for NASA, so why have they allowed James Hansen, Director of their Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to act as he has? There is now evidence suggesting the problem has gone on for a long time; “the equation upon which all Global Warming Theory studies are built is inherently flawed.” They then make a most devastating claim, “Worse, however, than the flaw in the equation, is that this fact has remained covered up by NASA from the first Lunar landing until now, nearly 41 years.”

NASA needs to understand weather and climate because it affects the launch orbit and landing of space vehicles. In the early years they produced excellent work like Herman and Goldberg’s 1978 book Sun, Weather and Climate. Early interests somehow changed. “Much of the institute’s early work involved study of planetary atmospheres using data collected by telescopes and space probes, and in time that led to GISS becoming a leading center of atmospheric modeling and of climate change.”

Apparently Hansen caused much of the shift as he pushed his political agenda. NASA GISS employee Gavin Schmidt provided support especially by active participation in RealClimate the attack group organized to defend the Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

Many people wondered how much of his work time went to Realclimate activities and how much represented NASA’s positions.

Hansen deflected attention from his activities by claiming he was muzzled for political ends.

His former boss Dr. John S. Theon, retired Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA completely discredited this idea. “Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress” – EPW

Hansen knew the situation because in public he presented himself either as Director of GISS or as a private citizen. He’s entitled to his views as a private citizen, but it’s an affront to imply that when speaking to a group on climate his position will not influence public opinion. Of course, his private views will influence his professional views.

Theon made his own views on global warming public after he retired in a communication to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,” His major concern was the models. “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,”

He made a disturbing comment about the data, which beyond the models is at the very heart of the climate problem. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,”

Is Theon referring to Hansen when he talks about manipulating data to prove the models? Why didn’t Theon rein in Hansen? He explains the limitations of his position with Hansen. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation,” In the Minority Office report Theon describes Hansen as a “nice, likeable fellow,” but worries “he’s been overcome by his belief—almost religious—that he’s going to save the world.” And that’s the problem.

Either ignorance of climate science or a deliberate attempt to mislead or both

Hansen uses his bureaucratic position as Director of NASA GISS, to pursue a political agenda. He inflated the issue of human induced global warming to a global fraud in 1988 testimony before a House and Senate committee when he said; “the greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now” This shows either ignorance of climate science or a deliberate attempt to mislead or both. The phrasing suggests incorrectly the greenhouse effect is new. There is no evidence, except in the computer models, that it is causing current climate change. He capped this with another unsupportable statement that he was, “99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.”

NASA GISS Controls And “Adjusts” Data

Besides its focus on modeling and climate change NASA GISS established itself as the source of global temperatures. It’s probably the record Theon refers to in his comment about data because it has consistently been the centre of controversy.

One was discovery of the so-called the Y2K error, which resulted in a significant change in the US temperature record. The claim 1998 was the warmest year on record and 9 of 10 of the warmest years were in that decade was amended to 1934 being the warmest and 4 of the top 10 were in the 1930s.

Emails related to this incident obtained through freedom of information prompted the comment, “Climate activist and arch-druid of the AGW movement James Hansen caught out telling porkies? Now that would be a tragedy for the Climate Fear Promotion industry! “ (Porkies is English slang for lies.)

Each year global annual temperatures are produced by different agencies and every time the NASA GISS data shows a more pronounced warming. “Each time Hansen announces that the GISS has discovered a better way to statistically modify actual US ground temperatures, warming becomes even more pronounced and any cooling less pronounced.”

All adjustments enhance the warming trend to support Theon’s comment that, “some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results.” Even with adjustments model projections overestimate the warming, but then exact replication would raise more suspicions.

“Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him”

In the July/August 2008 issue of Launch Magazine NASA Astronaut and Physicist Walter Cunningham wrote, “Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him,”… “NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it’s becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Here are NASA’s own words about transparency. “NASA is expanding transparency, participation, and collaboration and creating a new level of openness and accountability. We are focusing on embedding open government into three integrated aspects of our operations—policy, technology, and culture.”

Actions of NASA GISS under James Hansen makes them a mockery.


Roman Warm Period (Europe -- Mediterranean) -- Summary

Climate alarmists contend that the degree of global warmth over the latter part of the 20th century, and continuing to the present day, was greater than it was at any other time over the past one to two millennia, because this contention helps support their claim that what they call the "unprecedented" temperatures of the past few decades were CO2-induced. Hence, they cannot stomach the thought that the Medieval Warm Period of a thousand years ago could have been just as warm as, or even warmer than, it has been recently, especially since there was so much less CO2 in the air a thousand years ago than there is now.

Likewise, they are equally loath to admit that temperatures of the Roman Warm Period of two thousand years ago may also have rivaled, or exceeded, those of the recent past, since atmospheric CO2 concentrations at that time were also much lower than they are today. As a result, climate alarmists rarely even mention the Roman Warm Period, as they are happy to let sleeping dogs lie. In addition, they refuse to acknowledge that these two prior warm periods were global in extent, claiming instead that they were local phenomena restricted to lands surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean.

In another part of our Subject Index we explore these contentions as they apply to the Medieval Warm Period. In this Summary, we explore them as they pertain to the Roman Warm Period, focusing on studies conducted in lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Working with a core of 2.5 meters length, which they sampled at intervals of 2 cm in the upper 1 meter and at intervals of 5 cm below that depth, Martinez-Cortizas et al. (1999) derived a record of mercury deposition in the peat bog of Penido Vello in northwest Spain that extends to 4000 radiocarbon years before the present, which they analyzed for a number of parameters. This work revealed, in their words, "that cold climates promoted an enhanced accumulation and the preservation of mercury with low thermal stability, and warm climates were characterized by a lower accumulation and the predominance of mercury with moderate to high thermal stability."

Based on these findings and further analyses, they derived a temperature history for the region that they standardized to the mean temperature of the most recent 30 years of their record. This work revealed that the mean temperature of the Medieval Warm Period in northwest Spain was 1.5C warmer than it was over the 30 years leading up to the time of their study, and that the mean temperature of the Roman Warm Period was 2C warmer.

Even more impressive was their finding that several decadal-scale intervals during the Roman Warm Period were more than 2.5C warmer than the 1968-98 period, while an interval in excess of 80 years during the Medieval Warm Period was more than 3C warmer. Thus, Martinez-Cortizas et al. concluded, and rightly so, that "for the past 4000 years ... the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period were the most important warming periods."

Four years later, Desprat et al. (2003) studied the climatic variability of the last three millennia in northwest Iberia via a high-resolution pollen analysis of a sediment core retrieved from the central axis of the Ria de Vigo in the south of Galicia. By so doing, they found "an alternation of three relatively cold periods with three relatively warm episodes." In order of their occurrence, these periods were described by Desprat et al. as the "first cold phase of the Subatlantic period (975-250 BC)," which was "followed by the Roman Warm Period (250 BC-450 AD)," which was followed by "a successive cold period (450-950 AD), the Dark Ages," which "was terminated by the onset of the Medieval Warm Period (950-1400 AD)," which was followed by "the Little Ice Age (1400-1850 AD), including the Maunder Minimum (at around 1700 AD)," which "was succeeded by the recent warming (1850 AD to the present)."

Commenting on their findings, Desprat et al. offered the opinion that "solar radiative budget and oceanic circulation seem to be the main mechanisms forcing this cyclicity in NW Iberia," noting that "a millennial-scale climatic cyclicity over the last 3000 years is detected for the first time in NW Iberia paralleling global climatic changes recorded in North Atlantic marine records (Bond et al., 1997; Bianchi and McCave, 1999; Chapman and Shackelton, 2000)." And this body of findings suggests that the establishment of the Current Warm Period over the course of the past century or so may have been nothing more than the most recent manifestation of this naturally-recurring phenomenon.

After two more years had passed, Kvavadze and Connor (2005) analyzed various sets of data pertaining to the ecology, pollen productivity and Holocene history of Zelkova carpinifolia, a Tertiary-relict tree whose pollen is almost always accompanied by elevated concentrations of the pollen of other thermophilous taxa; and because Zelkova carpinifolia requires heat and moisture during the growing period, they say that the discovery of fossil remains of the species in Holocene sediments "can be a good indicator of optimal climatic conditions."

More specifically, they indicate that "Western Georgian pollen spectra of the Subatlantic period show that the period began in a cold phase, but, by 2200 cal yr BP, climatic amelioration commenced," noting that "the maximum phase of warming [was] observed in spectra from 1900 cal yr BP," which interval of warmth was Georgia's contribution to the Roman Warm Period.

A cooler phase of climate, during the Dark Ages Cold Period, "occurred in Western Georgia about 1500-1400 cal yr BP," according to the two scientists; but it too was followed by another warm period "from 1350 to 800 years ago," which was, of course, the Medieval Warm Period.

During portions of this latter warm epoch, they report that tree lines "migrated upwards and the distribution of Zelkova broadened." In addition, they present a history of Holocene oscillations of the upper tree-line in Abkhasia -- derived by Kvavadze et al. (1992) -- that depicts slightly greater-than-1950 elevations during a portion of the Medieval Warm Period and much greater extensions above the 1950 tree-line during parts of the Roman Warm Period, which observations imply much warmer conditions than what prevailed there around AD 1950, which was the "present" of Kvavadze and Connor's study.

Working contemporaneously, Pla and Catalan (2005) analyzed chrysophyte cyst data they collected from 105 lakes located within the Central and Eastern Pyrenees of northeast Spain to produce a Holocene history of winter/spring temperatures. A significant oscillation was evident in this thermal reconstruction in which the region's climate alternated between warm and cold phases over the past several thousand years. Of particular note were the Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period and, once again, the subject of this summary: the Roman Warm Period.

Last of all, we come to the paper of Garcia et al. (2007), who introduced the report of their work by noting that "despite many studies that have pointed to ... the validity of the classical climatic oscillations described for the Late Holocene (Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age, etc.), there is a research line that suggests the non-global signature of these periods (IPCC, 2001; Jones and Mann, 2004)." Noting that "the best way to solve this controversy would be to increase the number of high-resolution records covering the last millennia and to increase the spatial coverage of these records," they proceeded to do just that.

Working with a number of sediment cores retrieved from a river-fed wetland that is flooded for approximately seven months of each year in Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park (south central Iberian Peninsula, Spain), Garcia et al. employed "a high resolution pollen record in combination with geochemical data from sediments composed mainly of layers of charophytes alternating with layers of vegetal remains plus some detrital beds" to reconstruct "the environmental evolution of the last 3000 years."

In doing so, the six Spanish researchers were able to identify five distinct climatic stages: "a cold and arid phase during the Subatlantic (Late Iron Cold Period, < B.C. 150), a warmer and wetter phase (Roman Warm Period, B.C. 150-A.D. 270), a new colder and drier period coinciding with the Dark Ages (A.D. 270-900), the warmer and wetter Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 900-1400), and finally a cooling phase (Little Ice Age, >A.D. 1400)."

Noting that "the Iberian Peninsula is unique, as it is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Europe and Africa, and is consequently affected by all of them," Garcia et al. significantly advanced the likelihood that the classical climatic oscillations described for the Late Holocene -- of which the Roman Warm Period is a prime example -- were indeed both real and global in scope, as well as not-CO2-induced, which means that earth's current level of warmth need not be CO2-induced as well.

SOURCE (See the original for references)

Freer Trade is Key to a Cleaner Environment and Green Growth

In remarks on World Environment Day, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, pointed out that, “Trade opening has much to contribute in the fight against climate change and to the protection of the environment.”

Indeed, the most practical improvements in energy efficiency and protecting the environment over the past decades haven’t stemmed from government regulatory mandates. As shown in the analysis of the Index of Economic Freedom, the most progress has been driven by advances in freer trade and economic freedom. These unleash greater economic opportunity and prosperity, generating a virtuous cycle of investment, innovation, and dynamic economic growth. Echoing the same message, the WTO chief further noted:

The entire world is well aware of the environmental dangers posed to our planet. But the ability of governments to respond to these dangers is tied closely to the resources at their disposal. Countries which have had success in alleviating poverty and raising living standards tend to be more adept at creating the conditions for a cleaner environment.

Policy efforts aimed at imposing stricter environmental standards through a national or global regulatory body run great risk of being not only fruitless, but also counterproductive. They undercut the economic growth and efficiency indispensable to effective efforts to protect the environment. Such regulations are likely to be little more that feel-good actions! The fundamental flaw of those favoring new government directives is the fallacy that there must be a trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection. They seem to think that to get more of one, you have to have less of the other. The truth is just the opposite: to get more environmental protection you need more growth, not less.

It is encouraging that many Americans see that truth. As a March 2010 Gallup survey reveals, more Americans believe that economic growth should take priority over environmental protection when the two goals collides, with fewer willing to support environmental measures that may have a negative economic impact!


Busybodies take aim at plastic shopping bags

As if the nanny state wasn't intrusive enough already, busybodies in the California Assembly are sticking their noses in where they don't belong, passing a bill to ban plastic shopping bags. This is a classic case of perennial meddlers looking to boss people around for no good reason.

Plastic shopping bags are far from an environmental menace. In fact, the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags also pales in comparison to the environmental impact of paper and canvas bags.
According to the Environmental Literacy Council, plastic bags are better for air quality than paper bags because they weigh less and are more compact, requiring one-seventh the number of trucks to ship the same number of bags. And fewer truck trips carrying lighter loads mean less oil consumption and less pollution.

The council also reports that plastic bags are more environmentally benign in landfills, since they require only a fraction of landfill space compared with paper bags.

Don't let environmental activists fool you regarding reusable canvas bags, either.

Reusable canvas bags are likely to become downright gross in no time. The next time you buy ice cream, notice how much of it sticks to the outside of the carton, ready to turn a canvas shopping bag into a gooey mess and a feeding station for ants and cockroaches. Notice, too, how much juice leaks from the fruit salad container and how much bacteria-infested gook leaks from meat packages.
Keeping canvas bags sanitary and reusable will require frequent additional cycles for your washer and dryer. These extra laundry cycles, of course, result in more energy use, more air pollutants from electricity generation, and more water pollution from detergents.

And, since most people don't keep an immaculate calendar dictating which days and at what times they will stop by the grocery store, they will have to keep the trunks of their cars stuffed with numerous heavy, bulky canvas bags. As a result, every automobile trip -- wherever the destination -- would mean more automobile weight due to the stash of canvas bags. More automobile weight means more gasoline will get burned and more pollutants be released into the air.

In addition, the popular notion of plastic shopping bags entangling and choking marine life is an urban myth, more befitting of a Mark Twain tall tale than a serious discussion on the environment. According to U.S. Marine Mammal Commission senior analyst Dr. David Laist, "Plastic bags do not figure in entanglement. The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands."

He adds that, "The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem, either."

In reality, the only environmental harm caused by plastic shopping bags is the sight blight that happens when people litter. But why should plastic shopping bags be treated any differently in this regard than soda cans, water bottles, juice boxes and other items? It seems that a far better solution is to impose heavier fines on littering, which would have the additional benefit of reducing all forms of litter.

But why bother with a simple, unobtrusive solution when you can find a new excuse to be a buttinsky?



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


8 June, 2010


Warmism assumes that it keeps heat in. The following is the conclusion of a short paper by a modeller who looks at all influences on heat loss together. He also finds, as paleoclimatologists do, that CO2 levels are a response to, rather than a cause of, temperature changes. The author is Fred H. Haynie, who refers to himself as a "Retired Environmental Scientist". An example of his academic journal articles is here. "OLR" is "outbound longwave radiation".

I used the model to calculate average monthly CO2 concentrations for each of the regions and included those values in a regression. The resulting significant coefficient for CO2 was negative -- indicating it accelerates OLR rather than resisting it.

This is unlikely a direct effect and more likely by indirectly lowering the resistance of some other process. The contributions of CO2 and the Unknown factor tend to balance out and when CO2 is not included in the regression, the contribution of the Unknown is only around 0.02 and decreasing slowly.

The following plot is for the Arctic where the effects of water on OLR are the least. Also, the apparent statistical significance of both CO2 and the unknown factor could be to non-linearities that are not identified in the models.

Globally, the measurable effects of atmospheric water on reducing the rate of OLR are orders of magnitude greater than any probable effects of atmospheric CO2. Any possible “greenhouse” effect of atmospheric CO2 is not measurable with monthly, regional averages; being lost in the error associated with the water variables and model design.

The concentration of atmospheric CO2 is likely being controlled by the global three dimensional distribution of the different phases (vapor, condensed, and frozen) of water. As such, it is probably a good lagging response to global climate change.


A correspondent summarizes Haynie's paper as follows:

Assumption: The earth loses thermal energy by radiating to space, i.e., by outbound long wave radiation (OLR).

Assumption: Components in the atmosphere slow down the rate of energy loss.

Assumption: If a CO2 greenhouse effect is measurable, it should be a statistically significant contributor to the total atmospheric resistance to OLR.

Testing these assumptions against climate scenarios provided by NOAA, the factors of precipitable water, precipitation rate, and sea surface temperature are found to be statistically significant.

On the same basis, and using data from Scripps, CO2’s impact comes out as slightly negative, indicating that it accelerates OLR rather than resisting it.

However, since other factors exceed any CO2 signal, it’s safer to say that its impact is lost in the noise and as such is simply not measurable.

Warming in Last 50 Years Predicted by Natural Climate Cycles

By Roy Spencer

One of the main conclusions of the 2007 IPCC report was that the warming over the last 50 years was most likely due to anthropogenic pollution, especially increasing atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel burning.

But a minority of climate researchers have maintained that some — or even most — of that warming could have been due to natural causes.

For instance, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) are natural modes of climate variability which have similar time scales to warming and cooling periods during the 20th Century. Also, El Nio — which is known to cause global-average warmth — has been more frequent in the last 30 years or so; the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is a measure of El Nio and La Nia activity.

A simple way to examine the possibility that these climate cycles might be involved in the warming over the last 50 years in to do a statistical comparison of the yearly temperature variations versus the PDO, AMO, and SOI yearly values. But of course, correlation does not prove causation.

So, what if we use the statistics BEFORE the last 50 years to come up with a model of temperature variability, and then see if that statistical model can “predict” the strong warming over the most recent 50 year period? That would be much more convincing because, if the relationship between temperature and these 3 climate indices for the first half of the 20th Century just happened to be accidental, we sure wouldn’t expect it to accidentally predict the strong warming which has occurred in the second half of the 20th Century, would we?

Temperature, or Temperature Change Rate?

This kind of statistical comparison is usually performed with temperature. But there is greater physical justification for using the temperature change rate, instead of temperature. This is because if natural climate cycles are correlated to the time rate of change of temperature, that means they represent heating or cooling influences, such as changes in global cloud cover (albedo).

Such a relationship, shown in the plot below, would provide a causal link of these natural cycles as forcing mechanisms for temperature change, since the peak forcing then precedes the peak temperature.

Predicting Northern Hemispheric Warming Since 1960

Since most of the recent warming has occurred over the Northern Hemisphere, I chose to use the CRUTem3 yearly record of Northern Hemispheric temperature variations for the period 1900 through 2009. From this record I computed the yearly change rates in temperature. I then linearly regressed these 1-year temperature change rates against the yearly average values of the PDO, AMO, and SOI.

I used the period from 1900 through 1960 for “training” to derive this statistical relationship, then applied it to the period 1961 through 2009 to see how well it predicted the yearly temperature change rates for that 50 year period. Then, to get the model-predicted temperatures, I simply added up the temperature change rates over time.

The result of this exercise in shown in the following plot :

What is rather amazing is that the rate of observed warming of the Northern Hemisphere since the 1970’s matches that which the PDO, AMO, and SOI together predict, based upon those natural cycles’ PREVIOUS relationships to the temperature change rate (prior to 1960).

Again I want to emphasize that my use of the temperature change rate, rather than temperature, as the predicted variable is based upon the expectation that these natural modes of climate variability represent forcing mechanisms — I believe through changes in cloud cover — which then cause a lagged temperature response.

This is powerful evidence that most of the warming that the IPCC has attributed to human activities over the last 50 years could simply be due to natural, internal variability in the climate system. If true, this would also mean that (1) the climate system is much less sensitive to the CO2 content of the atmosphere than the IPCC claims, and (2) future warming from greenhouse gas emissions will be small.

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

Global Temperature Is Warmest on Record, NASA’s Hansen Says: Reality Check

Some natural warming plus a lot of crooked data manipulation behind the claim

There was indeed a global pop in temperatures despite the harsh (in places record) winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The El Nino was at least a moderate strength El Nino. It and the record negative arctic oscillation helped make the higher latutudes warmer and suppress clouds and winds in the subtropics and tropics, helping keep water temperatures in this the widest latitudal belt above normal.

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation which went into its warm mode in 1995 rebounded from a slide with the helps of these effects. Drought in India and southeast Asia after two successive monsoon failures related to low solar, high latitude volcanoes and summer El Ninos also contributed to the pop.

As La Nina comes on and the PDO dives, and tropical activity and increasing winds in the Atlantic cool the waters, the global temperature will dive again like it did in the late 1990s and late 200s.

Hansen, NOAA NCDC, Hadley CRU/UKMO all have reason to find warmth and verify their scary projections from their Tinkertoy models despite the many shortcomings found in these models. Hansen has a proven history of manipulating data to come closer to verifying projections.

E-mail messages obtained by CEI in a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that NASA concluded that its own climate data was inferior to those of the CRU and NOAA. In 2007, a USA Today reporter asked if NASA’s data “was more accurate” than other climate-change data sets, NASA’s Dr. Reto A. Ruedy replied with an unequivocal NO! “My recommendation to you is to continue using NCDC’s data for the U.S… and [East Anglia] data for the global…”

NASA’s GIStemp program recalculates old temperatures with every new data run. Like CRU and NOAA, NASA has managed to cool off the prior warm period (like Michael mann did with the Medieval Warm Period. See below (enlarged here) how in 1980, Hansen had the 1960s 0.3C colder than the 1950s. By 1987, it was just 0.05C colder and by 2007 it had become 0.05C warmer.

This was also done with the 1930s and 1940s, a notoriously warm period where most of the nation (and North America) heat records were set. See below (enlarged here)

NASA makes frequent changes to the data as noted. John Goetz in a guest post on Watts Up With That noted how NASA changed 20% of the station data 16 times in the 2 1/2 years ending in 2007. Recall also in 2007, Steve McIntyre found a ‘millennium bug’ in the NASA software that caused excess warmth post 2000. NASA quickly adjusted the data down 0.12 to 0.15C. This also pushed 1934 back into the lead as the warmest year that lasted all of one year (NASA kept the old data the same because the world was watching) before NASA returned all that warmth and then some. See below

Hansen is a man on a mission to save the planet and this includes civil disobedience. As Michael Goldfarb described it “Recently, but presumably still in his capacity as a private citizen and defender of the Earth, Hansen wrote an op-ed for the Guardian in which he described coal-fired power plants as “factories of death.” This on the heels of testifying in a British court on behalf of six Greenpeace activists on trial for causing $60,000 in criminal damage to a coal-fired power station in England.” Could this civil disobedience carry over to the data?

The cooling with the recent two year La Nina has put pressure on NOAA and NASA to accelerate adjustments – NOAA removed urban heat island adjustments for the USHCN in 2007 and announced a new warmer version of GHCN (V3) coming soon. NASA’s adjustment upward of this decade last year (shown in table above as much as 0.19C for a year) put them in a position to make the claim in the release.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Politics outweigh science in global warming debate

Global Political Agenda

No matter what the latest science or temperature readings tell us about the true causes and consequences of global warming, anthroprogenic global warming alarmists continue to embrace more regulation, greater government spending, and higher taxes in a futile attempt to control what is beyond our control: the Earth’s temperature. One of their political objectives, unstated of course, is the transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations or, as the social engineers put it, from the North to the South.

