Monday, November 30, 2009

Official inquiry into the hacked climate e-mails coming

Details of a university inquiry into e-mails stolen from scientists at one of the UK's leading climate research units are likely to be made public next week. Announcement of a chair of the inquiry and terms of reference will probably be made on Monday, a source says. The University of East Anglia's (UEA) press office did not confirm the date. But a spokesperson said information about the investigation into the hack at UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) would be made public very soon.

Scientists will be scrutinising the choice of chair and the terms of reference. One senior climate scientist told me that the chair would have to be a person accepted by both mainstream climate scientists and sceptics as a highly respected figure without strong connections to either group.

BBC News understands that senior individuals at UEA have acknowledged the potential damage to the university's reputation from the CRU affair and are anxious to clear the institution's name.

But there is a risk that some people will not accept the findings of any inquiry unless it is fully independent, as demanded by the former UK Chancellor Lord Lawson earlier in the week.

A petition is running on the 10 Downing Street website calling for CRU to be suspended from preparation of any government climate statistics until the allegations have been fully investigated.

Some researchers would not comment until they had seen UEA's nominated chairman and terms of reference. But Professor Sir John Houghton, chair of the IPCC's first science panel, said he would not support an inquiry as many of those demanding one were biased.

Phil Willis MP said the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee - of which he is chair - had written to UEA asking for copies of the e-mails and an explanation. Depending on the response, the committee will decide whether to proceed further.

Professor Sir David King, the former government chief scientist, told BBC News there are three key issues:

* how did the leakage occur - was there any payment in the process?

* the alleged behaviour of the scientists indicated by the e-mails

* does this have any impact on the scientific conclusion?

If an independent inquiry encompassed all three aspects, Professor Sir David said he would support it.


BBC coverup

The BBC has become tangled in the row over the alleged manipulation of scientific data on global warming. One of its reporters has revealed he was sent some of the leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia more than a month ago – but did nothing about them.

Despite the explosive nature of some of the messages – which revealed apparent attempts by the CRU’s head, Professor Phil Jones, to destroy global temperature data rather than give it to scientists with opposing views – Paul Hudson failed to report the story.

This has led to suspicions that the scandal was ignored because it ran counter to what critics say is the BBC’s unquestioning acceptance in many of its programmes that man-made climate change is destroying the planet.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: ‘We need to know more about the BBC’s role in this affair. Was Mr Hudson told by the BBC not to use the story?’

It was only after the same emails were published on a blog called Air Vent that Look North climate correspondent Mr Hudson owned up in his own blog to the fact he had also had the material. In a bizarre twist, he claimed the leak had been triggered by an article he had written that questioned global warming. Mr Hudson, 38, last night declined to comment. A BBC spokesman said: ‘Paul has nothing to add to what he has already said in his blog.’


This is the worst scientific scandal of our generation

Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with the Climategate whitewash, says Christopher Booker

A week after my colleague James Delingpole, on his Telegraph blog, coined the term "Climategate" to describe the scandal revealed by the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, Google was showing that the word now appears across the internet more than nine million times. But in all these acres of electronic coverage, one hugely relevant point about these thousands of documents has largely been missed.

The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Professor Philip Jones, the CRU's director, is in charge of the two key sets of data used by the IPCC to draw up its reports. Through its link to the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office, which selects most of the IPCC's key scientific contributors, his global temperature record is the most important of the four sets of temperature data on which the IPCC and governments rely – not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert it.

Dr Jones is also a key part of the closely knit group of American and British scientists responsible for promoting that picture of world temperatures conveyed by Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph which 10 years ago turned climate history on its head by showing that, after 1,000 years of decline, global temperatures have recently shot up to their highest level in recorded history.

Given star billing by the IPCC, not least for the way it appeared to eliminate the long-accepted Mediaeval Warm Period when temperatures were higher they are today, the graph became the central icon of the entire man-made global warming movement.

Since 2003, however, when the statistical methods used to create the "hockey stick" were first exposed as fundamentally flawed by an expert Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre, an increasingly heated battle has been raging between Mann's supporters, calling themselves "the Hockey Team", and McIntyre and his own allies, as they have ever more devastatingly called into question the entire statistical basis on which the IPCC and CRU construct their case.

The senders and recipients of the leaked CRU emails constitute a cast list of the IPCC's scientific elite, including not just the "Hockey Team", such as Dr Mann himself, Dr Jones and his CRU colleague Keith Briffa, but Ben Santer, responsible for a highly controversial rewriting of key passages in the IPCC's 1995 report; Kevin Trenberth, who similarly controversially pushed the IPCC into scaremongering over hurricane activity; and Gavin Schmidt, right-hand man to Al Gore's ally Dr James Hansen, whose own GISS record of surface temperature data is second in importance only to that of the CRU itself.

There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre's blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws.

They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.

This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones's refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got "lost". Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence.

But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. This comes up so often (not least in the documents relating to computer data in the Harry Read Me file) that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story. This is what Mr McIntyre caught Dr Hansen doing with his GISS temperature record last year (after which Hansen was forced to revise his record), and two further shocking examples have now come to light from Australia and New Zealand.

In each of these countries it has been possible for local scientists to compare the official temperature record with the original data on which it was supposedly based. In each case it is clear that the same trick has been played – to turn an essentially flat temperature chart into a graph which shows temperatures steadily rising. And in each case this manipulation was carried out under the influence of the CRU.

What is tragically evident from the Harry Read Me file is the picture it gives of the CRU scientists hopelessly at sea with the complex computer programmes they had devised to contort their data in the approved direction, more than once expressing their own desperation at how difficult it was to get the desired results.

The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods – not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics' work. It seems they are prepared to stop at nothing to stifle scientific debate in this way, not least by ensuring that no dissenting research should find its way into the pages of IPCC reports.

Back in 2006, when the eminent US statistician Professor Edward Wegman produced an expert report for the US Congress vindicating Steve McIntyre's demolition of the "hockey stick", he excoriated the way in which this same "tightly knit group" of academics seemed only too keen to collaborate with each other and to "peer review" each other's papers in order to dominate the findings of those IPCC reports on which much of the future of the US and world economy may hang. In light of the latest revelations, it now seems even more evident that these men have been failing to uphold those principles which lie at the heart of genuine scientific enquiry and debate. Already one respected US climate scientist, Dr Eduardo Zorita, has called for Dr Mann and Dr Jones to be barred from any further participation in the IPCC. Even our own George Monbiot, horrified at finding how he has been betrayed by the supposed experts he has been revering and citing for so long, has called for Dr Jones to step down as head of the CRU.

The former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, last week launching his new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, rightly called for a proper independent inquiry into the maze of skulduggery revealed by the CRU leaks. But the inquiry mooted on Friday, possibly to be chaired by Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society – itself long a shameless propagandist for the warmist cause – is far from being what Lord Lawson had in mind. Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.


Emails spreading the word

Just a few considerations in addition to previous remarks about the explosion of the East Anglia Climategate e-mails in America. The reaction is growing exponentially there. Fox News, Barack Obama’s Nemesis, is now on the case, trampling all over Al Gore’s organic vegetable patch and breaking the White House windows. It has extracted some of the juiciest quotes from the e-mails and displayed them on-screen, with commentaries. Joe Public, coast-to-coast, now knows, thanks to the clowns at East Anglia’s CRU, just how royally he has been screwed.

Senator James Inhofe’s Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has written to all the relevant US Government agencies, acquainting them with the nature of the e-mails. But the real car crash for Obama is on Capitol Hill where it is now confidently believed his Cap and Trade climate legislation is toast. It was always problematic; but with a growing awakening to the scale of the scientific imposture sweeping the world, as far as the Antipodes, the clever money is on Cap and Trade laws failing to pass, with many legislators sceptical and the mid-term elections looming ever closer.

At the more domestic level, the proposed ban on incandescent light bulbs, so supinely accepted in this servile state of Britain, is now provoking a huge backlash in America. US citizens do not like the government coming into their houses and putting their lights out. Voters may not understand the cut and thrust of climate debate at the technical level, but they know when the Man from Washington has crossed their threshold uninvited.

The term that Fox News is now applying to the Climategate e-mails is “game-changer”. For the first time, Anthropogenic Global Warming cranks are on the defensive, losing their cool and uttering desperate mantras such as “You can be sceptical, not denial.” Gee, thanks, guys. In fact we shall be whatever we want to be, without asking your permission.

At this rate, Copenhagen is going to turn into a comedy convention with the real world laughing at these liars. Now is the time to mount massive resistance to the petty tyrants and hit them where it hurts – in the wallet. Further down the line there may be, in many countries, a question of criminal prosecution of anybody who has falsified data to secure funds and impose potentially disastrous fiscal restraints on the world in deference to a massive hoax. It’s a new world out there, Al, and, as you may have noticed, the climate is very cold indeed.


Skeptical journalists excluded from climate conference

The Warmists have learned nothing from the CRU affair. Suppression of dissent is in the bones of Leftists

Attorneys for WND today threatened the United Nations with a lawsuit for its refusal, thus far, to issue press credentials for coverage of the global climate-change convention next month in Copenhagen. WND's senior staff writer Jerome Corsi has been seeking the credentials from the U.N. Framework Convention for Climate Change for weeks – providing all of the documentation requested and establishing his bona fides as a full-time reporter for the largest independent English-language Internet news organization in the world.

Until today, despite repeated requests, the UNFCCC had refused to acknowledge whether Corsi, a two-time No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, will be permitted to attend the meetings that have been hailed by organizers as a major step forward in "global governance."

The UNFCCC press office sent an e-mail to Corsi today insisting the agency had not responded because it is dealing with more than 4,000 applications and must "examine each on a case-by-case basis." "We regret that you have had to wait so long; however, it is not for any political reason. We would be happy to refer your application to New York for further consideration," the e-mail said.

"It takes time to make arrangements to travel to Copenhagen for an extended period, and I began to believe the U.N. was stalling," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "So we are formally putting the U.N. on notice that we will not accept its nondecision lying down." The conference begins Dec. 7.

"Your refusal to respond to these contacts leads to the conclusion that UNFCCC believes that if it ignores Dr. Corsi, he 'will go away,'" wrote Gary Kreep of the U.S. Justice Foundation. "Nothing can be further from the truth. If he is denied press credentials to this event as a result of the acts, or omissions, of UNFCCC, litigation will ensue that will result in substantial negative press coverage for UNFCCC, and for the attendees at the Copenhagen Conference as well. The specter of UNFCCC trying to allow attendance at the conference only of journalists who will report in what UNFCCC views to be a positive manner on the conference will not sit well with the American public, no matter what the outcome of the litigation."

Last year, the Department of Transportation barred Corsi from attending a news conference in which Secretary Mary Peters defended the controversial Bush administration program allowing Mexican trucks to travel freely on U.S. roads. Corsi, however, received White House press credentials to attend summits of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America in Quebec and in New Orleans.

Last weekend, the first president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, affirmed in a speech captured by the BBC his belief that "2009 is the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step toward the global management of our planet."

Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, asserts the real purpose of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18 is to use concern over "global warming" as a pretext to lay the foundation for a one-world government. At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen "this December, weeks away, a treaty will be signed," Monckton told a Minnesota Free Market Institute audience at Bethel University in St. Paul.

Monckton warned that President Obama supports the idea and is ready to sign on the dotted line. "Your president will sign it," he said. "Most of the Third World countries will sign it, because they think they're going to get money out of it. Most of the left-wing regimes from the European Union will rubber-stamp it. Virtually nobody won't sign it. I read that treaty and what it says is this: that a world government is going to be created. The word 'government' actually appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity." He has warned the proposal would cede U.S. sovereignty, mandate a massive wealth transfer from the United States to pay reparations for "climate debt" to Third World countries and create a new "world government" to enforce the treaty's provisions.

Meanwhile, in recent days, as WND reported, documents and e-mails retrieved by a computer hacker from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit indicate top climate-change scientists have manipulated data to hide cooling trends and worked together to marginalize scientists with opposing views.

The U.S. Senate's leading global-warming skeptic says he plans to demand an investigation into the allegedly fraudulent data manipulation unveiled at the highly influential British research center. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said he knew scientists were "cooking" information years ago. The e-mails, he said, were the proof, and now something needs to be done. "It is pretty serious," Inhofe said. "And since, you know, Barbara Boxer is the chairman and I'm the ranking member on Environment and Public Works, if nothing happens in the next seven days when we go back into session a week from today that would change this situation, I will call for an investigation.

Inhofe said he would ask for an investigation into the United Nations and its climate-change committee "on the way they cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."


Australia's kindly "Green" bureaucrats at work

A warning about giving them any more power. Anybody else would have just sent the document back for re-signing instead of applying the guillotine. And, far from apologizing, they are digging in their heels over their obnoxious behaviour. Just the usual Greenie people-hatred, I guess

A WOODSIDE pensioner has condemned "dead headed" government bureaucrats for refusing to pay a grant for an $8000 solar panel - because he signed the form in the wrong place. Don Purvis and his neighbours applied for funding under the federal Solar Homes plan, but his application was rejected because he signed his name in a box reserved for the installer's signature.

Eight other households at the Woodside Lodge Retirement Village are now looking forward to cheaper electricity, but not Mr Purvis, whose appeal was flatly turned down. "I signed where the installer should sign. The forms went off to Canberra and some less-than-nice public servant picked up that mine was signed in the wrong place," the 72-year-old said. Mr Purvis said he had to fill in the forms quickly after the Government announced it was closing the scheme 18 months early.

Despite writing to apologise and begging officials to reconsider, his appeal was rejected. "It could be they're trying to keep the numbers (of applicants) down after they brought forward the cut-off date. But I also think there is some dead-headed public servant not even bothering to read the letters," Mr Purvis said. "It's obvious my intent was there, the signature was on the paperwork."

Mr Purvis, a former Ansett employee who spent more than 50 years in the travel industry, is an AGL customer who spent $301 on his last quarterly electricity bill. He lives alone with Bernice, his golden retriever, for company. "I'm a pensioner. I can feed the dog and have a drink, that's all I need. It would make a difference,"' he said. "His neighbours have called for a change of heart.

A woman who lives nearby but asked not to be identified, said: "I was accepted along with several other people and assumed Don was too - there needs to be a little bit of leverage there."

Mr Purvis' local MP, Jamie Briggs, described his plight as "outrageous" and wrote to Environment Minister Peter Garrett urging him to overrule the decision, but has not yet received a reply. "Common sense would say this is a stupid thing for the Government to do," he said.

Mr Purvis also appealed for the Environment Minister to reconsider. "Hopefully, if Peter Garrett intervenes, they'll see the light, because it's just so bloody stupid," he said.



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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Forecasting experts' simple model leaves IPCC climate models cold

A simple model was found to be produce forecasts that are over seven times more accurate than forecasts from the procedures used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This important finding, is reported in an article titled "Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making" (PDF) in the latest issue of the International Journal of Forecasting. It is the result of a collaboration among forecasters J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School, Kesten C. Green of Monash University, and climate scientist Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

In an earlier paper (PDF), Armstrong and Green found that the IPCC's approach to forecasting climate violated 72 principles of forecasting. To put this in context, would you put your children on a trans-Atlantic flight if you knew that the plane had failed engineering checks for 72 out of 127 relevant items on the checklist?

The IPCC violations of forecasting principles were partly due to their use of models that were too complex for the situation. Contrary to everyday thinking, complex models provide forecasts that are less accurate than forecasts from simple models when the situation is complex and uncertain.

Confident that a forecasting model that followed scientific forecasting principles would provide forecasts that were more accurate than those provided by the IPCC, Green, Armstrong and Soon used a model that was more consistent with forecasting principles and knowledge about climate. The forecasting model was the so-called "naive" model. It assumes that things will remain the same. It is such a simple model that people are generally not aware of its power. In contrast to the IPCC's central forecast that global mean temperatures will rise by 3 degrees C over a century, the naive model simply forecasts that temperatures next year and for each of 100 years into the future would remain the same as the last years'.

The naive model approach is confusing to non-forecasters who are aware that temperatures have always varied. Moreover, much has been made of the observation that the temperature series that the IPCC uses shows a broadly upward trend since 1850 and that this is coincident with increasing industrialization and associated increases in manmade carbon dioxide gas emissions.

In order to test the naive model, annual forecasts were made from one to 100 years in the future starting with 1850's global average temperature as the forecast for the years 1851 to 1950. This process was repeated by updating for each year up through 2007. This produced 10,750 annual average temperature forecasts for all horizons. It was the first time that the IPCC's forecasting procedures had been subject to a large-scale test of the accuracy of the forecasts that they produce.

Over all the forecasts, the IPCC error was 7.7 times larger than the error from the naive model. While the superiority of the naive model was modest for one- to ten-year-ahead forecasts (where the IPCC error was 1.5 times larger), its superiority was enormous for the 91- to 100-year-ahead forecasts, where the IPCC error was 12.6 times larger.

Is it proper to conduct validation tests? In many cases, such as the climate change situation, people claim that: "Things have changed! We cannot use the past to forecast." While they may think that their situation is unique, there is no logic to this argument. The only way to forecast the future is by learning from the past. In fact, the warmers claims are also based on their analyses of the past.

Could one improve upon the naive model? The naive model violates some principles. For example, it violates the principle that one should use as long a time series as possible, because it bases all forecasts on simply the global average temperature for the single year just prior to making the forecasts. It also fails to combine forecasts from different reasonable methods. The authors planned to start simple with this self-funded project and to then obtain funding to undertake a more ambitious forecasting effort to ensure that all principles were followed. This would no doubt improve accuracy. However, the forecasts from the naive model were very accuurate. For example, the mean absolute error for the 108 fifty-year ahead forecasts was only 0.24 degrees C. It is difficult to see any economic value to reducing such a small forecast error.

Above article received by email. Author: Scott Armstrong []

Climate change data dumped

Leaky Jonathan does a straight report for once (below). Is his faith wavering? He does not however go as far as puncturing the excuse given by the CRU below: That the dumped data was on obsolete media. Transferring it to modern magnetic media would have cost virtually nothing in terms of both space and money

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation. The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals - stored on paper and magnetic tape - were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU's director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data. In a statement on its website, the CRU said: "We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data."

The CRU is the world's leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records. "The CRU is basically saying, `Trust us'. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science," he said.

Jones was not in charge of the CRU when the data were thrown away in the 1980s, a time when climate change was seen as a less pressing issue. The lost material was used to build the databases that have been his life's work, showing how the world has warmed by 0.8C over the past 157 years. He and his colleagues say this temperature rise is "unequivocally" linked to greenhouse gas emissions generated by humans. Their findings are one of the main pieces of evidence used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says global warming is a threat to humanity.


The great climate change science scandal

The report below appeared in "The Times" of London, which means that the news concerned has now gone mainstream and has become general public knowledge. And it is again an objective article from the keyboard of Leaky Jonathan! Quite a change! He can obviously tell which way the wind is blowing

The storm began with just four cryptic words. "A miracle has happened," announced a contributor to Climate Audit, a website devoted to criticising the science of climate change. "RC" said nothing more - but included a web link that took anyone who clicked on it to another site, Real Climate. There, on the morning of November 17, they found a treasure trove: a thousand or so emails sent or received by Professor Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

Jones is a key player in the science of climate change. His department's databases on global temperature changes and its measurements have been crucial in building the case for global warming.

What those emails suggested, however, was that Jones and some colleagues may have become so convinced of their case that they crossed the line from objective research into active campaigning. In one, Jones boasted of using statistical "tricks" to obliterate apparent declines in global temperature. In another he advocated deleting data rather than handing them to climate sceptics. And in a third he proposed organised boycotts of journals that had the temerity to publish papers that undermined the message.

It was a powerful and controversial mix - far too powerful for some. Real Climate is a website designed for scientists who share Jones's belief in man-made climate change. Within hours the file had been stripped from the site. Several hours later, however, it reappeared - this time on an obscure Russian server. Soon it had been copied to a host of other servers, first in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and then Europe and America. What's more, the anonymous poster was determined not to be stymied again. He or she posted comments on climate-sceptic blogs, detailing a dozen of the best emails and offering web links to the rest. Jones's statistical tricks were now public property.

Steve McIntyre, a prominent climate sceptic, was amazed. "Words failed me," he said. Another, Patrick Michaels, declared: "This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud."

Inevitably, the affair became nicknamed Climategate. For the scientists, campaigners and politicians trying to rouse the world to action on climate change the revelations could hardly have come at a worse time. Next month global leaders will assemble in Copenhagen to seek limits on carbon emissions. The last thing they need is renewed doubts about the validity of the science.

The scandal has also had a huge personal and professional impact on the scientists. "These have been the worst few days of my professional life," said Jones. He had to call on the police for protection after receiving anonymous phone calls and personal threats.

Why should a few emails sent to and from a single research scientist at a middle-ranking university have so much impact? And most importantly, what does it tell us about the quality of the research underlying the science of climate change?

THE hacking scandal is not an isolated event. Instead it is the latest round of a long-running battle over climate science that goes back to 1990. That was when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the group of scientists that advises governments worldwide - published its first set of reports warning that the Earth faced deadly danger from climate change. A centrepiece of that report was a set of data showing how the temperature of the northern hemisphere was rising rapidly.

The problem was that the same figures showed that it had all happened before. The so-called medieval warm period of about 1,000 years ago saw Britain covered in vineyards and Viking farmers tending cows in Greenland. For any good scientist this raised a big question: was the recent warming linked to humans burning fossil fuels or was it part of a natural cycle?

The researchers set to work and in 1999 a group led by Professor Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, came up with new numbers showing that the medieval warm period was not so important after all. Some bits of the Atlantic may have been warm for a while, but the records suggested that the Pacific had been rather chilly over the same period - so on average there was little change. Plotted out, Mann's data turned into the famous "hockey stick" graph. It showed northern hemisphere temperatures as staying flat for hundreds of years and then rising steeply from 1900 until now. The implication was that this rise would continue, with potentially deadly consequences for humanity.

That vision of continents being hit by droughts and floods while the Arctic melts away has turned a scientific debate into a highly emotional and political one. The language used by "warmists" and sceptics alike has become increasingly polarised. George Monbiot, widely respected as a writer on green issues, has branded doubters "climate deniers", a phrase uncomfortably close to holocaust denial. Sceptics, particularly in America, have suggested that scientists who believe in climate change are part of a global left-wing conspiracy to divert billions of dollars into green technology.

A more cogent criticism is that there has been a reluctance to acknowledge dissent on the question of climate science. Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned green campaigner, has described the climate debate as "settled". Yet the science, say critics, has not been tested to the limit. This is why the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia is so significant.

Its researchers have built up records of how temperatures have changed over thousands of years. Perhaps the most important is the land and sea temperature record for the world since the mid-19th century. This is the database that shows the "unequivocal" rise of 0.8C over the last 157 years on which Mann's hockey stick and much else in climate science depend.

Some critics believe that the unit's findings need to be treated with more caution, because all the published data have been "corrected" - meaning they have been altered to compensate for possible anomalies in the way they were taken. Such changes are normal; what's controversial is how they are done. This is compounded by the unwillingness of the unit to release the original raw data.

David Holland, an engineer from Northampton, is one of a number of sceptics who believe the unit has got this process wrong. When he submitted a request for the figures under freedom of information laws he was refused because it was "not in the public interest". Others who made similar requests were turned down because they were not academics, among them McIntyre, a Canadian who runs the Climate Audit website.

A genuine academic, Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada, also tried. He said: "I was rejected for an entirely different reason. The [unit] told me they had obtained the data under confidentiality agreements and so could not supply them. This was odd because they had already supplied some of them to other academics, but only those who support the idea of climate change."

It was against this background that the emails were leaked last week, reinforcing suspicions that scientific objectivity has been sacrificed. There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: "Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists. "It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge."

Professor Mike Hulme, a fellow researcher of Jones at the University of East Anglia and author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, said: "The attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organisation within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science."

There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data. This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: "Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites ... We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (ie, quality controlled and homogenised) data."