At the Bali Conference on Climate Change in December 2007, the poor nations insisted the cost of technology to limit emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change on their countries ought to be paid for by rich nations. Most anticipated a windfall of money flowing into their countries to develop technology or purchase carbon credits. In that scenario, selling allotments for CO2 emissions would provide a temporary boost to their cash flow while severely limiting the economic development of countries forced to purchase the carbon credits.

The December 2009 Copenhagen Conference was an attempt to formalize just such a transfer of wealth, one that would be an economic disaster for the developed nations of the world. The real economic costs of this income redistribution in the United States would be huge. Various studies have forecast that the United States would lose between three and four million jobs and the average U.S. family would lose $4,000-7,000 a year in income.

Racing Against the Facts

Without the science to back up their wild forecasts and claims, and in the face of overwhelming evidence for natural temperature variation, proponents of AGW alarmism resort to the precautionary argument: “We must do something just in case we are responsible, because the consequences are too terrible if we are to blame and do nothing.” They hope to stampede governments into committing huge amounts of taxpayers’ money before their fraud is completely exposed—before science and truth save the day.

Too many politicians are going along with this scheme, some because they have deluded themselves into thinking they can eventually reverse global warming by stabilizing CO2 emissions, others more cynically to curry favor with the media or political contributors.

There is certainly no scientific justification for a self-imposed and indeed cockamamie scheme of cap-and-trade that would raise energy costs, reward middlemen, and result in massive fraud. For a tiny fraction of the trillions of dollars such a system would eventually cost the United States, we could pay for development of clean coal, oil-shale recovery systems, and nuclear power, and have enough left over to maintain and upgrade our essential system of temperature-monitoring satellites.

Real Science Is Key

Understanding global warming and what, if anything, humans can do to affect it are scientific questions that can be answered only by science and scientific data. Yet global warming alarmists invariably try to make their case by resorting to rhetoric, dogma, opinion, and emotion. The closest thing to scientific data in their articles is the occasional chart claiming a poorly understood correlation between atmospheric CO2 and the Earth’s temperature.

Correlation is not causation. For five years, Michael J. Economides, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston, has had a standing offer of $10,000 for a single peer-reviewed paper showing causality between CO2 and increased temperature. None exists!

On the other hand, scientists who understand the factors affecting the Earth’s temperature—as much as they can be understood—rebut the alarmists with papers replete with facts, science, charts, and data tables.

With so many uninformed and misguided politicians ignoring the available science, however, our nation’s priorities will drift away from hard science and toward decadence. The politicization of science is tantamount to killing it. It is our collective responsibility to champion the use of responsible science to inform politicians.

There are hopeful signs some once-true believers are beginning to harbor doubts about anthropogenic global warming. We can only hope the focus of the discussion returns to scientific evidence before we perpetrate an economic disaster on ourselves and generations to come.


Infantile Australian climate professor pronounces debate as "infantile"

The Age — formerly a decent newspaper — never fails to take an opportunity to parrot PR for Team AGW. Last week they gave a free shot to Will Steffen, Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute.
A SCIENCE adviser to the federal government has described the debate in the media over the basics of climate change science as ”almost infantile”, equating it to an argument about the existence of gravity.

It takes a tax-payer funded Professor to equate AGW to gravity. It must have taken years of education to be able to issue pronouncements like this eh? If Australian taxpayers were hoping to get a bit more than just bluster and name-calling from certain public servants, they’re bound to be asking for their money back soon.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the existence of gravity is proven each day you don’t get flung off the planet when you get out of bed. We can measure gravity to twelve significant digits, but our value for climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide varies from 0 to 10. Pick a number. We can’t even get one significant digit fixed. Quantifying gravity involves dropping a rock with a clock and a ruler. Quantifying carbon’s effect on climate change involves understanding cloud-formation, ice sheet changes, evaporation, humidity levels in air 8000 m above Singapore, and ocean currents at the bottom of the endless abyss that we can’t even measure.
Speaking at a Melbourne summit on the green economy, Professor Will Steffen criticised the media for treating climate change science as a political issue in which two sides should be given a voice.

Is it political? Heck No. It’s not about managing our economy, assessing risks, choosing between different courses of action… err… it’s pure science. Prof Steffen has modeled our future, there’s no need to involve the economists-consumers-engineers-investors-medical-experts-or those pesky kids we’re supposedly saving-the-planet-for. Managing the country is pure science now; free speech and democracy-babble, who needs it!

This censorship of speech, and appeal to authority is the antithesis of science, and Steffen simplifies things ad absurdium. In Australia, he appears to have been appointed Carbon-King-of-Bluster. Find me a sentence where he substantiates a claim with something that amounts to more than “…it’s true because I say so”.
It’s a no-brainer. If you go over the last couple of decades you see tens of thousands of papers in the peer-reviewed literature, and you have less than 10 that challenge the fundamentals – and they have been disproved,” Professor Steffen said after an address at the Australian Davos Connection’s Future Summit.

“Tens of Thousands” of papers eh? So why doesn’t he dig out a few and help his colleague Dr Andrew Glikson who is at least honest enough to engage in a debate and try to answer the question: Can you name any paper that supports the claim that positive feedback occurs and will double or triple the direct effect of carbon dioxide? Without that amplification the big scare campaign is all over (and so is much of the funding that feeds the associated junkets, conferences, grants, Institutes, and certain “science advisers” to the government ).

And which 10 papers exactly have been disproved? Steffen can’t name them, won’t try, and helpfully leaves things vague as a one-size-fits-all whitewash. Pure bluster. Adam Morton dutifully prints all that without checking, as if it’s a pronouncement from the Mount and one of the ten commandments.

Don’t give me the excuse that he’s written giant documents with thousands of references, so the evidence is there “somewhere”. It only takes a few minutes to name and explain one paper. Waving vaguely at tomes is part of the shell game. If he wants rational discourse, this is where it starts, with details.
Right now, this almost infantile debate about whether ‘is it real or isn’t it real?’, it’s like saying, ‘Is the Earth round or is it flat?’

Actually, the only one trying to debate whether “it’s” real or the world is flat is him. No one else wants to reduce public conversation to meaningless descriptors as much as he does. What “it” is he talking about? Does he mean “climate change”? He’d sure like us to debate that, because he’d be on safe preschool-climate-science terms where he could win: Yes Esmeralda, the climate does change! But the rest of us keep asking him to debate the real issue instead of his fake-o-strawman-substitute.
[Climate change] is a hugely important question and yet we are not having a rational discourse in the media in Australia on this question. That is my biggest frustration.

This is quite funny really. (I laughed). So Steffen is frustrated that the discourse is irrational? This is the man who uses his academic authority to mock opponents (that he won’t debate) with strawman arguments that are irrelevant. He claims he wants rational discourse, but works hard to stifle any discussion that doesn’t agree with him. He actively contributes to the nightmare of government spin and irrationality.

Asked about the scepticism of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, he said scientists respected leaders from both sides of politics who showed respect for scientific expertise.

“Respect for expertise” is code for argument from authority: Trust me I’m an expert. It’s the cop-out.

Real scientists don’t have any respect for the fawning servants of bureaucracy or fame. We admire those who can reason, and not those who pour confusion on conversations with confounding pomposities. The ingratiates who take our money but call us names, while they dodge debates and hail vainglorious victories over points we never raised: these we mock


How to shoot down windmill promoters

The following is from a newsletter put out by Greenies who OPPOSE wind power. The email followed a strategy discussion of how to defeat a bad wind energy bill (the disastrous Massachusetts Wind Energy Siting Bill).

What I have reproduced is fairly long but there is in fact more to it. If you ask to be put on the mailing list of John Droz jr. ( you can get the whole of it. Droz is a physicist and his site is here

When I first got involved with the Wellfleet (Cape Cod, Massachusetts) situation in November, what I (and others in our community) knew about wind turbines would fit in a thimble. However, we knew enough to understand that erecting 400 foot, kinetic industrial towers in the middle of a national park was an insane idea. It seemed like such a sacrilege, that we barely knew where to start arguing with the proponents. What do you say to someone who is so seriously unhinged that he or she actually thinks that it’s a great idea to industrialize a national park?

We rapidly grew to appreciate the human health hazards (e.g. acoustic effects), the profoundly detrimental environmental consequences (e.g. for wildlife), the impact on property values and, most tragically, the despair and ruin that they caused in the lives of decent, well-meaning people burdened to live in the shadow of these behemoths.

The knowledge that seemed least relevant to me – because the other consequences were so dire – was the efficacy of the technology: does wind energy actually work? Does it accomplish anything consequential? Those were way down on my list of concerns.

I knew enough to know that the proponents had no business erecting the damn things in the National Seashore. But others repeatedly said that it would be crazy – and self-defeating – to address the larger policy issue with any sort of traditional cost / benefit analysis. Are we getting our money’s worth? Does the yield justify the investment? That sort of thing. And it was deemed especially foolhardy even to suggest to a bunch of Prius driving liberals in Wellfleet who are hell bent on saving the world that wind energy doesn’t actually work. Furthermore it seemed to me that we had plenty of ammunition in our battle to let sleeping dogs lie – or to let the windmill supporters live with their illusions about the promise of wind energy – as long as they could be convinced that putting them in the park was dangerous and outrageous. So I didn’t really do my homework and answer these questions for myself.

Now, however, after encountering the vapid, idiotic, pompous and patronizing delusional drivel of the Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore (an unapologetic promoter of his grand vision of a string of token wind energy projects within the boundaries of the park — you know who I mean as you have similar proponents in your community) -- over and over and over again – I am completely of the opposite view.

I now see that his arguments are hollow (meaningless, bloated, irrelevant, not applicable and false) — and his advocacy of industrializing the park is morally bankrupt. He keeps trying to inflate the shell of his argument (the “national mission to promote alternative energy”), but repeatedly ignores the substance of his core responsibility: “to preserve and protect the natural landscape in its original condition for all future generations.”

Gradually, it has become apparent that not only is it maddening to listen to such bombast — as if he had been granted a special dispensation from on high to pursue his brilliant plan, but it is downright dangerous to allow such contentions to linger unchallenged that this could EVER possibly be a good idea, or that these promoters have any clue what they are talking about.

We simply must call a spade a spade here in order to deny such imposters the opportunity to wrap themselves in the cloak of their presumed authority, or to "frame" the debate, as some of our representatives have attempted to do.

The central argument against wind turbines in this debate is simple and devastating: they don't work!

— They will not solve our energy issues (e.g. they don't reduce our dependence on imported oil).

— They will not solve our environmental problems (e.g. they don't consequentially reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions).

— They are not a substitute for conventional energy sources (e.g. because they are not reliable, have no Capacity Value, are much more expensive, etc.).

Why should citizens take this approach?

Why take this as the point of departure, instead of seeking to elicit sympathy for the very real suffering of folks in nearby communities subjected to wind development?

The reason is simple: if you allow the proponents to retain this “high moral ground” – the fictional idea that wind turbines actually accomplish something useful and that at least THEY are trying to do something about global warming, energy independence, etc. while YOU are in denial – and whining about a bit of noise that is “no louder than a refrigerator” ---- then you have likely lost right off the bat.

Making it mostly about you makes it is all too easy for these promoters to paint us as NIMBY’s and nincompoops.

They will come across as virtuous and wise — you as selfish and uninformed.

They want to change the world with their cutting edge technology — you are living in the past.

They care about our grandchildren’s grandchildren — you are a crybaby because you can’t stand paying a few more cents per KWH on your electric bill.

They are bold visionaries — you are the reason we’re here in the first place.


Who do you think is holding the stronger hand here?

But, suppose you turn this around and you first DEMAND that they prove their case: that they provide scientific proof that the technology actually works BEFORE you move on to catalogue all of the adverse consequences. You can do this by asking a few innocent questions:

* Please show me the independent, objective studies (using real-world data, not models) that show that wind energy actually is technically, economically and environmentally beneficial?

* Please explain to me how we're going to get electricity if these things only produce power when the wind blows — and not too slow, or too fast? What are we going to do if the wind only blows at night – when we don’t need electricity – but doesn’t blow during the daytime in August – when it’s hot as hell where I live? Isn’t a lot of that “production” worthless? Has anyone ever invented a practical, affordable method of “storing” electricity for future use?

* What do we do if we have three calm days in a row? Or a calm month? How do I watch the World Series? How do I use my computer?

* How do we manage the wildly fluctuating flow of electricity produced – or not produced – by the wind turbines? Isn’t modern electricity essentially a river of current that needs to be predictably available to be useful – not a flood, but certainly more than a trickle and, heaven forbid, not a dry gulch? Isn’t that sort of a problem – especially if the oft-stated goal of “increasing alternative energy to 20% of our total output by 2020” is actually realized?

* What about the economics? The average residential US customer pays 10/KWH for electricity. In Denmark (where they have installed many more wind turbines) the average residential customer pays 35/KWH. How will paying this huge 350% increase be beneficial to citizens? How does this jive with the marketing PR that says wind energy is inexpensive?

* Will this wind project actually replace any conventional fossil-fuel electric plants? How many can we get rid of? Can we dispense with them entirely? Can we turn them on and off at will – like dimming the lights – to compensate for the unpredictable, skittering output from the wind mills? If we do a granular analysis of wind energy (not giving credit to useless gross production that is produced in the middle of the night, when nobody wants it, for example), what is the actual reduction in CO2 emissions that we can hope to achieve – starting from the assumption that consumers and businesses don’t consider availability of electricity “optional” and aren’t willing to put up with haphazard, unpredictable delivery of this miraculous form of energy that they take for granted?

* To replace a single medium sized conventional electric power plant we would only need several thousands of these 410 foot behemoths covering hundreds of square miles of territory. Exactly how many square miles of land will be needed to appreciably reduce coal use? Since they aren't making more land, how is this a "renewable" or "green" concept?

* My favorite: those who claim that "forward thinking environmentalists" should give their support to projects like the wind turbine proposal in Wellfleet for wind turbines in the middle of the national park.

* Take the opposite approach by saying: OK, Let’s do it! Let’s harness the “wind resource” within the park in the service of all humanity. But let’s not stop with a few. Since this is such a great idea, let’s REPLICATE this wonderful idea throughout the entire park system. If it’s good enough for the National Seashore, it’s good enough for the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone too! We can’t afford to let all of those other “wind resources” go to waste!

* Surely, this is not too great a price to pay. Why, if we were just “forward thinking” enough to agree to ruin thousands of pristine habitats similar to Wellfleet – or to convert the entire State of Rhode Island into a wind farm, for example -- we could “replace” ONE small power plant, right? Well, no, we couldn’t actually “replace” the power plant, since we would have to keep it running “just in case” the wind didn’t blow (or blew at the wrong time). But who cares: at least we’d be doing something, and we’d surely all feel a lot better about ourselves! No one could say we didn’t do our part.

Then you ask the proponents how many billions of dollars they want to spend on this adventure – not for a single project, but the total figure.

Then you ask them where they’re going to put them? How do you put them in cities and towns without adversely affect citizens (e.g. by bombarding them with high intensity infrasound and “flicker” and constant mechanical noise)? How do you put them in conservation preserves, in the unsettled areas, without destroying habitat and driving off wildlife? It really makes sense to "save the world" by destroying its inhabitants?

Then you ask them how many miles of transmission lines we’ll have to construct – at what cost, and what consequences will this have – and how much power will we lose getting the electricity from the desolate, windy points (where the windmills live and the wildlife has fled) to the settled areas, hundreds of miles away?

Then you ask them who’s going to pay for all of this? And how will that be accomplished? And what happens to all of these projects if the legislature (or the federal government; or the voters) have a change of heart – or fall upon hard economic times – and the river of government subsidies slows to a trickle?

Then you ask them why they keep talking about foreign oil and “energy independence” when only about 1% of electricity is produced by burning oil – and virtually all of our electricity currently comes from home-grown sources?

Then you ask them why shouldn’t we be focusing some of those billions of dollars of investment on conservation; and on reducing vehicle emissions; and on switching over to natural gas (which is plentiful, relatively clean, and cheap) – rather than splurging on all of those exotic, noisy mammoth wind mills?

Here is the bottom line.

Don’t let these agenda promoters reduce the argument to whether or not “we” are willing to make the sacrifice in the service of a noble and necessary cause. (BTW by “we” they mean people they don’t know and don’t care about in communities with wind projects.) Tell them you think that the whole idea is nuts – and make them prove it to you otherwise.

So what do they actually LIKE about the idea? Remind me again?

They are neither virtuous nor wise. The developers are mostly cynical profiteers out to make a buck, who pull the necessary strings and grease the necessary palms to win their approvals. They are opportunists who travel to financially stressed rural areas and entice unsuspecting farmers to sign their lease agreements which neuter their rights to their own land. Most of the others are ill-informed and idealistic – and maybe a bit impulsive – who have no idea what they’re in for once the blades begin to spin. They reassure energy committees and the town fathers that everything will be fine. Talk is cheap!

“It’s no louder than a refrigerator!” “You won’t even know it’s there.” “They are beautiful, shining symbols of our freedom – and of our energy independence.”

I’m not immune to the sufferings of others – on the contrary, it breaks my heart – and I am acutely aware of the many other adverse consequences that derive from the installation and the operation of these massive machines. But after being in the trenches on this issue I am quite sure that it is a mistake to shoulder the burden of pointing out all of the bad consequences of their "brilliant" idea — instead of demanding to see the proof as to WHY are they recommending it in the first place?

What’s so inspiring about a stupid idea that doesn’t work – AND one which devastates residents, divides communities and ruins habitat in the process?


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


7 June, 2010

Psychological foundations of belief

I think the following rings true:
Preachers of Warmism have more serious psychological problems than most of their followers. "They display all the features of paranoid personality disorder", he says, including anger, intolerance of criticism, and what psychiatrists call a grandiose sense of their own importance. "Ultimately, their belief is a mental health problem.

I have changed the quote around a bit though. It was originally written about "denialism" and, as such, is both an excellent example of projection (seeing your own faults in others) and yet another example of Leftists "psychologizing" opposition to their beliefs. Adorno et al. started that ball rolling way back in 1950 and it has been rolling ever since.

Logically, it is of course just another example of an ad hominem fallacy -- attacking the arguer rather than the argument -- and, as such, has no scholarly worth whatever.

One of the "authorities" quoted in the pro-Warmism article linked above is George Lakoff. You can read more about the laughable Lakoff here

The tactic embodied in projection is a good one polemically. If you get in first and accuse others of your own faults, it does tend to blunt people's recognition of your faults. In the end, however, it is the argument, not the arguer that is of interest and it must stand or fall on the evidence, nothing else.

The article from which I took the quote conflates all sorts of denial of the conventional academic wisdom, which is very sloppy. Some sorts of academic wisdom appear well-founded (such as the link between smoking and various diseases) while others (such as the adverse effects of secondhand smoke) are contrary to some very strong evidence.

Lumping together many disparate sorts of skepticism would seem to me to be an excellent example of the oversimplified thinking that Adorno and his successors have claimed is characteristic of conservatives. More projection!

"ROBUST FINDINGS" about global warming

Greenie activist Jo Abbess has recently set out at length some details and evidence of "robust findings" in an IPCC report about global warming. The first such finding is:
Current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4, and their associated positive radiative forcing, far exceed those determined from ice core measurements spanning the last 650,000 years

Peter Ridley [] noted that the abbess has a comments facility on her blog so valiantly submitted a comment in reply. Needless to say, however, the abbess has not published the comment. So I thought I would. It follows:
Has that method used for reconstructng past atmospheric compositions using air recovered from ice cores, which Professor Richard Alley refers to as the “Gold Standard”, been subjected to a proper assay showing that it is not in fact fools gold?

Why do I ask this? It is because I have not yet been able to find any worthwhile research providing convincing evidence that air “trapped” for hundreds and hundreds of years within ice retains unchanged the composition that existed at the time of initial capture. As I understand it that air is first “trapped” in snow as it forms and falls and is then retained within the increasingly densified ice as it is compresses beneath more falling snow.

As Jaworowski et al. have pointed out, most recently in 2007 at the time that the non-scientific AR4 SPM was issued – ahead of the finalised report upon which it was supposed to be based was written - there are numerous physical and chemical processes that distort the original composition.

Although scientists who regard those reconstructions as Alley does claim to take account of these processes there is one about which little if any worthwhile research seems to have been undertaken. This is the preferential fractionation of CO2 and CH4 into higher levels during the many years in which firn exists.

This fractionation arising from the smaller relative sizes of these gases compared with the major constituents, N2 and O2. The fractionation has the effect of increasing the concentration at higher levels in the firn at the expense of the lower levels, giving a false impression of lower concentrations levels of these smaller trace gases in earlier ice.

Perhaps you’d like to point to convincing evidence that this effect either does not take place or is properly accounted for in the attempts to reconstruct atmospheric composition in the past, especially pre-industrialisation.

Once we’ve properly covered that “robust finding” we should be able to address Robust Finding (4) quite quickly and move on to the next.

Peter Ridley's blog is here

Climate fraud in the Australian scientific establishment

A very fresh example is a document published in March 2010 as a joint effort between the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology called “State of the Climate”. In the preamble to the document, this statement is made: 

The Bureau of Meteorology has been observing and reporting on weather in Australia for over 100 years, and CSIRO has been conducting atmospheric and marine research for over 60 years

Now the CSIRO might be forgiven for not having a corporate memory more than 60 years long, but why did they and the Bureau of Meteorology only use 50 years of data to produce the following graph when they had more than 100 years of data they could have used? 

Figure 71: Dubious graph from CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology document

Well the reason they did not use a longer time period is that it would not have shown the warming trend that they needed to portray. They started their graph in the 1970s cooling period despite having a data record more than twice as long. 

Evidence of how low these institutions have fallen is on the back page of the State of the Climate document, on which it is stated: 
Australia will be hotter in coming decades

"Australian average temperatures are projected to rise by 0.6 to 1.5 C by 2030. If global greenhouse gas emissions continue at current levels, warming is projected to be in the range of 2.2 to 5.0 C by 2070. Warming is projected to be lower near the coast and in Tasmania and higher in central and north-western Australia. These changes will be felt through an increase in the number of hot days."

It is very likely that human activities have caused most of the global warming observed since 1950  

"There is greater than 90% certainty that increases in greenhouse gas emissions have caused most of the global warming since the mid-20th century. International research shows that it is extremely unlikely that the observed warming could be explained by natural causes alone. Evidence of human influence has been detected in ocean warming, sea-level rise, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns. CSIRO research has shown that higher greenhouse gas levels are likely to have caused about half of the winter rainfall reduction in south-west Western Australia."

"Our observations clearly demonstrate that climate change is real. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will continue to provide observations and research so that Australia’s responses are underpinned by science of the highest quality."

Consider the claim above that, "CSIRO research has shown that higher greenhouse gas levels are likely to have caused about half of the winter rainfall reduction in south-west Western Australia.” in the light of Figure 8 in this book showing that all the warming in the Perth temperature record in the last 100 years occurred in one year, 1976. These once-worthy institutions are relying upon a credulous public to swallow their absurd claims without question. 

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology management and research staff will eventually claim that they were relying upon IPCC research. But as one of the Climategate conspirators, Tom Wigley, said in an email dated 25th November, 1997: 

"No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves."

On the subject of scientists not making statements unless they have examined the issue fully themselves, consider this one quoting Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett on 4th December, 2009: 

The planet has just five years to avoid disastrous global warming, says the Federal Government’s chief scientist. Professor Penny Sackett yesterday urged all Australians to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Chief Scientist’s statement is idiotic and patently false, more worthy of a Chief Shaman. There is no physical evidence anywhere on the planet that “disastrous global warming” will start by 2014, or any time at all. The position of Chief Scientist should be the last line of defence of the Australian public from the depredations of any rent-seekers and carpetbaggers. Instead she has joined the chorus that wants to condemn the Australian nation to penury. The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have failed the Australian public dismally. That is putting it mildly. In truth, they have conspired against the Australian nation. 

Professor Sackett’s most credible defence for making that idiotic statement might be that she has never associated with any climate scientists. Someone who did, Professor James Lovelock, is quoted by the Guardian newspaper on 29th March, 2010 as saying: 

"The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet.

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done."

Figure 72: Global Historical Climate Network raw and adjusted temperatures, Darwin Airport

Back on the subject of alarmist scientists fraudulently concocting data, Figure 72 above shows the manipulation applied to Darwin’s temperature record in order to manufacture a warming trend. The blue line is the original raw data which shows a significant cooling trend of 0.7C per century. The red line is the adjusted data used to promote global warming alarmism. The black line shows the adjustment applied – a total of 2.2C in sixty years! We can see that professionals did this job, because they added a little bit of cooling in the 1920s to make the uptrend seem more significant.

Figure 73: Data manipulation applied to the Prague, Czech Republic temperature record

Similar to Darwin, the warming scientists added over 2.2C to the beginning of the Prague record to change an inconvenient cooling trend into a supportive warming one. 

The corruption of the world’s temperature data sets by this sort of manipulation prompted the UK Met Office to announce on 25th February, 2010 that it is going to re-examine more than 150 years of global temperature records. The Met Office expects to take three years to complete the task, giving an indication of how corrupted the data set has become. 


New Paper With Stunning Admission By Climate Alarmist Scientists: Actual CO2 Emissions Are Unknown; Please Send Money!

Read here. In an AAAS magazine publication, there is an amazing admission that actual CO2 emissions, human and natural, are unknown. Present CO2 emissions quoted as "truth" are nothing more than back-of-envelope guesstimates. Climate alarmist scientists now admit they have no clue about the quantities of CO2 emissions, nor the sources of all CO2 emissions. At this point, everyone should be questioning the sanity of proceeding with the draconian economic solutions proposed by scientists to curb human CO2 emissions.

But true to form, the scientists are demanding more monies to "fix" their ignorance problem.
"How can you control GHG emissions when you cannot accurately identify their sources? And how can you blame the rise in atmospheric CO2 solely on humanity if you cannot reconcile actual emissions with atmospheric measurements? The answer is that you cannot. To try and shore up the case for emissions control—including all those calls for “cap and trade” and a carbon tax—the authors want to establish a global network to provide a “top down” assessment of anthropogenic emission.....

The solution, they say, is to send more money. More money for more instruments, more money for more studies, and more money for more computer models. In the meantime, governments and the public are expected to take concrete actions to curb GHG emissions based on climate science's self-professed inaccurate predictions. They guess and everyone else sacrifices."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

U.S. Climate Data Reveals Past Global Warming Far Exceeds Modern Temperature Change

The U.S. has sponsored much climate research over recent decades, including the study of ice cores from Greenland. The National Climate Data Center (NCDC), a NOAA organization, maintains the Greenland ice core temperature data, which can be downloaded from their web site.

Fortunately, this Greenland ice core temperature data allows for an analysis of temperature change from minimum (trough) temperature to maximum temperature (peak) over extended time spans. Likewise, temperature change from maximum to minimum can also be analyzed. Sooo, what does that NCDC ice core temperature data actually indicate about temperature change?
1. Huge temperature swings have occurred naturally over thousands of years, prior to any human CO2 emissions.

2. The Modern warming increase (see pink arrow/dot on chart) since the bottom of the Little Ice Age (around 1840) has been minuscule versus all previous warming period temperature changes when compared to their respective cooling period trough that preceded.

3. Over the 9,000 years, the average temperature increase from the trough of the preceding cooling period to the next temperature peak has exceeded 2.0C. In contrast, the Modern warming has barely reached a 0.7C increase since the Little Ice Age cooling trough.

4. There have been nine significant warming trends leading to temperature peaks over last 9,000 years; and, all exceed the Modern warming trend in terms of absolute degree change (increase).

5. There have been nine significant cooling periods over the same time span. Many cooling periods have seen temperatures decline by over 2.0C.

6. The average number of years between temperature warming peaks is approximately 990 years. Since the last peak around 1040 A.D., it has now been 970 years, which suggests the current warming period is close to peaking before the next natural cooling period dominates.

7. All scientists agree that all extreme temperature changes prior to the 20th century were of natural origin. In contrast, it's only climate alarmist scientists who believe that the temperature change since the Little Ice Age is all man-made (see pink arrow/dot).

Extreme Natural Temp Changes Greenland

Note: The Greenland ice core data ends in early 20th century; the pink arrow and dot have been added to indicate the "consensus" temperature increase through 2009 since the LIA end mid-19th century.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

A succinct comment on wind power from Terry McCrann

Terry McCrann is a veteran Australian financial analyst

Could any rational person—indeed, even gutless half-rational politician—build our energy supply on the total unreliability of so-called wind power.

This is what our total wind `power’ industry across southeastern Australia—NSW, Victoria and South Australia—delivered in one week in May. To all intents and effective purposes: ZERO power…

When the wind don’t blow the power don’t flow. Further, often the wind don’t blow at the same time, right across southeastern Australia… Further wind can go from very high power deliverability to very little in very short time spans.

So you don’t only need installed back-up power almost equivalent to the wind industry, to pick up the slack when it comes, but you need to keep it running, rendering utterly pointless having the wind power anyway.

Despite all the starry-eyed and empty-headed gazing at the power of the sun, wind is the only `practical’ alternative `renewable’ energy `source’ anytime soon.

Almost all our politicians are committed to 20 per cent alternative/renewable energy by 2020. It means a commitment to blackouts and brownouts—quite apart from unnecessarily higher power charges.


For people who like their comments less succinct, there is a very extensive demolition of wind power here -- from a Greenie! Some Greenies are interested in the facts!


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


6 June, 2010

The National Academy Lays a $6-Million Egg

By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

The report of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences [Advancing the Science of Climate Change, May 2010] claims that the climate is warming and that the cause is human.

The first claim of this federally funded $6-million exercise is meaningless and trivial, the second claim is almost surely wrong. Their recommendation is that the United States should put a price on carbon to staunch emissions of CO2; it is pointless, counterproductive, and very costly.

The climate certainly has warmed considerably since 10,000 years ago (the end of the last Ice Age) -- and much less since 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age. No one disputes these facts. But the climate has not warmed during the past decade -- in spite of the steady rise in human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. According to a BBC interview of Dr Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU-UEA, of Climategate fame), there has been no warming trend since 1995.

The 2007 report of the UN-sponsored IPCC furnished no credible evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). None at all - see here the Summary of the NIPCC report . "Nature - Not Human Activity - Rules the Climate"

The NRC-NAS panel did not add any new relevant information - nor did it have the expertise to do so.

The IPCC panel was made up of many qualified atmospheric scientists, active in research. The NAS panel was politically chosen and listed among its `climate science experts' a sociology professor and a professor of 'sustainable development' - whatever that may mean. That certainly doesn't inspire much confidence in the NAS conclusions.

"This is our most comprehensive report ever on climate change," said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), at a briefing to discuss the effort, more than 2 years in the making and involving 90 scientists. It "analyzes the reality of climate change and how should the nation respond. ... It emphasizes why the United States should act now."

Ironically, this report comes at a time when the venerable and respected Royal Society (London) is having second thoughts about their past record of climate alarmism. In the words of outgoing RS president Lord Martin Rees (May 28, 2010): "Science is organized scepticism and the consensus must shift in light of the evidence."

Looking back, this may well have been a low point for the NAS, which will inevitably discredit all other NAS activities. But it will provide a useful lesson to other scientific organizations that have uncritically jumped on the AGW bandwagon

SEPP SCIENCE EDITORIAL #18-2010 (June 5, 2010)


By meteorologist Joe Bastardi

You folks have been reading about how this could be the warmest year on record, as James Hansen continues to push his "distorted" view of the temperature. How can I say that?

Here is an excerpt from an article that Dr. David Whitehouse recently put out:

"...Hansen claims that, according to his Gisstemp database, the year from April 2009 to April 2010 has a temperature anomaly of 0.65 deg C (based on a 1951 - 1980 average) making it the warmest year since modern records began. It is a fractionally warmer than 2005 he says, although an important point to be made is that statistically speaking, taking into account the error of measurement and the scatter of previous datapoints, it is not a significant increase..."

Here is the simple rebuttal to Hansen.

1) The satellite measurements he is using now did not start until 1978.. so he is comparing two different ways of measuring temperatures. You had no way of knowing what temperatures were like in the 1930s and 1940s like you do now, and have no way of knowing that your measurement techniques now with satellite would yield your reconstructed results that you are comparing them to. It's deception, pure and simple, when you don't reveal that.

2) The PDO was cold from 1951-1978... just what did you think was going to happen when the Pacific was cold? (The Atlantic turned cold in the '60s and '70s, so you had the planet grooved to be cold before the satellite era started.)

3) The PDO went warm in 1978, the AMO in the early 90s... therefore, these warm years are occurring when both oceans were warm in tandem... you couldn't ask for a better natural set up to to warm the Earth!!!! Warm the oceans next to the continents and what do you think happens to the continents? They warm. And what happens to the ice cap that is surrounded by the continents? It decreases. If we are warming so much, how do you explain the Southern Hemisphere on its way to a record high sea ice level this year?

4) The fact remains, the temperature is well under the IPCC forecast spread and the Hansen forecast. Warm or not, they are busting.

5) There has been no stratospheric cooling, nor hot spots over the tropics in the mid- and upper troposphere, quite the opposite. It may be warming in the stratopshere, which is a precursor to the cooling that I think is coming the next 20-30 years. Wet bulb temperatures over the tropics may have fallen over the past few years (lower specific humidity), which may be the reason that GLOBAL ACE indices are so low.

6) The global temperatures, and this is why they are so desperate to spread this stuff, are about to crash over the next 12 to 18 months. He has acknowledged that, but won't acknowledge the PDO switching could lead to the more permanent cool down, because it would destroy the whole agenda-driven ideas on CO2.

7) The OBJECTIVE SOLUTION... see what happens over the coming years with the change in PDO and then AMO. If you are so sure, what are you afraid of? The Earth is not going to blow up by NATURAL means over the next 30 years, and there is no tipping point.

8) Lastly, I am not afraid of the right answer. Obviously, they are as they continue to try to manipulate the data.


How shifty can a Warmist get?

The debate with Paleoclimatologist Dr Andrew Glikson about the evidence for Climate change has reached a telling point. There is a gaping hole.

Through four rounds of to and fro, I’ve been asking for evidence that the predicted (critical) “hot spot” was there above the equator, and we were drilling down to this point. It’s the weak link in the chain of evidence, and if the climate models are wrong on this element, you can kiss goodbye to the catastrophe. Everything else might be right, but there’s no major warming if there’s no strong amplifying (positive) feedback, and and there is no amplifying feedback from water vapor if there is no hot spot. Indeed, I quoted evidence from three peer reviewed studies that show that we’re headed for a half a measly degree of warming rather than a baking 3 – 6 degrees.

In Round 2 Glikson didn’t mention Lindzen, Spencer or Douglass (the three independent papers which suggest that predicted feedbacks are missing or negative). Instead he suggested “Sherwood 2008” found the hot-spot. I pointed out that Sherwood used wind-gauges instead of thermometers. To believe he is right we need to throw out thousands of thermometer readings and calculate the temperature indirectly from the wind-speed instead.

In Round 3, Glikson didn’t mention Sherwood. But he posted graphs showing the troposphere had warmed. I pointed out that his graphs demonstrated what I had been saying — the upper troposphere had warmed at the same rate as the surface. If the hot spot was there it would have warmed nearly twice as fast.

In Round 4 (in comments after round 3), Glikson didn’t mention the graph. But he pointed to Santer 2008. I replied that Santer didn’t find the hot spot, he just found fog in the data and fog in the models and stretched the error bars so wide that finally the models just overlapped with one set of observations. Santer had no new data. Nine years after the data came in, all he did was to increase the error bars and suggest that maybe our equipment wasn’t good enough to find the hot-spot. It’s rather devastating: if we can’t build weather balloons that get a useful temperature reading, how the heck can we create models that estimate the temperature from 10,000 m below based on dozens of factors that are even harder to measure? The hot-spot should have been at least 0.6C and radiosondes are individually calibrated to 0.1C. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that hundreds of radiosondes had missed it?

In round 5, Glikson didn’t mention Santer. It’s as if this devastating point didn’t exist. Andrew Glikson is genuinely trying to come up with other evidence, and he’s not just ducking out completely (as many would), but he is ducking the point that matters, the weak link in the AGW chain. Really, seriously, everything about the Tower of Global Warming was built on the foundation of an increasing column of water vapor. Does he realize that all the other circumstantial evidence is predicated on a guess that the Earth’s climate had net positive feedbacks, when almost all other long-lived natural systems have net negative feedbacks?

All of the other points I’ll briefly sum up here below. I’ve had helpful responses from Michael Hammer with some very original work, and also from William Kinninmonth. I will post these both soon (separately).

SOURCE (See the original for links)

UVA’s Defense of Michael Mann: Back Off, He’s a Scientist!

The University of Virginia doesn't want to comply with the VA AG's investigation of warmist Michael Mann. Their reasoning? Scientists aren't subject to the same laws as the rest of us

The University of Virginia has filed a petition to set aside civil investigative demands (CIDs) issued to it by the Commonwealth’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

CIDs are akin to grand jury subpoenas. Cuccinelli’s inquiry was prompted by public disclosure — via the ClimateGate leaks — of the highly questionable academic practices of former UVA assistant professor Michael Mann. The disclosure of Mann’s activities involved the apparent leaking of emails, computer code, and annotations to the code, all of which were subject to and being pursued under the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act.

Arguing against the request that they produce records related to Mann’s use of taxpayer-funded grant money, UVA reeled off a litany of rationales — mostly general and repetitive — regarding why they do not need to comply.

UVA’s reason #8 — out of nine, its placement inherently recognizing its weakness — headlines the opening rhetoric of its petition and is being used by the school as a public relations hook: "Enforcing the CIDs will interfere with recognized First Amendment principles and important public policies protecting the academic freedom of institutions of higher learning from government intrusion into research and scientific inquiry".

You know, like Stanford University was immune from inquiry into misusing taxpayer funds earmarked for scientific research during the most notorious pre-ClimateGate academic scandal.

Oddly, Time magazine’s coverage at the time was not concerned about “academic freedom” being imperiled: “Scandal in the Laboratories: Inquiries at Stanford turn a harsh light on how university research is funded.”

Gasp! “Inquiries”?

Stanford was no more exempt from laws, oversight, or conditions on how it spends taxpayer funds than are Mann or UVA. As a result, Stanford president and current Mann defender Donald Kennedy soon found himself out the door.

UVA’s current tack is simply to hope for public — and possibly judicial — sympathy to result from the escalating pressure campaign from what I call Big Science. Big Science is outraged that its constituents should be subject to laws applied to the little people and is desperate to expansively rewrite the concept of “academic freedom” as license to be free from compliance with those laws.

While Mann’s defenders were quick to unholster Hollywood-style shrieks of “McCarthyism,” the more appropriate analogy seems to be Tinseltown’s current victimization/canonization of Roman Polanski. He’s an artist! These laws you speak of, well, they exist, and surely have some merit, just… didn’t you see Chinatown?

The “I’m a scientist!” defense is the academy at its most cartoonish.

Doubling down on this unseemliness, the UVA then invokes Thomas Jefferson(!) while making the argument that laws are for others, and not preferred, protected classes of people. In its petition, UVA cites a 1950s Supreme Court opinion — Sweezy v. New Hampshire — for the following dicta: "To impose any strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of our Nation. … Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate …"

No, the ellipses do not suppress “… and to commit fraud, or otherwise disregard the laws of the land.” And no fancy Latin canon of construction — noscitur a sociis, ejusdem generis, in pari materia … take your pick, they all fail — informs a conclusion that the UVA argument is what the Sweezy Court intended.

But what of the two prongs of that risible “any strait jacket” business the school hangs its hat upon? Of two plausible readings of this, the less plausible is that “any” indicates the Supreme Court deemed academics, of “any” sort no less, to be beyond prosecution — so long as the perpetrator claims a research purpose (and with nothing less than the fate of the nation at risk were things otherwise! Sigh.)

Alternately, the university begs the question: where do standards applied to the rest of us end and a “strait jacket” begin? Or, where does protection of intellectual discourse — not actually at issue here, despite UVA hand-waving to the contrary — end and selective immunity from the laws of the land begin? These are now questions for the Virginia courts.

Sweezy is an Eisenhower-era opinion, written shortly before Ike’s farewell address. The address is famous for warning of a “military-industrial complex,” but also for warning: "Be alert to the equal and opposite danger ["opposite" of stifling academic freedom] that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Sadly, this has come to pass, with the University of Virginia among its most zealous defenders.

UVA’s invocation of the wholly inapplicable Sweezy illustrates the barrenness of its legal cupboard, and no distraction will change that the precedent it cites is wholly irrelevant to Mr. Cuccinelli’s inquiry into possible civil fraud. The university expends great effort to make the issue other than what it plainly is.

“Academic freedom” has of course never meant selective sanctioning of unlawful behavior. And the attorney general is not, as the university claims to the court, “engag[ing] in scientific debate.” That the university cannot or will not see this only further makes the case that it is not capable of self-investigation.

Which raises a final point. In its petition, UVA proves far too much. For example, it references two other inquiries into aspects of ClimateGate. Where, pray tell, was the outrage by Big Science or academia over these two?

The answer is that the pretense of self-policing by the University of East Anglia and by Mann’s current home, Penn State, were both exercises in wagon-circling. When they were announced, Big Science remained mum because this was transparently so, as evidenced by their stacking panels with sympathetic parties highly unlikely to conclude otherwise than they did.

About these, UVA rather disingenuously claims “the subsequent investigations have not found any fraudulent conduct.” Of course they didn’t — neither inquired into fraud! Instead, both narrowly tailored their reviews to less treacherous waters.

By this mischaracterization to the court, UVA stretches the truth while doing its credibility no good. Which nicely summarizes the entire Mann affair.


Murkowski Resolution Could Block EPA Power Grab

Next week, the Senate will determine whether it sides with “we the people” or if our elected “representatives” support a drastic expansion of government that will trample our liberties for no measurable environmental benefit.

On June 10, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution offered by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Formally known as Resolution of Disapproval, Murkowski’s effort would negate EPA’s so-called “Endangerment Finding” that effectively gives the agency regulatory authority over manmade greenhouse gases in the name of combating global warming.

If Congress does not step in to block EPA, the agency can use the Clean Air Act as a blunt tool to widen its jurisdiction into almost every nook and cranny in our lives. Every sector of our economy -- transportation, power generation and manufacturing -- would be subjected to EPA’s bureaucratic reach.

Indeed, every business that uses fossil fuels to heat, cool, light or run its manufacturing operations or emits greenhouse gases would need permits from EPA to function.

Ironically, even EPA recognizes that the size and scope of this regulatory monstrosity is too much for it to handle. Accordingly, the agency was forced to issue a “Tailoring Rule” to initially exempt facilities that emit less than a threshold level of greenhouse gases for six years.

Unless the scope of the regulatory scheme is limited, EPA readily acknowledges that agencies involved in the permitting process would be overwhelmed with applications. For example, EPA says, “state permitting authorities would be paralyzed by permit applications in numbers that are orders of magnitude greater than their current administrative resources could accommodate.” EPA estimated it could cost over $15 billion to process just one type of permit nationwide.

Now we are being treated to the bizarre, and legally questionable, spectacle of EPA trying to limit its authority under the Clean Air Act, because it knows its own regulatory scheme is unmanageable.

From a Constitutional perspective, it’s the role of our elected representatives to impose such a far-reaching regulation legislatively, and not to allow a rogue executive branch agency such as EPA to do so administratively. Elected officials can be held accountable for their deeds; bureaucrats cannot. If lawmakers truly believe that global warming is worth wrecking the economy, then let them stand up and be counted.

Enter Lisa Murkowski. The Congressional Review Act – the law Murkowski is using to block EPA – was passed to address such an outrageous power grab. It gives Congress an opportunity to review and if necessary overrule a regulation by passing a joint resolution. To take effect the resolution would need to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and is then signed by the president.

A simple majority of 51 votes is needed to pass the Senate, and the vote is expected to be very close.

Given the troubled state of our economy and public concern over the growth and intrusion of government in our lives, one might think the politics favor strong support for passage of the resolution.

Yet blocking EPA is not a slam dunk. California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) is leading the charge to defeat Murkowski’s effort. Opposition from Boxer is not surprising especially since Obama and the other progressives want to use the threat of EPA regulation to force industry to the cap-and-trade bargaining table.

Given the choice of regulatory death by EPA or cap-and-trade, industry will take their chances with bargaining with legislation in the hopes of getting the better deal.

What is surprising, however, is that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R) has not yet expressed support of the resolution. Brown, whose election was propelled by Tea Party activists, should oppose EPA’s power grab that will significantly expand government power and burden our economy.

The late Senator Ted Kennedy, whose seat Brown won in January, was a big supporter of cap-and-trade. He liked his government as big as he could get it. Brown needs to show the world that change has truly come to Massachusetts.

Senator John Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) is from a coal-producing state but has yet to come out in support of the Murkowski Resolution. Instead, Rockefeller introduced a bill that would merely delay EPA’s regulatory onslaught for a couple of years. Some believe his bill only serves to provide political cover for himself and moderate Democrats who want to be on the record as being “opposed” to EPA but stopping well short of taking a stand for their constituents.

The upcoming vote on Murkowski’s resolution is fundamentally about our representative democracy: Which government body determines the fate America – elected representatives or unaccountable bureaucrats?

Tea Party members and other citizens who believe in limited government and are now actively engaged in the political process will be carefully watching the Senate vote and taking names.


Just what is it that greens like George Monbiot find so offensive about prosperity, abundance, happiness?

George “Grinch of the Guardian” Monbiot has launched a bitter assault on the most lively, uplifting and downright brilliant pop science masterpiece you are likely to read this year. Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist (4th Estate).

Ridley argues a case so palpably true, so richly supported by so much evidence, that it ought not to need stating: life is getting better for almost all of us – and at an accelerating rate. The habit of exchange and specialisation, unique to the human species, has enabled us to evolve a kind of collective brain, a communal intelligence which allows us to make stupendous technological advances while other creatures – yes even those brilliant dolphins – remain stuck pretty much where they were 100,000 years ago.

The fact that Ridley’s argument sounds fresh and controversial rather than a statement of the bleeding obvious speaks volumes for the prevailing pessimism of our age. (And all ages actually. Every generation thinks things aren’t as good as they used to be…)

Entirely typical of this knee-jerk pessimism is Monbiot’s petulant attack on the man he describes as “a state-hating free marketeer”. He dwells lovingly on Ridley’s disastrous experiences as chairman of Northern Rock, before laying in to the vilely repellant optimism of this despicable Big-Government-hater’s loathsome thesis:

"…it’s the same old cornutopian nonsense we’ve heard one hundred times before (cornutopians are people who envisage a utopia of limitless abundance)"

Fine. But what Monbiot doesn’t manage to do in this frenzy of puritanical spleen and ad hom is in any way to demonstrate that Ridley is wrong.

Monbiot makes a number of accusations against Ridley, all of which Ridley very easily rebuts on his website. Ridley’s thesis stands.

The world IS getting better. One of the many excellent examples Ridley gives to prove this is when he compares the amount of time it has taken through the ages to be able to afford an hour’s reading light. In 1800 a tallow candle would have cost you six hours’ work. In 1880 a kerosene lamp would have cost you fifteen minutes work. In 1950 a conventional filament bulb would have cost you 8 seconds’ work. Today, it will cost you less than half a second of your working time.