If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world's understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: "Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, `Trust us'."

WHERE does this leave the climate debate? While the overwhelming belief of scientists is that the world is getting warmer and that humanity is responsible, sceptical voices are increasing. Lord Lawson, the Tory former chancellor, announced last week the creation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank, to "bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant". Lawson said: "Climate change is not being properly debated because all the political parties are on the same side, and there is an intolerance towards anybody who wants to debate it. It has turned climate change from being a political issue into a secular religion."

The public are understandably confused. A recent poll showed that 41% accept as scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made, while 32% believe the link is unproven and 15% said the world is not warming.

This weekend many of Jones's colleagues were standing by him. Tim Lenton, professor of earth system science at UEA, said: "We wouldn't have anything like the understanding of climate change that we do were it not for the work of Phil Jones and his colleagues. They have spent decades putting together the historical temperature record and it is good work." The problem is that, after the past week, both sceptics and the public will require even more convincing of that.


Big backdown. Shamed University of East Anglia to release climate data

This is still much less of a concession than it appears. It will only be data as "edited" by them which will appear -- unless their claim to have "lost" the raw data was a lie. It will still be interesting, though. Comparing their edited data with any available sources of raw data should be MOST instructive. It will reveal any biases in their editing methods -- and expect plenty of those. It is precisely such comparisons that they have obviously been fearing for years

Leading British scientists who were accused of manipulating climate change data have agreed to publish their figures in full. The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, "stolen" by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics. In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.

The publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The full data, when disclosed, is certain to be scrutinised by both sides in the fierce debate.

A grandfather with a training in electrical engineering dating back more than 40 years emerged from the leaked emails as a leading climate sceptic trying to bring down the scientific establishment on global warming. David Holland, who describes himself as a David taking on the Goliath that is the prevailing scientific consensus, is seeking prosecutions against some of Britain's most eminent academics for allegedly holding back information in breach of disclosure laws. Mr Holland, of Northampton, complained to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last week after the leaked emails included several Freedom of Information requests he had submitted to the CRU, and scientists' private responses to them.

Within hours, a senior complaints officer in the ICO wrote back by email: "I have started to examine the issues that you have raised in your letter and I am currently liaising with colleagues in our Enforcement and Data Protection teams as to what steps to take next." The official also promised to investigate other universities linked to the CRU, which is one of the world's leading authorities on temperature levels and has helped to prove that man-made global warming not only exists but will have catastrophic consequences if not tackled urgently. Mr Holland is convinced the threat has been greatly exaggerated.

In one email dated May 28, 2008, one academic writes to a colleague having received Mr Holland's request: "Oh MAN! Will this crap ever end??"

Mr Holland, who graduated with an external degree in electrical engineering from London University in 1966 before going on to run his own businesses, told The Sunday Telegraph: "It's like David versus Goliath. Thanks to these leaked emails a lot of little people can begin to make some impact on this monolithic entity that is the climate change lobby." He added: "These guys called climate scientists have not done any more physics or chemistry than I did. A lifetime in engineering gives you a very good antenna. It also cures people of any self belief they cannot be wrong. You clear up a lot of messes during a lifetime in engineering. I could be wrong on global warming - I know that - but the guys on the other side don't believe they can ever be wrong."

Professor Trevor Davies, the university's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement, said yesterday: "CRU's full data will be published in the interests of research transparency when we have the necessary agreements. It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "We are grateful for the necessary support of the Met Office in requesting the permissions for releasing the information but understand that responses may take several months and that some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data."

Among the leaked emails disclosed last week were an alleged note from Professor Phil Jones, 57, the director of the CRU and a leading target of climate change sceptics, to an American colleague describing the death of a sceptic as "cheering news"; and a suggestion from Prof Jones that a "trick" is used to "hide the decline" in temperature. They even include threats of violence. One American academic wrote to Prof Jones: "Next time I see Pat Michaels [a climate sceptic] at a scientific meeting, I'll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted."

Dr Michaels, tracked down by this newspaper to the Cato Institute in Washington DC where he is a senior fellow in environmental studies, said last night: "There were a lot of people who thought I was exaggerating when I kept insisting terrible things are going on here. "This is business as usual for them. The world might be surprised but I am not. These guys have an attitude."

Prof Jones, who has refused to quit despite calls even from within the green movement, said last week in a statement issued through University of East Anglia, "My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues." He suggested the theft of emails and publication first on a Russian server was "a concerted attempt to put a question mark over the science of climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen talks".

He added: "Our global temperature series tallies with those of other, completely independent, groups of scientists working for NASA and the National Climate Data Centre in the United States, among others. Even if you were to ignore our findings, theirs show the same results. The facts speak for themselves; there is no need for anyone to manipulate them.


The Litigation Begins

This is a post from a few days ago but I thought it was still worth a mention

Yesterday "the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed three Notices of Intent to File Suit against NASA and its Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), for those bodies' refusal--for nearly three years--to provide documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act," CEI fellow Christopher Horner announces at Pajamas Media:
The information sought is directly relevant to the exploding "Climategate" scandal revealing document destruction, coordinated efforts in the U.S. and UK to avoid complying with both countries' freedom of information laws, and apparent and widespread intent to defraud at the highest levels of international climate science bodies. Numerous informed commenters had alleged such behavior for years, all of which appears to be affirmed by leaked emails, computer code, and other data from the Climatic Research Unit of the UK's East Anglia University.

All of that material, and that sought for years by CEI, goes to the heart of the scientific claims and campaign underpinning the Kyoto Protocol, its planned successor treaty, "cap-and-trade" legislation, and the EPA's threatened regulatory campaign to impose similar measures through the back door.

A lawyer writes us that "'the purloined 'global warming emails' suggest several lines of legal inquiry":
Tortious interference: For researchers and academicians, publication in peer-reviewed journals is important to advancement, raises, grant funding, etc. Wrongful interference with the ability to publish has monetary and reputational damages. If that interference is based not on editorial judgment of worthiness for publication, but rather on protecting reputations, scientific positions, political goals or "places in history" (as mentioned in one email), then it could give rise to liability in tort for the individual scientist and possibly for the university or organization for which he works.

Breach of faculty ethics standards or contracts: Most universities and research organizations have ethics clauses in their faculty/employee manuals and in their contracts with faculty/researchers. If (as suggested by the purloined emails) these individuals cooked data or manipulated assumptions to achieve preferred outcomes, or denied others access to data essential for replication of result that is essential to the scientific method, they could have violated university or organizational ethics standards.

State-chartered universities: Some of these individuals appear to work for state-chartered and state-funded institutions, and might well be classified as state employees (and thereby eligible for generous state benefits). The conduct suggested by the purloined emails might violate state ethics or funding policies. State governments and legislatures therefore might have a basis for inquiry and oversight.

Federal grants: Federal grants typically have ethics/integrity clauses to assure that the research funded by the grant is credible and reliable (and to assure that the agency can avoid accountability if it isn't). As noted, the purloined emails suggest that data might have been cooked and assumptions might have been manipulated to generate a predetermined outcome. If true, and if the work in question was funded by federal grant, the researchers in question might well have violated their federal grant contracts--for which there are legal consequences. Inspectors general of the grant agencies should be in position to make inquiry if the data/assumptions in question could be linked in time and topic to a contemporaneous federal grant to the researchers in question.


California's "smart" electriciy meters causing uproar

Not highlighted below is the main reason for installing these meters: They enable the government to switch your airconditioning on and off any time they like. It is the Democrats' alternative to building new power stations in the teeth of Greenie opposition. Californians will be FORCED to reduce their electricity usage

A push by California's electricity provider to modernize its power grid is turning into a public relations disaster, as allegations mount that it's responsible for stratospheric overcharges. At issue are the 10 million smart meters Pacific Gas & Electric, or PG&E, is rolling out to customers throughout the state. The digital meters, unlike the analog devices they're replacing, provide two-way communications between electricity users and the power stations that serve them. That eliminates the need for meter readers to visit each customer to know how much power has been consumed.

It also turns the power grid into a computerized network that can provide real-time data operators can use to make their grids "smart," at least in theory. During periods of peak usage, for instance, the meters can automatically tell washing machines to stop running until power is more plentiful.

Over the past few months, PG&E's rollout has been pre-empted by complaints that the meters are wildly inaccurate. Most notably, a lawsuit filed on behalf of Bakersfield, California-based resident Pete Flores claimed his bills jumped from about $200 on average to $500 to $600, even though there was no change in his usage pattern.

The Utility Reform Network, a non-profit that advocates on behalf of power users, has received more than 100 smart-meter complaints, according to the lawsuit. California State Senator Dean Florez has also jumped on the bandwagon, telling one newspaper "They are fraud meters" and calling for a moratorium on their installation. Articles such as this one in which customers decry the unreliability of the new meters, is now a regular staple in state news feeds.

Michael Louis Kelly, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the problem is that there wasn't enough testing of the meters before they were installed. "You're transmitting things wirelessly and you're relying upon computer interfaces to accurately transmit information that may or may not be happening," he told The Register. "If this was a weights and measures issue, every scale at Wholefoods, for example, is tested to make sure if you buy and ounce of something, it's an ounce."

PG&E, and the providers of the smart meter gear take strong exception to those claims. "The manufacturers test and certify the meters before they leave the factory," said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno. "We also do some testing of meters upon arrival, and when meters are deployed in the field, before we convert the billing, we also check usage reads to ensure they're consistent with a customer's historic usage." Once the complaints started rolling in, PG&E began paying visits to angry customers to test their meters. So far, it has tested more than 1,100 of them and none has been found faulty, he said.

Moreno said customers' bills are rising not as a result of the new meters, but because of recent rate increases and a hotter-than-normal summer, which has driven up air-conditioning costs.

Landis+Gyr and Silver Spring Networks, two of the companies providing technology for the smart meters, also insist their gear has been rigorously tested. Among other criteria, the equipment must pass accuracy and performance muster spelled out in in ANSI C12.20, they say. "The system itself is working exactly as intended," said Eric Dresselhuys, an executive vice president for Silver Spring. "The accuracy of the meters and the accuracy of the system in total is excellent."

Erfan Ibrahim, a technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute, also argues that the meters are accurate. "If the accuracy was in question, all the meters would be showing errors because it would be a structural issue," he said. To date, the complaints amount to a tiny fraction of the people using them.

The controversy has grown so heated that the California Public Utilities Commission recently agreed to hire an independent consultant to test the meters. PG&E's Moreno said the utility supports the move.



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


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Central England Temperature series

The very long thermometer-reading series from central England (from 1659 on) is of huge interest because it does NOT rely on dubious proxies -- and it shows the 20th century as being unexceptional. I have therefore made a number of allusions to it on this blog.

The Warmists have noted it too and one of them -- Tamino -- has gone to work and made a hockey stick out of it -- using the expected dubious statistical techniques. Tamino is one of the guys mentioned in the hacked CRU emails.

That his results are incredible can I think most convincingly be seen from his plot of the raw data (below)

It is clearly a random walk and any trend up or down is a statistical creation rather than anything real. One of my readers taken an interest in tracking down just what Tamino did to get his magical result. He offers the following graphic:

LARGER VERSION of the graphic HERE

He comments: Tamino's work takes a bit of following. I initially thought his moving average had been moved to match a "mere smoothing function". I was wrong. He simply used a centered average. The "mere smoothing function" is one of the most important breakthroughs of all time. The Savitzky-Golay filter of 1964 can remove noise without softening peaks. I next thought he had smoothed the moving average instead of the data. A second mistake. With more serious software I easily reproduced his graph from original data. He has taken advantage of a severe end-effect which requires lots of homework to comprehend. He also used a lowest order filter setting so peaks *are* in fact quashed in the middle as well! Higher order settings let peaks breathe but still have huge end effects. End effect means his upswing in today's news may be retroactively pulled back down if cooler years are added in the future. It will take 15 years for that part of the graph to become etched in stone. Over 200 commenters failed to detect such subterfuge

As an old FORTRAN-using statistical analysis programmer myself, I am well aware of how you can lie with statistics. That is why it is important to do courses in statistics -- so you can spot it when you are being "had". And much of my academic writing was devoted to pointing out how statistical nullities were being paraded as if they told us something. So it is no surprise to see the statistical jiggery-pokery that has been going on in climate science. Mountains are regularly made out of pimples and if there are not even pimples to be had, one will be created.

Patterns of Change

Below is an attempt by "Bristlecone" Mann to support the Warmist contention that the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were "local" events. Given his chronic reliance on discredited proxies, however, this should detain no-one. Amusing that he starts his data survey immediately AFTER the Roman Warm Period. Did that period not fit the pattern he claims to find?

The global climate record of the past 1500 years shows two long intervals of anomalous temperatures before the obvious anthropogenic warming of the 20th century: the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly between roughly 950 and 1250 A.D. and the Little Ice Age between around 1400 and 1700 A.D. It has become increasingly clear in recent years, however, that climate changes inevitably involve a complex pattern of regional changes, whose inhomogeneities contain valuable insights into the mechanisms that cause them. Mann et al. (p. 1256) analyzed proxy records of climate since 500 A.D. and compared their global patterns with model reconstructions. The results identify the large-scale processes—like El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation—that can account for the observations and suggest that dynamic responses to variable radiative forcing were their primary causes.


The journal abstract:

Global Signatures and Dynamical Origins of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly

By Michael E. Mann et al.

Global temperatures are known to have varied over the past 1500 years, but the spatial patterns have remained poorly defined. We used a global climate proxy network to reconstruct surface temperature patterns over this interval. The Medieval period is found to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally. This period is marked by a tendency for La Niña–like conditions in the tropical Pacific. The coldest temperatures of the Little Ice Age are observed over the interval 1400 to 1700 C.E., with greatest cooling over the extratropical Northern Hemisphere continents. The patterns of temperature change imply dynamical responses of climate to natural radiative forcing changes involving El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation–Arctic Oscillation.

Science 27 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5957, pp. 1256 - 1260

The New Zealand Warmists are crooks too

From Anthony Watts through a report from the Climate Science Coalition of New Zealand, we find some more climate alarmist chicanery
The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.

In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century:

The figure they released

But, taking a look at the real, raw data, we get

As Anthony points out
Gone is the relentless rising temperature trend, and instead there appears to have been a much smaller growth in warming, consistent with the warming up of the planet after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.

The house of cards is falling, climate alarmists. It will be interesting to see what happens when NASA and the Goddard Center are forced to release their raw data. Look, we "skeptics" and "deniers" do not deny that there has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. We deny that Mankind is mostly, or solely, responsible for it, and, if you were really interested in real science, rather then agenda based science, you would have our same opinion. You've created a tenuous link between CO2 release and rising temps, and, when that didn't pan out fully, what with the cooler years, you started calling it climate change, to somehow hide how the release of greenhouse gasses, things that hold in, to put it imprecisely, heat, can cause a decline or stagnant temps. You've faked links to all around, such as with Mt. Kilimanjaro. Perhaps it's time for you to be honest, and get interested in real science, eh?

Meanwhile, it appears that several of the gents involved in the ClimateGate emails might have broken laws.


CRU data-fudging again

A French scientist’s fine-grain temperature data show results quite different from CRU

By Phil Green, a statistician

The global average temperature is calculated by climatologists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The temperature graph the CRU produces from its monthly averages is the main indicator of global temperature change used by the International Panel on Climate Change, and it shows a steady increase in global lower atmospheric temperature over the 20th century. Similar graphs for regions of the world, such as Europe and North America, show the same trend. This is consistent with increasing industrialization, growing use of fossil fuels, and rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

It took the CRU workers decades to assemble millions of temperature measurements from around the globe. The earliest measurements they gathered came from the mid 19th century, when mariners threw buckets over the side of their square riggers and hauled them up to measure water temperature. Meteorologists increasingly started recording regular temperature on land around the same time. Today they collect measurements electronically from national meteorological services and ocean-going ships.

Millions of measurements, global coverage, consistently rising temperatures, case closed: The Earth is warming. Except for one problem. CRU’s average temperature data doesn’t jibe with that of Vincent Courtillot, a French geo-magneticist, director of the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, and a former scientific advisor to the French Cabinet. Last year he and three colleagues plotted an average temperature chart for Europe that shows a surprisingly different trend. Aside from a very cold spell in 1940, temperatures were flat for most of the 20th century, showing no warming while fossil fuel use grew. Then in 1987 they shot up by about 1 C and have not shown any warming since. This pattern cannot be explained by rising carbon dioxide concentrations, unless some critical threshold was reached in 1987; nor can it be explained by climate models.

Courtillot and Jean-Louis Le Mouël, a French geo-magneticist, and three Russian colleagues first came into climate research as outsiders four years ago. The Earth’s magnetic field responds to changes in solar output, so geomagnetic measurements are good indicators of solar activity. They thought it would be interesting to compare solar activity with climatic temperature measurements.

Their first step was to assemble a database of temperature measurements and plot temperature charts. To do that, they needed raw temperature measurements that had not been averaged or adjusted in any way. Courtillot asked Phil Jones, the scientist who runs the CRU database, for his raw data, telling him (according to one of the ‘Climategate’ emails that surfaced following the recent hacking of CRU’s computer systems) “there may be some quite important information in the daily values which is likely lost on monthly averaging.” Jones refused Courtillot’s request for data, saying that CRU had “signed agreements with national meteorological services saying they would not pass the raw data onto third parties.” (Interestingly, in another of the CRU emails, Jones said something very different: “I took a decision not to release our [meteorological] station data, mainly because of McIntyre,” referring to Canadian Steve McIntyre, who helped uncover the flaws in the hockey stick graph.)

Courtillot and his colleagues were forced to turn to other sources of temperature measurements. They found 44 European weather stations that had long series of daily minimum temperatures that covered most of the 20th century, with few or no gaps. They removed annual seasonal trends for each series with a three-year running average of daily minimum temperatures. Finally they averaged all the European series for each day of the 20th century.

CRU, in contrast, calculates average temperatures by month — rather than daily — over individual grid boxes on the Earth’s surface that are 5 degrees of latitude by 5 degrees of longitude, from 1850 to the present. First it makes hundreds of adjustments to the raw data, which sometimes require educated guesses, to try to correct for such things as changes in the type and location of thermometers. It also combines air temperatures and water temperatures from the sea. It uses fancy statistical techniques to fill in gaps of missing data in grid boxes with few or no temperature measurements. CRU then adjusts the averages to show changes in temperature since 1961-1990.

CRU calls the 1961-1990 the “normal” period and the average temperature of this period it calls the “normal.” It subtracts the normal from each monthly average and calls these the monthly “anomalies.” A positive anomaly means a temperature was warmer than CRU’s normal period. Finally CRU averages the grid box anomalies over regions such as Europe or over the entire surface of the globe for each month to get the European or global monthly average anomaly. You see the result in the IPCC graph nearby, which shows rising temperatures.

The decision to consider the 1961-1990 period as ‘normal’ was CRUs. Had CRU chosen a different period under consideration, the IPCC graph would have shown less warming, as discussed in one of the Climategate emails, from David Parker of the UK meteorological office. In it, Parker advised Jones not to select a different period, saying “anomalies will seem less positive than before if we change to newer normals, so the impression of global warming will be muted.” That’s hardly a compelling scientific justification!

It is well known to statisticians that in any but the simplest data sets, there are many possible ways to calculate an indicator using averages. Paradoxically, and counter-intuitively, they often contradict each other. As a simple example of how the same data can be teased to produce divergent results, consider the batting averages of David Justice and Derek Jeter. For each of three years in 1995-97, Justice had a higher batting average than Jeter did. Yet, overall, Jeter had the highest batting average.

In addition to calculating temperature averages for Europe, Courtillot and his colleagues calculated temperature averages for the United States. Once again, their method yielded more refined averages that were not a close match with the coarser CRU temperature averages. The warmest period was in 1930, slightly above the temperatures at the end of the 20th century. This was followed by 30 years of cooling, then another 30 years of warming.

Courtillot’s calculations show the importance of making climate data freely available to all scientists to calculate global average temperature according to the best science. Phil Jones, in response to the email hacking, said that CRU’s global temperature series show the same results as “completely independent groups of scientists.” Yet CRU would not share its data with independent scientists such as Courtillot and McIntyre, and Courtillot’s series are clearly different.

At the upcoming Copenhagen conference, governments are expected to fail to agree to an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a more modest, if mundane goal for them: They should agree to share the data from their national meteorological services so that independent scientists can calculate global climatic temperature and identify the roles of carbon dioxide and the sun in changing it.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

UN scientists turn on each other

UN Scientist Declares Climategate colleagues Mann, Jones and Rahmstorf 'should be barred from the IPCC process' -- They are 'not credible any more'

A UN scientist is declaring that his three fellow UN climate panel colleagues "should be barred from the IPCC process." In a November 26, 2009 message on his website, UN IPCC contributing author Dr. Eduardo Zorita writes: "CRU files: Why I think that Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred from the IPCC process."

Zorita writes that the short answer to that question is: "Because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore."

Zorita indicates that he is aware that he is putting his career in jeopardy by going after the upper echelon of UN IPCC scientists. "By writing these lines I will just probably achieve that a few of my future studies will, again, not see the light of publication," Zorita candidly admits, a reference to the ClimateGate emails discussing how to suppress data and scientific studies that do not agree with the UN IPCC views.

Zorita was a UN IPCC Contributing Author of the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. Since 2003, Zorita has headed the Department of Paleoclimate and has been a senior scientist at the Institute for Coastal Research of the GKSS Research Centre in Germany. Zorita has published more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific studies.

Zorita's stunning candor continued, noting that scientists who disagreed with the UN IPCC climate view were "bullied and subtly blackmailed."

"In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the 'politically correct picture'. Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the 'pleasure' to experience all this in my area of research," Zorita explained.

Zorita's revelations are the latest in a series of continuing fallout to the global warming establishment and to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since the email and data scandal dubbed "ClimateGate" broke earlier this month.

Zorita's defection from the global warming establishment comes after the shocking news today that one of the scientists employed at ground zero of what has been termed "ClimateGate" has suggested disbanding the United Nations climate panel, the IPCC. See: Pressure Mounts From Inside: Disband IPCC? Scientist from U. of East Anglia Suggests 'UN IPCC has run its course...politicizes climate science...authoritarian, exclusive form of knowledge production' - Mike Hulme. Excerpt: "ClimateGate reveals science has become 'too partisan, too centralized...more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures'

SOURCE (See the original for links)

My version of the hockey stick

A rather sarcastic post from a very naughty person

I present to you my own version of the Hockey Stick, made famous by Michael Mann. Can you guess what it represents?

I'll admit that I have cheated here and hidden the data at the end of the series to "hide the decline".

This is a graph of the grants provided to the CRU from 1991 to the present, in UK pounds. You can find the original figures here.

In the interests of openeness, this is what I did:

  1. I took each grant, and calculated how many months it ran for
  2. I then divided the total grant by the number of months, giving an average "income" from that grant per month over the life of the grant
  3. I then summed up the total income per month from all the grants and plotted it, fiddling with the trendline until it produced a hockey stick. I had to use a 6 order polynomial to get a hockey stick - if you use anything less than that, a hockey stick fails to appear
  4. I then pulled a "trick" to eliminate the data after August 2004, as the budget went into a sad decline



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


Friday, November 27, 2009

It's not the emails ...

The computer files released by the CRU hacker are MUCH more damaging than the emails, damaging though those are. The computer code and coding notes reveal that the CRU data do NOT back up the CRU claims. One excerpt below with much more soon to come, I would think

In addition to e-mail messages, the roughly 3,600 leaked documents posted on sites including and include computer code and a description of how an unfortunate programmer named "Harry" -- possibly the CRU's Ian "Harry" Harris -- was tasked with resuscitating and updating a key temperature database that proved to be problematic. Some excerpts from what appear to be his notes:
I am seriously worried that our flagship gridded data product is produced by Delaunay triangulation - apparently linear as well. As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless. It also means that we cannot say exactly how the gridded data is arrived at from a statistical perspective - since we're using an off-the-shelf product that isn't documented sufficiently to say that. Why this wasn't coded up in Fortran I don't know - time pressures perhaps? Was too much effort expended on homogenisation, that there wasn't enough time to write a gridding procedure? Of course, it's too late for me to fix it too. Meh.