Clearly, to scowling Lord-Whiteadder-style puritans like Monbiot this is anathema. Maybe that’s why they’re so keen to push up energy prices. And if Chris Huhne and Dave Cameron get anywhere with their massive “low carbon” energy programme, maybe they’ll succeed.

Why, who knows, with luck, Monbiot and his fellow Watermelons might even take us back to that glorious era in 1750 BC when they knew how to treat energy with the respect it deserves. Back then, an hour’s reading time for a sesame oil lamp would have cost you more than 50 hours’ work.



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


5 June, 2010

Major Australian science organization "hiding the decline" too

This time in methane levels

FEDERAL Treasury and the CSIRO are supposed to be among the most trusted institutions in Australia. They are both supposed to be founded in objective rationalism.

The Treasury building in Canberra houses the greatest collection of economic analytical and policymaking brainpower in Australia. The same, in the fields of science, goes for the CSIRO in Melbourne. Together they should form the rock-solid foundation of policymaking in Australia.

We need to be able to trust Treasury to advise the government based on the best possible economic analysis. Arguably its most important task is to deploy its economic heft against usually well-intentioned "good ideas at the time", or failing that to at least limit their damage.

From the CSIRO we need, very simply, good science. As its own strategic plan puts it: "We are committed to scientific excellence and working ethically and with integrity in everything we do."

Both have, in their separate ways, breached that trust. This is a very serious matter for the governance of Australia. If we can't trust Treasury to give us rational economics and we can't trust the CSIRO to give us good, or even just honest, science -- as in both cases they have generally done for a good three-quarters of a century or more -- we are adrift in a sea of irrationalism.

For that, indeed, is what links the two failures: in each case an apparent triumph of theology over reason. First the CSIRO.

In March, it joined with the Bureau of Meteorology to produce a "snapshot of the state of the climate to update Australians about how their climate has changed and what it means". Although the pamphlet had a neutral title, "State of the Climate", it was clearly designed to bring the great weight of the apparent credibility of these two organisations to bear against, and hopefully crush, those pesky climate change sceptics.

But as one of the peskier of them, Tom Quirk -- our version of Canada's even peskier Stephen McIntyre -- discovered, there was a very curious omission in one of the CSIRO graphs. It showed the rise and rise of concentrations in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and its fellow greenhouse gas methane. It was an almost perfect replica of the infamous (Michael) Mann Hockey Stick. After being virtually stable for 900 years, concentrations of both CO2 and methane went almost vertical through the 20th century. But as the eagle-eyed Quirk noticed and wrote about on Quadrant Online, methane was plotted only up to 1990, while the plots for CO2 continued to 2000.Why so, when the CSIRO measures methane concentrations and has data up to last year?

Did the answer lie in the inconvenient truth that methane concentrations have plateaued since the mid-1990s? Yet here is the CSIRO, the organisation dedicated to scientific truth, pretending -- even stating -- that they're still going up, Climategate style. This is bad enough, but just as with Treasury, real policies are built on this sort of "analysis". The first version of the so-called carbon pollution reduction scheme included farming to address the methane question. But as Quirk has shown in a peer-reviewed paper, atmospheric methane is driven by a combination of volcanos, El Ninos and pipeline (mostly dodgy old Soviet) leakage.

A second curious, and even dodgier, thing happened after Quirk's Quadrant report. CSIRO "updated" its main graph to include the more recent methane data. No admission was made and the graph's scale made it all but invisible and did not show the plateauing. Further, the CSIRO published a more detailed second graph showing what has happened in the past 30 years, as opposed to the first graph's 1000 years. But only for CO2, despite the fact that it had exactly the same data for methane.

In short, the CSIRO is a fully signed-up member of the climate change club. It wanted to project the horror story of continually rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. So it simply disappeared inconvenient evidence to the contrary, in the process announcing it cannot be trusted ever again to deliver objective scientific evidence.


Arctic Ice Volume Has Increased 25% Since May, 2008

The Navy requires accurate sea ice information for their operations, and has spent a lot of effort over the years studying, measuring, and operating in Arctic ice both above and below, such as they did in the ICEX 2009 exercise.

So, if you are planning on bringing a $900 million Los Angeles class submarine through the ice, as the captain might say to the analyst after receiving an ice report: “you’d better be damn sure of the ice thickness before I risk the boat and the crew”.

Below is a blink comparator of U.S. Navy PIPS sea ice forecast data, zoomed to show the primary Arctic ice zone.

The blink map above shows the change in ice thickness from May 27, 2008 to May 27, 2010. As you can see, there has been a large increase in the area of ice more than two metres thick – turquoise, green, yellow and red. Much of the thin (blue and purple) ice has been replaced by thicker ice.

This was quantified by measuring the area percentage in the Arctic Basin of the 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 metre ranges. The graph below shows the results. This technique assumes an equal area projection, which should be fairly accurate north of 70N.

In 2008, less than half of the ice (47%) was greater than two metres thick. Now, more than 75% of the ice is greater than two metres thick. In 2008, 18% of the ice was more than three metres thick. This year that number has increased to 28%. There has been nearly across the board ice thickening since 2008. There was slightly more 4-5 metre ice in 2008, due to the big crunch in the summer of 2007....

Now let’s look at the volume percentages. In 2010, 87% of the ice (by volume) is greater than two metres thick. But in 2008, only 64% of the ice (by volume) was greater than two metres thick.

A few weeks ago, when extent was highest in the JAXA record, our friends were asking for “volume, not extent.” Their wishes have been answered. Ice volume has increased by 25% in the last two years, and those looking for a big melt are likely going to be disappointed.

Do you think it odd that this increase isn’t prominently mentioned on the PIOMAS site? It seems very relevant

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Climate: The Extremists Join the Debate at Last!

Lord Monckton debunks the Abraham video point by point

ONE of the numerous propaganda artifices deployed by the now-retreating climate-extremist movement has been the careful avoidance of any debate with anyone on the skeptical side of the case who happens to know anything about climate science or economics.

As the extremists lose the argument and become more desperate, that is changing. John Abraham, a lecturer in fluid mechanics at a bible-college in Minnesota has recently issued – and widely disseminated – a hilariously mendacious 83-minute attempted rebuttal of a speech by me about the climate last October in St. Paul, Minnesota.

So unusual is this attempt to actually meet us in argument, and so venomously ad-hominem are Abraham’s artful puerilities, that climate-extremist bloggers everywhere have circulated them and praised them to the warming skies.

As usual, though, none of these shallow bloggers makes any attempt actually to verify whether what poor Abraham is saying actually has the slightest contact with reality.

One such is George Monbiot, a scribbler for the British Marxist daily propaganda sheet, The Guardian. What is Monbiot’s qualification to write about climate science? Well, like Abraham, he is a “scientist”. Trouble is, he’s a fourteenth-rate zoologist, so his specialization has even less to do with climate science than that of Abraham, who nevertheless presents himself as having scientific knowledge relevant “in the area”.

Here’s the thing. All of the sciences are becoming increasingly specialized. So most “scientists” – Abraham and, a fortiori, the accident-prone Monbiot among them – have no more expertise in predicting or even understanding the strange behavior of the complex, non-linear, chaotic object that is the Earth’s climate than the man on the Clapham omnibus.

They pretend otherwise, of course. Almost four years ago, when I wrote a 2500-word article in the Sunday Telegraph pointing out that the notion of a very large climate warming attributable to future increases in CO2 concentration was scientifically ill-founded, Monbiot wrote a scathing 1800-word response in the Daily Kommissar, in which he made a dozen laughably elementary scientific errors.

Monbiot made the mistake of pretending that he understood the fundamental equation of radiative transfer, of which he had plainly not previously heard.

Here it was I who had the advantage: before writing the article in the Telegraph I had spent three months tracking the equation down, because – though it converts changes in the flow of radiation at a planetary surface to changes in temperature, and is therefore essential to discovering how much warming a given increase in CO2 concentration will deliver – the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 climate assessment reports do not mention it once.

And why not? Well, put simply, the equation shows that at the temperatures prevailing on Earth you need a very large increase in radiative flux to achieve a pathetically small increase in temperature. That’s not the sort of thing the climate-extremists want known, so they carefully don’t mention it, which is one reason why puir wee Moonbat hadn’t heard of it.

Ever since I compelled the Daily Apparatchik to publish a letter from me correcting Monbiot’s invincible ignorance of elementary planetary physics and undergrad math, Monbiot has seized every chance to have a go at me whenever one of his climate-extremist Comrades asserted that I’d gotten something wrong.

And how he crows at the news of Abraham’s “evisceration” of my Minnesota speech.

Abraham’s approach is novel. He’s saying not that I got one thing wrong but that I got just about everything wrong. And how plausible is that? A couple of pointers. First, it’s now June 2010, and I spoke in October 2009, almost eight months ago. I’ve made a lot of speeches since. Why has it taken Abraham so long to cobble together his ramblings?

The answer – and, as I shall show, it is the right one – is that his deliberately dishonest personal attack on my integrity and reputation is an ingenious fiction, he knows it, and he has therefore had to go to some elaborate and time-consuming lengths to conceal the steps he has taken to hide the truth and make this nonsense look plausible.

Secondly, during the eight months of “investigation” (Abraham’s word) that he carried out, at no single point did he ever contact me to ask me to clarify one of the numerous references which, he said over and over again, were not clear in my slides.

That failure on his part to check with me when he could not find the sources of my data was clearly deliberate. He didn’t want to give me any advance notice that he was planning to launch a widely-disseminated attack on me, because otherwise I might have pointed out his errors to him in advance, and that would have made it a great deal more difficult for him to get away with publishing them.

In a short space I won’t have time to cover more than a representative selection of Abraham’s errors. Let’s begin, though, with the question of sources.

“Monckton’s data don’t even agree with themselves”

Abraham says I displayed two graphs, both citing NOAA as the source, showing the downward global mean surface temperature trend since 2001, but – by an elaborate point-by-point comparison – he shows that the two graphs are slightly different from one another. Why, he asks, can’t I even make sure that my own data agree with themselves? His implication is that presenting temperature data is something that laymen really can’t be expected to get right.

What Abraham has done, here as elsewhere, is to wrench my data deliberately out of the context in which I actually (and accurately) presented then, and then to lie about it.

The truth is that the first graph, plainly labeled “”, is the SPPI’s well-known global-temperature index, compiled monthly from four separate global-temperature datasets, as Abraham well knew because I explained in my talk. It was not a NOAA graph, and was not labeled as such. Naturally, therefore, it differed at some points from the NOAA graph.

Abraham went on and on about how a graph shouldn’t have been labeled with the name of an institution such as “” unless it was that institution that had compiled the graph. That, of course, as he could have discovered if he had bothered – or, rather, dared – to check, was indeed the institution that had compiled the graph, taking the arithmetic mean of the global-temperature anomalies from the HadCRUt, NCDC, RSS, and UAH datasets.

But – and this was the point I made, though Abraham was remarkably careful not to say so – I had showed the SPPI’s four-sources graph in testimony before Congress, to show that there had been global cooling for seven or eight years, and Tom Karl, the director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, who had been present, had failed to admit after questioning from a leading Congressman that global temperatures had indeed been falling for the best part of a decade. He had wriggled and waffled.

So the Congressman had asked me to write proving my result, and I had done so by preparing the second graph, from Tom Karl’s own NCDC (it was labeled as such), which had also showed a pronounced downtrend in global temperatures.

Abraham knew this, because I had said so in my talk. But he also knew that practically no one watching his 83-minute presentation would go to the lengths of looking up what I had actually said. He knew he could get away with a flagrant and deliberate misrepresentation – provided that at all points he was careful never to consult me while planning and circulating his attack.

“Monckton’s data are not properly sourced”

Even when the source is in fact plainly stated on my slides, Abraham is prone to say I have not provided the source. I had shown a graph, which I had said was compiled by satellite, of temperatures at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, where there has been no warming for 30 years.

The graph was plainly labeled “UAH”, which – as a mere Bible-College lecturer in fluid mechanics might not know, but anyone with any real knowledge of climate science would of course know – is the University of Alabama at Huntsville, one of only two organizations producing regularly-published satellite-based global temperature records.

Much more HERE

More evidence that Greenie motivation is more devious than it appears

Even the Warmist below can see that

Here's a pop quiz. A, B, C, and D are four rich industrialized countries in Western Europe with similar living standards. Country A's carbon dioxide emissions stand at 9.24 tonnes per capita per year. The corresponding figures for countries B, C, and D are 5.81, 5.62, and 5.05 tonnes a year, respectively.

Can you guess which of these four countries has become the darling of the environmental movement, hailed as a model for a low carbon economy?

It is country A, Denmark -- even though its per capita CO2 emissions are almost twice as much as countries B (France), C (Switzerland), and D (Sweden).

In a piece entitled "The Copenhagen that Matters", New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman speaks for many environmentalists when he says,
Denmark is the most energy efficient country in the E.U.; due to carbon pricing, through energy taxes, carbon taxes, the 'cap and trade' system, strict building codes and energy labeling programs. Renewable resources currently supply almost 30 percent of Denmark's electricity. Wind power is the largest source of renewable electricity, followed by biomass...

My fellow Americans, the fact that the recent Copenhagen climate summit was a bust in terms of solving our energy/climate problems doesn't mean that we can ignore those problems -- or that we can ignore how individual countries, like Denmark, have effectively addressed them.

There is no doubt that Danes emit far less CO2 than Americans. But compared to some other Western European countries, Denmark's performance is distinctly modest.

Why then, do many greens hold up Denmark as the ideal low-carbon economy? Why not France, or Switzerland, or Sweden, which emit significantly less CO2 per capita?

The answer is that their preference for the Danish model has little to do with greenhouse gas emissions or with climate change, and more to do with the ideology and metaphysics of the Green movement.

In France, nuclear power accounts for about three quarters of all the electricity generated, while about 15 percent comes from hydro power. Switzerland gets about 55 percent of its electricity from hydro power and about 40 percent from nuclear. And in Sweden, about 45 percent comes from hydro power, while another 45 percent comes from nuclear power.

Denmark, meanwhile, generates no nuclear power and very little hydro. A significant portion - some 30 percent - of Denmark's electricity is generated by wind power but still, much of the rest is generated by traditional coal power plants.

Among many environmentalists, nuclear energy and hydroelectricity are anathema even though they do not emit CO2. There tends to be particular hostility towards nuclear energy, even though the scientific and engineering evidence shows that modern nuclear power plants are safe, clean, and economical.

The green movement's antipathy towards nuclear power is part of a broader ideological distrust of scientific-technological fixes for solving our environmental problems. It is founded on a deep pessimism about human development, and scientific and technological progress.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

There can perhaps be no better example of ideological distrust of scientific-technological fixes than in the case of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Commonly known (somewhat misleadingly) as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), many greens abhor GE in agriculture with an intensity that matches or even exceeds their antipathy towards nuclear power.

GE food crops have been largely banned in Europe due to the opposition of environmentalists, but have been widely grown and consumed in the United States since 1996. More than 60 percent of field corn, 85 percent of soybean, 75 percent of canola, and 80 percent of cotton grown in the U.S. comes from GE crops. In all these years, GE crops have not been found to be any more harmful to humans or the environment than non-GE crops. On the contrary, the environmental benefits of GE crops have been substantial.

Crops that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (e.g., roundup-ready corn, roundup-ready soybean) have enabled farmers to adopt no-till and reduced-till farming practices, allowing for the conservation of topsoil, preservation of more natural vegetation, and sequestration of much of the soil organic carbon.

Crops that have been genetically engineered to be pest resistant (e.g., Bt Cotton, Bt Corn) have brought about dramatic reductions in chemical pesticide usage. For example, the introduction of Bt Cotton in India has caused chemical pesticide usage in the cotton crop to fall by half even as output has doubled.

Such achievements, significant though they are, merely scratch the surface of agricultural biotech's immense potential for doing environmental good. A promising new technology is a rice plant genetically engineered to be more efficient in utilizing nitrogen than conventional rice, thereby reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed by half. According to Greenpeace estimates, greenhouse gas emissions from the worldwide production and use of nitrogen fertilizer is equivalent to the total CO2 emissions from all the power plants in the United States. Nitrogen efficient GE crops could thus be crucial to mitigating climate change.

Agriculture - of any kind - is, by definition, a human intervention in nature with ambiguous environmental consequences. Agricultural biotechnology, with its potential to greatly increase marketable yields of existing farmlands, can play a major role in resisting the pressure to cultivate virgin land to feed a global population estimated to grow from six billion people now to nine billion people by 2050.

A Paradox

To anybody following the debate over nuclear power and GE crops, it soon becomes clear that the Green position on science and technology is rather paradoxical. On one hand, many Greens eagerly invoke science to emphasize the severity of our environmental problems, especially global warming. On the other hand, they are quick to reject scientific-technological fixes for these same environmental problems.

In the Green climate change narrative, great importance is given to scientific data and reasoning. When climate change skeptics question the seriousness of human induced climate change, arguing that the scientific evidence is insufficient, environmentalists respond (rightly, in my opinion) that the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that global warming is indeed a real and serious problem.

When it come to GE crops, however, their position is reversed. Here, Greens reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that GE crops are no more dangerous than non-GE crops and claim that the scientific evidence is not sufficient to make a reasonable determination.

Interestingly, Green rejection of scientific-technological fixes for environmental problems is structurally very similar to the rejection of climate science by global warming skeptics.

The fact of the matter is that science is not in the business of absolute certainties -- that is the domain of religious revelations. Science can never establish with absolute certainty that climate change is human induced and will be devastating if left unchecked. Science is no more than a certain outlook and a certain technique ('the scientific method') that uses reason, observation, and experimentation to investigate phenomena and acquire or modify knowledge of the material world.

It is a reasonable scientific inference, based on the available evidence, that human-induced climate change is real and serious. It is also a reasonable evidence-based scientific inference that GE crops are not inherently more harmful to humans or the environment than non-GE crops. Indeed, the level of scientific certainly regarding the safety of GE crops is far greater than any long-term prognosis regarding climate change, if only because it is so much easier to conduct controlled scientific experiments with GE crops than with the global climate.

This science/anti-science paradox is evident in Al Gore's celebrated documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." The entire movie takes the form of Gore delivering a science lecture, arguing that human induced climate change represents a clear and compelling danger. In criticizing climate change skeptics, Gore denounces ideological influences on science, comparing it with Soviet practices.

Gore recommends a solution proposed by scientists Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala -- the only policy framework for global warming mitigation discussed in the movie. This approach calls for reducing CO2 emissions by using a using a combination of seven "stabilization wedges," or techniques, e.g. more efficient vehicles and carbon capture and storage. In the movie, Gore graphs how the wedges can reduce CO2 emissions but he makes one glaring omission: Socolow and Pacala's approach calls for seven wedges while Gore shows only six. The missing wedge? Nuclear power.

Paradoxically, even while emphasizing the scientific evidence for climate change, Gore deliberately ignores a scientific-technological fix that could help solve it.


Warmists are consistent only in their Warmism

Britain’s Met Office warned that cities might become a lot warmer at night, which of course will kill old people:
In 30 years time the Met Office predicts that average temperature will have risen by 3.6F (2C), but that this will be accompanied by an increased frequency of extremely hot spells. In the summer of 2003, thousands more elderly people died than normal due to the hot weather. Across Europe, there were up to 35,000 “excess deaths”. This was largely due to high night time temperatures. When temperatures do not drop below 68F (20C), the body finds it harder to recover from the heat stress experienced during the day.

According to the Met, the cause of hot city nights is a combination of global warming and the urban heat island effect.

That would be the same urban heat island effect that the Met tried to disprove in 2004:
A major argument used by sceptics of global warming is flawed, a UK Met Office study in Nature magazine says. This argument maintains that much recorded climate data is inherently unreliable because of where weather instruments are situated. Most are in or near cities, which produce their own heat; so the rapid warming measured over the last century could be just a record of urbanisation. The Met Office believes its study shows this “urban heat island” idea is wrong.

The lesson is simple, when skeptics point to the urban heat island effect, they are flawed and wrong. When the urban heat island effect can be used to prop up the global warming hoax, it is sound science. Any questions?


U of East Anglia Learns Nothing -- still in coverup mode

In breach of calls for openness and transparency in climate science, the University of East Anglia, together with Eugene Wahl and Caspar Amman, have refused to provide documents critical to the inquiry that Muir Russell should be undertaking.

One of the most notorious Climategate emails was Jones’ request to Mann, Briffa, Ammann and Wahl that they delete correspondence pertaining to AR4 review, which included correspondence carried out between Eugene Wahl and Keith Briffa in violation of IPCC procedures. Jones even told FOI Briffa that Briffa “should say” that no such correspondence existed.

The Climategate letters contain references to attachments to Wahl’s surreptitious correspondence with Briffa, but the attachments themselves were not included in the Climategate documents.

On April 5, 2010, I sent an EIR (FOI) request to the University of East Anglia for the attachments (as well as an attachment of the Wahl and Ammann version used in the First Order Draft, sent to Briffa directly and not now available at IPCC.) My request was as follows:

Pursuant to the Environmental Impact Regulations, I request copies of the following documents (reference is attached to Keith Briffa letter):

Wahl_MBH_Recreation_JClimLett_Nov22.pdf (attachment mentioned in Jan 4, 2005 458. 1104855751.txt)

Wahl-Ammann_3321_Figures.pdf; Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb.doc – attachments mentioned in Feb 21, 2006 647. 1140568004.txt

Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb-Revision1.doc – attachment mentioned in 650. 1140838402.txt Feb 24

AW_Editorial_July15.doc; AR4SOR_BatchAB_Ch06_ERW_comments.doc; Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 716. 1153470204.txt July 18, 2006

Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_25jul06KRB-FJ-RV_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 733. 1155402164.txt from July 27, 2006

Thank you for your consideration, Regards, Steve McIntyre

On May 5, 2010, I received a response from UEA extending the response time
Further to your request for information received 5 April 2010, I am writing to advise you that we are, pursuant to Regulation 7(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, extending the statutory deadline for our response to your request from the 20 working days set out in Regulation 5(2) to the 40 working days allowed by Regulation 7(1). This will alter the deadline from 5 May 2010 to 2 June 2010. I apologise for the late notification of this extension but it was only this week that it became clear that we would require the extension.

This extension is claimed because of the age and relative obscure provenance of the information requested, we quite simply are having difficulty identifying and locating some of it. An initial search indicates that some of the information is not held but I wish to ensure that we have not overlooked any possible location prior to making that formal assertion.

It is my opinion that, at this particular time, it is impracticable to either comply with the request or to formulate any other response within the statutory period as set out in Regulation 5(2) We are addressing your request currently and I expect that we will be able to provide a substantive response in advance of the revised deadline.

Today, on the last day of the extension period, they refused virtually everything that I had requested....

I’ll post up a longer chronology showing precisely where the Wahl correspondence fits into Climategate – Mosher and Fuller and touch on it in CRUtape but additional context has emerged over time. The Wahl correspondence was undertaken in direct contravention of IPCC rules and procedures. Briffa knew that the correspondence violated IPCC rules – the correspondence is marked burn-after-reading. It’s quite natural that Wahl and Ammann (and CRU) want to keep these violations secret.

I’m sure that Muir Russell panelist David Eyton of BP understands.

More here


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


4 June, 2010

Is 2010 temperature heading for a record high?

Today’s Times says, “Nasa analysis showing record global warming undermines the skeptics.” However, a closer look at the information which the Times bases its headline on shows that a combination of selective memory and scientific spin play a large role in arriving at it.

The conclusion is based on a new paper written by James Hansen and submitted to Reviews of Geophysics. The paper released by Hansen has not been peer reviewed, and he admits that some of the newsworthy comments it contains may not make it past the referees.

Hansen claims that, according to his Gisstemp database, the year from April 2009 to April 2010 has a temperature anomaly of 0.65 deg C (based on a 1951 – 1980 average) making it the warmest year since modern records began. It is a fractionally warmer than 2005 he says, although an important point to be made is that statistically speaking, taking into account the error of measurement and the scatter of previous datapoints, it is not a significant increase.

The Nasa study said: “We conclude that there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20 deg C per decade that began in the late 1970s.”

This is a selective use of a trend line that joins a datapoint in the late 1970s with the most recent one ignoring the details in the data in between. The fact is that one could have taken a datapoint a decade ago and tied it to the same point in the late 1970s and deduced an even greater rise in temperature per decade. So another way of describing the data is that the rate of increase has actually declined.

Another point to be made is that an increase of 0.2 deg C per decade, if it is real and sustained, is 2.0 deg C per century, an increase not that unprecedented in the climatic record of the past 10,000 years, and substantially less than the widespread predictions of a higher increase.

In the Times article, the Met Office in the form of Vicky Pope, said that their data showed that the past year was “just below” the 12-month record achieved in 1998. Remember, 2009 annual temperature was, according to the Met Office, statistically indistinguishable from every year between 2001–2008.

Vicky Pope then says that Nasa might be right because the Met Office had underestimated the recent warming detected in the Arctic! There are few weather stations in the Arctic and the Met Office, unlike Nasa, does not extrapolate where there are no actual temperature readings. It is curious to hear this given the criticism that Met Office scientists have expressed in the past about the way the Gisstemp dataset is pieced together this way!

Vicky Pope does say however that, “the Met Office continues to predict that 2010 is more likely than not to be the warmest calendar year on record, beating the 1998 record.” This is also a curious statement since she adds that Met Office analysis showed that the four months to the end of April were probably the third warmest for that time of year.

In only the past few weeks however the Met Office has been saying something different.

In the Sunday Times of May 23rd Vicky Pope says that 2010 could be the hottest year on record due to the current El Nino. She also says that the 2010 January – April temperature was the seventh warmest on record meaning that out of the past ten years (allowing for the 1998 El Nino) most of them have been warmer during the January – April period, though not statistically so.

In the Sunday Times article Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, adds what is missing from the article mentioned earlier: “We have seen rapid warming recently, but it is an example of natural variation that is associated with changes in the Pacific rather than climate change.”

In the Times article poor journalism is compounded with scientific spin from James Hansen’s article to give a misleading impression about the state of the science and what the data actually shows. It will be interesting to see if 2010 breaks any records in the Gisstemp or Met Office datasets. If it does the next question to ask would be, is it statistically significant as one would expect the occasional high point due to errors of measurements causing measured datapoints being scattered around a constant mean (the case post 2001).

It would be highly misleading and scientifically fraudulent to look at one datapoint that is higher than the rest yet within the error bars of the previous years and say, “look, a record.” This will not undermine the skeptics but science itself.


Climatologist is a true believer

The idiot below doesn't seem to realize that his findings make a mockery of Warmism. Saying that "greenhouse" gases are rising at a great rate while at the same time there is actually no warming going on is not the best way of supporting your theory. Note that he doesn't mention any facts about temperatures

It is windy, cold and isolated. Cape Grim is at the most north-west point in Tasmania. It is also home to some of the cleanest air on the planet and for that reason, it is the most important air measuring station in the southern hemisphere.

The Cape Grim research station, perched on the cliffs overlooking the Southern Ocean, is recording the most precise account of the earth's changing atmosphere.

But it is not all good news - over the last 12 months scientists have identified two potent greenhouse gases that are accelerating rapidly. Paul Fraser from the CSIRO has been coming to the station since it opened in 1976 and he says that over the last 30 years, carbon dioxide levels have increased by 15 per cent. "Almost entirely that increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to fossil fuels and that's entirely man-made," he said.

In fact, 40 different types of greenhouse gases are measured at Cape Grim. But it is two new gases recently identified that are accelerating rapidly. One, nitrogen trifluoride, is used in the manufacture of plasma televisions. The other is sulphuryl fluoride, a fumigant used on crops.

Mr Fraser says in the long-term, the two gases will have climate-warming potential. "I think they're rising at between 5 and 10 per cent per year so they're jumping up quite rapidly from virtually zero concentrations not long ago," he said.


Mega-pesky: Climate change 'INCREASES island size'

A NUMBER of Pacific islands previously thought to be losing ground to rising sea levels caused by climate change have actually grown larger, according to scientists.

A study published in this week’s New Scientist magazine has revealed that despite long-held fears that islands in the Pacific Ocean would be washed away in coming decades due to rising sea levels from global warming, the islands are actually responding to the threat by growing larger.

The study of 27 islands by the University of Auckland and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji found that over the last 60 years only four of the islands had shrunk, with the others either remaining stable or growing.

In the same period sea levels have risen by 120 millimetres, or 2 millimetres a year.

The reason lies in the how the islands were formed over time, the study said, as weather patterns change the islands appeared to respond.

Erosion of coral forms the foundation of Pacific islands and, as living coral provides a continuous supply of material, wind and wave action helps a constant build-up of debris to form on the islands.

Major weather events like cyclones serve to further add to the islands foundations. When Hurricane Bebe swept past Tuvalu in 1972 debris washed up on the island caused a 10 per cent increase in the main islands size.

Tuvalu is one of the first island groupings predicted to sink under rising sea levels caused by climate change with altitude of just 4.5 metres. However the study revealed that seven of its islands have grown by an average of 3 per cent since 1950.

Similar findings were made in nearby Kiribati where three of the larger populated islands grew by between 10 and 30 per cent.

However, the study warned that rising sea levels would still be a threat in many parts of the world, and that factors such as erosion could not be discounted as threats to the islands.


Impoverished SE Europeans turn to wood for heating

Another one of the usual "unforeseen" effects of Greenie policies -- but a return to the pre-industrial era is what they want so maybe the Greenies will approve of this -- despite the atmospheric pollution it must create

Rising electricity prices are increasing the use of wood for heating in South Eastern Europe to alarming levels, posing a serious threat to health and the environment, experts warned.

The South Eastern Europe region is dependent on imported energy, primarily oil and natural gas, according to a recent report by the Energy Community, a regional body intended to integrate South East European countries into the EU's internal energy market.

Several of the countries are also heavily dependent on imported electricity, the report said.

In addition, the erratic electricity consumption pattern of poorer parts of the population was singled out as a key reason for concern. Erratic consumption is driven by the fact that fuel wood is used by the poor for heating, but during the heating season electric heaters are often used when fuel wood demand spikes. This exacerbates seasonal and weather-related peaks in electricity demand. Extreme peaks can then cause black-outs or require rationing, the report says.

Experts told EurActiv that only a "miracle" saved South Eastern Europe from a long-lasting regional blackout following the January 2009 gas crisis

Governments in South East Europe are largely unable to address the problem of energy poverty, understood as the incapacity of people to heat their own homes, warned Stefan Bouzarovski, a lecturer in human geography at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Speaking on 1 June at a conference hosted by IFRI, the French Institute for International Relations, Bouzarovski said that district heating systems inherited from the communist era were "not the solution" for heating households in the region.

At the same time, as power prices soared and salaries stagnated, the use of wood for heating has increasingly become an alternative to electricity, he said. The situation might worsen as the price per kilowatt/hour is expected to increase across the region, he warned.

Bouzarovski said little had changed since the United Nations published a report entitled 'Stuck in the Past: Energy, Environment and Poverty in Serbia and Montenegro'.

According to this study, nearly half the population has been marginalised by the energy-poverty nexus. More than half the population uses wood and lignite coal as a major source of energy for heating and cooking, creating high levels of indoor air pollution and leading to chronic illnesses, the report says.

Bouzarovski warned not only of the impact of this on the environment in terms of deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions, but also to human health, as most households that rely on wood fuel have no proper ventilation.

He said the most problematic countries were not only the Western Balkan applicants, but also EU members Bulgaria and Romania. He lamented the lack of targeted EU programmes for the "energy poor".

Bouzarovski said that although many people had moved to cities over the last twenty years, the use of fuel wood had not decreased. This, he implied, was an indication that fuel wood was used not only in the countryside, but in the cities as well.

He also warned of violent micro-conflicts between forest authorities and poachers, which he said were already taking place but had received little attention.



Let the hand-wringing begin. Though Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, have announced a separation rather than a divorce after four decades of marriage, much of the press already has ramped up the tragedy. Hey, maybe they'll get back together. Or, maybe not. Still, many journalists already are in mourning over the loss of the "storybook couple," with a few daring ancillary stories drawing attention to Mr. Gore's impending single status and the couple's division of property.

Which brings us to business writer and Anxiety Institute founder Alan Caruba, who believes the "separation" is a ruse to protect those assets should there be a federal investigation of certain environmentally minded activities. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, already has called for the Justice Department to have a look-see.

"Al Gores big, big problem these days is something dubbed 'Climategate,' the revelation that the science of global warming is entirely fabricated and utterly false," Mr. Caruba says, noting that Mr. Gore established the $1 billion Generation Investment Management LLP to invest in assorted green technologies, assisted by Goldman Sachs veteran David Blood.

"There was, Mr. Gore told everyone, a climate crisis, and in the process, he grew rich, hailed [as] the first 'carbon billionaire' for his various investments," Mr. Caruba continues. "As bad as the bursting of the housing bubble has been, the next bubble will be a very green one. And, at the heart of it will be the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, and his partner in crime, the U.N. climate change program.

"If Al Gore and Tipper are legally separated, it will likely provide a measure of protection for the millions he has. This, I suggest, is probably the real reason for the separation. It is as coldly calculated as his global-warming lies. Even their forty-year marriage must be sacrificed," Mr. Caruba says.


Green-eyed monster sets his sights on balance of power

Comment on Australia's Green party

Bob Brown looked as animated as we have ever seen him this week, basking in the opinion poll ratings he has worked hard at stoking over many years, successfully presenting himself as the trustworthy, likeable and moderate face of a movement that is anything but.

While the Greens leader acknowledges the electorate is "volatile" he has his eyes on holding the balance of power in the Senate, after this week's Newspoll showed the Greens have more than doubled in popularity since the 2007 election to 16 per cent.

As people become increasingly disillusioned with the government (down to a 35 per cent primary vote) and wary of the opposition (on 41 per cent), there is now a real prospect of serious power in the hands of the unaccountable, job-killing ideologues of the green movement.

We can see their handiwork across the country, and they've barely warmed up. It's not just the unbuilt dams, or the green tape preventing proper fire management of bushland. In Cape York, the "sleazy deal", as Noel Pearson calls it, between the Queensland government and the Wilderness Society to take over Aboriginal land as part of the so-called "Wild Rivers" deal, threatens indigenous people's fledgling economic base for no environmental benefit. Pearson says the greens want to keep them in passive welfare dependency, only now "the welfare cheque will be on recycled paper".

On the other side of the country, the Kimberley Land Council's executive director, Wayne Bergmann, accuses the green movement of treating indigenous people like "museum pieces" and attempting to sabotage their pursuit of economic development.

The tyrannical tactics of various eco-socialist groups, which often combine to play good cop/bad cop in relentless pursuit of a goal, are unopposed by a lily-livered, increasingly complicit corporate Australia.

Out front, all we see is the clever pitching of the political wing of the green movement as safe, sensible and decent. Brown and his colleague Christine Milne present a plausible set of clean hands as the political process turns ugly en route to an election.

The end result is an electorate on the move has at least "parked" some of its votes with the Greens, while they wait for Tony Abbott to prove his suitability for the highest office.

The bleeding of support from Kevin Rudd has been breathtakingly fast and sustained now for two months. Ploys such as the resources super profit tax on mining to prop up the budget have played badly, despite Rudd's airy dismissal of criticism as "a load of balderdash, what a load of absolute bunkum".

The rally outside Parliament House yesterday of parent groups, with a tiny makeshift school canteen, protesting at waste in the Building the Education Revolution program, even as the latest victims of roof insulation fires - a Holocaust survivor and an immigrant Iranian family - hit the headlines, give an insight into the depth and breadth of the government's troubles as an election nears.

As the Lowy Institute poll, released on Monday, showed, even on Rudd's preferred strengths, foreign policy and the handling of the global financial crisis, the electorate has marked the Prime Minister poorly. For "Responding to the Global Economic Crisis", Rudd's big selling point in the upcoming election, the government scored just six out of 10. The same lacklustre score came for "promoting good relations with China", despite Rudd's Mandarin-speaking promise.

On combating climate change (the "greatest moral challenge of our time"), the government scored just 5/10, and on Japanese whaling and asylum seekers it failed, with 4/10. Only on maintaining a strong alliance with the US" came its highest mark of 7/10.

In a panel discussion after the poll's release at Lowy headquarters in Bligh Street on Monday, the former Labor powerbroker, and chairman of the Committee for Sydney, Stephen Loosley, found it hard to maintain his usually urbane imperturbability, dismissing criticism of "Kevin 747" as "Tea Party populism".

That morning's bombshell radio interview by the former premier Morris Iemma and Michael Costa only added to Loosley's concerns. Iemma has revealed in a new book by political writer Simon Benson the role Rudd had in his downfall, reneging on a promise to help him fight the unions over electricity privatisation. Iemma said Rudd asked him to delay the privatisation bid until after the 2007 federal election and in return "when the time comes, we can f--- [the unions] together".

But when the time came, Rudd told him: "It's a state issue, I can't get involved." The privatisation which was to have funded transport infrastructure collapsed, and so did Iemma's career, and health. Iemma told 2GB: "I had a commitment, a deal with the Prime Minister and it should have been honoured."

His former treasurer Costa was even more scathing: "I speak to Labor people and I'm not talking about conservative voters here. I'm talking about dyed-in-the-wool Labor people that have really turned off this bloke [Rudd]. That car radio test is the test that you apply - if a bloke comes on and you hear him speak for a couple of seconds and you turn off your radio you know he's lost the public and I think this bloke's lost the public."

With such hatred of Rudd from within the NSW Labor Right, Loosley could only shake his head grimly, and continue on the panel valiantly to praise the Prime Minister for foreign policy work such as the G20.

The understatement of the morning came from fellow panellist Arthur Sinodinos, the former Howard adviser turned banker, regarded as the pre-eminent tactical guru in Liberal circles. He described Rudd's problems as a "lack of tactical agility".

That is not a label you could ever apply to the Greens.



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


3 June, 2010

The Royal Society has a history of being dogmatic but wrong

Despite their motto. Freely translated, the motto means "don't trust anyone". An email below from Claude Allegre to Benny Peiser []. Allegre is a prominent French geochemist and Leftist politician. He is referring to the frantic Warmism of the Royal Society in recent years.

The Royal Society is a splendid institution of which I am proud to be a member. However, despite it wonderful motto NULLIS IN VERBA the Society has a long record of dogmatic attitudes, some of which have turned out to be wrong: defending Alchemy in the early days, refusing the Leibniz notation dy/dx, refusing to accept radioactivity until Rutherford, more recently by claiming the non-human possibility for mad-cow disease.

Why not to be more open to arguments?

CO2, Global Warming and the Royal Society

An email from Norm Kalmanovitch []. Norm is a practicing geophysicist with over 35 years of experience

The concept of human caused global warming is entirely predicated on the assumption that the rapid increase in fossil fuel consumption will raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration to levels that will cause catastrophic warming of the Earth. The IPCC defined an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 650ppmv as the absolute maximum tolerable level beyond which catastrophic global warming will be a certainty. This was presented at the climate conference in Nairobi Kenya, in 2006 along with the prediction that at the current increasing rate of CO2 emissions, by 2100 the atmospheric CO2 will be well in excess of 1200ppmv (1248ppmv according to IPCC 2007 lead Author Andrew Weaver’s November 27, 2008 presentation to the University of Calgary).

The global reference for atmospheric CO2 concentration is the Mauna Loa Observatory and this data is used by the IPCC as their only reference. The CO2 concentration data which can be downloaded directly from the site at:

In the past ten years CO2 emissions have climbed from 24.75gt/year in 2000 to over 32gt/year by 2009, but the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration remained a virtually straight line, averaging 1.977ppmv/year with the high value of 2.56ppmv/year occurring in 2003 and the low value of 1.55ppmv/year occurring in 2005.

The official CO2 concentration for 2009 from Mona Loa Observatory is 387.35ppmv, and with the average rate of increase in concentration for the past decade of just 1.977ppmv/year, by year 2100 the concentration will only be 567.25ppmv, having increased by just 179.90ppmv over the next 91 years.

This is less than half of what the IPCC predicted and more importantly it is below the 650ppmv maximum that the IPCC deemed safe. Essentially without even criticizing the faulty science behind AGW, it can be shown, based on the actual statements of the IPCC, that the world faces no threat from global warming as a result of increased CO2 emissions.

If one were to bring physical science into the argument it is easily demonstrated that this 179.90ppmv increase in CO2 concentration will not increase the greenhouse effect by the 1.5307C predicted by the forcing parameter of the climate models, but by something well under 0.2C (because of the effect of this on an already near saturated wavelength band accessible to CO2).

The fraudulent global warming alarmism becomes even more apparent when one looks forty years into the future to 2050. The optimum target declared by the IPCC is 450ppmv. At the current rate of increase of 1.977ppmv/year by 2050 the CO2 concentration will have only increased by 81.057ppmv bringing the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 468.407ppmv; just 18.4ppmv over what the IPCC sees as an ideal target; yet this is occurring as CO2 emissions continue to increase unabated at ever increasing rates.

If the atmospheric CO2 concentration data demonstrates that we face zero danger from human caused global warming for the next forty years; why is the IPCC still insisting that the world devastate its economy and starve the poor to prevent this danger?

This brings the global temperature manipulations by the IPCC that were exposed in the “climategate emails” from the “slap on the wrist” conviction of not properly sharing data, to the realm of “crimes against humanity” because of all the damage caused by this fraud.

In 1990 the IPCC properly demonstrated a temperature graph based on at least 18 temperature proxy studies. This graph showed the Medieval Warm period being substantially warmer than today which eliminated any alarmism from observed global temperature increases. The graph also showed the Little Ice Age which correlates with the Maunder Minimum and Dalton Minimum demonstrating solar influence and not emissions influence as the cause of the observed warming.

In 1998 immediately after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, a new temperature proxy appeared that was based on a small sampling of tree ring data statistically manipulated to eliminate both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and further manipulated with the addition of thermometer data to the proxy data to justify the proxy by having it fit the observed temperature data better than the previous proxies. This is referred to in the emails as “Mike’s Nature trick”.

In 2001 with the global temperature data starting to refute the AGW premise and the date for ratifying the Kyoto Accord fast approaching, the IPCC rejected the previous temperature graph based on 18 proxies and replaced it with the graph based on the single fraudulently contrived MBH98 temperature proxy.

The original version of this graph presented in the 1998 paper only included temperature data up to 1995 because there was a drop in global temperature in 1996 and 1997 which would limit the impact of the graph. When the IPCC published this graph in the 2001 Fourth Assessment report they embellished the alarmism by extending the temperature data on the graph to include the temperature spike from the 1998 el Nio, but did not include the data for either 1999 or 2000 because 1999 was cooler than 1997, and this eliminated the alarmist impact of the 1998 temperature spike.

The problem with the Hockey Stick Graph is that in matching the four global temperature representations it clearly showed the global cooling from 1942 to 1975. This is a big problem for the AGW hypothesis because the warming that occurred from 1910 to 1942 only represented a 14% increase in CO2 emissions; but the cooling that took place from 1942 to 1975 occurred as emissions increased by over 500%, completely refuting any claim of correlation between CO2 emissions and global warming.

This led to the out and out fraud of physically changing the actual temperature data at the Hadley CRU. The Hadley CRU data shown in the IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report is clearly different than the same Hadley CRU data as well as all the other data representations including the Hockey Stick Graph shown in the IPCC 2001 Third Assessment Report.

The Royal Society has put themselves in a very difficult position, by failing to expose the faulty science behind AGW right from the onset in 1988 with the contrived scientifically baseless computer model projections of catastrophic global temperature increases related to CO2 emissions. The simple question is whether the Royal Society can extricate itself after being so entrenched in the global warming alarmist’s camp.

PS: Over this last decade with the 29.3% increase in CO2 emissions, there has been zero global warming and in fact the Earth has been cooling since 2002. This reveals the true nature of the IPCC which still promotes global warming alarmism as the Earth continues to cool.

James Lovelock: Climate Change May Not Happen As Fast As We Thought

Nice to hear any expression of uncertainty from the dogmatic Green/Left

[...] To boil down any of [James] Lovelock's thoughts to a few sentences is to do him a serious disservice, but here goes. As he sees it, climate change is now all but out of control. We should certainly cut our greenhouse-gas emissions, but focus most of our efforts on adapting to a world that, sooner or later, will turn troublesome beyond words. As part of that, he has long claimed the only sustainable method of generating the electricity Britain needs is nuclear power – and that in large swathes of the world, solar and wind power are already proving to be a dangerous distraction. From time to time, he dispenses optimism, of a sort: he's not having the standard-issue predictions of steadily-rising global temperatures, and thinks that though the Earth could suddenly heat up in a way that few models have so far predicted, we might also have longer to prepare than some people think.

"Who knows? Everybody might be wrong," he says. "I may be wrong. Climate change may not happen as fast as we thought, and we may have 1,000 years to sort it out."

If that sounds comforting, bear in mind that the subtitle of his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, is "the final warning" – and when it comes to the kind of climate change-related schemes that dominate the headlines, he tends to sound withering, to say the least. Copenhagen, he tells me, was not just "futile" but "a monumental extravagance – I'm never convinced that big people-gatherings like that can solve the truly important issues." His most dismissive words, however, are reserved for the Stern Review: "If you mix up some science that's incomplete with some economics which is almost as bad, you're going to get an absolutely dreadful progeny."

In the context of Hay, Lovelock's most sobering point takes on a grim hilarity. The argument is simple enough: even if the public were to get newly excited, and politicians were united by fresh resolve, the human race might face an insurmountable problem – that even the kind of great minds who come to Hay might not have the IQ required for such a massive challenge.

"The main problem is that we're not really clever enough as a species," he says, with a wry look. "We haven't developed far enough. The Earth's evolving, and we're evolving with it – but it's a damn slow process. It's taken us a million years to change from being semi-intelligent animals to what we are now: still animals, and still semi-intelligent. I don't think we can handle big problems like the Earth."


The Death Spiral for Climate Alarmism Continues

.... The negotiations in Copenhagen were a complete shambles, resulting only in a non-binding, let’s-meet-again memorandum that the various participating countries “recognized” having seen.

Greenpeace activist, and Independent Commentator Joss Garman characterized the “Copenhagen Accord” thus:
This “deal” is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about. There is not even a declaration that the world will aim to keep global temperature rises below 2 C. Instead, leaders merely recognise the science behind that vital threshold, as if that were enough to prevent us crossing it.

The only part of this deal that anyone sane came close to welcoming was the $100bn global climate fund, but it’s now apparent that even this is largely made up of existing budgets, with no indication of how new money will be raised and distributed so that poorer countries can go green and adapt to climate change.

In the EU, the vaunted European Trading System continues to come apart at the seams. According to James Kanter at the NYT:
Carbon traders, for example, have been arrested for tax fraud; evidence has emerged of lucrative projects that may do nothing to curb climate change; and steel and cement companies have booked huge profits selling surplus permits they received for free.

And the EU is backing away from previous plans to tighten its carbon reduction targets. According to Greenwire,
For months, Europe has mulled whether to increase to 30 percent its current commitment to reduce CO2 emissions 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. E.U. leaders in Brussels, including the bloc’s climate chief, Connie Hedegaard, have seemed to favor such a commitment, while influential member states like Germany and France have expressed skepticism of such a pledge without binding support from other major industrial powers like the United States.