I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that's the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight... So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!

One thing that's unsettling is that many of the assigned WMo codes for Canadian stations do not return any hits with a web search. Usually the country's met office, or at least the Weather Underground, show up – but for these stations, nothing at all. Makes me wonder if these are long-discontinued, or were even invented somewhere other than Canada!

Knowing how long it takes to debug this suite - the experiment endeth here. The option (like all the anomdtb options) is totally undocumented so we'll never know what we lost. 22. Right, time to stop pussyfooting around the niceties of Tim's labyrinthine software suites - let's have a go at producing CRU TS 3.0! since failing to do that will be the definitive failure of the entire project.

Ulp! I am seriously close to giving up, again. The history of this is so complex that I can't get far enough into it before by head hurts and I have to stop. Each parameter has a tortuous history of manual and semi-automated interventions that I simply cannot just go back to early versions and run the update prog. I could be throwing away all kinds of corrections - to lat/lons, to WMOs (yes!), and more. So what the hell can I do about all these duplicate stations?...

As the leaked messages, and especially the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file, found their way around technical circles, two things happened: first, programmers unaffiliated with East Anglia started taking a close look at the quality of the CRU's code, and second, they began to feel sympathetic for anyone who had to spend three years (including working weekends) trying to make sense of code that appeared to be undocumented and buggy, while representing the core of CRU's climate model.

One programmer highlighted the error of relying on computer code that, if it generates an error message, continues as if nothing untoward ever occurred. Another debugged the code by pointing out why the output of a calculation that should always generate a positive number was incorrectly generating a negative one. A third concluded: "I feel for this guy. He's obviously spent years trying to get data from undocumented and completely messy sources."

Programmer-written comments inserted into CRU's Fortran code have drawn fire as well. The file says: "Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!" and "APPLY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION." Another,, says: "Low pass filtering at century and longer time scales never gets rid of the trend - so eventually I start to scale down the 120-yr low pass time series to mimic the effect of removing/adding longer time scales!"


Climategate: this is our Berlin Wall moment!

By James Delingpole

I’ve just had a great, very sympathetic interview about Climategate on LBC radio (London’s main commercial news and talk station) with Petrie Hosken. She told me she has been simply inundated with callers, all of them utterly unconvinced that human influence has made any significant on so-called “Global Warming”. She was desperate to get a few balancing calls from people who do believe in AGW but just couldn’t find any.

Can you imagine this happening a year ago? Or even a month ago? Until Climategate, we “Sceptics” were considered freaks – almost as bad as Holocaust deniers – beyond the pale of reasonable balanced discussion. Suddenly we’re the norm. Climategate has finally given us the chance to express openly what many of us secretly felt all along:

AGW is about raising taxes; increasing state control; about a few canny hucksters who’ve leapt on the bandwagon fleecing us rotten with their taxpayer subsidised windfarms and their carbon-trading; about the sour, anti-capitalist impulses of sandal-wearing vegans and lapsed Communists who loathe the idea of freedom and a functioning market economy.

We know it’s all a crock and we’re not going to take it. This is our Berlin Wall moment! They can’t stop us now!


Climategate: how they all squirmed

Among the many great amusements of the Climategate scandal are the myriad imaginative excuses being offered by the implicated scientists and their friends in the MSM as to why this isn’t a significant story. Here are some of the best. Most Unexpectedly Honourable Response: The Guardian’s eco-columnist George Monbiot. Say what you like about the Great Moonbat, the heliophobic Old Stoic is the ONLY member of the Climate-Fear-Promotion camp to have delivered a proper apology: "I apologise. I was too trusting of some of those who provided the evidence I championed. I would have been a better journalist if I had investigated their claims more closely."

Most brazen “doth protest too much” defence: Real Climate is the website established and run by a claque of scientist friends of Michael Mann – inventor of the discredited Hockey Stick curve. They are also closely associated with the crowd at the disgraced Climate Research Unit. They clearly feel no apology is necessary: "More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords."

Well, boys, if you say so…. Least convincing “The Dog Ate My Homework”excuse: Professor Phil ‘It was a typing error’ Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit. Many of the potentially incriminating Climategate emails were the work of CRU’s director Phil Jones, including the infamous one where he discussed “trick” to “hide the decline” in global temperatures. But it’s OK. As he tells his sympathetic audience at the Guardian it was a perfectly honest mistake: “The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste,”

Which does make you wonder how the sentence would have read had he just had a little longer to type it correctly. “Hiding the sausage?” “Heeding the decline?” “Playing a straight bat and keeping everything above board and scientifically scrupulous as we always do here at CRU”. Yes, that’ll be it – the last one. But you can see how easily the slip was made.

Most Disingenuous Cop-Out: Andrew Revkin of the New York Times. For years Andrew Revkin has been using the NYT – aka Pravda – to push the Al-Gore-approved AGW narrative so kindly embellished for him by likeminded scientist chums at parti pris institutions like CRU. But, like any decent reporter, Revkin is above all else a principled seeker-after-truth. That’s why he had absolutely no hesitation in furnishing NYT readers with every juicy detail of the biggest science scandal of the age. Or at least he would have done, had it not been for the following problem, expressed on his Dot Earth blog: "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here."

Damn right, Andrew. Don’t you be troubling your readers with any of that “damning revelations” nonsense. If only journalists had shown similar integrity at Watergate, why, good old Richard Nixon might have stayed in power long enough to make America truly great.

Most Haughtily Dismissive “Nothing To See Here” Apologia: George Marshall. Here is George Marshall putting us right in the Guardian’s Comment Is Free section: "Leaked email climate smear was a PR disaster for UEA. There was no evidence of conspiracy among climate scientists in the leaked emails – so why was the University of East Anglia’s response so pathetic?"

George who? Fortunately the great Bishop Hill has been doing some digging. According to the Guardian, “George Marshall is the founder and director of projects at the Climate Outreach and Information Network. He posts regularly to the blog”. But as Bishop Hill has discovered it’s rather more sinister than that. This COIN charity has been funded to the tune of £700,000 over two years by DEFRA (US readers note: the dismal branch of the UK government responsible for murdering livestock, destroying agriculture, persecuting farmers etc) in order to: “profoundly change the attitude of rank and file union members; generating visible collective reduction action, establishing a social norm for personal action, and creating a persuasive synergy and cross over between personal action, work-placed programmes such as ‘Greening the workplace’, and the emissions reduction targets of employers.”

So not so much a case of Comment Is Free then. More a case of Comment Is Very Expensive If You’re A Taxpayer.

Most Ludicrously Biased Environment Correspondent, Even By The Ludicrously Biased Standards of Environment Correspondents: the BBC’s Roger Harrabin. When Harrabin (rather reluctantly one imagines) broke the Climategate story to BBC listeners a few days ago, guess where he turned for authoritative independent analysis of its significance. Yes, that’s right: to those completely unbiased scientists at Real Climate (above). They confirmed Harrabin’s suspicions that this wasn’t – as that “small minority” of pesky sceptics had been saying – a searing indictment of the AGW-promotion lobby’s dubious practices, but just a routine criminal break-in.

Now that he’s had a bit more time to digest the story, though, Harrabin has realised that the story is much, MUCH more important than that. Yes: it has much to tell us, he concludes, about the issue of data protection: "But this affair will surely change things: From now, scientific teams and peer-review groups will be much more cautious about how they word e-mails. Researchers at CRU complain that no one will want to do collaborative work if their private e-mail conversations may later be revealed. But many commercial corporate organisations at risk of hacking have developed ways of communicating that don’t leave them open to sabotage."

Thanks Roger. It’s thanks to responsible, studiedly neutral reporting like that that we’ve all come so fervently to trust the BBC.


How to Forge a Consensus

The impression left by the Climategate emails is that the global warming game has been rigged from the start.

The climatologists at the center of last week's leaked-email and document scandal have taken the line that it is all much ado about nothing. Yes, the wording of the some of their messages was unfortunate, but they insist this in no way undermines the underlying science, which is as certain as ever.

"What they've done is search through stolen personal emails—confidential between colleagues who often speak in a language they understand and is often foreign to the outside world," Penn State's Michael Mann told Reuters Wednesday. Mr. Mann added that this has made "something innocent into something nefarious."

Phil Jones, Director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, from which the emails were lifted, is singing from the same climate hymnal. "My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues," he said this week.

We don't doubt that Mr. Jones would have phrased his emails differently if he expected them to end up in the newspaper. His May 2008 email to Mr. Mann regarding the U.N.'s Fourth Assessment Report: "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?" does not "read well," it's true. (Mr. Mann has said he didn't delete any such emails.)

But the furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or even whether climatologists are nice people in private. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at in the first place, and how even now a single view is being enforced. In short, the impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.

According to this privileged group, only those whose work has been published in select scientific journals, after having gone through the "peer-review" process, can be relied on to critique the science. And sure enough, any challenges that critics have lobbed at climatologists from outside this clique are routinely dismissed and disparaged.

This past September, Mr. Mann told a New York Times reporter in one of the leaked emails that: "Those such as [Stephen] McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted." Mr. McIntyre is a retired Canadian businessman who fact-checks the findings of climate scientists and often publishes the mistakes he finds—including some in Mr. Mann's work—on his Web site, He holds the rare distinction of having forced Mr. Mann to publish a correction to one of his more-famous papers.

As anonymous reviewers of choice for certain journals, Mr. Mann & Co. had considerable power to enforce the consensus, but it was not absolute, as they discovered in 2003. Mr. Mann noted to several colleagues in an email from March 2003, when the journal "Climate Research" published a paper not to Mr. Mann's liking, that "This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the 'peer-reviewed literature'. Obviously, they found a solution to that—take over a journal!"

The scare quotes around "peer-reviewed literature," by the way, are Mr. Mann's. He went on in the email to suggest that the journal itself be blackballed: "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board." In other words, keep dissent out of the respected journals. When that fails, re-define what constitutes a respected journal to exclude any that publish inconvenient views. It's easy to manufacture a scientific consensus when you get to decide what counts as science.

The response to this among the defenders of Mr. Mann and his circle has been that even if they did disparage doubters and exclude contrary points of view, theirs is still the best climate science we've got. The proof for this is circular. It's the best, we're told, because it's the most-published and most-cited—in that same peer-reviewed literature.

Even so, by rigging the rules, they've made it impossible to know how good it really is. And then, one is left to wonder why they felt the need to rig the game in the first place, if their science is as robust as they claim. If there's an innocent explanation for that, we'd love to hear it.


'Big Government, Big Business and Big Green don't give a s**t about 'the science'‏

Comment from Canada

If you're wondering how the robot-like march of the world's politicians towards Copenhagen can possibly continue in the face of the scientific scandal dubbed "climategate," it's because Big Government, Big Business and Big Green don't give a s*** about "the science." They never have.

What "climategate" suggests is many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't either. Apparently they stifled their own doubts about recent global cooling not explained by their computer models, manipulated data, plotted ways to avoid releasing it under freedom of information laws and attacked fellow scientists and scientific journals for publishing even peer-reviewed literature of which they did not approve.

Now they and their media shills -- who sneered that all who questioned their phony "consensus" were despicable "deniers," the moral equivalent of those who deny the Holocaust -- are the ones in denial about the enormity of the scandal enveloping them. So they desperately try to portray it as the routine "messy" business of science, lamely insisting, "nothing to see here folks, move along."

Before the Internet -- which has given ordinary people a way to fight back against the received wisdom of so-called "wise elites" -- they might have gotten away with it. But not now, as knowledgeable climate bloggers are advancing the story and forcing the co-opted mainstream media to cover a scandal most would rather ignore.

The problem, however, is those who hijacked science to predict a looming Armageddon unless we do exactly as they say, have already done their damage. The moment they convinced politicians the way to avert the End of Days was to put a price on emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the unholy alliance of Big Government, Big Business and Big Green was forged. Big Government wants more of your taxes. Big Business wants more of your income. Big Green wants you and your children to bow down to its agenda of enforced austerity.

What about saving the planet, you ask? This was never about saving the planet. This is about money and power. Your money. Their power. If it was about saving the planet, "cap-and-trade" (a.k.a. cap-and-tax) -- how Big Government, Big Business and Big Green ludicrously pretend we will "fight" global warming and "save the planet" -- would have been consigned to the dust bin of history because it doesn't work. We know it doesn't work because Europe's five-year-old cap-and-trade market -- the Emissions Trading Scheme -- has done nothing to make the world cooler.

All it's done is make hedge fund managers, speculators and Big Energy giddy with windfall profits, while making everyone else poorer by driving up the cost of energy, and thus of most goods and services, which need energy to be lighted, heated, cooled, grown, constructed, manufactured, produced and transported.

Readers often ask how they can fight back. First, forget about asking when the warmists will see reason. They won't. Instead, send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by e-mail (, fax (1-613-941-6900) or call toll-free (1-866-599-4999) and ask to be put through to the Office of the Prime Minister. Do the same for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff by e-mail, ( fax, (1-613-947-0310), or call-toll free (1-866-599-4999) and ask to be put through to the Liberal Leader's Office. Tell them you want no part of the madness in Copenhagen. Blow their phones off the hook.


Black Friday Payback: Vote with your Wallet -- Don't Buy Products from Companies That Support President Obama's Cap-and-Trade Policy

Today the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research calls on patriotic Americans to vote with their wallets starting on Black Friday and avoid buying products from companies that are working with President Obama and liberals in Congress to impose cap-and-trade policies.

"The only reason why cap-and-trade is on the national scene is because CEOs of major corporations are actively lobbying for the legislation. Every time we buy products from these companies our money is rewarding CEOs who are the enemies of liberty," said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., Director of the Free Enterprise Project. "Cap-and-trade legislation will cause higher energy prices, lower economic growth and increase unemployment. The consequence of this legislation will cause a severe reduction in our standard of living."

Companies such as Starbucks, Levi Strauss and Company and Nike are members of the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy -- a group that supports aggressive federal laws to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and limits on construction of coal-fired power plants.

General Electric, BP, Shell and Johnson & Johnson are members of the United States Climate Action Partnership - a lobbying group comprised of corporations and environmental special interest groups that have been active in supporting cap-and-trade legislation.

Al Gore is on Apple's board of directors and the company recently canceled its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of differences over global warming policies.

"Avoiding that Starbucks cup of coffee and that BP gas station are easy choices we can make every day. Companies need to know there will be a price to pay for colluding with environmental activists and liberal politicians that seek to loot us of our liberty," said Borelli.

"We don't need to wait for elections to exercise our belief in limited government and individual liberty. Every day we have an opportunity to vote with our wallet and avoid products from companies that are advancing the left-wing agenda," said Borelli.

The following is a partial list of companies whose products should be avoided on Black Friday and going forward until they stop lobbying for cap-and-trade: Starbucks, Levi Strauss & Company, Nike, Apple, Timberland, Gap Inc., General Electric, BP, Shell and Johnson & Johnson.



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


Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Monbiot: Still shaken but not stirred

Monbiot has made his mark by shrieking louder than most about climate change so he can't back down now but he is smart enough to see that the hacked CRU materials cannot be ignored -- which is what most Warmists are trying to do

I have seldom felt so alone. Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. The emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, they say, are a storm in a tea cup, no big deal, exaggerated out of all recognition. It is true that climate change deniers have made wild claims which the material can't possibly support (the end of global warming, the death of climate science). But it is also true that the emails are very damaging.

The response of the greens and most of the scientists I know is profoundly ironic, as we spend so much of our time confronting other people's denial. Pretending that this isn't a real crisis isn't going to make it go away. Nor is an attempt to justify the emails with technicalities. We'll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.

It is true that much of what has been revealed could be explained as the usual cut and thrust of the peer review process, exacerbated by the extraordinary pressure the scientists were facing from a denial industry determined to crush them. One of the most damaging emails was sent by the head of the climatic research unit, Phil Jones. He wrote "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

One of these papers which was published in the journal Climate Research turned out to be so badly flawed that the scandal resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief. Jones knew that any incorrect papers by sceptical scientists would be picked up and amplified by climate change deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry, who often – as I documented in my book Heat – use all sorts of dirty tricks to advance their cause.

Even so, his message looks awful. It gives the impression of confirming a potent meme circulated by those who campaign against taking action on climate change: that the IPCC process is biased. However good the detailed explanations may be, most people aren't going to follow or understand them. Jones's statement, on the other hand, is stark and easy to grasp.

In this case you could argue that technically he has done nothing wrong. But a fat lot of good that will do. Think of the MPs' expenses scandal: complaints about stolen data, denials and huffy responses achieved nothing at all. Most of the MPs could demonstrate that technically they were innocent: their expenses had been approved by the Commons office. It didn't change public perceptions one jot. The only responses that have helped to restore public trust in Parliament are humility, openness and promises of reform.

When it comes to his handling of Freedom of Information requests, Professor Jones might struggle even to use a technical defence. If you take the wording literally, in one case he appears to be suggesting that emails subject to a request be deleted, which means that he seems to be advocating potentially criminal activity. Even if no other message had been hacked, this would be sufficient to ensure his resignation as head of the unit.

I feel desperately sorry for him: he must be walking through hell. But there is no helping it; he has to go, and the longer he leaves it, the worse it will get. He has a few days left in which to make an honourable exit. Otherwise, like the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, he will linger on until his remaining credibility vanishes, inflicting continuing damage to climate science.

Some people say that I am romanticising science, that it is never as open and honest as the Popperian ideal. Perhaps. But I know that opaqueness and secrecy are the enemies of science. There is a word for the apparent repeated attempts to prevent disclosure revealed in these emails: unscientific.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the university's handling of it, which has been a total trainwreck: a textbook example of how not to respond. RealClimate reports that "We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day." In other words, the university knew what was coming three days before the story broke. As far as I can tell, it sat like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting for disaster to strike.

When the emails hit the news on Friday morning, the university appeared completely unprepared. There was no statement, no position, no one to interview. Reporters kept being fobbed off while CRU's opponents landed blow upon blow on it. When a journalist I know finally managed to track down Phil Jones, he snapped "no comment" and put down the phone. This response is generally taken by the media to mean "guilty as charged". When I got hold of him on Saturday, his answer was to send me a pdf called "WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 1999". Had I a couple of hours to spare I might have been able to work out what the heck this had to do with the current crisis, but he offered no explanation.

By then he should have been touring the TV studios for the past 36 hours, confronting his critics, making his case and apologising for his mistakes. Instead, he had disappeared off the face of the Earth. Now, far too late, he has given an interview to the Press Association, which has done nothing to change the story.

The handling of this crisis suggests that nothing has been learnt by climate scientists in this country from 20 years of assaults on their discipline. They appear to have no idea what they're up against or how to confront it. Their opponents might be scumbags, but their media strategy is exemplary.

The greatest tragedy here is that despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore's brilliant new book Climate Cover-up, it is now the climate scientists who look bad. By comparison to his opponents, Phil Jones is pure as the driven snow. Hoggan and Littlemore have shown how fossil fuel industries have employed "experts" to lie, cheat and manipulate on their behalf. The revelations in their book (as well as in Heat and in Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On) are 100 times graver than anything contained in these emails.

But the deniers' campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way. No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.


Tom Yulsman of CE Journal is shaken, not stirred too

He still has not lost the faith but calls for an enquiry

George Monbiot’s post at the Guardian today is a must-read for anyone who covers climate change as a journalist — and for anyone who is concerned about our future in a warming world. “I have seldom felt so alone,” Monbiot writes. “Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial.”

Denial of the impact of the hacked emails, and particularly this statement from Phil Jones, director of the U.K.’s Climatic Research Unit: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” ....

As someone who has written about the science for decades — and trusted the peer-review process to guide me toward trustworthy information — I’m standing with George Monbiot on this. I believe the CRU should agree to an independent examination of what happened. Not a trial. Not an adversarial process. But one that is unbiased and focused on restoring public faith in the science that institution produces.

In the meantime, I’m certainly curious to know who leaked the emails. But answering that question is a sideshow compared to the main event. Journalists should do what they can to take a closer look both at the peer review process and what specifically went on in this case. We must be careful not to jump to conclusions. One instance of a possible problem with peer review does not indict the entire enterprise. But here is where the journalistic watchdog role can actually do a service by helping to preserve the overall integrity of the process — and prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.


Shock -- Et Tu, DeSmogBlog? Climate Alarmists at DeSmogBlog Call for Phil Jones to Offer his Resignation!

Comment from Richard Littlemore, who "has been trained by Al Gore as part of The Climate Project, an initiative designed to educate the public about climate change".

Monbiot turns the pointy end of his pen toward CRU Director Phil Jones, calling (for a second time) for his resignation and - well - tut-tutting at the whole inadequate reaction to the current tempest. As Monbiot says, when you have been caught making a mistake, there are two reactions: you can wear out your voice - and your credibility - arguing over the details and severity of the actual offense; or you can say you're sorry and show why we should believe that you won't do it again.

Currently, Jones and company have been leaning toward the former, and they're drawing out a tedious conversation in the process.

It's hard to watch this - galling to see the deniers having such fun in this manufactured debacle. It's worse having to listen to sage advice that goes against people whom we have come to respect enormously. I don't personally know that Jones has to be sacked, but I have to admit that it would be savvy for him to at least offer to step aside before someone in authority makes a move to give him a push.


The collapse of the global warming myth

By Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., a nuclear scientist who has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level

If this scandal of November 20, 2009 continues in the horrendous path it’s taken, it should be the end of the man-made CO2 global warming hypothesis. Beyond the warmers inability to prove their simple hypothesis after more than 20 years and $80 billion dollars, has been their collective bullying behavior patterns. This bullying has been so outrageous and out of character of honest scientists, that it is as offensive as it is noticeable. This behavior suggested to me that this group of people were being less than honorable in their conduct of their work.

In a speech last Spring in New York by John Sununu I was reminded that the climate warming leaders were high paid bullies who determined who got funded (the recipients of those $89 Billion), and who didn't, who got published and who didn't, and who got the acclaim, and who didn't. Much of this is now confirmed in the released emails from Hadley/CRU.

The release of 62 Mbytes of the climate research data from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in computer files has been momentous, almost unique in human history ( During the 24 hours following the release of these 62 Mbytes of documents, emails, letters, and reports, all became public knowledge around the world and thousands are pouring over the contents.

While still in the beginning stages of analyses, gleaned information has been showing horrendous levels of corruption, suborning subterfuge and deceptions, and controlling the science journals in limiting publications of research which do not support the AGW hypothesis. I have never ever seen anything like this, so high level, so unethical, and so evil.

I say evil since the unproven AGW hypothesis promoted by these insiders, is the basis for the trillion dollar Cap and Trade legislation and the redistribution of trillions from the US to the rest of the world. It is the basis for the Copenhagen meeting coming up in December which is designed how best to cripple the economics of the west through increased energy costs and energy rationing. It is the basis for the EU and the UN asking the US to pay trillions in reparations to all of those 3rd world nations which have been "damaged" by global warming.

These nation members walk the halls of the UN promoting "justifications” for reparations for their "damages" and their need for our wealth. It is the basis for demanding green energy sources to be installed with trillions of our dollars all over the 3rd world. Green energy sources already installed in the 3rd world, are not working well either. This debate has profound global implications and I find it contemptible that adults, Ph.D.s or not, would works so fanatically to achieve these destructive goals.

I also point out the thousands of media, academics, environmentalists, legislators, and movie elites who have taken strong and powerful positions in this debate, as if the AGW hypothesis has been validated. It hasn't. All of them have failed to ask the simple question "Show us the evidence that man-made CO2 causes global warming." That such people, presumed to be Americans, could promote and defend such a dangerous policy for our nation, is stunning.