A study, released today by the European Commission, expresses concern that Europe’s trading system for limiting emissions will remain less effective than planned without reductions in carbon allowances over the next decade. But addressing that problem may have to take a back seat for now, Hedegaard said.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., climate alarmism has sunk so low that Senator John Kerry risks choking himself to death as he ties his tongue into knots to pretend that his climate bill, the misleadingly named “American Power Act,” is not a climate bill. Depending on the date, Senator Kerry disingenuously characterizes as a job creation bill, or a bill to end dependency on foreign oil, or as a bill to rejuvenate the moribund US nuclear energy sector…or anything but what it is, which is a bill full of direct and indirect taxes on carbon: that is, on coal, natural gas, oil, and gasoline.

Pundits give the bill little chance of passage in this Congress, and if Democrats take anything like the whuppin’ they’re expected to get in November, I wouldn’t look for a reprise of the “American Power Act” any time soon.

[Personal note to Senator Kerry: Dear Senator, will you please stop perpetuating the fiction that you can createjobs by forcing up the cost of power (and making it less reliable) in the United States. All you’re going to do with your fraudulently titled climate bill is kill jobs, reduce economic growth, export more of America’s industrial base to other countries, and perpetuate the misery of this lackluster economy. Even worse, you’ll hurt the people you claim as your primary constituency – the poor – more than the wealthy, as the poor spend more of their budget on energy than those with greater wealth.]

Poll numbers continue to decline when it comes to people expressing serious concern about climate change, or willingness to pay anything to remedy it.

The New York Times points out that public belief levels are plummeting even in Jolly Old Britain, (and not-so-jolly old Germany) both of which have been, until recently, a seething hotbed of climate alarmism:

Nowhere has this shift in public opinion been more striking than in Britain, where climate change was until this year such a popular priority that in 2008 Parliament enshrined targets for emissions cuts as national law. But since then, the country has evolved into a home base for a thriving group of climate skeptics who have dominated news reports in recent months, apparently convincing many that the threat of warming is vastly exaggerated.

A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A pollconducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.


My colleague, Steve Hayward, thinks that future historians will peg 2008 as the year that climate alarmism jumped the shark. If so, it’s clear that in 2010, the Fonz is on the sharp declining phase of the jump, headed back down to the water. On every front, climate alarmists are losing, from international negotiations, to domestic legislation, to public opinion. Even the UK’s Royal Society is being forced to reconsider their position on climate change.

We can hope that climate alarmism will be replaced by a new era of climate realism, where the focus is on fostering resilience: building institutions, and helping other countries build institutions that would give them resilience in the face of any sort of climate change, manmade or natural, modest or major. Instead, however, my guess is this won’t happen. The alarmists are unable to give up the sense of panic they need to preserve to promote radical policies.

Instead, what I suspect will happen is that the entire issue of climate change will go sub rosa, and be embedded in discussions of energy, sustainability, energy security, renewable energy, protecting biodiversity, or anything that lacks the words “climate change” in the title.

More HERE (See the original for links)

NASA Gagging Policy: Climate Scientist Quit over Controversy

By John O'Sullivan

In a bad week for NASA, evidence shows the beleaguered space agency gagged its climate scientists. But the policy is starting to backfire as ex-employee speaks out.

Confirmation of the gagging policy comes from ex-NASA high-flier, Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi, who upset his former employers with the 2007 publication of his paper, ‘Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres,’ in the Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service.

Miskolczi claims his illustriously-funded government employers tried to silence him to preserve public credibility in its policy on global warming. The noble doctor refused to be gagged and out of scientific principle chose to quit and speak out.

The root of the problem was in the ex-NASA man’s debunk of the greenhouse gas (GHG) theory. Dr. Miskolczi claims he “proves that the classic solution [greenhouse gas theory] significantly overestimates the sensitivity of greenhouse forcing.”

But No NASA Gag on Warming Advocates

Now contrast and compare to what ‘New Scientist’ reported in 2006 when pro-green doomsayer, James Hansen was chastised by his employer for daring to suggest any such gag was in force. Hansen has been a prominent and public climate doomsayer ever since.

Back then Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at NASA, denied that there was any effort to silence Hansen. “That’s not the way we operate here at NASA,” Acosta said. “We promote openness and we speak with the facts.”

Pointedly, unlike Miskolczi, Hansen didn’t resign from his well-paid post. Yet, unlike Miskolczi, his petulant outburst garnered much pro-green media interest.

Greenhouse Gas Theory ‘Bogus’

Now free from the shackles of NASA censorship, Dr. Miskolczi is finally coming to the fore as a serious critic of the theory behind man-made global warming. He is gaining note for proving that the Earth has an in-built ‘safety mechanism’ that prevents runaway global warming from greenhouse gases.

The top Hungarian physicist, in fact, identified that the greenhouse effect upon which the whole man-made global warming theory is based, is probably bogus. The highly-principled researcher discovered that the sum of all radiation absorbed in the atmosphere is equal to the total internal kinetic energy of the atmosphere. That in turn then is equal to the total gravitational potential energy.

In other words, the planet is most capable at keeping itself in a heat energy balance and is not vulnerable to so-called runaway warming. Thus, there is no ‘tipping point’ to fear from any atmospheric increase of a trace gas such as carbon dioxide.

Support for Climate Skeptic

The disgruntled former NASA man’s views are much in tune with world-renowned Swedish climate professor, Hans Jelbring. It seems other scientists are becoming more open in their agreement with such findings.

More recently, science author Heinz Thieme and 130 German scientists have also come out to refute the greenhouse gas theory as a plausible explanation of the mechanism of Earth’s climate.

This is not what NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) want the public to hear as President Obama’s Democrat administration struggles to force through swingeing cap and trade taxes in the backdrop of an already over-stretched U.S. economy.

NASA’s Dr. Curry: NASA Numbers “drastic oversimplification”

Indeed, so persuasive is Dr. Miskolczi among his scientific peers that no advocate of the GHG theory (that relies on the Stefan-Boltzmann “black body” numbers) has yet been able to refute him. As I recently reported, NASA is now in a considerable disarray over what exactly is the correct equation. In fact, their education department is currently printing high-school textbooks disagreeing with the orthodox theory. So what’s going on?

As explained to me lately in e-mail correspondence by NASA’s Dr. Judith Curry: “Everybody would agree that the simple black body planetary energy balance model is a drastic oversimplification, it is used only for illustrative purposes.”

So I asked Dr. Curry if NASA could show the taxpaying American public a more exact set of equations than the crude Stefan-Boltzmann “black body” numbers: no answer.

Indeed, Stefan-Boltzmann who devised the “blackbody” equation never intended his numbers to be applied to a three-dimensional rotating planet. So why NASA’s reluctance to accept a more sophisticated and accurate new climate equation-or, at least use the tried and tested numbers that safely got Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon?

New Revelations Encourage Scientists to Speak Out

Signing up to join Dr. Miskolczi in the skeptic attack on the debunked greenhouse theory are dozens of eminent international scientists in tandem with a startling new research paper that proved NASA Apollo Moon mission scientists, forty years ago, had a better set of climate equations than the “black body” numbers that NASA’s own Dr. Curry says are,” only for illustrative purposes. Why doesn’t NASA now come clean about this?

Concern about the science behind the man-made global warming theory grew after the November 2009 Climategate. The official British Oxburgh Inquiry into alleged ‘cherry-picking’ of climate data confirmed scientists acted with subjective advocacy and being over-zealous ‘poor statisticians.’

NASA to stall and Help Climate Bill in 2010?

U.S. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman, who unveiled their climate bill earlier this month, will be sweating that NASA keeps this under wraps as they seek to force through their controversial climate bill passed before the break for Independence Day on July 4.

So if NASA truly has no gagging policy over the climate controversy then perhaps it should come clean and make a statement on these latest developments and remove all doubt?


Chicxulub: A Lesson In How shaky a climate-relevant "consensus" can be

Recently this site posted an article about the extinction event 65.5 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period. That extinction coincided with a large asteroid impact at Chicxulub, Mexico, and occurred within the time of Deccan flood basalt volcanism in India. A new review article by 41 scientists, published in the March 5, 2010, edition of Science, was cited that summarized what science thinks it knows about the extinction. That article reinforced the single cause asteroid impact extinction scenario. Now, in an excellent example of how the scientific process works, and why scientific consensus is such a bogus term, the May 21 issue of Science has published a number of letters that take exception to the previous article's conclusions.

The controversy over what killed the dinosaurs has raged among paleontologists for three decades. As previously reported, the asteriod impact theory seems to have gained the upper hand recently, though there are compeeting theories constantly arising (see “Chicxulub Resurgent” and “Shiva The Dinosaur Killer,” respectively). In the Science review article “The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary,” Peter Schulte and 40 colleagues from from 33 institutions and universities, put forward a comprehensive review of the evidence surrounding the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Their conclusion: “The correlation between impact-derived ejecta and paleontologically defined extinctions at multiple locations around the globe leads us to conclude that the Chicxulub impact triggered the mass extinction that marks the boundary between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras ~65.5 million years ago.” More succinctly, the asteroid did it.

While this may sound like the fabled “scientific consensus” has been reached, the article instead has triggered a firestorm. In a letter, entitled “Cretaceous Extinctions: Multiple Causes,” J. David Archibald and 28 colleagues from 22 different institutions have taken strong exception to the conclusions stated by Schulte et al. Here is the first paragraph of their letter:

In the Review "The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary" (P. Schulte et al., 5 March, p. 1214), the terminal Cretaceous extinctions were confidently attributed to a single event, the environmental consequences of the impact of an extraterrestrial body. The list of 41 authors, although suggesting a consensus, conspicuously lacked the names of researchers in the fields of terrestrial vertebrates, including dinosaurs, as well as freshwater vertebrates and invertebrates. Although we the undersigned differ over the specifics, we have little doubt that an impact played some role in these extinctions. Nevertheless, the simplistic extinction scenario presented in the Review has not stood up to the countless studies of how vertebrates and other terrestrial and marine organisms fared at the end of the Cretaceous.

The letter signatories clearly come down on the side of the multiple causes theory, or as Douglas Erwin puts it, the “Murder on the Orient Express” model. But what about the asteroid? Archibald et al state, “it is telling that in all other instances of mass extinction in the past 600 million years, no signature of an extraterrestrial impact has ever been reliably detected, despite extensive searches.” Sounds like fighting words to me. But the fun is only getting started.

In their letter, “Cretaceous Extinctions: The Volcanic Hypothesis,” Vincent Courtillot and Frdric Fluteau, of the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, France, argue for their favorite dinosaur eradicating hypothesis: killer volcanoes. In fact, they protest that Schulte et al misused their work to dismiss the volcanic hypothesis...

More HERE (See the original for links)


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


2 June, 2010

Gavin Schmidt, climate crook

VERY specious reasoning -- How did he get a Ph.D.?

You know the wheels really have come off the climate bandwagon when you get blatantly unscientific nonsense statements like the howler below from 'Real Climate’s' Gavin Schmidt.

Self-styled climate expert, Schmidt has sought to explain how advocates of the greenhouse gas theory can 'calculate' that a benign minor trace gas, carbon dioxide, can lead to runaway global warming due to its alleged superior radiant properties. Here’s how Schmidt works the numbers:

"The factor of two for A (the radiation emitted from the atmosphere) comes in because the atmosphere radiates both up and down." – Gavin Schmidt

Up and down? You mean – unlike other gases- but why no side to side and then shake it all about,too, Gavin? But no, as Schmidt would have you believe it’s just that two times - for the ‘up’ and the ‘down’- the crucial factor of two that sets this greenhouse gas apart from others and allows junk theorists to multiply their dodginess.

How's that for contravening the First Law of Thermodynamics? Why pause to think, it's so easy to say. Did you get that all you atmospheric scientists out there?

This and other gems are cogently exposed in a discerning article authored by American radio-chemist, Alan Siddons, entitled 'The Greenhouse Hustle'

Siddons applies useful graphic representations to prove that, “Only to the extent that it absorbs energy can a CO2 molecule be a source of heat – and since its frequency response is limited, so too is its ability to heat. CO2 fails to intercept anything close to the full span of the earth's radiant spectrum.”

Thanks to the enlightened insight of more credible climate researcher such as Siddons the blogosphere is becoming an increasingly uncomfortable stomping ground for snake oil peddlers such as ‘Real Climate’s' Gavin Schmidt.


More evidence that NASA is hopelessly corrupt

Shocking new evidence of a NASA scientist faking a fundamental greenhouse gas equation shames beleaguered space administration in new global warming fraud scandal

Caught in the heat are NASA’s Dr. Judith Curry and a junk science equation by the space agency’s Dr. Gavin Schmidt creating disarray over a contentious Earth energy graph

The internal row was ignited by the release of a sensational new research paper discrediting calculations crucial to the greenhouse gas theory.

Hot on the heels of my recent scoop that the U.S. space agency may have suppressed evidence from the Apollo Moon landings that invalidated the greenhouse gas (GHG) theory, an internecine fury among NASA employees over fudged equations is set to further embarrass the current U.S. Administration’s stand on global warming.

Word is getting round that junk equations were threaded into the GHG theory to artificially inflate the heating effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by a factor of two.

The spark to this cataclysmic revelation was lit in April 2007 after a public gaffe (see below) by the space administration’s Dr. Gavin Schmidt, who fronts popular pro-global warming website, ‘Real Climate.’

What ignited this latest Climategate-linked rumpus is a sensational new research paper, ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?’ otherwise called the ‘Moon Paper.’

Researchers for the paper scientifically proved that since at least 1997 climate scientists knew that guesswork was underpinning the whole greenhouse gas theory. In fact, so flaky are these numbers that they can be rendered to show a GHG effect on Earth’s moon, where no greenhouse gases exist! Thus, skeptics argue, the burning embers of political heat generated by the discredited theory should now finally and unequivocally be extinguished.

But more sinisterly, it turns out that NASA climate scientists, with access to better climate equations used for the Apollo Moon mission, forsook those in favor of dodgy Dr. Schmidt’s ‘back of an envelope’ numbers.

With nothing short of religious fervour, government-funded climatologists, in cahoots with the IPCC, trumpeted this flim-flam to political leaders who now claim they can limit global warming to ‘two degrees’ on the back of green cap and trade energy taxes. Priceless!

The ‘Moon Paper’ spectacularly reveals that Apollo mission scientists devised a three-dimensional model for accurately determining Earth’s energy budget far more practicable than the rudimentary flat blackbody numbers of Stefan-Boltzmann. But those numbers contradicted any greenhouse warming effect and have thus been ignored by global warming tax advocates.

In addition, it appears Siddons has uncovered intentional fraud, as explained in an earlier of his online publications, ‘The Greenhouse Hustle’ that reveals the almighty multiplication ‘error’ of NASA climatologist, Gavin Schmidt.

In 2007, Schmidt blogging on ‘Real Climate’ sought to explain how government climatologists obtain the “full surface energy balance equations” referred to by Dr. Judith Curry (below).

Schmidt wrote that he and his colleagues took the Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody numbers and multiplied them by an additional factor of two to devise NASA’s official Earth energy budget. But why multiply by two? Schmidt explains: “The factor of two for A (the radiation emitted from the atmosphere) comes in because the atmosphere radiates both up and down.”—Gavin Schmidt (Real Climate, April 10, 2007)

It is Schmidt’s lunatic “up and down” elaboration on Stefan-Boltzmann’s numbers that Siddons proves contradicts the laws of physics. Gases do not radiate “up and down”- their radiation is isotropic, meaning the intensity is equal in all directions-not just ‘up and down’ as Schmidt describes. Thus multiplying CO2 by a factor of two is at the very least junk science, or worse: criminal fraud.

Pointedly, Schmidt soon entered the dark side by appearing to cover up his gaffe. Within a month he snuffed out all debate by closing the comments thread on his heavily censored website.

Stefan-Boltzmann Blackbody Equations

Our junk science back story involves explaining how climate doomsayers misused the long-established Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody equation to invent the greenhouse gas theory of climate. The theory incorporates the two-dimensional flat body numbers to ‘calculate’ how much of the Sun’s energy enters and leaves the Earth’s atmosphere.

But the problem is Stefan-Boltzmann never intended for his numbers to be applied to a three-dimensional rotating planet.

Schmidt merely repeated the errors shown in the Kiehl and Trenberth diagram (1997). The Kiehl-Trenberth graphic calls Schmidt’s “up and down” effect the ‘back-radiation’ with a heat flux. Thus we may reasonably infer that Schmidt’s shenanigans are inextricably intertwined with those of his fellow warmist climatologists, K. E. Trenberth and J.T. Kiehl who, 13 years ago, first applied the bogus “full surface energy balance equations.”

Yet the idea that the science or the energy budget is “settled” is blown apart by Trenberth, himself. When asked by his colleague, Tom Wigley, “where’s the Global warming?” Trenberth admits they can’t answer the question. “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t… Our observing system is inadequate.” (Leaked Climategate email: Oct. 14, 2009: Filename:1255496484.txt)

Trenberth then re-iterated his confusion to the American Meteorological Society in January 2010 when lamenting the current woeful state of climate models.

Schoolboy Errors in NASA’s High School Textbooks

Trenberth’s and Schmidt’s lack of the wherewithal to provide a convincing calculation of Earth’s energy budget is further glaringly exposed by NASA’s Education Department which publishes high school textbooks, ‘Energy Social Studies; Investigating the Climate System: A Balancing Act’ for 9-12th graders.

In the publication is a graph that contradicts the Kiehl-Trenberth/Schmidt energy graph but clearly agrees with the numbers applied by climate skeptics and the original Apollo moon mission.

I pointed out the confusion to Dr. Judith Curry who responded, “Everybody would agree that the simple black body planetary energy balance model is a drastic oversimplification, it is used only for illustrative purposes.”

Why Confuse the Public with ‘Oversimplified’ Data?

But I then put it to Dr. Curry that neither NASA nor the IPCC publish anywhere anything other than the off beam Stefan-Boltzmann equations to illustrate the GHG theory. And why present the public (and presumably policy makers) with such a “drastic oversimplification” if NASA has tucked away a more accurate and robust equation ready to silence its critics?

No response. Yet Dr. Curry did assure me that, “Climate models (including very simple ones, not just the global general circulation models) include a full surface energy balance equation to determine surface temperature.”

But Dr. Curry left me no wiser as to what the “full surface energy balance equation” actually is. I, along with millions of taxpayers, hope to high heaven it’s not Gavin Schmidt’s snake oil.

NASA Sued in Court by CEI for Hiding Data

In truth, the passing of time is showing that NASA has stooped to break the law to stop anyone seeing what their “full surface energy balance equation” is-if it exists. We know this because the space agency has defied all such Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) for several years. The ongoing scandal has been dubbed NASA-Gate.

CEI is now taking NASA to court for refusing to permit independent auditors the chance to assess the reliability of both government-funded science as well as the validity of current U.S.
Administration’s expensive green energy policies.

At a minimum, NASA-gate raises serious questions about competency and the integrity of certain government space agency employees. Dr. Curry’s final words: “I’m contacting NASA about this.”

Trenberth, K.E., J.T. Fasullo, and J. Kiehl, 2009: Earth’s Global Energy Budget. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol 90, No 3, pp 311‚323.



By Hans Jelbring email:


The main reason for claiming a scientific basis for “Anthropogenic Greenhouse Warming (AGW)” is related to the use of “radiative energy flux models” as a major tool for describing vertical energy fluxes within the atmosphere. Such models prescribe that the temperature difference between a planetary surface and the planetary average black body radiation temperature (commonly called the Greenhouse Effect, GE) is caused almost exclusively by the so called greenhouse gases.

Here, using a different approach, it is shown that GE can be explained as mainly being a consequence of known physical laws describing the behaviour of ideal gases in a gravity field. A simplified model of Earth, along with a formal proof concerning the model atmosphere and evidence from real planetary atmospheres will help in reaching conclusions.

The distinguishing premise is that the bulk part of a planetary GE depends on its atmospheric surface mass density. Thus the GE can be exactly calculated for an ideal planetary model atmosphere. In a real atmosphere some important restrictions have to be met if the gravity induced GE is to be well developed. It will always be partially developed on atmosphere bearing planets.

A noteworthy implication is that the calculated values of AGW, accepted by many contemporary climate scientists, are thus irrelevant and probably quite insignificant (not detectable) in relation to natural processes causing climate change.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

(Jelbring is a Swedish climatologist. He says above that it is the WHOLE atmosphere that determines warming, not just the tiny and trivial CO2 fraction. Note as an aside that Mars has 15x higher level of that wonderful CO2 in its atmosphere than we do yet it shows no sign of a "greenhouse effect". But Mars has a very thin atmosphere. So then it follows that the "greenhouse effect" on earth is just a result of its bulk atmosphere, mainly nitrogen and oxygen -- as Jelbring points out.)

Temperature variations in the past have been underestimated

"We cannot conclude that the previous 50-year period has been unique in the context of the last 500-1000 years"

By Bo Christiansen (from the Danish Meteorological Institute)

In the past the Earth's temperature has varied both due to external forcings such as the volcanic eruptions, changes in the sun, and due to internal variability in the climate system. Much effort has in recent years been made to understand and project man-made climate change. In this context the past climate is an important resource for climate science as it provides us with valuable information about how the climate responds to forcings. It also provides a validation target for climate models, although paleoclimate modelling is still in its infancy. It should be obvious that we need to understand the past climate variability before we can confidently predict the future.

Unfortunately, we do not have systematic instrumental measurements of the surface temperature much further back than the mid-19th century. Further back in time we must rely of proxy data. The climate proxies include tree rings, corals, lake and marine sediment cores, terrestrial bore-hole temperatures, and documentary archives. Common to all these sources is that they include a climate signal but that this signal is polluted by noise (basically all non-climatic influences such as fires, diseases etc.). From these different noisy proxies information such as the global mean surface temperature is sought to be extracted.

A famous and pioneering example is the work by Mann et al. 1998, in which the mean NH temperature is relatively constant with a weak decreasing rend from 1400-1900 followed by a sharp rise in industrial times - the so-called "hockey stick". There has been much debate about this reconstruction, and its robustness has been questioned (see e.g.). However, some other reconstructions have shown similar shape and this has encouraged some to talk about the 'hockey team' (e.g., here). This partial agreement between different reconstructions has also led to statements such as 'It is very likely that average Northern Hemisphere [NH] temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were higher than for any other 50-year period in the last 500 years' by the IPCC.

That different reconstructions show a 'hockey stick' would increase its credibility unless the different reconstructions all shared the same problems. We shall see below that this is unfortunately the case.

All proxies are infected with noise. To extract the climate signal - here the NH mean temperature - from a large set of noisy proxies different mathematical methods have been used. They are all, however, based on variants of linear regression. The model is trained or calibrated by using the last period where we have access to both proxies and instrumental data. This calibration period is typically the last 100 years. When the model has been trained it is used to estimate the NH mean temperature in the past (the reconstruction period) where only the proxies are known. To test such methods it is useful to apply them to long simulations from climate models.

Like in the real-world situation we split the total period into a calibration period and a reconstruction period. But here we know the NH mean temperature also in the reconstruction period which can therefore be compared with the reconstruction. The proxies are generated by adding noise to the local temperatures from the climate model. The model based scheme decribed above is known as the 'pseudo-proxy' approach and can be used to evaluate a large number of aspects of the reconstruction methods; how the different methods compare, how sensitive they are to the number of proxies, etc.

Inspired by previous pseudo-proxy studies we decided to systematically study the skills of seven different reconstruction methods. We included both methods that directly reconstruct the NH mean temperature and methods that first reconstruct the geographical distributed temperatures, The method used by Mann et al. 1998 was included as well as two versions of the RegEM method later used by this group. Perhaps surprisingly the main conclusion was that all the reconstruction methods severely underestimate the amplitude of low-frequency variability and trends (Fig. 1).

Many of the methods could reproduce the NH temperature in the calibration period to great detail but still failed to get the low-frequency variability in the reconstruction period right. We also found that all reconstruction methods have a large element of stochasticity; for different realization of the noise or the underlying temperature field the reconstructions are different. We believe this might partly explain why some previous pseudo-proxy studies have reached different conclusions.

It is important to note the two different kinds of errors which are examples of what is known in statistics as ensemble bias and ensemble variance. While the variance may be minimized by taken the average over many reconstructions the same is not true for the bias. Thus, all the reconstruction methods in our study gave biased estimations of the low-frequency variability. We now see the fallacy of the 'hockey team' reasoning mentioned above; if all reconstruction methods underestimate the low-frequency variability then considering an ensemble of reconstructions will not be helpful.

The question that arises now is if the systematic underestimation of low-frequency variability can be avoided. Based on an idea by Anders Moberg and theoretical considerations I formulated a new reconstruction method, LOC, which is based on simple regression between the proxies and the local temperatures to which the proxy is expected to respond. To avoid the loss of low-frequency variance it is important to use the proxy as the dependent variable and the temperature as the independent variable. When the local temperatures have been reconstructed the NH mean is found by averaging. Pseudo-proxy studies (Fig. 2) confirms that the low-frequency variability is not underestimated with this method.

However, the new reconstruction method will overestimate the amplitude of high-frequency variability. This is the price we must pay; we can not totally remove the influence of the noise but we can shift it from low to high frequencies. The influence of the noise on the high-frequency variability can be reduced by averaging over many independent proxies or by smoothing in time.

I have applied the new reconstruction method, LOC, to a set of 14 decadally smoothed proxies which are relatively homogeneously geographically distributed over the extra-tropical NH. This compilation of proxies was used in the reconstruction by Hegerl et al. 2007. The proxies cover the period 1505-1960, the calibration period is 1880-1960, and observed temperatures are from HadCRUT2v.

The result is shown in Fig. 3 together with eight previous reconstructions. The new reconstruction has a much larger variability than the previous reconstructions and reports much colder past temperatures. Whereas previous reconstructions hardly reach temperatures below -0.6 K the LOC reconstruction has a minimum of around -1.5 K. Regarding the shape of the low-frequency variability the new reconstruction agrees with the majority of the previous reconstructions in the relative cold temperatures in the 17th century and in the middle of the 19th century as well as in the relative warm temperatures in the end of the 18th century. I consider these real world results mainly as an illustration of the potential of the new method as reconstruction based on decadally resolved proxies are not particularly robust due to small number of degrees of freedom. Work is in progress to apply the new method to an annual resolved and more comprehensive proxy compilation.

Where does all this lead us? It is very likely that the NH mean temperature has shown much larger past variability than caught by previous reconstructions. We cannot from these reconstructions conclude that the previous 50-year period has been unique in the context of the last 500-1000 years. A larger variability in the past suggests a larger sensitivity of the climate system. The climate sensitivity is a measure how how much the surface temperature changes given a specified forcing. A larger climate sensitivity could mean that the estimates of the future climate changes due to increased levels of green-house gases are underestimated.

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

The BBC: Official Voice of Ecofascism

By James Delingpole

Climate change now represents so urgent a threat to mankind that the only way to deal with it is by suspending democracy. (Hat tip: DR at Bishop Hill)

When James Lovelock makes this kind of terrifying argument in books or newspaper interviews at least one can reasonably dismiss it as the potty burblings of an otherwise amiable and harmless old man.

When the BBC does it, however, I’d suggest the time has come to start tooling up and heading for the hills. Have a listen to this recent radio broadcast by the BBC’s “Ethical Man” Justin Rowlatt and tell me whether you find it as scary as I do.

It purports to be a balanced examination of Lovelock’s controversial remarks in a Guardian interview: "I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

But it’s clear right from the beginning what the documentary’s line is: What do we want? Ecofascism. When do we want it? Now!

Here’s Rowlatt’s opening: "Climate change is a divisive issue. I believe that it is a real threat and needs to be tackled. I know many people disagree. But whatever you believe you should be concerned about how our society responds to the issue because there is a growing view that mitigating climate change means we have to change our view of democracy."

In support of this dubious thesis (the fact that you “believe”, Justin Rowlatt, is surely a glorious irrelevance), Rowlatt wheels on an array of extreme greens to argue what he’d no doubt dearly love to say himself but can’t because of those tricky BBC rules on impartiality.

Somebody called Halina Ward of the Foundation For Democracy And Sustainable Development says: "We don’t have to be driven by what 50% plus 1 of the population wants to say that we represent a majority view."

Somebody called Michael Jacobs, formerly Gordon Brown’s advisor on Climate Change, says: "I don’t think it’s right to call something anti-democratic if it has the consent of the public even if you couldn’t say that they were actively in favour of it."

And here’s Rowlatt’s exchange with somebody called Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus of the Left-leaning Policy Studies institute:

HILLMAN: The planet has a finite capacity to absorb the further burning of fossil fuels and still leave a safe climate for the future, and there’s every indication that we – and I mean the public in this country and elsewhere – are not prepared to make the changes necessary to achieve that. On the other hand democracy requires that those changes cannot be imposed on the public if they are unwilling to accept the implications of that, which is living within the planet’s capacity to absorb further greenhouse gas emissions.

ROWLATT: So what are you saying – we suspend democracy?

HILLMAN: I think in the same way that I understand James Lovelock has suggested that, I fear I have to share his view on that. There’s no way that the public are going to willingly say “I will forgo flying”.

The fact is that we’ve got to live on such a low use of fossil fuels for our daily activities. Therefore it’s got to be required of them and if they don’t go along with it, then we are – I fear – heading for absolute disaster. We are on a trajectory towards rendering the planet steadily uninhabitable.

ROWLATT: Some people would say, Mayer, that you sound like an
eco fascist.

HILLMAN: Well I have had that term applied to me. I don’t mind these sticks and stones. I think it’s irrelevant how I sound. I’m just trying to talk commonsense.

No fewer than six out of the seven expert witnesses called by Rowlatt are ardent environmentalists. And that’s not counting the parti pris presenter, Rowlatt himself.

Someone from the Institute of Economic Affairs is wheeled on mildly and politely to put the case for democracy and economic commonsense. But then it’s back to the eco-fascists for the final word.

Says Hillman:
"We have an obligation to look after the interests of future generations because they’re going to have to live in a world which is in a deteriorating condition. And we already, some of us, can see the lives that our children and grandchildren are going to have to live within, and it is pretty horrific and it is because we’re not prepared to make the changes necessary. Democracy allows people the freedom not to be obliged to do things that we know we must do, so how can one possibly say yes but the principle of democracy must prevail over and above protection of the global environment from excessive burning of fossil fuels? Given the choice, I would sadly – very, very sadly – say that the condition of the planet in the future for future generations is more important than the retention of democratic principles."

Tell you what I find so bothersome about this whole noisome documentary: it’s that Rowlatt – and he’s by no means atypical of the BBC on this score – is quite utterly incapable of appreciating what a poisonous doctrine he is tacitly endorsing.

There is nothing normal, balanced or reasonable about a programme – made at licence payers’ expense by Britain’s state broadcaster – to argue the case for replacing democracy with fascist tyranny. Let alone to present it in such a grotesquely biased way.

It’s no better than picking up on a remark by some fringe racist that “black people should be sent back to where they came from” and then inviting a panel including Nick Griffin and five other Neo-Nazis, plus a token Yasmin Alibhai Brown, to discuss whether this argument makes sense.

As the “science” in support of AGW collapses it is of course inevitable that the methods used by the Alarmists to defend their crumbling citadel will grow ever more desperate and underhand. But for the BBC to play so active a role in this dirty propaganda war is quite inexcusable.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Global Warming, The Royal Society, and William Hazlitt

William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830) was one of our finest essayists, and his condemnation of public bodies and societies is characteristically trenchant:

“Age does not improve the morality of public bodies. They grow more and more tenacious of their idle privileges and senseless self-consequence. They get weak and obstinate at the same time. Those who belong to them have all the upstart pride and pettifogging spirit of their present character ingrafted on the venerableness and superstitious sanctity of ancient institutions“
[see: ‘On Corporate Bodies’, essay taken from from Table-Talk; or, Original Essays (1821-22; ‘Paris’ edition, with somewhat different contents, 1825)].

I think Hazlitt would have had some rather harsh words for the present doleful state of our Royal Society

For some time now, I have feared for science in the public eye, believing that the over-hyping of ‘global warming’ would, at some stage soon, be revealed for what it is, a ‘consensus’ abuse of true, cautious science. I have also felt that one of the biggest losers in this debacle could well be our venerable Royal Society, in which recent attempts to enforce, from the top, a single, “settled” or “closed” view of the science of climate change are starting to unravel somewhat dramatically [see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, among others].

I believe that Hazlitt describes perfectly what we have been witnessing taking place in the Royal Society under recent Presidents:

“Circle within circle is formed, an imperium in imperio: and the business is to exclude from the first circle all the notions, opinions, ideas, interests, and pretensions of the second. Hence there arises not only an antipathy to common sense and decency in those things where there is a real opposition of interest or clashing of prejudice, but it becomes a habit and a favourite amusement in those who are ‘dressed in a little brief authority,’ to thwart, annoy, insult, and harass others on all occasions where the least opportunity or pretext for it occurs.”

Fundamental Principles

Moreover, what has been occurring is contrary to the fundamental principles, the very tenor, of the Society. For around 150 years, the following quotation formed part of an ‘Advertisement’ published in its house journal, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Phil. Trans.), which was first issued on March 6, 1665 [the version I copy here comes from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Volume 340, Issue 1292, 1822]:

“... it is an established rule of the Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion, as a Body, upon any subject, either of Nature or Art, that comes before them.”

For reasons not fully known, as Nigel Calder points out, this admirable reticence was dropped from the Transactions some time during the 1960s. Was this the moment, I wonder, when the Royal Society began to lose its way? Again, I think I know what Hazlitt would have observed:

“Corporate bodies are more corrupt and profligate than individuals, because they have more power to do mischief, and are less amenable to disgrace or punishment. They feel neither shame, remorse, gratitude, nor goodwill. The principle of private or natural conscience is extinguished in each individual (we have no moral sense in the breasts of others), and nothing is considered but how the united efforts of the whole (released from idle scruples) may be best directed to the obtaining of political advantages and privileges to be shared as common spoil.”

Back To Basics

Luckily, we now, at last, have at least 43 brave Fellows of the Society willing to stand out against the Magisterium, and who are demanding that cautious, basic science be put back into any statements emanating from the Society on climate change. The dust is flying.

And, let me stress, it does not matter one iota that not all the critics are climate scientists per se. It is the abuse of basic science sensu lato that so jars. To put it simply:

* How can any scientist worth their salt accept predictions based on only one, partial variable?

* How can any scientist worth their salt accept that a retrospective regression fit constitutes ‘foundational’ evidence, or even, science?

* How can any scientist worth their salt accept predictions based on models for which we know virtually nothing about some 80 per cent of the factors involved, including some of the more fundamental, such as water vapour and clouds?

We now have a momentous chance to save science from political exploitation and organisational PC-speak. But the stakes are high. If we fail, science may be downgraded in the eyes of the public for a very long time.

As the Royal Society belatedly rediscovers its own 1663 motto, derived from an epistle by Horace, namely Nullius in Verba (‘Take nobody's word for it’), all its Fellows should perhaps re-read William Hazlitt, who so wisely warned:

“It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.”

Scepticism, dissent, is the very essence of science too.



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


1 June, 2010

Endgame for the DDT ban approaches

It was only DDT that originally brought bedbugs under control. Absent DDT they have now bounced back. Once New Yorkers find that out ....

At first May thought that her husband had heat rash. “We were staying at a smart hotel in Cape Cod. Then I developed these hive-like welts on my back and legs.” May (not her real name; she is terrified of giving me that) is middle class, in her late fifties and lives on the Upper West Side, New York, in a well-maintained four-room apartment. When she and her husband returned to the city, one doctor prescribed antihistamines, surmising the couple had reacted to shellfish. She called a dermatologist. “He took one look and said, ‘You both have bedbug bites’. My husband turned our mattress over and we saw them. That’s when — no joke, no exaggeration, however ridiculous it may sound — our nightmare began.”

The infestation would last five months and cost May and her husband $15,000 to treat.

The cockroach has scuttled in retreat. Bedbugs have become New York, indeed America’s, latest bug noire. These tiny, yellowish creatures (which grow to 4-5mm long), fiendishly difficult to eradicate and understand, have become an obsession for landlords, renters, pest-control experts and scientists. Why do they feed so hungrily on human blood? Why have they proliferated? Why are they so hardy? How can you eradicate them?

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite” now has a particularly hollow ring to it: we are almost powerless to stop them. There has been a 71 per cent increase in bedbug infestations since 2001, according to the US National Pest Management Association. In 2004, there were a reported 537 complaints and 82 “violations” (verified infestations) for bedbugs in New York; in 2009, there were 10,985 complaints and 4,084 verified infestations. “That’s just the reported cases,” says Jeremy Ecker, of Bed Bug Inspectors, a firm that uses two specially trained dogs to sniff out the bugs in apartments before advising occupants and pest exterminators on the best action. “The problem is everywhere, it’s growing and it’s mostly invisible because of people’s embarrassment. People are too ashamed to say anything. If they admit to having bedbugs they’re frightened of losing their apartment, of being asked not to go into work, of getting rid of their possessions. We see people in extreme distress.”

May says: “We were terrified of our landlord finding out. He could have used it to throw us out or make life difficult.” Landlords also embrace ignorance if they find out about an infestation, wary of accepting the costly responsibility of tackling bedbugs that have colonised an entire building, or of frightening off potential renters. May describes five months of hell: from seeing the blackish blotches (her and her husband’s dried blood and/or bedbug faeces) on the mattress, then constant vacuuming and washing of laundry and clothing, bagging up clothes and household items, vacuuming books, picture frames, wall sockets, throwing furniture and possessions away, sleeping on an air mattress in clothes she would immediately bag up the next morning for laundry . . .

A female bedbug (official name Cimex lectularius) can reproduce 400 offspring so this was not an hysterical overreaction: to eradicate bedbugs requires ruthless planning, “even before the exterminators come in”, May says.

It seems laughable that the hokey-sounding bedbug could cause such havoc — and indeed, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Health Department says: “Anyone who has had an infestation knows that it can stressful and unpleasant but while bedbugs are a nuisance, they do not present a health risk or spread disease.”

But they are far from dismissable creatures, according to those who have suffered them and the scientists researching them. “It’s a plague, an epidemic,” says a National Pest Management Association spokeswoman — and although her organisation represents pest exterminators this is not a fear-generating marketing campaign.

“It would not be extreme or hysterical to call this a pandemic,” says Tim McCoy, a bedbug research scientist at Virginia Tech University. “We haven’t reached the halfway point in bedbug numbers, they’re still on the rise.”

They show no respect, says Ecker, of class or creed: “We’ve inspected the fanciest apartments on the Upper East Side and one-room studios downtown. Doesn’t matter how big or clean or small or dirty your place is, bedbugs will make themselves at home.”

Bedbug blogs simmer with debate, advice and commiseration. And they have become a political issue. Michael Bloomberg, New York’s Mayor, has approved the creation of a bedbug “advisory board” to “evaluate, study, identify and develop appropriate strategies” against the blood-sucking menace.

Earlier this month Linda B. Rosenthal, a New York State Assembly member for the Upper East Side and Hell’s Kitchen districts, renewed her demand for legislation that would force building owners to disclose a five-year history of bedbug infestations to renters. She also proposed the city offer a tax credit of up to $750 per person to those whose homes have been affected by bedbugs. “The whole city is afflicted,” says Rosenthal says. “The cost of dealing with bed bugs is exorbitant and while $750 won’t cover it, it will help. It would be much better if the health department put out clear advice on how to rid an entire building of bedbugs, rather than leaving to it individual landlords.”

The problem is about to become international (it is already, but under-publicised). Experts agree that the prime method of bedbug transmission is travel: you go somewhere —like May to a hotel — sleep on an infested bed and pass the bugs on. Bedbugs also nestle in clothing and suitcases. Experts are split on whether they “jump” from person to person on public transport. But they can live on train and cinema seats, on furniture, and take over buildings by burrowing in crevices, nooks and crannies.

New York and other metropolitan centres are bedbug paradises: high populations, high numbers of apartments, people always on the move. Bedbug infestations in London and the Midlands have increased threefold in the past decade. The National Pest Management Association will soon publish a report revealing bedbug infestation figures across the US — and also some choice international findings: 90 per cent of pest-control companies it surveyed in Europe had dealt with bedbug infestations, a spokeswoman reveals.

When it comes to their vampiric feeding, Tim McCoy —who like Jeremy Ecker, lets them sup his blood for research —notes that sometimes you can feel them, sometimes not. But, he says, they scent people emitting CO2 and heat and scuttle from up to 15ft feet away for their grub. The most horrible and noticeable thing about a fully grown, fully fed bedbug is that it is bright red, after drinking the blood of its human host.

Some, such as McCoy, do not react to the bites; many others, such as May and her husband, do. “The bedbugs seemed to congregate near the bed, the couch, the netted seating on the office chairs,” she says. “You imagined them crawling on you. I saw one on my husband’s back. We tried to exterminate them ourselves and realised we couldn’t.”

Forget the many products on the market or exterminators making claims of being able to turf them out of your house easily and cheaply. The only effective treatment, McCoy says, is a series of expensive, extreme-heat treatments — at around 49C (120F) — administered by expert exterminators. Despite calls for extreme pesticides such as DDT and Propoxur to be relegalised, McCoy thinks both may prove ineffectual. “Use the wrong chemicals in the wrong way and you could damage yourself and your home.”

“It took me so long to get back into my own bed,” says May says. “We are clean, normal people — and this, emotionally, took us to the brink. Living the way we did, having to rid ourselves of things, clean, keep it secret: this was as bad as going through divorce, losing a job. We are ordinary, middle-class New Yorkers. When it was over it was like, ‘Can we come out of the air-raid shelter now?’”

For the moment, the scientific mystery of bedbugs’ fortitude endures. McCoy says that the pest’s level of resistance “is off the charts. Spray the most extreme chemical on them and they topple over as if they’re giggling, then they get up again. We also don’t know why they can go so long — two months — without a blood meal, or how they find their way back to their host.”

The biggest mystery is the origin of this pandemic. The bedbug was all but eradicated in the US by the 1950s with the use of strong pesticides. “We think travel to and from the Third World bought them back to the US; then the use of softer treatments (such as against the flea) may have helped them to flourish,” McCoy says. “Other theories are unproveable but, for example, we’ve seen them on the walls of organic-reared chicken sheds. Some foreign workers are married to other foreign workers in hotels and, well, is that how they got into hotels? We don’t know.”

The bedbug isn’t dangerous to human health, so US bodies such as the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health won’t fund research, McCoy says. He and May — scientist and sufferer — both warn: remain vigilant. They check the headboards of the hotel beds they sleep in, lift mattresses, shine torchlights into crevices, and vacuum those crevices. For two years after her infestation, May took a magnifying glass to check each dot and speck in her apartment: “It was always something else, but I was wounded. I know it sounds crazy. I’m not, and I’m not alone.”

McCoy says we should remember that “it is just a bug, there is no quick-fix and it will be expensive, but you can deal with it”. He is sure of one thing: “One day we will find a way of understanding and dealing with bedbugs. Then the cockroach will rise again.”


The great 2007 Arctic ice crunch wasn't

It was just another instance of Green/Left data selectivity

By Steve Goddard

I generated an animation of 2007 sea ice thickness from the US Navy’s PIP database, and noticed something remarkable. Watch the video below, particularly inside the red square – the animation runs from May through October, 2007. The color scale on the left indicates the thickness of the ice. Watch:

At the beginning of May, ice thickness was about three metres in the center of the red square. By mid-June it was getting thicker, and by early September it was close to five metres thick! During the notorious summer of “record melt” which we have been told about ad nauseum, the ice thickness near the most affected area increased by 60%. What could have caused this? Simple – the ice was compacting to the north as it was pushed by southerly winds. It lost area – while it gained thickness.

The NSIDC news from September, 2007 touched peripherally on this idea, without actually mentioning the critical point.

The region over Siberia experienced fairly low pressure during the same time period. Winds blow clockwise around high-pressure areas and anticlockwise around low-pressure areas. The combination of high- and low-pressure areas thus fostered fairly strong winds over coastal Siberia that were partly from the south, pumping warm air into the region and also contributing to a warming Arctic. At the same time, these winds from the south acted to push ice away from the coast and into the central Arctic Ocean, further reducing ice extent in the coastal areas

A good analogy would be shoveling the snow off your driveway. As you push the shovel forwards, the area of snow decreases – but the thickness of the snow increases in front of the shovel.

Now on to 2010. Note in the images below that ice in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas is thicker this year than it was on this date in 2007. In some locations it is as much as 5 metres thick in 2010.

May 27, 2007 Ice inside the vulnerable square (where much of the anomalous 2007 “melt” occurred) was 0.5 to 3 metres thick

May 27, 2010 Ice inside the vulnerable square is 0.5 to 5 metres thick

The AGW chameleon changes it’s colours constantly. It complains about area and extent when convenient, and about thickness when convenient. I am coming to the conclusion that the 2007 melt was more of a marketing event than a climatological event. The graph below gives a feel for just how much of a non-event it was. 2007 was 1.5 standard deviations off the 30 year extent trend, but apparently a lot of the supposedly “melted” ice just crumpled up into more survivable thick ice.

One of the ice experts must have known this. Surprising that it took the “breathtakingly ignorant” WUWT to point it out.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The Missing Climate Model Projections

Roy W. Spencer points out that the lack of balance vitiates the climate model predictions

The strongest piece of evidence the IPCC has for connecting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to global warming (er, I mean climate change) is the computerized climate model. Over 20 climate models tracked by the IPCC now predict anywhere from moderate to dramatic levels of warming for our future in response to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In many peoples’ minds this constitutes some sort of “proof” that global warming is manmade.

Yet, if we stick to science rather than hyperbole, we might remember that science cannot “prove” a hypothesis….but sometimes it can disprove one. The advancement of scientific knowledge comes through new hypotheses for how things work which replace old hypotheses that are either not as good at explaining nature, or which are simply proved to be wrong.

Each climate model represents a hypothesis for how the climate system works. I must disagree with my good friend Dick Lindzen’s recent point he made during his keynote speech at the 4th ICCC meeting in Chicago, in which he asserted that the IPCC’s global warming hypothesis is not even plausible. I think it is plausible.

And from months of comparing climate model output to satellite observations of the Earth’s radiative budget, I am increasingly convinced that climate models can not be disproved. Sure, there are many details of today’s climate system they get wrong, but that does not disprove their projections of long-term global warming.

Where the IPCC has departed from science is that they have become advocates for one particular set of hypotheses, and have become militant fighters against all others.

They could have made their case much stronger if, in addition to all their models that produce lots of warming, they would have put just as much work into model formulations that predicted very little warming. If those models could not be made to act as realistically as those that do produce a lot of warming, then their arguments would carry more weight.

Unfortunately, each modeling group (or the head of each group) already has an idea stuck in their head regarding how much warming looks “about right”. I doubt that anyone could be trusted to perform an unbiased investigation into model formulations which produce very little warming in response to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

As I have mentioned before, our research to appear in JGR sometime in the coming weeks demonstrates that the only time feedback can be clearly observed in satellite observations — which is only under special circumstances — it is strongly negative. And if that is the feedback operating on the long time scales associated with global warming, then we have dodged the global warming bullet.

But there is no way I know of to determine whether this negative feedback is actually stabilizing the climate system on those long time scales. So, we are stuck with a bunch of model hypotheses to rely on for forecasts of the future, and the IPCC admits it does not know which is closer to the truth.

As a result of all this uncertainty, the IPCC starts talking in meaningless probabilistic language that must make many professional statisticians cringe. These statements are nothing more than pseudo-scientific ways of making their faith in the models sound more objective, and less subjective.