Many of the global warming supporters seem to think that a photo of a polar bear on an ice floe is evidence that man-made CO2 is the cause!! The implied message is that this has never happened before, that man is causing it, that it is dangerous, which is all nonsense. They also seem to think that a photo-shopped video of a tidal wave roaring through downtown Manhattan is evidence of sea level rise, or that an iceberg calving from a glacier is evidence. We might also add that consensus is not evidence either, nor are appeals from high authority, nor are computer model predictions. If it weren’t for faulty computer models there would be no controversy at all, since real world measured evidence is still unreported.

Too few seem to have the wits to ask for a thermometer or ask for real Temp data, or sea level data, or hurricane data, or polar ice data. Also missing from the discussions is the large program needed to achieve high quality of all of the data, and how that is sustained. I have never seen a word of a Quality Assessment/Quality Control programs being used within the climate science realm. Then there is the entire issue of pathetically poor quality of the climate computer modeling programs. Anthony Watts at has undertaken to examine the low quality of the temperature stations and the low grade erratic temperature data they produce. His findings also show low grade station and data management as practiced by our climate agencies.

The British seem now to have realized the damage to all of science which has been done by the AGW crowd at the Climate Research Unit (CRU). In response to recent revelations contained in leaked e-mails originating from the CRU at the University of East Anglia, Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into the matter. While reserving judgment on the contents of the e-mails, Lord Lawson said these are very serious issues and allegations that reach to the heart of scientific integrity and credibility:

"Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals."

"There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay."

People in the media, academics, legislators, movie elites, and environmentalist group have been quite sympathetic to the AGW promoters, and with apologies to Sherlock Holmes they have been the “The Dogs Which Didn't Bark”. They knew or should have known that these climate crimes were being committed and they knew or should have known who was committing them. They not only did nothing to stop them, they attacked, insulted, and dismissed those who objected. These are actions of dangerous people, too, and are unforgivable.


Disagreeable truth about the coming Copenhagen charade

We are about to see an advanced case of "agreementism" between world leaders at the Copenhagen climate change meeting. It is a painful and embarrassing disorder with familiar results. Every case begins the same way. Leaders gather in summits. They confer. They reach earnest consensus that they need to solve a common problem. They commission studies and agree to meet again. Next time, they tell reporters, they will make real decisions.

This looks terrifically statesmanlike and carries lots of photo opportunities. But then they realise it will be unpopular and difficult to implement necessary reforms. Troubled, the weaker among the leaders gaze into their quivering souls and choose self-preservation over problem-solving. At this instant, the fire of activism departs.

But their huffing and puffing self-promotion has built a peak of expectation. They can't just walk away and admit failure. The conditions are now ripe - the next time the leaders gather, agreementism sets in. In a mild case, leaders simply draw up high-sounding communiques. In numbered paragraphs, they give a strong impression of firm agreement and resolute action, but without actually binding themselves to any. But in an advanced case, leaders know that this simple ruse is unconvincing. The problem is too big, and the leaders have talked too much, to hope that they can get away this easily. They need more than a mere communique. In this stage of the disease, the symptoms deteriorate markedly. Leaders display a disturbing symptom known as "concerted unilateralism".

This is a sophisticated way of saying that countries can do whatever the hell they like, but they will write something pompous about it first. And they will all do it together. This is precisely the symptom that world leaders are now displaying ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit - the so-called COP15 - in two weeks.

This was supposed to be the meeting that sealed a legally binding treaty on all 191 nations of the world. Successor to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, it would be the pact to save the planet from the devastating effects of global warming. But you could pick the acute onset of advanced agreementism the moment the meeting's chairman, Lars Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, uttered the following words at a breakfast meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Singapore on November 15: "The Copenhagen Agreement should be global, comprehensive and substantial, yet flexible enough to accommodate countries with very different national circumstances."

Allow me to interpret: "To frightened leaders everywhere, do not panic! Each of you will write down on a piece of paper what you want to do about global warming. There is nothing compulsory. Make it sound impressive. We are supposed to be saving the entire planet, remember? Whatever. "Next, we will collect your papers. We will staple them together. We will call it the Copenhagen Agreement. We will declare victory. We will all have our pictures taken. And we will tell reporters that, next time, we will make real decisions. You know the drill."

How can we be so certain of this outcome? We have two ways to be sure. First, Rasmussen went on to spell it out in unmistakeable terms. "Will it be binding? Yes, it will be binding. Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come."

Take special note of the all-important distinction between a "legally binding instrument" and a "political binding agreement". A politician's binding agreement? That's in the same category as a campaign promise. And celebrate the wonderful non-sequitur of "immediate action in the years to come".

In a masterstroke, Rasmussen called the format "one agreement - two purposes". The first purpose, he says, is to state political intent, and the second is to keep talking about a legal treaty for later. The media shorthand for this has become a "two-step" agreement.

Second, we know how this will end because we've seen it twice before in recent history. We've seen precisely the same format of "concerted unilateralism" on different continents and in different fields, and each time with the same result.

One was the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum's "Bogor Declaration" of 1994. In that much-ballyhooed agreement, the APEC leaders at their summit in Indonesia said "we announce our commitment to complete the achievement of our goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific". For developed countries this would be "no later than the year 2010 and developing economies no later than the year 2020". But there was no binding agreement. It was a political deal which allowed each country to do what it pleased. What happened?' "The Bogor commitments have been all but ignored," summarised the Lowy Institute's Allan Gyngell and Malcolm Cook in a 2005 paper. Some APEC leaders still fantasise about a free-trade zone.

The other was the European Union's "Lisbon Strategy" of 2000. This was supposed to make Europe the world's most dynamic economy by 2010. But individual governments ignored the deal and continued to pander to unions and bureaucracies. The director of the International Centre for Money and Banking Studies in Geneva, Charles Wyplosz, wrote: "The strategy rests on peer pressure - the naming and shaming of governments that fail to make progress. In practice, however, peer pressure has become peer collusion." The result, in the words of the director of the European Policy Centre, Antonio Missiroli, was "shameful". The European economy remains sclerotic.

Bogor and Lisbon are clear precedents for Copenhagen's "concerted unilateralism". Nothing in any such agreement carries any real force. Only the countries that already wanted to act will act, and the rest will just sit around and watch. But there will certainly be agreement.


Token ETS the best idea for Australia

By Greg Sheridan

THE battle of expectations over the Copenhagen climate change conference next month has been fascinating to watch. At first, everything had to be done by Copenhagen, which would produce a binding agreement: targets, offsets, compensation for low-income countries and all the rest. Now everyone knows that nothing real will be achieved at Copenhagen. Of course, whatever happens there will be hailed as a great success. But nothing much will happen.

Watching the debate, I am afraid I have become a climate change agnostic. I am not a denier, nor really a sceptic. I am agnostic. I do not know whether the science that says we're all doomed if we don't de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.

But I am more than half convinced by the argument that we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt. It would be good if we polluted less. I'd like to end the dependence of Western societies on Middle Eastern oil. And one day, even if climate change is not a killer, the world will run out of fossil fuel. So by all means let's diversify our energy sources and clean up our environments. But I don't want us to go broke in the process.

And given that what we physically do in Australia will have almost no effect on the global climate, whatever the scientific faith you choose to believe in, we would be much better off facing the future, whatever it is, as a rich nation rather than a poor one.

In trying to evaluate this issue I have tried to gauge the seriousness of the key players. I'm not convinced that anybody in power anywhere really thinks this is an end-of-the-world issue. Certainly no one is behaving as if it is.

Kevin Rudd said this week that climate change is an "existential, fundamental" issue, then came up with an emissions trading scheme package so recondite and larded with giveaways that it seems unlikely to have any great effect on greenhouse gas emissions. I don't want to misrepresent our beloved PM, but this is really Rudd adopting the agnostic attitude, with his usual rhetoric of moral grandeur attached: sensibly do as little as necessary and see what comes up.

It would be folly for Australia to get out in front. In the end I suspect we'll do more or less whatever the Americans do, plus or minus half a per cent. Copenhagen will not produce anything like the binding deal originally envisaged, but will produce some movement to lower carbon emissions. Australia needs to shelter in the mainstream of developed but resource-rich countries (which really means the US), doing our bit but not overdoing it.

Washington under Barack Obama certainly doesn't appear to regard climate change as an existential question. Obama has clearly given health care a higher priority. He may well announce some sort of target before the Copenhagen meeting but no real economic action will be taken before next year and my guess is the economic action ultimately will be pretty equivocal.

The Europeans look, at times, as though they believe their own rhetoric. But most of their ostensible greenhouse reductions come from switching from coal to gas, decommissioning East German industry, exporting factory jobs to China and creative accounting.

As for China and the other developing nations, there is not the slightest chance they will sign up to any binding targets. To get them on board at Copenhagen, the world has to accept the most spectacularly rubbery figures. China, and all the countries I love such as India and Indonesia, will commit to actions only on the basis of what the boffins call counterfactuals: facts that don't exist.

A couple of years ago Indonesia's environment minister told me his country would cut emissions by 19 per cent. This sounded impressive until I realised he meant 19 per cent of what would have happened had there been no change. That kind of calculation is infinitely malleable.

A couple of weeks ago in New Delhi, India's Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor told me India had 17.5 per cent of the world's population but produced only 4 per cent of emissions. He said: "Per capita we are about 120th in the world. We're not part of the cause of the problem, but we do see the moral need to be part of the solution." He said quite a lot of nice things about the environment, but concluded: "We are still a country that cannot take 24 hours of electricity for granted. Six hundred million Indians are still not connected to electricity. If we approach development as consciously green minded, can we get help for the technology that works? (We also) have a duty to our people's development."

Two things strike me about Tharoor's elegant words. First, where is the technology that works, at anything like a reasonable price, in generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions? Second, no Indian politician is going to tell 600 million fellow Indians they can't have electricity, but everyone in the West can. I describe this not to condemn it or to praise it but simply to register it as reality. The vast majority of new electricity generation in India, as in China and most of the developing world, comes from coal-fired power stations, and still there is no clean coal technology that works.

You cannot give electricity to 600 million people in India, and similar numbers in China, without massively increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The only technology that could possibly generate electricity on a big scale other than coal is nuclear. The Rudd government shows all its fine words on climate change are not to be taken too seriously by refusing to export uranium to India. No one in the world really takes this issue as seriously as they pretend to. Neither should we.



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


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

George Monbiot (the original moonbat) is shaken, not stirred:

It's no use pretending this isn't a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced they are genuine, and I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them.

Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence of attempts to prevent scientific data from being made public.

Worse, some suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by sceptics, or to keep it out of a Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The head of the unit, Phil Jones, should resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

But do these revelations justify the sceptics' claims that this is "the final nail in the coffin" of global warming theory? Not at all. They damage the credibility of three or four scientists. They raise questions about the integrity of one or perhaps two out of several hundred lines of evidence. To bury man-made climate change, a far wider conspiracy would have to be revealed.

More HERE (Sarcasm follows the excerpt above. Is that the best he can do? No alternative evidence offered for his beliefs??)

A victim of the CRU climate conspirators comments

From Hans von Storch -- Director of Institute for Coastal Research of the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht and Professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg, Germany

A hacker has stolen many e-mails (and other files) from the server at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the United Kingdom. For an account refer to New York Times or to Roger Pielke jr.'s weblog. The hacked mails have been published at several sites, and I got through a journalist a full copy. As far as I myself can judge, and according to responses by others, the files are authentic, but not complete.

Going through the files, which due to the sheer size I can do only in a sampling mode, the mails begin in the late 1990s and extend to about today. They are all mails to/from Phil Jones. There are a number of problematic statements, which will be discussed in the media and the blogosphere. I found the style of communication revealing, speaking about other people and their ideas, joining forces to "kill" papers, exchanges of "improving" presentations without explaining.

Also mails from/to Eduardo Zorita and myself are included; also we have been subject of frequent mentioning, usually not in a flattering manner.

Interesting exchanges, and evidences, are contained about efforts to destroy "Climate Research"; that we in the heydays of the hockeystick debate shared our ECHO-G data with our adversaries; and that Mike Mann was successful to exclude me from a review-type meeting on historical reconstructions in Wengen (demonstrating again his problematic but powerful role of acting as a gatekeeper.)

I would assume that more interesting issues will be found in the files, and that a useful debate about the degree of politicization of climate science will emerge. A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC.


Is East Antarctica Melting?

By Dr. David Whitehouse

The East Antarctic ice sheet is the largest mass of ice on our planet and so its stability and potential contribution to global sea level change is of great interest. It was thought to be relatively stable but new research suggests it may have begun to loose mass, although the true significance of the change is unclear.

Measuring the Antarctic ice sheets is difficult. Over the years estimates of its mass balance has swung between positive and negative values. Radar altimetry observations covering the entire continent between 1992 - 2003 suggested that the ice mass balance was between -5 and + 85 GT/yr, although as usual with ice such estimates have large errors. Another satellite-borne technique, Synthetic Aperture Radar, using observations taken over the past decade, suggested that ice loss exceeded model predictions of snow accumulation. The data also indicated a recent increase in mass loss with 196 +/- 92 GT in 2006.

The latest data uses observations taken monthly between 2002 and 2009 from a pair of satellites flying in formation measuring gravity perturbations. Analysing data from the GRACE satellites is tricky and relating them to ice sheet mass estimates involves several steps and assumptions. The new study - published in Nature Geoscience by J Chen and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas - say the mass loss for the entire continent is - 190 +/- 77 GT/yr averaged over 2002 - 2009. This is much larger than previous estimates (although consistent with the most recent Synthetic Aperture Radar estimates of 196 +/- 92 GT/yr.)

Loss from the West Antarctic ice sheet is 132 +/- 26 GT/yr. East Antarctica, the researchers say, is losing mass at about 57 +/- 52 GT/yr (note large uncertainty - it could be consistent with zero ice loss). Most of the loss appears to be from coastal regions and to stem from increased ice loss after 2006. The finding is significant because the east of the continent has been regarded as the more stable half. It should be stressed however that although these seem large quantities of ice they are tiny in terms of their significance for global sea level changes.

The importance of this research is that it highlights the close scrutiny needed of the region, especially for the East Antarctic ice cap, to see if its rate of loss increases. At present it is not known if the loss is due to climate change or if such losses are in any way exceptional or cyclical. If the changes persist, and accelerate, then, "Antarctica may soon be contributing significantly more to global sea-level rise", the researchers write.

Others have expressed surprise at the results. A study in 2005 suggested that the East Antarctic ice sheet was actually gaining mass. What this latest work indicates is the need for more observations, an appreciation of the large uncertainties in individual measurements and the problem of relating them to each other. Overall it would be unwise to draw strong conclusions from this research.


Lawmakers Probe Climate Emails

Congressional Republicans have started investigating climate scientists whose hacked emails suggest they tried to squelch dissenting views about global warming. An aide to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said investigators are studying the documents, which unknown hackers stole last week from the computer of a prominent British climate-research center.

Investigators are focusing on the correspondence of White House Science Adviser John Holdren, he said. Dr. Holdren, a point man for the Obama administration on climate change, sent one of the hacked emails. In the 2003 email, Dr. Holdren, then at the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, Mass., defended research by Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, a scientist who believes global warming is man-made and who also sent some of the hacked emails.

On Monday, Dr. Holden said: "I'm happy to stand by my contribution to this exchange. I think anybody who reads what I wrote in its entirety will find it a serious and balanced treatment of the question of 'burden of proof' in situations where science germane to public policy is in dispute."

The aide said investigators are also probing the contributions of dozens of climate scientists to reports published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Environmental Protection Agency, in its recent move to boost regulation of greenhouse gases, based its conclusions on IPCC reports. The IPCC has said the climate is heating up and humans are almost certainly to blame. Those who disagree that the globe is warming, or on the cause or extent of any warming, complain that their views have been excluded.

The documents, hacked from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University in the U.K., show that some climate researchers declined to share their data with fellow scientists, and sought to keep researchers with dissenting views from publishing in leading scientific journals.

Separately, Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), an outspoken critic of the view that humans are causing global warming, said that in light of the emails, he will call for an investigation into the state of climate science if the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works doesn't act soon.

Amid the furor over the released documents, more than two dozen climate scientists will release a report Tuesday arguing that the effects of man-made global warming have intensified in recent years. One of them is Dr. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. In a 2003 response to an email complaining about a paper in the journal "Climate Research" which questioned assertions that the 20th century was abnormally warm, Dr. Mann wrote, "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal." Dr. Mann said Monday that he didn't think there was anything wrong in telling his colleagues that "we shouldn't be publishing in a journal that's activist."

Police in the U.K. are continuing to investigate the attack, and the university there said Monday that it is conducting its own review.

Hans von Storch, editor at the time of "Climate Research," had his own objections to the paper mentioned by Dr. Mann, and resigned shortly after it was published, citing a breakdown in the peer-review process. But Dr. von Storch, now at the University of Hamburg's Meteorological Institute, said Monday that the behavior outlined in the hacked emails went too far.

East Anglia researchers "violated a fundamental principle of science," he said, by refusing to share data with other researchers. "They built a group to do gatekeeping, which is also totally unacceptable," he added. "They play science as a power game."


LA Times Changes Its Mind: Science Doesn't Matter On Climate Bill

That thumping sound you hear is the Los Angeles Times moving the goal posts in the global warming debate. On November 22, while responding to the growing scandal about alleged proof that global warming is a hoax, the Times brushed it off with a puzzling claim that science should have no bearing on climate legislation.

What a difference a few leaked e-mail messages could make: just over a month ago, the exact same paper had insisted science was behind the push for regulation. Now with the validity of that science in doubt, the Times was quick to find a different angle. In an article titled "A Climate Change Dust-up," writers Jim Tankersley and Henry Chu began with reassurance that the scandal was nothing to fear because the hacked e-mail messages would not make a difference either way:
Is it a "Warmist Conspiracy," or a case of an email being "taken completely out of context"? Regardless, the latest dust-up over the science of climate change appears unlikely to affect the dynamics of either a pending debate in the Senate or international climate negotiations in Copenhagen next month.

The whole point of the meeting in Copenhagen has been to limit pollution that supposedly destroys the planet based on evidence gathered and purported by researchers specifically involved in the email scandal. If the very premise of global warming has possibly been exposed as a fraud, why would that not be of interest to those who want to legislate global warming?

Because, according to the Times, the fight to stop possibly nonexistent global warming would be about saving the economy:
But advocates of action to curb global warming dismiss those claims, and political leaders and analysts say the Senate bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions will sink or swim based on economics, not science. "The scientists are going to fight about this for decades," said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of several Senate Republicans who say they are open to some form of a climate bill. "We should be doing something to curb our emissions that would not harm the economy, and would in fact boost the economy," he said.

So the Times believed in doing something about emissions whether or not we knew that they were harmful. It was suddenly okay for the science to remain unsettled, and in fact, the Senate was encouraged to limit greenhouse gases even if science was unable to prove a connection between carbon dioxide emissions and temperature.

But if the entire logic of this effort to save the economy was based on the hope that green jobs would put Americans to work, someone should have told the Times that President Obama has already been funding green jobs without a climate bill.

Equally preposterous, nowhere did the article explain exactly how limiting a company's carbon dioxide output would cause it to expand payrolls. Not to worry, for according to global warming activists it would all work with or without the data to back it up.

Most amazingly of all, though, was an explanation about the data offered by Phil Jones, one of the scientists involved in the email scandal. When asked about his use of the word "trick" when presenting data, Jones told the Times it was just clever wording:
In the 1999 e-mail, Jones wrote of using a "trick" to hide an apparent decline in recent global temperatures on a chart being prepared for use by a meteorological organization. But in a statement posted on the university's website Saturday, Jones said that the e-mail had been "taken completely out of context" and that there had been no misrepresentation of the data. "The word 'trick' was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward," Jones said.

The hard-hitting journalism force at the Times failed to ask how a trick was taken to mean anything other than a trick. What possible "colloquial" use of the word could have implied a trick that was not really a trick? Thanks to the Times, Jones got away without having to expound.

This whole notion of scientific tricks being irrelevant to a major debate about international climate legislation represented a major change in thinking at the Times. It was just six weeks ago the paper criticized Bush for hiding scientific data that could be used to sway the debate over legislation. Back then, science had everything to do with it:
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a long-suppressed report by George W. Bush administration officials who had concluded -- based on science -- that the government should begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions because global warming posed serious risks to the country. The report, known as an "endangerment finding," was done in 2007. The Bush White House refused to make it public because it opposed new government efforts to regulate the gases most scientists see as the major cause of global warming.

When scientific findings were there to warn that global warming would kill the planet, the Times was quick to support it; when science was later found to be riddled with tricks that tainted its credibility, climate legislation was suddenly all about fixing the economy.

This is one more example in the long list of ways the liberal media has played fast and loose with the global warming agenda. Even when faced with plausible evidence the whole thing might be a fraud, global warming believers simply found a way to assert that evidence was not necessary.



Two current articles below

Emissions Trading Scheme will cost Australian families $1100 a year

KEVIN Rudd's Emissions Trading Scheme will increase the average family's bills by about $1100 a year. Based on the Federal Government's own modelling, by 2012 the ETS will add more than 20 per cent to electricity tariffs - a surge of nearly $300 for typical households already reeling in New South Wales from a similar blow from the state pricing tribunal in July. And industry forecasts predict grocery prices could surge 5 per cent once the estimated price of carbon is imposed, making stocking a home larder $520 more expensive, The Daily Telegraph reports.

For those on lower incomes, overall costs are tipped to rise $630. While lower in dollar terms this represents a bigger slice of their outgoings. They will be compensated by taxpayers - the Government yesterday vowed nine in 10 poorer households would receive more than what the ETS added to their bills but middle-income families won't get the same deal.

The Government's latest changes to the proposed ETS actually reduce consumer compensation by $5.8 billion over the next decade. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the high Australian dollar meant the carbon price would be lower, so less compensation was required.

Experts said that higher-earning households looking to limit the financial impact of the scheme would either need to spend up on going green or cut back on power use.

National Institute of Economic and Industry Research head Dr Peter Brain, author of the most commonly cited study into the cost of the ETS for households, said: "It's carrot and stick. It has to be. Otherwise emissions won't decline by anything like the rate required."

Mr Rudd said the latest version of the ETS would ensure that Australia could "achieve its ambitious unconditional target" of a 5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 when compared with 2000 levels and its conditional target of 15-25 per cent.

Energy price comparison service GoSwitch CEO Ben Freund said: "What the Government wants people to do is shift from cheaper sources of power to more expensive sources like wind and solar. "How do you make people do that? By making the expensive sources of energy more compelling. And you do that by making the cheaper sources of energy more expensive."

Professor Joshua Gans from the Melbourne Business School said the other way middle - and higher - income families could limit the impact was to cut power usage. "The idea of the CPRS is not to cause people to spend more on electricity. It is to change their behaviour so they don't spend more on electricity," Professor Gans said.

Small business owners James and Kylie White, of Botany, said they were worried about how much the ETS was going to cost them. "It's obviously a concern, coupled with the interest rates heading back up," Mr White, 34, said. "Over the last 12 months we have been seeing less and less income and the bills increasing. This is going to make it a little bit tougher."


Infamy, insanity, inanity in Australia's proposed climate laws

We had a prime minister who declared economic war on his own country. And an opposition leader who spent the rest of the day trying desperately to make it unanimous. Finally, succeeding. Or, perhaps not.

As I wrote yesterday this is one case where the devil is not in the detail. So making the detail of the Emissions Trading Scheme seemingly 'better' is without the slightest merit. And indeed is worse even in its own distorted terms. The ETS remains a direct, if slightly diverted attack against our national interest, against the very foundation not just of our economy but of our society. And it is completely incompatible with the government's population growth 'policy,' for want of a better word.

Yes, the extra 'assistance' to the power industry would probably help - literally - to keep the lights on in the short term. But only in the short term, and only if the debts of Victoria's power stations are guaranteed by the federal government, whether directly or indirectly.