One of the first conferences I attended as a graduate student in meteorology was an AMS conference on hurricanes and tropical meteorology, as I recall in the early 1980’s. Computer models of hurricane formation were all the rage back then. A steady stream of presentations at the conference showed how each modeling group’s model could turn any tropical disturbance into a hurricane. Pretty cool.

Then, a tall lanky tropical expert named William Gray stood up and said something to the effect of, “Most tropical disturbances do NOT turn into hurricanes, yet your models seem to turn anything into a hurricane! I think you might be missing something important in your models.”

I still think about that exchange today in regard to climate modeling. Where are the model experiments that don’t produce much global warming? Are those models any less realistic in their mimicking of today’s climate system than the ones that do?

If you tell me that such experiments would not be able to produce the past warming of the 20th Century, then I must ask, What makes you think that warming was mostly due to mankind? As readers here are well aware, a 1% or 2% change in cloud cover could have caused all of the climate change we saw during the 20th Century, and such a small change would have been impossible to detect.

Also, modelers have done their best to remove model “drift” — the tendency for models to drift away from today’s climate state. Well, maybe that’s what the real climate system does! Maybe it drifts as cloud cover slowly changes due to changing circulation patterns.

It seems to me that all the current crop of models do is reinforce the modelers’ preconceived notions. Dick Lindzen has correctly pointed out that the use of the term “model validation”, rather than “model testing”, belies a bias toward a belief in models over all else.

It is time to return to the scientific method before those who pay us to do science — the public — lose all trust of scientists.


Dr. Martin Hertzberg: Climate change beyond our control

Scientists with a theory search diligently for data that might contradict the theory so that they can test its validity or refine it. Propagandists with a theory carefully select only the data that agrees with the theory and dutifully ignore any data that might contradict it.

How else to explain Baxter Pharr's claim for “overwhelming and simple” evidence for human-caused global warming? He states: “Over the past 600,000 years, every time the fossil record shows an increase in CO2 concentration in the Earth's atmosphere there is a corresponding increase in global temperatures.”

The record he cites is the Vostok ice-core data, but he fails to ask the obvious question. When global temperatures increased and the CO2 concentration increased, where did all that CO2 come from during the hundreds of thousands of years before any significant human emission of CO2? That is a question dutifully ignored by the propagandists Pharr cites.

The same data also show that temperature changes preceded CO2 changes by 600 to 1,000 years indicating that it was the temperature changes that caused the CO2 changes, not the reverse. That is another critical piece of data the propagandists ignore: As oceans cool during glacial cooling, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As oceans warm during interglacial warmings, they emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

The ocean contains 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere and it is its average temperature and the solubility of CO2 in sea water that controls the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Current human emission of CO2 is of trivial significance in determining its atmospheric concentration

It has been known for almost a hundred years that the cause of those long-term cycles of cooling and warming are the variations in the Earth's orbital parameters: changes in its orbital ellipticity around the Sun, changes in its obliquity, and the precession of its axis of rotation. Shorter term variations over hundreds of years such as the Medieval Warm Period (considerably warmer than today) and the Little Ice Age, are caused by variations in Solar activity. Changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are about as significant for weather as a few farts in a hurricane!

Pharr's also regurgitates the claim that CO2 concentration at 390 parts per million “are at their highest level in over 1 million years.” That claim is a fraudulent concoction of the IPCC. For example, direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 from 1936 to 1944 averaged over 410 parts per million.

In our current system for generating electricity from coal, natural gas and nuclear energy, we have absolutely no dependence on foreign sources. Our problem is imported petroleum for the transportation sector of our economy. Despite the commercials of environmental lobbyists, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will not produce a single drop of the petroleum currently needed for that sector.

Our present system for the production of electricity “ain't broke, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” The nation has real problems such as the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch Coal mine in West Virginia and the recent explosion and oil spill in the Gulf. Coal mine safety and pollution of the Gulf are critical problems that need to be addressed and solved.

The Kerry-Lieberman proposal of carbon emission control, on the other hand, is chasing a phantom: the entirely non-existent problem of human caused global warming/climate change. Implementation of such legislation will waste hundreds of billions of dollars and do serious damage to the nation's infrastructure and its economy. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence shows that it will have absolutely no effect on the world's weather, which is well beyond human influence or control.


Types of AGW skeptics

Lubos Motl reflects on an article by Roger Harrabin

Roger Harrabin wrote a pretty interesting BBC report from the fourth Heartland climate conference in Chicago: Climate sceptics rally to expose 'myth'

You shouldn't be shocked that the text is far from impartial. The myth is written in quotation marks while Harrabin himself complains that the vegetarians have been underrepresented, among other bizarre attempts to attack the skeptics.

But otherwise, he offers some meaningful insights into the sociology of climate change - and to the internal diversity of the climate realists in particular. You should see Bob Carter's report which is even more sensible but I will stay with Harrabin's text.

First, he has correctly figured out that "left and right wing thinkers are uniting over climate change skepticism" (it's the description of the audio box). Of course, skeptics are correct and their arguments are supported by impartial objective evidence rather than political dogmas.

So it shouldn't be shocking that you will find left-wingers as well as right-wingers among climate skeptics.

But the difference between these two groups can't disappear, anyway. Steve McIntyre turned out to be a key example of a "climate pacifist". Many people in the audience were disappointed to hear that Steve McIntyre doesn't want the hockey stick graph to be described as "fraud" and the players in the ClimateGate should only be treated as people who are wrong about something, not as evil people who did something bad.

Needless to say, a vast majority of participants disagreed with this statement much like I did (although they were almost certainly more surprised than I was because they don't follow every detail of these events in the same detail as your humble correspondent: Steve has been consistent about these attitudes at least for a few years, although arguably not from the beginning). But McIntyre has also offered the political explanation of his attitudes:

"As a Canadian, he said, he was brought up to believe that governments should govern on behalf of the people - so if CO2 were reckoned to be dangerous, it would be the duty of politicians to make laws to cut emissions."

I completely disagree with this "straightforward" conclusion, too. Even if CO2 were found to be dangerous for the global mean temperature, a rational comparison of costs and benefits would still have to take place, and a competition between possible ways how to attack the problem would have to follow.

In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that the result of this analysis would be that there should exist laws to cut the production of CO2. Even if one CO2 doubling led to 5 C of warming, as the insane upper ends of the IPCC intervals suggest, it would still be counterproductive for the industry to be regulated away in the coming decades. The problems caused by this warming would still be smaller than the costs of the elimination of the appropriate portion of the industries.

Moreover, there would almost certainly exist geoengineering methods to compensate for the impact of CO2 that would be vastly cheaper than the CO2 regulation. And a task for sane governments would be to help these methods to materialize - and to fight against anti-civilization tendencies that want to undermine the economy and the sources of income for the government itself.

In this sense the debate is not a "left vs right" debate. The suppression of the industry would be a bad decision for the capitalist economies much like the socialist economies - and all the grey hybrids in between. This is about a careful evaluation of costs and benefits and an impartial comparison of the alternatives - and Steve McIntyre is simply not doing that.

Because of all these reasons, Steve may be viewed as a part of the irrational and pro-government problem who just happened to discover that something is seriously wrong with the basic pillars of the system but who failed to deduce the appropriate conclusions. His not-so-right-wing politics is arguably the main cause behind this failure.

Needless to say, Steve wasn't the only person with similar political leanings. For example: "Sonia Boehmer Christiansen, the British-based climate agnostic (her term), brought to a juddering halt an impassioned anti-government breakfast discussion with a warning to libertarians that they would never win the policy argument on climate unless they could carry people from the Left with them."

Oh, really? Do people from the Left possess a universal veto power? Is it really them who ultimately decides - or should decide - about every policymaking question? We've had this arrangement for 40 years and thank you very much, I don't want it anymore. I prefer to execute anyone who represents a credible threat of a return to these "good old times" when the left-wingers may decide about everything. [Motl is a Czech and the Czechs escaped from Communist rule only a couple of decades ago so one can understand his bitterness about Left-wingers]

Whether some policies will reflect the libertarian thinking or not will depend on the results of political competition which are a priori unclear, not on predetermined assumptions that the leftists can decide about anything and everything. One doesn't have to "carry people from the Left with us". It's enough to convince voters that the left-wing attitude to most of these policy questions is wrong.

At any rate, Christiansen's statement helps to show the vast pre-existing bias and arrogance of the leftists - and she's just an "agnostic". Be sure that the typical left-wing AGW alarmists are even more self-confident about the assumption that the eternal power belongs to them.

She also said: "Governments needed taxes, she said - and energy taxes - were an efficient way of gathering them."

Oh, really? It's a sensible law in many civilized countries that the taxation of all sectors has to be fair - i.e. the tax rate should be uniform. And how important energy consumption is in this big picture? In the U.S., energy consumption represents about 14 percent of the GDP and the figure was close to 6 percent in 1999. So energy taxes are not an important source of taxes. On the other hand, attempts to suppress energy production could be devastating for all other sectors that are the main sources of the government money.

The energy sector has been reduced to a small fraction of the GDP because of technological progress and it's important for the modern society that it is so. There are many other sectors whose importance has dropped, if counted as the percentage of GDP. Food is important but it's a small part of GDP in the developed countries simply because people may be expected to do much more than just to survive and because only a small part of the people have to work in agriculture and the food industry. In the same way, the Internet connectivity is extremely important for the modern society - but it's relatively cheap, too. You don't want to artificially make any of these things expensive.

In the Czech Republic, the social democratic party distributed billboards that promise to confiscate the money of ?EZ, the main electric utility that may be considered very profitable these days, and use them for 13th or 14th pensions. Well, believe me, you can't get too far with these policies. As Margaret Thatcher said, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. The Czech Republic may eventually face some genuine problems after these socialist scumbags win the parliamentary elections that will take place in a week. Let's hope that the victory won't be enough for them to form the government.

Roy Spencer is both a sensible guy and a guy who doesn't share most of these left-wing preconceptions. He's also a Christian, so quite naturally, many of us might disagree about some of his ideas concerning the origin of life. ;-)

But I agree with many other statements by Roy Spencer. For example, many climate auditors would criticize the CRU data of Phil Jones for their being disorganized. Roy Spencer said that he could have similar problems with presenting the data he was using or producing 20 years ago - and I could probably say the same thing.

However, billions of dollars have gone into this or similar climate research and it's just bad that much of the basic data have been lost or became unusable. In some sense, it's the fault of the politicians and managers who were generously distributing money into the climate research. They have just donated the money to the wrong people. They should have given a much higher fraction to honest workers and their IT support who would guarantee that the basic straightforward data and calculations are kept and calculated properly and that they may be available whenever they're needed.

There are good reasons to think that this hasn't been a mistake but a part of the design.

Roy Spencer also said that the UAH and CRU recent temperature data broadly agree and one is unlikely to gain much by "auditing" just one of them. I agree with this, too. I don't understand the point of many of these "audits". The key questions are not whether 1934 was by 0.02 C or 0.05 C warmer in the U.S. than 1998. The key question is whether these approximately known effects - warming rates comparable to 0.8 C per century whose non-negligible portion is due to CO2 - matter for the society. And it's primarily a political question so the main reason why people disagree about this question is that their political attitudes differ.

Various climate scientists explicitly said that they didn't come to the conference because they were afraid of the pressure from their home institutions and of isolation. That's how it works - the AGW alarmists de facto control the thinking and travel plans of many/most people in these institutions in the same way as the Orwellian totalitarian regimes did in the past.

Richard Lindzen has declared that the MIT is looking forward to his retirement - the retirement of someone who is arguably the best Earth scientist at the MIT. This fact itself proves how much the institution has been contaminated by people who care about very different things than quality science.

At the end of the article, Harrabin discusses the talk of Christopher Monckton who is, according to Harrabin, "not a scientist at all". I actually disagree with this proposition. He may have gotten into the discipline through less conventional channels but these days, despite some occasional imperfections, he's almost surely a better scientist than the average AGW alarmists who are paid as climatologists.

He's learned a lot, he understands the basic principles of science as well as the big picture and many (although not all) details, and he is incredibly skillful in the art of organizing the insights. Lord Monckton also has some political attitudes and they may be inconvenient for many people, namely the leftists, but he knows how to separate these issues. And Monckton's inconvenient politics simply can't reduce the value of his scientific conclusions and propositions, even though there is probably a "political consensus" in the Academia that his political opinions are not welcome.

This "consensus" says much about the Academia and it is not pretty.


The woolly world of Britain's centre/Left energy boss

No one can explain how Britain cuts emissions by four fifths without closing down virtually all of the economy, writes Christopher Booker

Two events last week led me to muse on the links between the man who is now our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, and the extinction of the woolly mammoth. A team of scientists suggest in Nature Geoscience that the sudden extinction of the mammoths some 12,000 years ago, as the world emerged from the last ice age, may have had a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate. They argue that the emission by these giant herbivores of nine million tons a year of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than CO2, was so significant that their disappearance led to a sharp drop in global temperatures, and the world temporarily froze over again in the re-glaciation known as the Younger Dryas.

This is a theory so batty one scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. If that comparatively tiny amount of methane was so powerful, how did the world manage to remain so cold during the million years of ice ages when eructating megafauna were abundant? Clearly those scientists were so carried away by the obsession with climate change that they hadn’t the slightest idea what they were talking about. But even more is this true, it seems, of the man now in charge of Britain’s energy policy.

Last week Mr Huhne was virtually the only politician in Europe imploring Brussels to stick to its latest proposal, that the EU should raise its target for cutting CO2 emissions in the next 10 years from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. As the EU faces its worst ever economic crisis, other countries, led by France and Germany, are horrified. They cannot imagine how they could afford even a 20 per cent cut.

But Britain already stands alone as the only country in the world committed by law – the 2008 Climate Change Act – to cutting its emissions in the next 40 years by a staggering 80 per cent, at a cost estimated by Mr Huhne’s energy department at 18 billion every year until 2050. (The ministry claims that this would amount to 404 billion, but it can’t do its sums properly: 40 times 18 is not 404 – the total is 734 billion.) The fact is that there is no one in the world, least of all Mr Huhne, who can explain how we could cut our emissions by four fifths without shutting down virtually all our existing economy.

What carries this even further into the higher realms of lunacy is that such a Quixotic gesture would do nothing to halt the world’s fast-rising CO2 emissions, already up 40 per cent since 1990. This point is made very forcefully in a new book, Climate: The Great Delusion (Stacey International), by a much-respected French engineer, Christian Gerondeau.

As this convert from global warming orthodoxy to hard-headed scepticism explains, it is now more obvious than ever that the developing countries, led by India and China (the world’s largest CO2 emitter), haven’t the slightest intention of cutting back their emissions. China plans to build a new coal-fired power station every week until 2030. Each year it now adds more to global CO2 emissions than the entire contribution made by Britain (which is responsible for less than 2 per cent of the world total).

There is no way, Gerondeau argues, for us to prevent the world’s CO2 emissions from doubling by 2100. Fortunately, he goes on to explain why this will have remarkably little effect on climate: he has come to agree with all those eminent scientists who believe that this is largely shaped by natural factors beyond our control, such as the sun and ocean currents. Whatever little Britain chooses to do is thus quite irrelevant.

We can choose to commit economic suicide if we wish (and as our politicians, who voted all but unanimously for the Climate Change Act, seem agreed we should). But the fast-growing economies of China and India will sail on regardless, their added emissions making our own contribution look wholly insignificant.

No one is more committed to all these delusions than the man Mr Cameron has made responsible for our energy policy. Mr Huhne’s opinions on climate change, wind turbines and the rest are as remote from any practical reality as those of the scientists who came up with that fatuous little theory about mammoths.

Global warming may have played a part in the extinction of the mammoths. We might hope it will soon also be responsible for the political extinction of our woolly-minded energy minister - before he closes down our economy for no sane reason at all.



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



After much reading in the relevant literature, the following conclusions seem warranted to me. You should find evidence for all of them appearing on this blog from time to time:

The Greenie message is entirely emotional and devoid of all logic. They say that polar ice will melt and cause a big sea-level rise. Yet 91% of the world's glacial ice is in Antarctica, where the average temperature is around minus 40 degrees Celsius. The melting point of ice is zero degrees. So for the ice to melt on any scale the Antarctic temperature would need to rise by around 40 degrees, which NOBODY is predicting. The median Greenie prediction is about 4 degrees. So where is the huge sea level rise going to come from? Mars? And the North polar area is mostly sea ice and melting sea ice does not raise the sea level at all. Yet Warmists constantly hail any sign of Arctic melting. That the melting of floating ice does not raise the water level is known as Archimedes' principle. Archimedes demonstrated it around 2,500 years ago. That Warmists have not yet caught up with that must be just about the most inspissated ignorance imaginable. The whole Warmist scare defies the most basic physics. Sadly, what the Vulgate says in John 1:5 is still only very partially true: "Lux in tenebris lucet". There is still much darkness in the minds of men.

The repeated refusal of Warmist "scientists" to make their raw data available to critics is such a breach of scientific protocol that it amounts to a confession in itself. Note, for instance Phil Jones' Feb 21, 2005 response to Warwick Hughes' request for his raw climate data: "We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" Looking for things that might be wrong with a given conclusion is of course central to science. But Warmism cannot survive such scrutiny.

Most Greenie causes are at best distractions from real environmental concerns (such as land degradation) and are more motivated by a hatred of people than by any care for the environment

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

‘Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices. -- Prof. P. Stott

Comparing climate alarmist Hansen to Cassandra is WRONG. Cassandra's (Greek mythology) dire prophecies were never believed but were always right. Hansen's dire prophecies are usually believed but are always wrong (Prof. Laurence Gould, U of Hartford, CT)

The modern environmental movement arose out of the wreckage of the New Left. They call themselves Green because they're too yellow to admit they're really Reds. So Lenin's birthday was chosen to be the date of Earth Day. Even a moderate politician like Al Gore has been clear as to what is needed. In "Earth in the Balance", he wrote that saving the planet would require a "wrenching transformation of society".

For centuries there was a scientific consensus which said that fire was explained by the release of an invisible element called phlogiston. That theory is universally ridiculed today. Global warming is the new phlogiston. Though, now that we know how deliberate the hoax has been, it might be more accurate to call global warming the New Piltdown Man. The Piltdown hoax took 40 years to unwind. I wonder....

Bertrand Russell knew about consensus: "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

Motives: Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Policies: The only underlying theme that makes sense of all Greenie policies is hatred of people. Hatred of other people has been a Greenie theme from way back. In a report titled "The First Global Revolution" (1991, p. 104) published by the "Club of Rome", a Greenie panic outfit, we find the following statement: "In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... All these dangers are caused by human intervention... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself." See here for many more examples of prominent Greenies saying how much and how furiously they hate you.

The conventional wisdom of the day is often spectacularly wrong. The most popular and successful opera of all time is undoubtedly "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Yet it was much criticized when first performed and the unfortunate Bizet died believing that it was a flop. Similarly, when the most iconic piece of 20th century music was first performed in 1913-- Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" -- half the audience walked out. Those of us who defy the conventional wisdom about climate are actually better off than that. Unlike Bizet and Stravinsky in 1913, we KNOW that we will eventually be vindicated -- because all that supports Warmism is a crumbling edifice of guesswork ("models").

"The desire to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it" -- H L Mencken

Al Gore won a political prize for an alleged work of science. That rather speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I am not a global warming skeptic nor am I a global warming denier. I am a global warming atheist. I don't believe one bit of it. That the earth's climate changes is undeniable. Only ignoramuses believe that climate stability is normal. But I see NO evidence to say that mankind has had anything to do with any of the changes observed -- and much evidence against that claim.

Seeing that we are all made of carbon, the time will come when people will look back on the carbon phobia of the early 21st century as too incredible to be believed

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) must have foreseen Global Warmism. He said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?

For many people, global warming seems to have taken the place of "The Jews" -- a convenient but false explanation for any disliked event. Prof. Brignell has some examples.

Global warming skeptics are real party-poopers. It's so wonderful to believe that you have a mission to save the world.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

The claim that oil is a fossil fuel is another great myth and folly of the age. They are now finding oil at around seven MILES beneath the sea bed -- which is incomparably further down than any known fossil. The abiotic oil theory is not as yet well enough developed to generate useful predictions but that is also true of fossil fuel theory


"In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy". (Bob Parks, Physics, U of Maryland). No prizes for guessing how global warming skepticism is normally responded to.

"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin." -- Thomas H. Huxley

Time was, people warning the world "Repent - the end is nigh!" were snickered at as fruitcakes. Now they own the media and run the schools.

"One of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world" -- George Orwell, 1943 in Can Socialists Be Happy?

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported by the U.N. "experts" for the entire 20th century (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows, if anything, that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

Recent NASA figures tell us that there was NO warming trend in the USA during the 20th century. If global warming is occurring, how come it forgot the USA?

Warmists say that the revised NASA figures do not matter because they cover only the USA -- and the rest of the world is warming nicely. But it is not. There has NEVER been any evidence that the Southern hemisphere is warming. See here. So the warming pattern sure is looking moth-eaten.

There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts. - Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist (1613-1680)

The latest scare is the possible effect of extra CO2 on the world’s oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

In fact, ocean acidification is a scientific impossibility. Henry's Law mandates that warming oceans will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere (as the UN's own documents predict it will), making the oceans less acid. Also, more CO2 would increase calcification rates. No comprehensive, reliable measurement of worldwide oceanic acid/base balance has ever been carried out: therefore, there is no observational basis for the computer models' guess that acidification of 0.1 pH units has occurred in recent decades.

The chaos theory people have told us for years that the air movement from a single butterfly's wing in Brazil can cause an unforeseen change in our weather here. Now we are told that climate experts can "model" the input of zillions of such incalculable variables over periods of decades to accurately forecast global warming 50 years hence. Give us all a break!

If you doubt the arrogance [of the global warming crowd, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue

A "geriatric" revolt: The scientists who reject Warmism tend to be OLD! Your present blogger is one of those. There are tremendous pressures to conformity in academe and the generally Leftist orientation of academe tends to pressure everyone within it to agree to ideas that suit the Left. And Warmism is certainly one of those ideas. So old guys are the only ones who can AFFORD to declare the Warmists to be unclothed. They either have their careers well-established (with tenure) or have reached financial independence (retirement) and so can afford to call it like they see it. In general, seniors in society today are not remotely as helpful to younger people as they once were. But their opposition to the Warmist hysteria will one day show that seniors are not completely irrelevant after all. Experience does count (we have seen many such hysterias in the past and we have a broader base of knowledge to call on) and our independence is certainly an enormous strength. Some of us are already dead. (Reid Bryson and John Daly are particularly mourned) and some of us are very senior indeed (e.g. Bill Gray and Vince Gray) but the revolt we have fostered is ever growing so we have not labored in vain.

Scientists have politics too -- sometimes extreme politics. Read this: "This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child." -- Albert Einstein

The "precautionary principle" is a favourite Greenie idea -- but isn't that what George Bush was doing when he invaded Iraq? Wasn't that a precaution against Saddam getting or having any WMDs? So Greenies all agree with the Iraq intervention? If not, why not?

A classic example of how the sensationalist media distort science to create climate panic is here.

There is a very readable summary of the "Hockey Stick" fraud here

The Lockwood & Froehlich paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even have been the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and very detailed critiques here and here and here for more on the Lockwood paper and its weaknesses.

As the Greenies are now learning, even strong statistical correlations may disappear if a longer time series is used. A remarkable example from Sociology: "The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre’s yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at –0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper’s data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added." So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. In the Greenie case, the correlation between CO2 rise and global temperature rise stopped in 1998 -- but that could have been foreseen if measurements taken in the first half of the 20th century had been considered.

Relying on the popular wisdom can even hurt you personally: "The scientific consensus of a quarter-century ago turned into the arthritic nightmare of today."