There still wouldn't be another coal-fired power station built anywhere in Australia while this insanity prevails - while dozens are built in China and India.

And with nuclear also prohibited, we would face an 'interesting' intersection point between population, power and permits some time around 2015. Not, obviously, that nuclear could have 'saved us' in just five years anyway. That's when a bigger population demands more power; there isn't any; and all that 'generous assistance' is reaching its use-by date and then we face the prospect of the existing power stations going broke or breaking down.

This is when the reality of prime ministerial insanity catches up with Australia. Not even in 'distant 2020' but a few years before that. Because all that so-called assistance doesn't alter the basic reality of the ETS and the government's overall Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

What's in a name? Digressing, one really wonders how Kevin Rudd and his co-destroyer Penny Wong can literally live with themselves, as they spread the same 'pollution' every breath of their lives. As Rudd said yesterday, seemingly proudly, certainly totally unaware of his own stupidity: "the deal will ensure that Australia can achieve its ambitious unconditional target of 5 per cent (reduction in CO2 emissions), conditional target of up to 15 per cent and top-end target of 25 per cent off 2000 levels by 2020." This is the bottom line that isn't altered by all the extra so-called assistance. That once the ETS is in place, we are legislatively committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, whatever - the nothing - that the rest of the world does.

So if coal-fired power stations emit more as a consequence of their extra assistance, the cuts have to come from somewhere else. Or we pay foreigners for the right to over-emit. Doesn't sound too tough? Just 5 per cent? But factor in our roaring population growth and we have to cut by closer to 33 per cent per person. And do it in just 10 years!

Now committing to something like this this would be bad enough coming from any leader of any country. Directly attacking the wellbeing of its citizens. Especially when that leader knows, and I mean knows, that it is utterly pointless, even in his own misconceived terms, as no-one of major emitting substance is going to follow.

Coming from the leader of a country whose entire economy is built on carbon-based energy and the export of carbon-based products, it is criminally - there really are no other words for it - insane. In the context of my opening reference, it is as if Rudd himself had launched the planes on our Pearl Harbor, our economy.

In this case, double apologies are due to the author of the original quote, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The usual apology for amendment. The additional one for associating it with something and someone so grubby.



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


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Warmist pseudo-scientists admit that the hacked CRU emails are genuine

A leading climate change scientist whose private e-mails are included in thousands of documents that were stolen by hackers and posted online said the leaks may have been aimed at undermining next month's global climate summit in Denmark.

Kevin Trenberth, of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado, said he believes the hackers who stole a decade's worth of correspondence from a British university's computer server deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. Trenberth, a well respected atmospheric scientist, said it did not appear that all the documents stolen from the university had been distributed on the internet by the hackers.

The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said hackers last week stole from its computer server about a decade's worth of data from its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research center on climate change. About 1000 e-mails and 3000 documents have been posted on websites and seized on by climate change sceptics, who claim correspondence shows collusion between scientists to overstate the case for global warming, and evidence that some have manipulated evidence.

"It is right before the Copenhagen debate, I'm sure that is not a coincidence," Trenberth said in a telephone interview from Colorado.

At least 65 world leaders will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December as representatives of 191 nations seek agreement on a new global treaty on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.

Trenberth, a lead author on the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, said he had found 102 of his own e-mails posted online. "I personally feel violated," he said. "I'm appalled at the very selective use of the e-mails, and the fact they've been taken out of context."

In one of the stolen e-mails, Trenberth is quoted as saying "we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." He said the comment is presented by sceptics as evidence scientists can't explain some trends that appear to contradict their stance on climate change. Trenberth explained his phrase was actually contained in a paper he wrote about the need for better monitoring of global warming to explain the anomalies — in particular improved recording of rising sea surface temperatures.

In another e-mail posted online, and unrelated to Trenberth, the British research centre's director, Phil Jones, wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart detailing recent global temperatures. Jones has denied manipulating evidence and insisted his comment had been misunderstood. He said in a statement Saturday that he'd used the word trick "as in a clever thing to do."

Trenberth acknowledged that language used by some colleagues in the hacked e-mails "looks awkward at best," particularly messages which criticise climate change sceptics.


BBC sat on the hacked emails for over a month

By Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Very busy with forecast duties right now, but I do intend to write a blog regarding the UK Climate research centre (CRU) being hacked into, and the possible implications of this very serious affair.

I will add comment on this page as soon as I can free up some time. But I will in the meantime answer the question regarding the chain of e-mails which you have been commenting about on my blog, which can be seen here, and whether they are genuine or part of an elaborate hoax.

I was forwarded the chain of e-mails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the worlds leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article 'whatever happened to global warming'. The e-mails released on the internet as a result of CRU being hacked into are identical to the ones I was forwarded and read at the time and so, as far as l can see, they are authentic.


A reaction to the hacked emails from a grassroots AGW believer

A posting on the Christian Science Monitor named "Ron" sums up the impact of the scandal that is rocking the United Nation's global warming establishment. These comments may turn out to be the inconvenient sentiment of many.

As a long time AGW supporter I must say I found the emails very disturbing. I spent hours reading them myself. I don't know if they qualify as “smoking gun” that the AGW science is bust, but I just cannot ignore it.

I feel ashamed for the behavior of our leading scientists. Even more than feeling ashamed – I feel betrayed. For years I trusted that science will prevail over the unsubstantiated skeptic view. These emails reveal a very disturbing picture of ideology overriding science. Science being bent out of shape to support a hypothesis.

They reveal unbelievable arrogance. These people whom I trusted so much think they are

- above the law (destroying email, refusing FOIA, tax evasion)

- above the data (“hide the decline”, remove the cooling blip)

- above their peers (get uncomforting journal editors fired, block skeptic publications)

- above the rest of us (manipulate the message, presentation and media)

I am sick to my stomach. I know there are so many other hard working scientists that have not tainted themselves. But this group – Phil Jones, Ken Briffa, Mike Man, Gavin Schmidt have casted a huge shadow of doubt over the entire field and caused a huge damage to the green movement.

I talked with many of my friends who, like most of us, continue to believe in AGW, and we think that as long as these guys continue to lead the science and the IPCC assessments they will continue to taint all of the good work done by thousands of other scientists.

We need to acknowledge that wrong was done. We need to replace the tainted leadership and continue the research without the air of doubt.


Inhofe calls for hearing into crooked climate change research

The publication of more than 1,000 private e-mails that climate change skeptics say proves the threat is exaggerated has prompted one key Republican senator to call for an investigation into their research. In an interview with The Washington Times on Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced he would probe whether the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."

"[T]his thing is serious, you think about the literally millions of dollars that have been thrown away on some of this stuff that they came out with," Inhofe, the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said during the interview. He added that it was "interesting" that the e-mails surfaced only weeks before an important climate change summit would bring world leaders to Copenhagen.

Fueling Inhofe's concerns is last week's news that a blogger hacked into the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (Cru) and published about 1,000 e-mails and more than 3,000 private documents relating to climate change. Some of those communications disparaged climate change skeptics and their views, while others contained conversations about how to best portray climate change research.

The scientists have since insisted their e-mails were hardly deceptive and that their words were taken out of context. Still, their assurances have not settled the concerns of their biggest foes -- including Inhofe, who has long maintained global warming is a "hoax."

However, it is not immediately clear what Inhofe hopes to accomplish with his proposed hearing. U.S. lawmakers and scientists routinely cite IPCC evidence when discussing climate change legislation, but Congress can hardly force the United Nations to halt spending on a program over which it has no jurisdiction.

Rather, Inhofe perhaps hopes to deal a symbolic blow to next month's climate change conference, at which IPCC is likely to play a major role. "The timing couldn’t be better," said the Oklahoma Republican, who previously announced he would attend the December summit as a "one-man truth squad." "Whoever is on the ball in Great Britain, their time was good."


Lord Lawson Calls For Public Inquiry Into CRU Data Affair

In response to recent revelations contained in leaked e-mails originating from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the GWPF, has called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into the matter. While reserving judgment on the contents of the e-mails, Lord Lawson said these are very serious issues and allegations that reach to the heart of scientific integrity and credibility:

"Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals."

"There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay."

Lord Lawson added: "Since the CRU is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is part of the University of East Anglia, we call on Edmund Wallis, the chairman of the NERC and Brandon Gough, the Chancellor of the UEA, to jointly commission an independent inquiry into the revelations, including, of course, their veracity."

Professsor David Henderson, the Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the GWPF said: "The evolution of climate policies needs to be linked to a process of inquiry, review and advice that is more open, thorough, balanced and objective than is now the case. This is the mission of the Global Warming Policy Foundation."


Unforeseen climate 'crisis'

A climate crisis of worldwide proportions is unfolding right before our eyes, and not even the most powerful world leaders can do anything to stop it. It looks like 2009 may very well turn out to be the fourth straight year of declining global temperatures at a time when carbon dioxide levels continue to rise - the opposite of what was predicted by vaunted climate models.

Something must be done immediately to either (1) rework the temperature data so it vindicates esteemed climate visionaries, (2) come up with some scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo as to why long-term weather doesn't conform to authoritative proclamations or (3) simply ignore or downplay the reality hoping people don't finally catch on that they've been had. Perhaps it could at least be claimed that Mother Nature is giving us a reprieve to get our collective global act together before she really lowers the boom. After all, it has worked so well in the past to say that disaster is just around the corner.

Our guess is that the crafty climate chieftains will likely use a combination of the three smoke-and-mirror strategies listed (with a smattering of "denier" bashing thrown in just for fun).

But we wonder, when will ostensibly superintelligent people learn a simple fact that even a forecast is simply a guess at the future based on past and present information? Putting a lot of sincere confidence in your prognostication does not improve its predictive power.

The confidence just helps to make more people believe your forecast. More people buy into it. More people look to you for solutions, for salvation, and the whole thing takes on a life of its own. Knowing that you can in no way know the future for something as complicated as the Earth's climate, at some point your confidence becomes inflated to the point of arrogance - it's unavoidable. Soon you're pushing a confidence game. And, since many in the general public and too many of the high and mighty can look with awe or advantage at the forecasts generated by sophisticated climate models, there will be no lack of sufficient players to keep the game moving. But, before we get into overtime, consider the reality of climate forecasting.

Everyone is aware of the folly of short-term weather forecasts. And, yes we know climate and weather are not the same! So, let's consider short-term climate forecasts. A terrific example is the official U.S. prediction for the hurricane season of 2006. In May 2006, immediately preceding the onset of the Atlantic hurricane season (and again in August 2006), arguably the best hurricane forecasters on Earth couldn't accurately predict even simply the total number of severe storm events.

The forecast was for another season of unusually numerous events (although not expected to be on par with the record-breaking 31 events of 2005, which included 15 hurricanes). But, the forecast was a bust, with only 10 events (five hurricanes and five tropical storms) recorded. Average was closer to at least 15 events ... so much for forecasting climatic conditions better than the weekend's weather.

If we can't accurately predict occurrences in a small portion of the globe in the short range, what then are we to make of the substantially more complicated art of long-range global climate forecasting? We see that the Earth's temperatures don't seem to be playing the game by the climate-wizard's rules. Should we begin to admit that we're not really as smart as we or others think we are; that the tremendous complexity of climate, although better understood than in decades past, is still a long way from being confidently forecasted in decades future? Or would that be too honest?

For now, continuous falling temperatures are truly a global crisis, coming at a time when some very powerful people will soon be meeting in Copenhagen to remedy increasing temperatures. World leaders should stay home and enjoy the weather. Unless, of course, they're not as concerned about changing climate as they are about redistributing wealth.



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


Monday, November 23, 2009

More guesswork

Sounds like the differences they observed were not even statistically significant. Looking at their raw averages would be fun. I predict that any trend detectable will be non-linear (e.g. a recent change of direction) -- which makes any projection into the future a joke

THE East Antarctic icesheet, once seen as largely unaffected by global warming, has lost billions of tonnes of ice since 2006 and could boost sea levels in the future, according to a new study. Published yesterday in Nature Geoscience, the same study shows that the smaller but less stable West Antarctic icesheet is also shedding significant mass.

Scientists worry that rising global temperatures could trigger a rapid disintegration of West Antarctica, which holds enough frozen water to push up the global ocean watermark by about five metres. In 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predicted sea levels would rise 18 to 59cm by 2100, but this estimate did not factor in the potential impact of crumbling icesheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Today many of the same scientist say that even if heat-trapping CO2 emissions are curtailed, the ocean watermark is more likely to go up by nearly a metre, enough to render several small island nations unlivable and damage fertile deltas, home to hundreds of millions.

University of Texas professor Jianli Chen and colleagues analysed nearly seven years of data on ocean-icesheet interaction in Antarctica. Covering the period up January 2009, the data was collected by the twin GRACE satellites, which detect mass flows in the ocean and polar regions by measuring changes in Earth's gravity field. Consistent with earlier findings based on different methods, they found that West Antarctica dumped, on average, about 132 billion tonnes of ice into the sea each year, give or take 26 billion tonnes.

They also found for the first time that East Antarctica - on the Eastern Hemisphere side of the continent - was likewise losing mass, mostly in coastal regions, at a rate of about 57 billion tonnes annually. The margin for error, they cautioned, is almost as large as the estimate, meaning ice loss could be a little as a few billion tonnes or more than 100.

Up to now, scientists had thought that East Antarctica was in "balance", meaning that it accumulated as much mass and it gave off, perhaps a bit more. "Acceleration of ice loss in recent years over the entire continent is thus indicated," the authors conclude. "Antarctica may soon be contributing significantly more to global sea level rise."


Huge numbers of power stations and SUVs in the prehistoric past

A new study of Antarctica's past climate reveals that temperatures during the warm periods between ice ages (interglacials) may have been higher than previously thought. The latest analysis of ice core records suggests that Antarctic temperatures may have been up to 6°C warmer than the present day.

The findings, recently reported by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Open University and University of Bristol in the journal Nature could help us understand more about rapid Antarctic climate changes.

Previous analysis of ice cores has shown that the climate consists of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods roughly every 100,000 years. This new investigation shows temperature 'spikes' within some of the interglacial periods over the last 340,000 years. This suggests Antarctic temperature shows a high level of sensitivity to greenhouse gases at levels similar to those found today.

Lead author Louise Sime of British Antarctic Survey said, "We didn't expect to see such warm temperatures, and we don't yet know in detail what caused them. But they indicate that Antarctica's climate may have undergone rapid shifts during past periods of high CO2."

During the last warm period, about 125,000 years ago, sea level was around 5 metres higher than today.

Ice core scientist Eric Wolff of British Antarctic Survey is a world-leading expert on past climate. He said, "If we can pin down how much warmer temperatures were in Antarctica and Greenland at this time, then we can test predictions of how melting of the large ice sheets may contribute to sea level rise."


Ice cores are unique climate records, allowing scientists to investigate climate changes over hundreds of thousands of years. The Earth's oldest ice is found in East Antarctica. The three oldest existing ice cores were drilled at Dome C, Dome F and Vostock. The longest ice core -- at 3,650 metres -- comes from Vostock, but the oldest ice core, drilled by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) team, contains a climate record stretching back 800,000 years. Analysis of the ice cores has revolutionized our understanding of how Antarctic climate has varied in the past. Information from ice cores is vital for testing and improving the computer models used to predict future climate.

Interglacials -- recur roughly every 100,000 years between ice ages. The present warm period began around 10,000 years ago and has been relatively stable.

Direct sea level measurements based upon coastal sedimentary deposits and tropical coral sequences have established that global sea level was higher than present during the last interglacial (~125,000 years ago) by approximately 4 to 6 m. This indicates that the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets were smaller than during the present day.

The authors analysed 340,000 years of oxygen and hydrogen isotope data from three ice core sites across East Antarctica, alongside isotope-enabled general circulation model results.


Hacked files of the Climatic Research Unit, Global Warming a deliberate fraud

By climatologist Dr. Tim Ball

Global Warming is often called a hoax. I disagree because a hoax has a humorous intent to puncture pomposity. In science, such as with the Piltdown Man hoax, it was done to expose those with fervent but blind belief. The argument that global warming is due to humans, known as the anthropogenic global warming theory (AGW) is a deliberate fraud. I can now make that statement without fear of contradiction because of a remarkable hacking of files that provided not just a smoking gun, but an entire battery of machine guns.

Someone hacked in to the files of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) based at the University of East Anglia. A very large file (61 mb) was downloaded and posted to the web. Phil Jones Director of the CRU has acknowledged the files are theirs. They contain papers, documents letters and emails. The latter are the most damaging and contain blunt information about the degree of manipulation of climate science in general and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in particular.

Climate science hijacked and corrupted by this small group of scientists

Dominant names involved are ones I have followed throughout my career including, Phil Jones, Benjamin Santer, Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Jonathan Overpeck, Ken Briffa and Tom Wigley. I have watched climate science hijacked and corrupted by this small group of scientists. This small, elite, community was named by Professor Wegman in his report to the National Academy of Science (NAS).

I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of CRU Professor Hubert Lamb, considered the Father of Modern Climatology, on a couple of occasions. He also peer reviewed one of my early publications. I know he would be mortified with what was disclosed in the last couple of days.

Jones claims the files were obtained illegally as if that absolves the content. It doesn’t and it is enough to destroy all their careers. Jones gave a foretaste of his behavior in 2005. Warwick Hughes asked for the data and method he used for his claim of a 0.6°C temperature rise since the end of the nineteenth century. Jones responded, “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?” He has stonewalled ever since. The main reason was because it was used as a key argument in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports to convince the world humans caused rapid warming in the 20th century. The emails obtained are a frightening record of arrogance, and deception far beyond his 2005 effort.

Another glimpse into what the files and emails reveal was the report by Professor Deming. He wrote, “ With publication of an article in Science (in 1995) I gained sufficient credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said. “We must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” The person in question was Jonathan Overpeck and his even more revealing emails are part of those exposed by the hacker. It is now very clear that Deming’s charge was precise. They have perverted science in the service of social and political causes.

Professor Wegman showed how this “community of scientists” published together and peer reviewed each other’s work. I was always suspicious about why peer review was such a big deal. Now all my suspicions are confirmed. The emails reveal how they controlled the process, including manipulating some of the major journals like Science and Nature. We know the editor of the Journal of Climate, Andrew Weaver, was one of the “community”. They organized lists of reviewers when required making sure they gave the editor only favorable names. They threatened to isolate and marginalize one editor who they believed was recalcitrant.

Total Control

These people controlled the global weather data used by the IPCC through the joint Hadley and CRU and produced the HadCRUT data. They controlled the IPCC, especially crucial chapters and especially preparation of the Summary for PolicyMakers (SPM). Stephen Schneider was a prime mover there from the earliest reports to the most influential in 2001. They also had a left wing conduit to the New York Times. The emails between Andy Revkin and the community are very revealing and must place his journalistic integrity in serious jeopardy. Of course the IPCC Reports and especially the SPM Reports are the basis for Kyoto and the Copenhagen Accord, but now we know they are based on completely falsified and manipulated data and science. It is no longer a suspicion. Surely this is the death knell for the CRU, the IPCC, Kyoto and Copenhagen and the Carbon Credits shell game.

CO2 never was a problem and all the machinations and deceptions exposed by these files prove that it was the greatest deception in history, but nobody is laughing. It is a very sad day for science and especially my chosen area of climate science. As I expected now it is all exposed I find there is no pleasure in “I told you so.”

You can download the climate change fraud documents here or here.


The Sound Of All Hell Breaking Loose: Now Searchable!

Here's a crazy thought: What if it was Briffa who released the emails? He is known to have been depressed lately and the email below reveals him to be in great conflict over what he is doing. And the now undisputed revelation that his past work depended on the tree rings from just one tree must have hurt him -- JR

The CRU emails are now searchable. Here's one I stumbled across. (Read from bottom up.)

From: Keith Briffa To: Subject: Re: quick note on TAR Date: Sun Apr 29 19:53:16 2007


Your words are a real boost to me at the moment. I found myself questioning the whole process and being often frustrated at the formulaic way things had to be done - often wasting time and going down dead ends. I really thank you for taking the time to say these kind words. I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same. I worried that you might think I gave the impression of not supporting you well enough while trying to report on the issues and uncertainties. Much had to be removed and I was particularly unhappy that I could not get the statement into the SPM regarding the AR4 reinforcement of the results and conclusions of the TAR. I tried my best but we were basically railroaded by Susan*. I am happy to pass the mantle on to someone else next time. I feel I have basically produced nothing original or substantive of my own since this whole process started. I am at this moment having to work on the ENV submission to the forthcoming UK Research Assessment exercise , again instead of actually doing some useful research! Anyway thanks again Mike.... really appreciated when it comes from you very best wishes



At 18:14 29/04/2007, you wrote:

Keith, just a quick note to let you know I've had a chance to read over the key bits on last millennium in the final version of the chapter, and I think you did a great job. obviously, this was one of the most (if not the most) contentious areas in the entire report, and you found a way to (in my view) convey the the science accurately, but in a way that I believe will be immune to criticisms of bias or neglect--you dealt w/ all of the controversies, but in a very even-handed and fair way. bravo! I hope you have an opportunity to relax a bit now. looking forward to buying you a beer next time we have an opportunity :)


(*I believe he's referring to Susan Solomon here.)

A more detailed examination of a different series of emails pertaining to Briffa's work is up at Powerline. [See below -- JR]


The global warming alarmists act like a gang of co-conspirators rather than respectable scientists

One of the hacked East Anglia emails that has gotten considerable play on the web indicates that several alarmist scientists deleted emails that were subject to a Freedom of Information Act request rather than produce them. That's true; here is the context.

On May 27, 2008, David Palmer, who is in charge of "data protection" at the University of East Anglia, wrote to Tim Osborn about a Freedom of Information Act request the university had received from one David Holland: "Please note the response received today from Mr. Holland. Could you provide input as to his additional questions 1, and 2, and check with Mr. Ammann in question 3 as to whether he believes his correspondence with us to be confidential? Although I fear/anticipate the response, I believe that I should inform the requester that his request will be over the appropriate limit and ask him to limit it.... I just wish to ensure that we do as much as possible 'by the book' in this instance as I am certain that this will end up in an appeal, with the statutory potential to end up with the ICO."

Thus, the same day, Tim Osborn wrote to Caspar Amman of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado: "Our university has received a request, under the UK Freedom of Information law, from someone called David Holland for emails or other documents that you may have sent to us that discuss any matters related to the IPCC assessment process. We are not sure what our university's response will be, nor have we even checked whether you sent us emails that relate to the IPCC assessment or that we retained any that you may have sent. However, it would be useful to know your opinion on this matter. In particular, we would like to know whether you consider any emails that you sent to us as confidential. Sorry to bother you with this, Tim (cc Keith & Phil)"

The point was to lay foundation for an objection to producing such emails on the ground that they were "confidential." Amman replied: "Oh MAN! will this crap ever end?? Well, I will have to properly answer in a couple days when I get a chance digging through emails. I don't recall from the top of my head any specifics about IPCC. I'm also sorry that you guys have to go through this BS."

Osborn replied: "Hi again Caspar, I don't think it is necessary for you to dig through any emails you may have sent us to determine your answer. Our question is a more general one, which is whether you generally consider emails that you sent us to have been sent in confidence. If you do, then we will use this as a reason to decline the request. Cheers, Tim"

That was followed by this more formal response from Amman on May 30: "In response to your inquiry about my take on the confidentiality of my email communications with you, Keith or Phil, I have to say that the intent of these emails is to reply or communicate with the individuals on the distribution list, and they are not intended for general 'publication'. If I would consider my texts to potentially get wider dissemination then I would probably have written them in a different style. Having said that, as far as I can remember (and I haven't checked in the records, if they even still exist) I have never written an explicit statement on these messages that would label them strictly confidential. Caspar"

In the meantime, though, Osborn and his colleagues had already taken matters into their own hands. On May 29, Phil Jones wrote to Michael Mann, with the subject heading "IPCC & FOI": "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have with Keith re AR4? ["AR4" is common shorthand for the U.N. IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, which was released in 2007.] Keith will do likewise. He's not in at the moment - minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don't have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

These emails appear to show that, when faced with a legitimate request under Britain's Freedom of Information Act, these global warming alarmists preferred to delete their emails with one another about the crucially important IPCC report --the main basis for the purported "consensus" in favor of anthropogenic global warming--rather than allow them to come to light. This is one of many instances in the East Anglia documents where the global warming alarmists act like a gang of co-conspirators rather than respectable scientists.


The savage battle to suppress scientific dissent

Electronic files that were stolen from a prominent climate research center and made public last week provide a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes battle to shape the public perception of global warming.

While few U.S. politicians bother to question whether humans are changing the world's climate -- nearly three years ago the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded the evidence was unequivocal -- public debate persists. And the newly disclosed private exchanges among climate scientists at Britain's Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia reveal an intellectual circle that appears to feel very much under attack, and eager to punish its enemies.

In one e-mail, the center's director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University's Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science. "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," Jones writes. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," Mann writes. "I will be emailing the journal to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor," Jones replies.

Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute who comes under fire in the e-mails, said these same academics repeatedly criticized him for not having published more peer-reviewed papers. "There's an egregious problem here, their intimidation of journal editors," he said. "They're saying, 'If you print anything by this group, we won't send you any papers.' "

Mann, who directs Penn State's Earth System Science Center, said the e-mails reflected the sort of "vigorous debate" researchers engage in before reaching scientific conclusions. "We shouldn't expect the sort of refined statements that scientists make when they're speaking in public," he said.

Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute who has questioned whether climate change is human-caused, blogged that the e-mails have "the makings of a very big" scandal. "Imagine this sort of news coming in the field of AIDS research," he added.

The story of the hacking has ranked among the most popular on Web sites ranging from The Washington Post's to that of London's Daily Telegraph. And it has spurred a flood of e-mails from climate skeptics to U.S. news organizations, some likening the disclosure to the release of the Pentagon Papers during Vietnam.



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


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some graphic evidence of CRU crookedness

A picture is worth ...

Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

The secret emails of the CRU have got a LOT of attention in the press by now. Even the NYT has weighed in, contrary to its usual practice of ignoring news it doesn't like. So it is difficult to know what to reproduce here but I have chosen two pieces below -- JR

By James Delingpole

If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka Hadley CRU) and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest: " Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more."

One of the alleged emails has a gentle gloat over the death in 2004 of John L Daly (one of the first climate change sceptics, founder of the Still Waiting For Greenhouse site), commenting: “In an odd way this is cheering news.”

But perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause. Here are a few tasters. (So far, we can only refer to them as alleged emails because – though Hadley CRU’s director Phil Jones has confirmed the break-in to Ian Wishart at the Briefing Room – he has yet to fess up to any specific contents.) But if genuine, they suggest dubious practices such as:

Manipulation of evidence: "I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."

Private doubts about whether the world really is heating up: "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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

Suppression of evidence: "Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar to do likewise."

Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Sceptic scientists: "Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted."

Attempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP): "……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back…."

And, perhaps most reprehensibly, a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority: “This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?” “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice!”

Hadley CRU has form in this regard. In September – I wrote the story up here as “How the global warming industry is based on a massive lie” – Hadley CRU’s researchers were exposed as having “cherry-picked” data in order to support their untrue claim that global temperatures had risen higher at the end of the 20th century than at any time in the last millenium. Hadley CRU was also the organisation which – in contravention of all acceptable behaviour in the international scientific community – spent years withholding data from researchers it deemed unhelpful to its cause. This matters because Hadley CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC.

I asked in my title whether this will be the final nail in the coffin of Anthropenic Global Warming. This was wishful thinking, of course. In the run up to Copenhagen, we will see more and more hysterical (and grotesquely exaggerated) stories such as this in the Mainstream Media. And we will see ever-more-virulent campaigns conducted by eco-fascist activists, such as this risible new advertising campaign by Plane Stupid showing CGI polar bears falling from the sky and exploding because kind of, like, man, that’s sort of what happens whenever you take another trip on an aeroplane.

The world is currently cooling; electorates are increasingly reluctant to support eco-policies leading to more oppressive regulation, higher taxes and higher utility bills; the tide is turning against Al Gore’s Anthropogenic Global Warming theory. The so-called “sceptical” view is now also the majority view.

Unfortunately, we’ve a long, long way to go before the public mood (and scientific truth) is reflected by our policy makers. There are too many vested interests in AGW, with far too much to lose either in terms of reputation or money, for this to end without a bitter fight. But if the Hadley CRU scandal is true,it’s a blow to the AGW lobby’s credibility which is never likely to recover.


The Warmist conspiracy: the emails that most damn Jones

An excerpt from Andrew Bolt's latest comment:

These are the emails that should have Professor Phil Jones most worried about his future. Jones, head of the CRU unit whose emails were leaked, has been under most fire so far over one email in particular in which he boasted of using a ‘“trick" to “hide the decline” that would have otherwise spoiled his graph showing temperatures soaring ever-upward.

But far more serious - at least in a legal sense - may be his apparent boasting of destroying data to stop sceptics from checking this alarmist work. If, as some emails suggest, he destroyed it to thwart FOI requests from Professor Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre, who’d already exposed as fake the Michael Mann “hockey stick”, Jones, one of the most active of the IPCC lead authors, could even face criminal charges.

(Note: in saying that, I should add that these emails may simply be poorly worded, out of context or even altered by the whistleblower who leaked them. Jones may also not knowingly have done anything wrong, and there is no proof that he did anything against the law. UPDATE: Several updates on Jones below, including his “selfish” wish to see global warming “regardless of the consequences” just to be proved right.)

Whether laws were broken or not, the emails prove beyond doubt how resistant Jones and his colleagues were to having their work properly scrutinised by anyone not of their “team”. No wonder, perhaps, when the documents reveal Jones has so far attracted $25 million in grants.)

The most damning emails on this point are the following, starting with 1107454306.txt, in which Jones refers to MM - McIntyre and McKitrick:
At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:

Mike, I presume congratulations are in order - so congrats etc !

Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? - our does! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it - thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !

Jones admits he was warned by his own university against deleting data subjected to an FOI request from McIntyre - or anyone:
From: Phil Jones

To: santer1@XXXX

Subject: Re: A quick question

Date: Wed Dec 10 10:14:10 2008


Haven’t got a reply from the FOI person here at UEA. So I’m not entirely confident the numbers are correct. One way of checking would be to look on CA, but I’m not doing that. I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails - unless this was ‘normal’ deleting to keep emails manageable! McIntyre hasn’t paid his £10, so nothing looks likely to happen re his Data Protection Act email.

Anyway requests have been of three types - observational data, paleo data and who made IPCC changes and why. Keith has got all the latter - and there have been at least 4. We made Susan aware of these - all came from David Holland. According to the FOI Commissioner’s Office, IPCC is an international organization, so is above any national FOI. Even if UEA holds anything about IPCC, we are not obliged to pass it on, unless it has anything to do with our core business - and it doesn’t! I’m sounding like Sir Humphrey here!

Makes you wonder very strongly what Jones is trying to hide, doesn’t it? Also makes you laugh all over again at his claim once that the data being sought had, sadly, been ... um, lost.

In1212063122.txtm, Jones urges another colleague, Michael “Hockey Stick”, Mann, to join in the deleting - at least of emails about the IPCC’s controversial ARA report on man-made warming which Jones co-authored, and which claimed warming was “unequivocal” and “most likely” caused by humans:
From: Phil Jones To: “Michael E. Mann”

Subject: IPCC & FOI

Date: Thu May 29 11:04:11 2008


Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?

Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment - minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in the Nature paper!!



For years Jones has made clear his determination to keep crucial data from the eyes of sceptics:
From: Phil Jones To:


Date: Mon Feb 21 16:28:32 2005

Cc: “raymond s. bradley” , “Malcolm Hughes”

Mike, Ray and Malcolm,

The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here ! Maybe we can use this to our advantage to get the series updated !

Odd idea to update the proxies with satellite estimates of the lower troposphere rather than surface data !. Odder still that they don’t realise that Moberg et al used the Jones and Moberg updated series !

Francis Zwiers is till onside. He said that PC1s produce hockey sticks. He stressed that the late 20th century is the warmest of the millennium, but Regaldo didn’t bother with that. Also ignored Francis’ comment about all the other series looking similar to MBH.

The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick. Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !



PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.

Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!

And when Jones is really forced to the point of handing over his data, he considers ways to may checking it more difficult or annoying:
Options appear to be:

Send them the data

Send them a subset removing station data from some of the countries who made us pay in the normals papers of Hulme et al. (1990s) and also any number that David can remember. This should also omit some other countries like (Australia, NZ, Canada, Antarctica). Also could extract some of the sources that Anders added in (31-38 source codes in J&M 2003). Also should remove many of the early stations that we coded up in the 1980s.

Send them the raw data as is, by reconstructing it from GHCN. How could this be done? Replace all stations where the WMO ID agrees with what is in GHCN. This would be the raw data, but it would annoy them.

But Jones figures a way out:
At 04:53 AM 5/9/2008, you wrote:

Mike, Ray, Caspar,

A couple of things - don’t pass on either…

2. You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we’ve found a way around this…

This message will self destruct in 10 seconds!



Prof. Phil Jones



NASA's rocket scientists have been debunking on their official website the current "end of the world" hysteria generated by the latest Hollywood Armageddon movie -- 2012. In an alternately serious and mocking entry titled "No, The World Isn't Going to End in 2012" at, they explain that no, come Dec. 21, 2012, the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, the world isn't going to be destroyed by (a) unusual solar activity, the theory in 2012, or (b) getting clobbered by another planet -- another popular scenario.

Now, if only NASA's space cadets could get their own doomsday climatologist -- James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- to stop preaching end-of-the-world hysteria about man-made global warming, they might do some good.

Because as long as Hansen, one of Al Gore's senior scientific advisers on An Inconvenient Truth (enough said) and the first climatologist to start banging the Armageddon drum on global warming 20 years ago, keeps racing around the world hysterically preaching we only have a few years left to save the Earth -- his latest number is four, according to a recent interview with the Sunday Observer -- NASA will remain a maze of contradictions, hypocrisy and unintentional irony.

If you look at the movie trailers for An Inconvenient Truth and 2012 on the Internet, you'll see both used many of the same marketing techniques to scare the bejeebers out of everyone in hopes of getting them to buy a ticket -- pounding, ominous music and narration and scary slogans overlaid with scenes of destruction -- some of which, even in the "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth, are imaginary.

In debunking that the world is about to end -- which NASA said it did because it was getting so many inquiries about 2012 -- Don Yeomans, senior research scientist, writes: "Incorrect doomsday predictions have taken place several times in each of the past several centuries. Readers should bear in mind what Carl Sagan noted several years ago; 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.' " Indeed.

NASA scientist, David Morrison, who posted a YouTube video on the 2012 controversy, is quoted in the New York Times saying he did it because: "I get angry at the way people are being manipulated and frightened to make money. There is no ethical right to frighten children to make a buck." In his video, Morrison said some young people who contacted NASA were so scared, they were contemplating suicide.

Right. NASA, heal thyself.

Hansen, who once charged the Bush administration with silencing him -- which obviously didn't work because he never shuts up -- has been preaching environmental Armageddon for years, albeit, he would say, not to make money, but to save the planet for his grandchildren. And unlike the makers of 2012, he believes his rhetoric.

Which would be fine if Hansen -- whose views are extreme even for a climate scientist -- was speaking as a private citizen. But how does a NASA "scientist" get to run around preaching democracy isn't working, get arrested for civil disobedience and lecture the U.S. Congress that energy company executives should be tried for "high crimes" against humanity?

If NASA is so concerned about hysterical claims of Armageddon scaring children, it should worry less about science-fiction movies and more about cleaning up its own house. As for 2012, that's when the Kyoto accord expires. Not the Earth.


Greenies partly responsible for British flood disaster

And they're not repentant. People are disposable

Furious Cockermouth residents have complained that fears over disturbing salmon spawning has made the flooding problem far worse this year. Residents had called for the river bed to be dug into by 10ft in order to prevent flooding following discussions about the problem with the authorities earlier this year. But they claim their plan was rejected by the Environment Agency because it would interfere with salmon laying their eggs in the River Derwent.

Today residents reacted with fury and complained that the authorities are treating salmon as being 'more important than people.' Jacqui White, Gote Road, Cockermouth, said: 'I attended a meeting with Natural England earlier this year when we told them we wanted to dig 10ft deeper so that the waters wouldn't flood and alleviate any flooding. 'But the officials there stood up and told the meeting that the salmon in the river were more important.' Jacqui added: 'I've been here 16 years. I know the area is prone to flooding, and it was bad in 2005, but this year is definitely the worst."

Fiona Tunstall, 38, was left in tears after her terraced home was flooded in Gote Road yesterday. She said: 'The authorities seem to think salmon is more important than people and their houses.' 'The residents of this street had a meeting with Natural England and other authorities because they wanted to dig 10ft down into the riverbed around this street. 'Natural England wouldn't let them because would be detrimental to salmon to do that.

'If it had been dug, then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess now. 'My kitchen and living room are under about 4ft of water yesterday. My carpets, and my sofa and everything else are under water now. 'We have lost everything. 'My four-year-old Ryan, just cried and cried. 'I don't know what we are going to do. We'll have no electricity and no water, I don't know how I'm going to feed us. 'Something needs to be done. It's ridiculous. I've got not contents insurance. 'I'm so angry with the Environment Agency. They didn't contact me even though I gave them my phone numbers ages ago. I gave them that because they give you a phone call or a text to warn you your house is under threat, but obviously I never got that. 'I don't want to go back to my house.'

Maggie Robinson, Natural's England's Freshwater Advisor for the North West Region, said: 'The River Derwent has been designated as a site of special scientific interest and an important area of conservation. 'It's one of the most important rivers of its kind in Europe. 'It has some of the rarest species of fish in Europe, the river has Atlantic salmon and three different species of lamprey. 'The river, although being nutrient poor, supports some important species of moss and other river fauna.

'Digging into the bed of a river isn't always the best thing to do because it can undermine the channel and riverbed which can cause more deposition cause problems. 'Atlantic salmon are considered throughout Europe to be rare. Salmon dig into reeds in the gravel on the riverbed and they lay their eggs in the reeds.


Australia: Conservative politicians are "coming out" over their disbelief in global warming

The Libs' Senate leader is encouraging climate sceptics to speak out. Nick Minchin, the Liberals' Senate leader, is playing a very edgy political game as he tries - in a direct challenge to Malcolm Turnbull - to get the Opposition to vote down the emissions trading scheme. It's high risk for Turnbull, Minchin and the Liberals. Minchin is openly rejecting the science on climate and encouraging other Liberal sceptics to speak out. This is audacious behaviour by the fourth most-senior person in the Opposition, who's in the leadership group.

But it seems likely Minchin, chief of the Liberals' conservative wing, is more in tune than Turnbull with the party's grassroots. Sources report the rank and file has become more critical of the ETS in the past three months, and Minchin's outspoken comments have been getting positive feedback.

The obvious downside for Turnbull is that his pro-ETS view has become increasingly out of sync with the membership (which, of course, should not be equated with the public). However unhelpful Minchin's comments, he's reprising views he expressed in the Howard years. By 2007, the then prime minister, previously himself a sceptic, had shifted, in the desperate hope of getting some ''cred'' on climate, and the government started to look to an ETS.

But Minchin, though government Senate leader, was having none of it. Saying ''scepticism is one of the all-time great Australian attributes'', he told The Age's Katharine Murphy the science of global warming wasn't settled, and ''to have some Mickey Mouse thing in Australia might make some people feel good but will do nothing for emissions and it will hurt the Australian economy''.

If a greater cause demands, he can, however, be flexible on the issue. When in July last year Turnbull and environment spokesman Greg Hunt were trying to stop then Opposition leader Brendan Nelson moving to the right on emissions trading, Minchin backed the Turnbull-Hunt line, presumably fearing that if they were thwarted, the leadership of Nelson, who he supported, would be undermined (it was anyway, even though Nelson gave in).

Minchin is one of the most experienced and savvy Liberal MPs. He is also among the toughest factional warriors, and yesterday was accused by moderate Liberal backbencher Mal Washer of using the climate change issue to pursue the factional war between conservatives and small-l liberals in the party.

In personal style, Minchin is friendly, relaxed and open (perhaps partly because he was always around journalists - his mother was in the federal parliamentary press gallery; his wife worked in The Age's Canberra bureau before their marriage). But in views he's an ideologue, with strong stands on issues ranging well beyond climate. When Howard in 2006 was trying to reassure people he wouldn't bring in even more severe industrial relations changes after WorkChoices, Minchin was caught on tape advocating another wave of reform. He has also championed unfashionable causes such as voluntary voting.

As the emissions trading issue inches towards its dangerous climax, Minchin seems emboldened.

He said last month that even if the Government met all the Opposition's demands, there was no guarantee the party room would approve the legislation (which begged the question of why you'd bother with negotiations).

Then last week came Four Corners, where Minchin said a majority of the Liberal Party wouldn't accept the position that humans were the main cause of global warming; it would be difficult for Coalition members to vote for the scheme, he said.

Addressing the Senate yesterday, Minchin began by congratulating Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce (who won't vote for the scheme in any circumstances) for his ''erudite contribution to this debate''.

In interviews this week, Minchin did not take a backward step. But he insisted it was not about Turnbull's leadership. At one level this might be correct, despite Minchin battling to keep Turnbull out of the leadership after the last election, and later attempting to prop up the failing Nelson. Joe Hockey, the most likely alternative, is a left-winger; his views on climate would be no more acceptable to Minchin than Turnbull's. Minchin would find Tony Abbott's opinions congenial, but knows Abbott lacks one vital attribute - numbers.

Minchin is not, however, going to do Turnbull any favours or worry excessively if his in-your-face campaign against the legislation undermines Turnbull, who has declared that having a credible climate policy is for him a leadership issue.

The tough line taken by Minchin is empowering other hardliners. Earlier, it was thought most critics would be inclined to roll over if they didn't have the numbers. Now their behaviour is unpredictable, which means that if Turnbull gets party support for a deal, the number of Liberals crossing the floor in the Senate could be quite large, putting up in lights how split the party has become.

The irony would be that Minchin, bound by shadow cabinet solidary, would be forced into formal lockstep with his leader.



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


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Floods hit UK as nation suffers heaviest rain on record

Warmists assured us for years that global warming would bring drought, so this proves ...?

The full and devastating impact of England's worst recorded day of rain was still emerging today as tributes were paid to a policeman swept away by floodwaters while trying to save others. PC Bill Barker was helping motorists stranded on a bridge over the Derwent in the Cumbrian town of Workington when it collapsed. His body was discovered hours later on a nearby beach.

The Environment Agency said that the flooding across the region was so severe that such an event was likely to happen once in 1000 years. The rainfall, on to an already saturated terrain, was the highest level measured in England since records began.

Meteorologists recorded 314mm of rain in 24 hours and flood warnings remained in place across the North West of England, parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The bridge from which PC Barker fell to his death was one of at least four to be washed away. Cumbria County Council issued a warning to motorists and pedestrians to avoid using such crossings as they could be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of homes and businesses were evacuated, many of them ruined by floodwater and mud.

Emergency services continued to rescue those still trapped overnight. They urged anyone who had gone to see the destruction for themselves to leave because their vehicles were blocking roads and hampering efforts to reach the worst-hit areas.

The rescue operation continued overnight in Cockermouth, the town worst hit by the flooding, with people being winched to safety. The two rivers that run through the town burst their banks, blocking roads and forcing more than 200 people to be helped to safety.


Hadley hacked: warmist conspiracy exposed?

Andrew Bolt below digs in to the deliberate fraud exposed in the released emails from Britain's premier climate "science" organization. The post is a long one so I reproduce only the opening blast below. I have however also posted a copy of the whole thing here, "just in case"

8.15 PM UPDATE: The Hadley CRU director admits the emails seem to be genuine:
The director of Britain’s leading Climate Research Unit, Phil Jones, has told Investigate magazine’s TGIF Edition tonight ..."It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails."…

TGIF asked Jones about the controversial email discussing “hiding the decline”, and Jones explained what he was trying to say….

So the 1079 emails and 72 documents seem indeed evidence of a scandal involving most of the most prominent scientists pushing the man-made warming theory - a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science. I’ve been adding some of the most astonishing in updates below - emails suggesting conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more. If it is as it now seems, never again will “peer review” be used to shout down sceptics.

This is clearly not the work of some hacker, but of an insider who’s now blown the whistle. Not surprising, then, that Steve McIntyre reports:
Earlier today, CRU cancelled all existing passwords. Actions speaking loudly.

But back to the original post - and the most astonishing of the emails so far…


Hackers have broken into the database of the Hadley GRU unit - one of the world’s leading alarmist centres - and put the files they stole on the Internet, on the grounds that the science is too important to be kept under wraps.

The ethics of this are dubious, to say the least. But the files suggest, on a very preliminary glance, some other very dubious practices, too, and a lot of collusion - sometimes called “peer review”. Or even conspiracy.

A warning, of course. We can only say with a 90 per cent confidence interval that these emails are real.

(ALTERNATIVE link to the files. And another link.)


Ethics alert! (my bolding - and I’ve update this post with the full alleged email, now):
From: Phil Jones

To: ray bradley ,mann@XXXX, mhughes@XXXX

Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.

Thanks for the comments, Ray.



Prof. Phil Jones

Climatic Research Unit Telephone XXXX

School of Environmental Sciences Fax XXXX

University of East Anglia


Nice. This could be fun.


Surely these emails can’t be genuine. Surely the world’s most prominent alarmist scientists aren’t secretly exchanging emails like this, admitting privately they can’t find the warming they’ve been so loudly predicting?:

From: Kevin TrenberthTo: Michael MannSubject: Re: BBC U-turn on climateDate: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming ? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).

Trenberth, K. E., 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001. [1][PDF] (A PDF of the published version can be obtained from the author.)***

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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.***

This has to be a forgery, surely. Because if it isn’t, we’re about to see the unpicking of a huge scandal. I mean, the media will follow this up, right? In the meantime, use with care.

Much more here

Meteorologists' climate change survey

Published in the October 2009 issue of “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society” (BAMS), a new survey indicates that a significant number of professional meteorologists doubt that manmade sources of greenhouse gases are the cause of global warming. The survey was vetted by an advi­sory board of climate experts, including representatives from NOAA, the NWS, UCAR, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, and many members of the AMS.

Meteorologists’ climate change survey results:

* When asked about the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) statement that “Most of the warming since 1950 is very likely human-induced,” a full 50% either disagreed or strongly disagreed. 25% were neutral and only 24% said they agreed or strongly agreed;

* 52% of the meteorologists disagreed with the statement that “Global climate models are reliable in their projections for a warming of the planet.” Only 19% agreed with the statement;

* Almost a third of respondents agreed (19%) or strongly agreed (10%) that “global warm­ing is a scam”;

* When the meteorologists were asked to identify the “greatest obstacle to reporting on climate change,” their top answer (41%) was “too much scientific uncertainty.”

The credibility of global warming theories (and fear-mongering theorists) and any international climate controls are fading with each passing day. Each day another nail is prudently driven into the coffin of proposed U.S. climate legislation such as the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer Bills.


Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out

From the mainstream German magazine "Spiegel"

Climatologists use their computer models to draw temperature curves that continue well into the future. They predict that the average global temperature will increase by about three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, unless humanity manages to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, no one really knows what exactly the world climate will look like in the not-so-distant future, that is, in 2015, 2030 or 2050.

This is because it is not just human influence but natural factors that affect the Earth's climate. For instance, currents in the world's oceans are subject to certain cycles, as is solar activity. Major volcanic eruptions can also curb rising temperatures in the medium term. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991, for example, caused world temperatures to drop by an average of 0.5 degrees Celsius, thereby prolonging a cooler climate phase that had begun in the late 1980s.

But the Mount Pinatubo eruption happened too long ago to be related to the current slowdown in global warming. So what is behind this more recent phenomenon?

The fact is that the sun is weakening slightly. Its radiation activity is currently at a minimum, as evidenced by the small number of sunspots on its surface. According to calculations performed by a group of NASA scientists led by David Rind, which were recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this reduced solar activity is the most important cause of stagnating global warming.

Latif, on the other hand, attributes the stagnation to so-called Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). This phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean allows a larger volume of cold deep-sea water to rise to the surface at the equator. According to Latif, this has a significant cooling effect on the Earth's atmosphere.

With his team at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Latif has been one of the first to develop a model to create medium-term prognoses for the next five to 10 years. "We are slowly starting to attempt (such models)," says Marotzke, who is also launching a major project in this area, funded by the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology.

Despite their current findings, scientists agree that temperatures will continue to rise in the long term. The big question is: When will it start getting warmer again?

If the deep waters of the Pacific are, in fact, the most important factor holding up global warming, climate change will remain at a standstill until the middle of the next decade, says Latif. But if the cooling trend is the result of reduced solar activity, things could start getting warmer again much sooner. Based on past experience, solar activity will likely increase again in the next few years.


Revenge of the Climate Laymen

Global warming's most dangerous apostate speaks out about the state of climate change science

Barack Obama conceded over the weekend that no successor to the Kyoto Protocol would be signed in Copenhagen next month. With that out of the way, it may be too much to hope that the climate change movement take a moment to reflect on the state of the science that is supposedly driving us toward a carbon-neutral future.

But should a moment for self-reflection arise, campaigners against climate change could do worse than take a look at the work of Stephen McIntyre, who has emerged as one of the climate change gang's Most Dangerous Apostates. The reason for this distinction? He checked the facts.

The retired Canadian businessman, whose self-described "auditing" a few years ago prompted a Congressional review of climate science, has once again thrown EnviroLand into a tailspin. In September, he revealed that a famous graph using tree rings to show unprecedented 20th century warming relies on thin data. Since its publication in 2000, University of East Anglia professor Keith Briffa's much-celebrated image has made star appearances everywhere from U.N. policy papers to activists' posters. Like other so-called "hockey stick" temperature graphs, it's an easy sell —one look and it seems Gadzooks! We're burning ourselves up! "It was the belle of the ball," Mr. McIntyre told me on a recent phone call from Ontario. "Its dance card was full."

At least until Mr. McIntyre reported that the modern portion of that graph, which shows temperatures appearing to skyrocket in the last 100 years, relies on just 12 tree cores in Russia's Yamal region. When Mr. McIntyre presented a second graph, adding data from 34 tree cores from a nearby site, the temperature spike disappears.

Mr. Briffa denounces Mr. McIntyre's work as "demonstrably biased" because it uses "a narrower area and range of sample sites." He says he and his colleagues have now built a new chronology using still more data. Here, as in similar graphs by other researchers, the spike soars once again. Mr. McIntyre's "work has little implication for our published work or any other work that uses it," Mr. Briffa concludes.

He and his colleagues may well ignore Mr. McIntyre, but the rest of us shouldn't. While Mr. McIntyre's image may use data from fewer sites, it still has nearly three times as many tree cores representing the modern era as Mr. Briffa's original.

Yet Mr. McIntyre is first to admit his work is no bullet aimed at the heart of the theory of man-made climate change. Rather, his work —chronicled in papers co-written with environmental economist Ross McKitrick and more than 7,000 posts on his Weblog— does something much more important: It illustrates the uncertainty of a science presented as so infallible as to justify huge new taxes on rich countries along with bribes to poor ones in order to halt their fossil-fueled climbs to prosperity. Mr. McIntyre offers what many in the field do not: rigor.

It all started in 2002 when—as many might given the time and Mr. McIntyre's mathematics background —he decided to verify for himself the case for action on climate change. "It was like a big crossword puzzle," he told me. "Business was a bit slow at the time, so I started reading up."

Prior to the Briffa graph revelation, he had also caught a statistical error that undercut another exalted "hockey stick" graph prominently featured by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, this one by Michael Mann, head of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center.

Alerts about review boards' seemingly lax standards litter his blog, highlighting in particular the IPCC, which has used both the Mann and Briffa graphs in its reports. In 2007, Mr. McIntyre found a technical gaffe that forced NASA to correct itself and admit that 1934, not 1998, was the warmest year recorded in the continental U.S.

"At the beginning I innocently assumed there would be due diligence for all this stuff. … So often my mouth would drop, when I realized no one had really looked into it." Even more innocently, he assumed the billion-dollar climate change industry would welcome his untrained but painstaking work. Instead, Mr. McIntyre is subjected to every kind of venom—that he must be funded by Big Oil, by Big Business, by Some Texan Somewhere. For the record, the 62-year-old declares himself "past my best-by date, operating on my own nickel."

James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute, has dismissed him as a "court jester." Mr. Mann replied to an emailed query about Mr. McIntyre by decrying "every specious contrarian claim and innuendo against me, my colleagues, and the science of climate change itself." Others are more thick-skinned: "You mention his name in my community, people just smile. It's a one-liner to get a laugh out of a group of climate scientists," affirms Stanford University's Stephen Schneider.

One wonders what is so funny, when it is not only the Canadian hobbyist fueling skepticism, but also figures from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center that now show thickening Arctic ice; from the U.K. Met (Meteorological) Office showing falling temperatures that contradict modeling predictions; and other studies that suggest natural factors in climate change are being dramatically underestimated.

Climatologists say they will only take Mr. McIntyre seriously if he creates his own temperature reconstructions and submits them for peer review. But the best science should stand up even to outside scrutiny. And if Mr. McIntyre has a credibility problem with climatologists, climatologists' predictions are increasingly viewed skeptically by the public.

A Pew report last month revealed that the number of Americans who believe humans are causing climate change has dropped 11 percentage points in the last 18 months to 36%; that the number who feel there is solid evidence that the earth is warming has fallen by 14 points to 57%; and that those who think the issue is "very serious" has sunk nine points to 35%.

Mr. McIntyre declares no interest in debunking The Theory in toto, nor in discouraging efficient energy use. His blog will disappoint those seeking anything more political than technical analyses.

In fairness, researchers are far from the loudest voices telling "skeptics" like Mr. McIntyre to sit down, shut up and surrender their lightbulbs without further question— that megaphone belongs to the politicians and activists pushing centrally-planned economies in the name of saving the Earth. Here, we see that contempt for laymen is not universal: Al Gore's ignorance is happily overlooked given his power to push billions in research funding. The same goes for Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and everyone else declaring "the debate is over."

I asked 10 climatologists what they thought was the most reliable method of predicting climate, and got nearly as many answers. People in the field compare climate studies to health studies —another complex mechanism with uncontrollable factors, where best practices will always be debated.

Climate researchers know their prescriptions don't carry the certainty laymen assume from that which is labeled "science," yet most shy from a straightforward account of this uncertainty. "Methods certainly need to be continually refined and improved. I doubt that anyone in the paleoclimate community would disagree with that," says Rob Wilson of the University of St. Andrews's School of Geography and Geosciences. "However, can the nuances of methodological developments be communicated to the laymen —and would they want to know? I do not think this would help." Maybe not, but letting people feel duped by hyperbole is proving even more harmful to the warmers' cause.

"I never said I was proving or disproving anything…. I just don't think we should be thanking the people who make it harder to find out what's true," Mr. McIntyre says. The climate establishment will probably never thank Mr. McIntyre, much less follow his example. The rest of us should do both.


Australian climate change negotiations hit stumbling block

CLIMATE change negotiations between the Rudd Government and the Opposition have hit a stumbling block just days before an agreement was to be taken to the Coalition party room.

But problems at the negotiating table are being dwarfed by the groundswell of climate-change sceptics and growing speculation that Malcolm Turnbull's leadership could be challenged by Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott.

It comes as Liberal negotiator Ian Macfarlane, who met Climate Change Minister Penny Wong twice yesterday and will again tomorrow, has admitted for the first time he was facing hurdles. "It's (the negotiations) really got complicated," Mr Macfarlane told The Courier-Mail. "We've had a setback. But I remain optimistic." Mr Macfarlane would not delve into the specifics of the negotiating hurdle, although questions have been raised within Labor and Liberal circles as to how the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme could afford to have expensive amendments.

Mr Macfarlane has taken to the negotiating table five "buckets" with core issues. With agriculture sorted out late last week, it leaves Coalition demands for more money for electricity generators, big polluters, small-to-medium business and coal.

D-day is approaching for the Coalition, which wanted amendments presented to shadow cabinet on Monday. Mr Turnbull has said the Coalition would support amendments only if he had the majority support of the party room. There are only four sitting days left this year and the Government has demanded a vote be taken before Parliament rises.

Former Liberal MP Bruce Baird yesterday said Mr Abbott might have his eye on the top job, but a spokesman for Mr Abbott outrightly rejected any suggestion of a leadership challenge. Mr Turnbull would not answer questions about Mr Abbott, but on the CPRS said: "Our support for the Bill will depend on the outcome of these negotiations. "The idea that you take a unilateral view and either wave it through willy nilly or knock it back willy nilly regardless of how it might be amended, I don't take that view."



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


Friday, November 20, 2009

Warmist secrecy cracked by hacker

Hadley CRU has apparently been hacked – hundreds of files released. The details on this are still sketchy, we’ll probably never know what went on. But it appears that Hadley Climate Research Unit has been hacked and many many files have been released by the hacker or person unknown. I’m currently traveling and writing this from an aiprort, but here is what I know so far:

An unknown person put postings on some climate skeptic websites that advertised an FTP file on a Russian FTP server, here is the message that was placed on the Air Vent today: "We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents"

The file was large, about 61 megabytes, containing hundreds of files. It contained data, code, and emails from Phil Jones at CRU to and from many people. I’ve seen the file, it appears to be genuine and from CRU. Others who have seen it concur - it appears genuine. There are so many files it appears unlikely that it is a hoax. The effort would be too great.


Galileo silenced again

The American Geophysical Union is sending science back four hundred years

By: Willie Soon and David R. Legates

Four centuries ago, “heretics” who disagreed with religious orthodoxy risked being burned at the stake. Many were the dissenting views that could send offenders to a fiery end. In 1633, the astronomer Galileo Galilei may have come within a singed whisker of the same fate, for insisting that the sun (and not the Earth) was at the center of the solar system. In the end, he agreed to recant his “heresy” (at least publicly) and submit to living under house arrest until the end of his days. Growing evidence ultimately proved Galileo was right, and the controversy dissipated. Theology gave way to nature in determining the truth about nature.

We wish that were the case today. Unfortunately, lessons learned 400 years ago have yet to be adopted where the Church of Anthro-Climatism is involved. Burning dissenters at the stake may no longer be an option – perhaps because it would send prodigious quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, many other ingenious punishments are often meted out, to ensure that dissent is kept within “acceptable” limits, or dissenters no longer dissent.

Just recently, as scientists who specialize in environmental science, climatology, and solar variability, we welcomed the acceptance of our scientific session, Diverse Views from Galileo’s Window: Researching Factors and Processes of Climate Change in the Age of Anthropogenic CO2. The session was to be hosted at the upcoming Fall 2009 Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.

Our session was to focus on “knowledge that spans an extremely diverse range of expertise” and provides “an integrated assessment of the vast array of disciplines that affect and, in turn, are affected by the Earth’s climate.” Our ultimate goal was to stimulate discussion at this professional meeting, prior to the upcoming UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report.

We developed this session to honor the great tradition of science and scientific inquiry, as exemplified by Galileo when, 400 years ago this year, he first pointed his telescope at the Earth’s moon and at the moons of Jupiter, analyzed his findings, and subsequently challenged the orthodoxy of a geocentric universe. Our proposed session was accepted by the AGU.

In response to its acceptance, we were joined by a highly distinguished group of scientists – including members of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, France and China, as well as recipients of the AGU’s own William Bowie, Charles Whitten and James MacElwane medals. Our participants faithfully submitted abstracts for the session.

But by late September, several puzzling events left us wondering whether the AGU truly serves science and environmental scientists – or simply reflects, protects and advances the political agendas of those who espouse belief in manmade CO2-induced catastrophic global warming.

On September 14, Dr. Nicola Scafetta of Duke University contacted us, to say the AGU had cancelled his previously-approved 12-paper session on Solar Variability and Its Effect on Climate Change, since it did not have enough papers. He asked if the papers from his session could be merged into our session; since they fit our theme well, we accepted his papers.

The merger was approved by the AGU Planning Committee. Thus our Galileo session now had grown to a total of 27 papers and was approved as a poster session at the Fall Meeting.

However, a few days later, after first approving our session and after we had assigned time slots for these new papers at AGU’s request, the Planning Committee revoked its approval and summarily dissolved our session. Now the committee claimed our session was “thematically divergent,” and divided the papers in our original session among six different sessions.

To cover its tracks, the committee created a new session called Diverse Views from Galileo’s Window: Solar Forcing of Climate Change with 15 papers – including the 12 from Dr. Scafetta’s original session that it had cancelled. That reduced the focus of this session to just solar forcing of climate, and eliminated discussions of the impact of anthropogenic CO2 that we had planned for our original session. The remaining papers from our cancelled session were moved to five other sessions, thereby undermining our original intent: comparing solar variability and manmade carbon dioxide as factors in planetary climate change.

In responding to us, the Planning Committee defended its actions by asserting: “none of [the papers in our session] have to do with the Galilean moons of Saturn [sic], which have to do with climate change or solar activity.” That claim reflects either a poor grasp of our purpose or a failure to read our proposal – and leads the question, Why wasn’t this issue raised when they originally decided to accept our session?

Our session proposal had clearly intended to honor Galileo’s observations of Jupiter’s (not Saturn’s) moons, which had led him to challenge the orthodoxy of the geocentric universe. We wanted to highlight how current research into the climatic effects of anthropogenic CO2 is challenging the supposed “scientific consensus” that humans are causing catastrophic climate change.

This arbitrary dissolution of our original session has serious implications for proper scientific enquiry. Our request that the session be reinstated has gone unheeded, despite the fact that the AGU has reinstated at least one cancelled session in the past. We have repeatedly been told that the decisions of the Planning Committee are final, though it has made clearly contradictory decisions regarding our session.

Reduced sunspot activity and solar energy output, stable or even cooling planetary temperatures, concerns over the high cost of proposed cap-and-trade legislation, political developments in Washington and Copenhagen, and other factors have caused more people to question manmade global warming disaster claims. This has led to consternation among scientists and organizations that have supported those claims.

However, as scientists, we are profoundly concerned by this behavior from a professional society that is supposed to serve science and its members. The AGU certainly had the right to reject our proposed session at the outset or before the solar variability session was merged with it. But given the topic of our session and the good faith approach we have taken in accepting papers from the cancelled solar variability session, it seems odd (at the very least) that our session was summarily dissolved, and that the AGU refuses to discuss the matter.

The AGU action is hardly reasonable. Indeed, it is counter-productive to the scientific method and to promoting open scientific discussions. It smacks of censorship. Something is rotten in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Scientific inquiry has once again been silenced … just as it was 400 years ago. The AGU should be ashamed. Its members should be outraged.


Reader’s Digest responds to boycott by skeptics

Removes its name as supporter of Copenhagen Climate Treaty

Reader's Digest has responded to a boycott initiated by by having its name removed from a list of corporate supporters of the Copenhagen Climate Treaty.

Mr. William Adler, vice president of global communications at Reader's Digest, sent an email to the No Cap-and-Trade Coalition asking that Reader's Digest be removed from a list of 20 organizations that are being boycotted due to their support of the Copenhagen Treaty. Mr. Adler stated Reader's Digest had been incorrectly listed as a supporter of the Copenhagen Treaty at A review of the Web site confirmed that Reader's Digest's name had been removed as a "friend of Hopenhagen."

"Smart organizations like Reader's Digest are starting to realize that lending their brand to radical environmental movements is bad for business," said Jeff Davis, organizer of the No Cap-and-Trade Coalition. "We hope other organizations named in the boycott wake up and recognize this fact as well."

There are a total of 19 remaining organizations targeted by the boycott, including Google, Pepsi, Nike and BP America. The complete list of boycotted companies can be seen at


Revealed: The design flaw in energy saving lightbulbs means they become dimmer over time

Energy-saving lightbulbs being used in millions of homes could lose up to 40 per cent of their brightness over the next few years, engineers warned yesterday. A design flaw in compact florescent bulbs mean they become dimmer as they age, a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology said. Millions could need replacing long before their advertised lifespan of five or six years is reached.

The Government is phasing out traditional bulbs in order to meet Europe's climate change targets. Although other types of low energy bulb are available - including halogen and LED lights - most households are being encouraged to use compact fluorescent lamps. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says CFLs use a fifth of the energy of traditional bulbs, saving a typical home at least £37 a year and cutting the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by five million tons.

However, independent retailers and critics say many of the low-energy alternatives are ugly, expensive and produce poor quality light. Doctors have warned that CFLs may cause rashes in light-sensitive patients.

A report in Engineering and Technology Magazine now warns that CFLs lose 'a significant amount of brightness' over time. Even a good quality bulb could lose 20 per cent of its light over its 8,000-hour lifespan - while cheaper bulbs could dim even more. The problem is made worse because some manufacturers exaggerate how much light comes from CLFs in the first place, the report says. 'Consumers could end up with a CFL nearing the end of its life that emits just 60 per cent as much light as a supposedly equivalent incandescent bulb,' the report says. That means a CFL that begins life as bright as a traditional 100watt bulb, could become as dim as a 60watt bulbs.

CFLs give off light when a current passes through a gas-filled tube. The gas glows with ultraviolet radiation which lights up a coating of white phosphor on the inside of the tube. Over time, this coating loses some of its ability to light up.

Other low-energy bulbs don't have the same problem. A halogen light - which uses 70 per cent of the energy of a conventional bulb - remains bright throughout its life. LED bulbs - which are beginning to appear in conventional bulb shapes and brightness - are also more reliable.

Editor in chief of Engineering and Technology Dickon Ross said most people were unaware that CFLs eventually lost their brightness. 'Our article goes someway to explaining consumers' dissatisfaction with CFLs and it's interesting that the major manufacturers have switched their focus to the development of LED lighting,' he said.

The Energy Saving Trust, which is funded by the Government, confirmed CFLs did lose brightness but claimed most people would not notice the difference. Trust-approved bulbs should never fall below 76 per cent of their initial brightness, it added.


NZ leader puts his faith in science, not politicians in Copenhagen

John Key is probably not going to Copenhagen or entertaining much hope that other world leaders who do so will come up with a deal on climate change. Not a big, binding and lasting deal. Not one that might be called historic or that locks the United States and China, the world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, to solid targets and action.

No, the Prime Minister of New Zealand is ''95 per cent'' sure he'll not be pressing the flesh in Denmark next month, and reckons he will not miss much, even though Greenpeace has offered to pay his fare. ''There is not going to be a deal,'' he told the Herald. ''What you will get out of it, is you'll get a high-level political statement and work program in 2010.''

Mr Key, who marked a year in power yesterday, is no denier or sceptic. He believes the world has a ''moral obligation'' to deal with climate change, and that consumers - more to the point, voters - broadly agree that action is necessary but ''you don't necessarily write a cheque to eastern European countries because they are polluting less''.

The central question is, what do you do? On a political level, Mr Key and his conservative National Party are in the process of a delicate flip. With support of the Maori Party he is rolling back the emissions trading scheme introduced by the previous Labour government. His scheme will be less ambitious and punitive - and is being attacked from within and without New Zealand. The farmers want it scrapped and accuse Mr Key of being ''obsessed'' by carbon emissions.

At stake is the country's reputation for being clean and green. The only time Mr Key loses his smile is when mention is made of a recent opinion piece in Britain's Guardian newspaper which claimed New Zealand had offered ''two fingers to the global community'' for allowing greenhouse gases to rise 22 per cent since signing the Kyoto treaty.

Mr Key calls the article ''bollocks'' and the writer, Fred Pearce, a green activist. The truth is, he says, the growth of emissions has been completely offset by planting 600,000 more trees. But the Prime Minister is acutely aware of the influence of consumers as regulators.

Australia's decision to exempt farmers from the ETS falls has, Mr Key concedes, ''put pressure on us''. Primary production accounts for about 48 per cent of the economy (against about 16 per cent in Australia) and half of all greenhouse emissions come from agriculture.

New Zealand's efforts are being made all the trickier due to two factors: the population is growing, from 3.2 million in 1990 to about 4.4 million now; and about 70 per cent of its energy already comes from renewable sources.

Mr Key is nonetheless optimistic solutions will be found that do not compromise living standards. The answers lie in science, he believes. ''All roads lead to technological solutions.''


A climate scare in Trafalgar Square

Ghost Forest, a new art installation, wants to frighten us into changing our greedy, planet-wrecking ways

A twenty-first century tribute to the Royal Family? A satirical swipe at the Labour government? A mistaken delivery address? At first, it’s difficult to know what to make of the large hunks of dead wood currently cutting a dash in London’s Trafalgar Square.

That is, until you read the info-boards positioned around the installation or encounter the press-released promotional material. At which point Ghost Forest’s meaning, or better still, its message, will become all too clear: all this modern stuff, this industrial development, has come at an environmental cost we’ve been able to ignore for too long. Why? Because it’s always been over there, in Africa, in South America. But not any more. In the form of huge tree stumps it’s been brought close, dumped in our figurative backyard. To quote its creator, the journalist-cum-artist Angela Palmer, it is an awareness-raising, visual expression of the ‘connection between deforestation and climate change’.

Featuring nine huge tree trunks (plus one injured one) which have been dragged across, and then ferried over from the Suhuma forest reserve in western Ghana, Ghost Forest is perhaps not the most appropriate name. With each trunk assigned its own slab on which to lie, a more accurate one would’ve been ‘The Tree Mortuary’. Which is certainly how it feels to walk around it. The trunks are arrayed like a body parts, their angry tangle of roots straining out like the veins and capillaries of gigantic limbs at one end, while at the other end there is just a clean, surgical, lumberjack’s cut. It’s as if you’re being encouraged to look at the results of planetary surgery, to survey the casualities of man’s open-heart conquest of nature. Palmer is clearly not insensible to the effect, judging by her anthropomorphic language. The roots are like ‘nerve-endings’, she says, the rainforests themselves, ‘the world’s “lungs”’.

This isn’t to say unsuspecting visitors were entirely clear as to what the stumps mean. Speaking on Monday, Palmer seemed unconcerned: ‘Many observers will see the stumps as beautiful sculptural objects; others will perhaps see the installation as a scene of devastation, others may see the tree stumps posited in the no-man’s land between the past and the future. For others the installation may represent an overt piece of political activism – a call to arms. I am equally comfortable with all responses.’ Beautiful sculptural objects? A no-man’s land between the past and the future? The most common response, from what I could see, was to stand next to the planet’s ripped-out lungs, and grin for the camera. After all, it’s not everyday some kindly artist leaves nine three-metre wide trunks around central London.

This surely missed Palmer’s point. Because whatever Palmer says, there was a point, a big, blunt change-your-ways point to Ghost Forest. Little wonder those reporting its opening on Monday were in no doubt as to what Ghost Forest was saying. In the words of Art Daily, ‘Ghost Forest’ is ‘a powerful visual statement about climate change’. ‘[A]s a microcosm of planetary overconsumption of expendable resources’, concluded the Londonist, ‘it’s a powerful statement’. Hence this Sunday it will leave London and head to Thorvaldsens Plads in Copenhagen to ‘raise awareness’ before the start of the UN climate change summit in December.

The reviewers had clearly read the promotional material. And this was the problem with Ghost Forest as art. In clued-up reports, in interviews on the Ghost Forest website, and on the 300-word-long, on-site info boards, the meaning of Ghost Forest was all too articulated. If the installation itself was ambiguous, a selection of barely worked-up Ghanaian tree stumps, its message was clear and overwrought. In fact the message could have done without its truncated embodiment in the wooden sculptures – the content here had no need of its form.

Overtly didactic art is nothing new, but what marks a project like the Ghost Forest out is the extent to which the hectoring content is liberated from the material in which it was to be represented. Little wonder that the UK foreign secretary’s special representative for climate change, John Ashworth, was able to praise it before it actually existed as an installation – after all it was the message, not its formal realisation, that was valuable. ‘We need to reach people in other ways as well’, he told Palmer. ‘Since the crisis we face is about who we are before it is about what we should do, the role of art will be critical. So I applaud what you are doing, and wish it success. You will in effect be confronting some of those who pass through Trafalgar Square with the consequence of their choices.’

Confront people with the consequence of their choices? This is art as behaviour-changing device. As Palmer explains on her website: ‘Its location in Trafalgar Square is key: it is one of the world’s most visited tourist sites and the epicentre of Western industrialisation over the past 200 years.’ In other words, for didactic purposes, plonking it in the centre of London allows it to tell as many people off as possible, from tourists to Christmas shoppers. It’s tricky to avoid The Message if you have to walk the long way round it.

Then there’s the element of juxtaposition, of bringing the distant near, of shoving the natural in the face of the social. In the midst of a developed society, ‘an epicentre of industrialisation’, the mortified tree stumps, symbols of the underside of industrial progress, exist to discomfit, to unsettle. They are signs that something is wrong. This is a gesture premised on the perceived complacency of the public, their selfish behaviour. And as if the distaste for the lives of modern citizens wasn’t writ large enough, Palmer is prepared to take her fetish for the primitive and animistic one step further: tomorrow, an Amazonian chief is going to bless the trees in a special ceremony.

Which does make you wonder. Perhaps Palmer is actually being subversive. After all, like Mark McGowan’s attempt to ‘raise awareness’ about water wastage by leaving the tap running in his London gallery, it took Palmer a large ship, and several tonnes of heavy haulage, to drag a symbol of excessive energy consumption to its current resting place. Add to that the power expended by the electricity generators to keep the lights blazing through the night, and Palmer’s carbon footprint must be at least the size of ten large Ghanaian trees. This must surely be one giant environmentalist wheeze, a satire of sanctimony, right?

Perhaps not: ‘The artist considered carefully the carbon footprint which would be incurred in the project’, the info-board tells us, ‘but felt its potential message to millions of people on the impacts of deforestation would outweigh the carbon “spend”. The carbon cost of “Ghost Forest” will be calculated and offset on a ClimateCare project which has introduced more energy efficient cooking stoves to Ghana, meaning fewer trees are needed to provide cooking fuel.’

This is straight-faced contemporary art all right. It is art for those who know the carbon price of everything and the value of nothing. And art without value is not really art 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


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peer-reviewed academic journal article shows that climate models don't offer even remotely accurate predictions

Comments by By Lubos Motl:

In this dose of peer-reviewed skeptical literature about the climate, we look to the Hydrological Science Journal. D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides wrote a text: "On the credibility of climate predictions (PDF)".

They simply compared the local predictions for temperature and precipitation by many models with the real observations and found out that: "... The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.

Gavin Schmidt decided to criticize paper: RealClimate.ORG

If he has an argument against the paper, I haven't found it. I agree with Schmidt's comment that it should have been expected that the models won't reproduce the local climate - even though our expectations could have very different reasons (my reason is that I simply know that the existing climate models don't properly deal with most of the essential climatological processes; I am not sure about Gavin's reasons).

But Koutsoyiannis et al. probably agree with it, too. (Confirmed by the lead author himself in the fast comments.) However, Koutsoyiannis et al. say not only that the local predictions of the models have been falsified: they also correctly say that the statement that the predictions would work at the longer distance scales is unsupported. And it is unsupported, indeed.

What does the word "climate" mean? It is the information about the behavior of the weather in a given region at time scales longer than 30 years or so. When we talk about the climate, we may be averaging over longer time scales but we are surely not averaging over the planet. Climate is always associated with a region: that's why we can distinguish tropical, dry, moderate, continental, and polar climates. ;-)

There is no "global climate". When people talk about "global climate change", it is the whole "climate change" that is supposed to be supplemented by the adjective "global": we are surely not talking about the changes of the "global climate" because the latter doesn't exist. Even Wikipedia controlled by William Connolley seems to agree with this proposition. It is strange that Gavin Schmidt seems to disagree.

So the short-term weather signals are averaged out but as Koutsoyiannis et al. show, it is still not enough to obtain an agreement between the models and the reality. The models clearly don't reproduce many changes well, especially not the changes driven by the long term persistence (or auto-correlation) of the time series. Note that the Hurst exponents determine the "color of the noise" and because these exponents generically exceed 0.5 in climatology, the long term persistence (the "inertia" of the climate) is very important.

Even if you don't understand these words about the Hurst exponents, you should understand that the predictions of the climate models for any particular region in the world will be essentially uncorrelated with reality because the reality is dominated by effects that are not properly simulated by the models. Because every single person lives in a particular region of the world and every region of the world is more or less incorrectly predicted by the models, I think it means that no rationally thinking person should pay serious attention to the predictions of these models.

And can the models become good at long distance scales again? Maybe. But it is extremely unlikely. If you think that they do become good at the global scale, you are believing in a very contrived, fine-tuned hypothesis: all the detailed (short-term, local) data that can be tested come out incorrectly but only when you care about one number - the global long-term temperature trend - all the errors must conspire and evaporate.

So the fashionable "climate change theory" is supposed to be an effective theory that only works at distance scales T and length scales L that are longer than certain bounds. If you want to believe that Gavin Schmidt is right, you must also believe that T must be between 30 years and 100 years and L must be greater than 6,000 km or so but shorter than 40,000 km. Why? Because the theory is falsified by the observations at shorter time and distance scales (the detailed local and/or meteorological data). But for the theory to be relevant for the Earth, the distance cutoff must be shorter than 40,000 km. And for the theory to be scary enough for a few future generations, the time cutoff must be shorter than 100 years. ;-)

When you average the known data over these very long scales, you are exactly at the moment when you lose all nontrivial climate information that could have been used to validate the model. It is exactly the moment when you are supposed to start to believe the models.

I find such a belief unjustifiable and crazy. If an effective field theory only works well enough at distances longer than a cutoff scale L, there is absolutely no a priori good reason why L should be between 6,000 kilometers and 40,000 kilometers! ;-) 1,000 km is already a very long distance not only for a particle physicist :-) but also for various local atmospheric variations to average out and for a useful approximate theory of the climate to start to be relevant. However, these theories seem to break down, even in their long-term predictions. When they break down at the distance scale of 1,000 km, is sounds extremely reasonable to me to assume that they probably break at the 6,000 km scale, too.

Similarly, if a theory highly incorrectly predicts the global climate trends for 10 or 20 years, which we already know to be the case from observations (even for the global mean temperature), it seems unreasonable to expect that the theory will be very accurate for 30-year, 50-year, or 100-year predictions.

Assuming otherwise is remotely analogous to the belief that Jesus Christ was the only person who could have walked on water. It may have been true that Jesus Christ was the only person for whom some unlikely cancellations of the gravitational force took place but it doesn't seem too likely to a scientifically trained ear. OK, Christian readers are supposed to hold their belief at this point but I just think that this particular belief is not natural from a scientific vantage point.

So I prefer the common sense approach of old-fashioned science: if all the detailed predictions of the existing models have been shown incorrect, it probably means that the models themselves are incorrect or at least substantially incomplete.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Climate Theology: Gore's new book offers eco-salvation to his followers: 'I'm offering you the choice of life or death'

As the scientific basis for Warmism becomes vanishingly small, the religious nature of it comes to the fore

On a page by itself, we find this inside the front cover of Al Gore's latest climate fraud promotion book: "I'm offering you the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or curses." --Deuteronomy Chapter 30, Verse 19

Let's imagine that a Republican former vice president (say Dan Quayle or Dick Cheney) authored a similar book telling us that apocalypse was at hand unless we shoveled massive amounts of public money toward companies they've heavily invested in. Let's say the Republican-authored book also prominently featured the Bible verse above, suggesting that Quayle or Cheney was offering the reader the choice between life of death.

In the scenario above, would the mainstream media give Quayle or Cheney with the same respect and free book promotion airtime that Gore has received in recent weeks?


An attack on the poorest coming up? Developing nations outstrip rich on greenhouse gases

DEVELOPING countries now emit more greenhouse gas than rich countries, according to a study that will intensify demands for all countries to set targets for cutting emissions. Total emissions from burning fossil fuels in developing countries, including China, India and Brazil, have more than doubled since 1990 and are continuing to rise rapidly. By contrast total emissions from developed countries, such as the US, Japan and Britain have hardly changed over the same period. Last year developed countries were responsible for 46 per cent of global emissions, with developing countries responsible for 54 per cent.

The figures, published by an international team of scientists, will put pressure on developing countries to set stricter targets for slowing the increase in emissions. China and India are refusing to agree to any cap on their emissions and are instead offering vague targets for cutting emissions per unit of GDP. China overtook the US in 2006 as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and has extended its lead each year since then.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, compared the total emissions of 38 developed countries with those of all other countries. The study said that the increase in emissions from developing countries was in part due to their manufacture of goods for export to rich countries.

Professor Le Quere said that emissions per person remained much higher in rich countries, which supported only about a billion of the world's population of 6.7 billion. However, explosive growth in emissions in some countries, especially China, meant that the gap was slowly closing. China emitted 4.8 tonnes of CO2 per person in 2007, a rise of 138 per cent since 1991. India emitted 1.2 tonnes, up 79 per cent, and Brazil 2.1 tonnes, up 30 per cent.

The UK's emissions fell 12 per cent over the same period to 9.3 tonnes per person and US per capita emissions fell by 1 per cent to 19.9 tonnes.

Professor Le Quere said that the study did not take account of historic responsibility for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. She said that developing countries were responsible for only 20 per cent of cumulative emissions since 1751. "Emissions in rich countries have only stabilised because they have reached a certain stage of development which other countries have yet to attain."

The study also found that the growth in global emissions from fossil fuels had accelerated from 1 per cent a year in the 1990s to an average annual rate of 3.4 per cent between 2000 and 2008. The growth continued last year during the global economic downturn, though at a reduced rate of 2 per cent.

Coal has overtaken oil as the biggest source of emissions, largely because many developing countries, including China, have vast domestic reserves of coal but have to import oil.

The study also suggested that the rise in CO2 emissions was outstripping the Earth's ability to soak up the carbon in forests and oceans. It said that the levels of global emissions that remained in the atmosphere had grown from 40 to 45 per cent over the past 50 years. This finding was disputed in a separate report, published last week, by another scientist who studied the same data. Both studies involved scientists from Bristol University's climate change research program.

Wolfgang Knorr, writing in Geophysical Research Letters, found no increase in the proportion of emitted carbon remaining in the atmosphere, suggesting that forests and oceans were more effective than previously thought at soaking up man-made emissions.

The dispute between climate scientists at the same university will be seized upon by climate change sceptics, who argue that the scientific evidence for man-made global warming remains uncertain and open to differing interpretations.

Meanwhile, President Obama tried to restore confidence in international negotiations on climate change by saying that he wanted the UN summit in Copenhagen next month to agree an "accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect". He was speaking in Beijing two days after his officials had ruled out signing a legally binding treaty in Copenhagen (!)


Reducing Humans to Carbon Ash

The latest morally monstrous proposal out of the environmentalist cult comes from Lord Smith of Finsbury. He suggests that each British citizen be given a government “carbon allowance.” For any transaction that increases a person’s “carbon footprint” such as using gasoline or taking an airline flight, they would have to “spend” part of their allowance. Once their allowance reaches zero, they would have to pay out of pocket to purchase more credits, assuming that they are available. It is “cap and trade” for the individual.

Appallingly anti-human

The appallingly anti-human nature of this proposal is only surpassed by the appalling ignorance and intellectual laziness of a public that is not appalled by the fact that their politicians are literally leading them to suicide. An essential aspect of our lives as humans is to employ the materials in our environment for our survival and well-being: converting plants into food; trees into houses; oil into energy; metals into medical equipment, automobiles, and aircraft.

It is often too costly for us to employ carbon dioxide, one of the “outputs” of our act of living, efficiently for our use. We produce CO2 in some of our industrial activities and, indeed, every time we exhale. (As do all animals!) Plants, of course, breathe in our CO2.

The carbon allowance scheme dehumanizes us by teaching us to view ourselves merely as carbon output units, and the less output the better. The implication of this view is that every single human activity—indeed, the very act of living—a sinful indulgence, like some criminal urge for which we should be ashamed and which we should strive to suppress.


Just as our superstitious ancestors tortured themselves with guilt over taking joy in the things of this world, so those who accept the premises of the environmental cult do so today. The latest example is the rise of couples who refuse to have children because each new child is considered pollution on the Earth. Naturally, it is the choice of each individual whether or not to become a parent. But consider the complete depravity of what the environmental cultists peddle as morality.

There are men and women who long to have children; to cradle newborns in their arms; to hold their babies’ hands as they take their first steps; to watch them play with their friends and their toys; to teach them to say “mommy” and “daddy”; to teach them to read; to play with them in the park; to help them with their studies; to attend their graduations; and to see them become responsible adults and, perhaps, parents themselves.

Now consider those men and women who would give up the challenge and the joy of becoming a parent, who would damn themselves to emptier lives of “if only it could have been” because they ingest the poisonous notion that each new child must be thought of first as a carbon unit that poisons this planet.

This is no joke. For decades eco-radicals have advocated zero population growth with government action to bring about that result. Now they have the ultimate argument for selling suicide, that carbon is bad and that to live as a human is to produce carbon.

So we now find a recent Oregon State University study that argues that the carbon impact of having a child is 20 times greater than any other environmental choice, such as driving a car. Thus it’s not surprising when New York Times columnist Andy Revkin broaches the idea of giving carbon credits for those who have fewer kids.

Combine this notion with the British scheme and the clear implication is that the government will allow couples to have kids only if they can “pay” for the impact of those children out of their carbon allowance.

Totalitarians and tattoos

Like any government program, the carbon allowance idea would only grow. Its inexorable conclusion would be truly totalitarian. How would government control all human activities in the name of reducing human carbon output?

In Britain Lord Smith wants each individual assigned an identification number to keep track of their activities; how about tattooing it to our wrists? The system certainly would expand to track and thus to limit or proscribe more and more of our activities. The system likely would soon become a mechanism to meet the goal, voiced by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s environmental adviser Jonathon Porritt, of cutting the country’s population in half, by 30 million, in order to build a “sustainable” society.

To the extent that individuals accept the eco-cult’s view of humans and accept guilt for living, they will acquiesce as the new puritan politicians claim the right to control and destroy their lives through a new Inquisition.

Yes, the excuse for these sorts of measures is the need to stop climate change; the term “global warming” is falling out of favor since the globe has refused to warm up much over the past decade.

Climates have changed radically throughout Earth’s history before humans were around. Further, science today has not come anywhere close to establishing that the Earth’s climate is dangerously warming up; that humans producing CO2 are the principal cause; that the effects will be catastrophic to human life; that draconian restrictions on human activity can prevent such warming; and that the harm done by these restrictions will not be far worse than the warming.

Yet it’s not with reticence and reluctance but, rather, with recklessness and relish that eco-cultists push their Luddite proposals. In spite of occasional weak claims that such measures are meant to help future humans—those children we’re not supposed to have—the logic behind them implies that in the best of all possible worlds all humans would have their carbon “sequestered,” that is, would become ash in the ground.

Any given individual might back this ideology out of ignorance, ill-intent, or a combination of the two. But whatever the case, those who love their lives and who love the potential of every human being must continue to confront this anti-human ideology and those who promote it, to make clear the ideology’s implications, and to refuse to allow themselves to be destroyed.


Russia talks the talk

But won't need to walk the walk

Stockholm - Russia has decided to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 20-25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, diplomats at a summit with the European Union in Stockholm said Wednesday. Moscow's announcement of its goal should make it easier for the EU to demand emissions cuts from other key players, especially the United States and Canada, at United Nations talks on fighting global warming in Copenhagen and December, diplomats said.

The EU is keen to enlist Russian support ahead of the Copenhagen talks. The bloc's own target is to cut emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to deepen the cut to 30 per cent if other developed economies make similar pledges.

Russia's decision to cut emissions to 20-25 per cent below 1990 levels strengthens an earlier proposal to cut emissions by some 10-15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. But it still means that Russia will be able to boost its emissions substantially over the next decade. This is because the country's Soviet industrial base collapsed in 1990 and has never been built back up to the same level.

Ahead of the summit, the host, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his guest, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, both stressed the two sides' commitment to a deal in Copenhagen. "Our countries are among the most advanced in terms of commitments (to address climate change) and the desire to move ahead" in Copenhagen, Medvedev said.



Three current articles below

The usual Greenie people-hatred

Birth control should be used to cut "greenhouse gas" emissions

INVESTING in birth control to reduce population growth could be more effective in cutting greenhouse gas emissions than building wind turbines or nuclear power stations, according to a United Nations report. Taking action to prevent one billion births by 2050 would save as much carbon dioxide as constructing two million giant wind turbines.

The UN Population Fund report predicted that the global population could reach 10.5 billion by 2050, up from 6.8 billion today, unless urgent action was taken to reduce fertility rates. It said that even its medium-growth forecast of 2.3 billion more people by 2050, which assumes a fall in average fertility from 2.56 to 2.02 children per woman, would make it much harder to achieve the cuts in carbon emissions needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The report said that reducing population growth would allow the 2050 target for global average emissions per person to be increased significantly above the 2 tonnes recommended by Lord Stern of Brentford, the author of an influential government report on global warming in 2006. Living standards would be higher because each person would be able to emit more CO2.

The report said: "No human is genuinely carbon neutral. Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution in some way. Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendents."

The report rejected the idea of Chinese-style laws to control population but said that a similar result could be achieved by promoting contraception and better education for women. It said that 215 million women, mainly in developing countries, wanted contraception but had no access to it. Funding from donor countries for the UN's birth control program has fallen from $723 million at its peak in 1995 to $338 million in 2007.

The report also said that the longer women remained in education, the fewer babies they had. Women who had never gone to school had an average of 4.5 children. Those who completed one or two years of university had 1.7. "Dollar for dollar, investments in voluntary family planning and girls' education would, in the long run, reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least as much as investments in nuclear or wind energy," the report said.

It revealed that, contrary to received wisdom, rates of unintended pregnancies were higher in rich countries than in poor ones. In Europe, the US, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, an average of 41 per cent of pregnancies were unintended, compared with 35 per cent in developing countries.

However, most of the projected increase in population would be in developing countries. The population of Africa was expected to double to two billion by 2050. The population of all developed countries was likely to rise only 3 per cent, though this masked big differences, with the US population expected to rise by a third to 400 million and Japan's expected to decline by a fifth to 100million.

The Population Fund acknowledged that reducing population growth in developing countries would have little immediate impact on emissions because their inhabitants have relatively small carbon footprints. But it said that the savings would increase as the economies of developing countries grew and levels of consumption - and, therefore, emissions - rose.

The report said that population growth was only beginning to be recognised as an important topic in international negotiations on climate change. It will not be discussed at next month's UN summit in Copenhagen. "Fear of appearing supportive of population control has, until recently, held back any mention of 'population' in the climate debate."

A spokeswoman for Cafod, the Catholic aid agency, said it did not support the promotion of birth control in poor countries, where the "underlying causes of large families ... are lack of education of women and unequal power relationships between men and women".


Up to 30 conservative parliamentarians may vote against Warmist laws

UP to 30 Liberal MPs and senators are set to defy their leader Malcolm Turnbull on emissions trading, one of the party's prominent climate change sceptics said. More than a third of the party would "probably cross" the floor of Parliament to vote against the scheme even if Labor agreed to Coalition amendments, backbencher Dennis Jensen said. "I don't want to name them but there are 30 MPs," he told AAP.

Coalition MPs and senators were expected to consider the outcome of negotiations presently underway with Labor when they meet in Canberra next Tuesday. A Senate vote was expected late next week and any changes the upper house makes to the legislation would need the support of the Lower House, where Labor has a majority. In the Senate, Labor needs the support of at least seven Liberals to win parliamentary approval for its scheme.


Enterprise is not the enemy

A conservative political advisor looks for a middle ground below

Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister during World War I, said that war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men. In the same vein, the environment is too important to be left to the Greens. Bob Carr made the point recently that the Greens are not the environmental movement, they are a political party.

Environmental issues are mainstream and not a luxury. They go to the heart of how we sustain our growth and living standards in the face of rising population and resource depletion pressures. Environmental costs are not always incorporated in market prices but there is now ample evidence that market approaches, including appropriate property rights, have an important role to play in conservation regimes. They can reduce pollution at lesser costs than regulatory approaches, as the acid rain cap and trade system showed.

There is no incompatibility between private enterprise or capitalism and the environment. The success of capitalism in raising living standards has been used by some Greens to equate it with environmental degradation. The poor state of the environment in Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall fell demonstrates that there is no corollary between social and economic systems and the condition of the environment.

The Greens have often used environmental issues to peddle an anti-capitalist and populist agenda, focusing on renewable energy sources as good, soft power while rejecting nuclear energy as hard power that is the dirty product of multinational corporations. These attitudes are not shared by many of those who vote Green.

In the previous federal election Labor made a good fist of owning the environment and climate change. In the public mind concern for the environment has come to be equated with action to address climate change. Kevin Rudd focused on the Coalition's failure to sign the Kyoto treaty as evidence of its lack of credentials on environment and climate. The issue was used to define John Howard as backward-looking and not interested in the future.

So Labor now has equity in the issue. Every day that the Coalition spends discussing, and dividing on, climate change is a day lost to other issues more to the Coalition's advantage. The party should neutralise these issues and move on or risk alienating a whole constituency of voters, not restricted to the young, who genuinely feel strongly about these matters but who do not wish to embrace Stone Age living standards.

So does that mean that climate change sceptics should just shut up? No, because scientific inquiry that improves our knowledge and uncovers errors must be encouraged. Scientists should have the moral courage to change their position as ugly facts slay beautiful theories. But as a layman, how do I know who is right in the climate change debate? Is it the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the scientists who claim that the IPCC has been too timid in its projections of global warming? Is it celebrities jumping on the bandwagon or more isolated scientific voices such as that of Ian Plimer?

How is a politician to make a principled decision on such a weighty matter? The French mathematician and religious philosopher of the 17th century, Blaise Pascal, tackled a related issue. He formulated a wager to guide those wrestling with the concept of faith. Because faith was beyond reasoning he proposed that one should weigh the consequences of belief v unbelief. If you believe and hence lead a virtuous life on earth but there is no hereafter, what have you really lost (apart from a good time perhaps)? On the other hand, if you act as if there is no hereafter and God does exist, you have consigned yourself to purgatory and worse. The cost of unbelief is literally infinite compared with the cost of belief in these circumstances.

Applied to climate change, what are the costs of belief v unbelief? If you act and climate change turns out to be the new Y2K, it is true that resources will have been invested in the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy and there is the opportunity cost of locking up our remaining fossil fuel supply. But provided that there is genuine market in emissions trading the carbon price should crash and restore relativities with fossil fuels and other energy sources.

If climate change is genuine, urgent and otherwise irreversible, then early action pays off while late or no action results in mounting economic and social costs. The most rational strategy for a climate sceptic is to short the carbon market and wait for the big crash.

The recent Lowy poll picked up on a slide in the ranking of climate change as an issue of concern to Australians. Securing jobs was the No. 1 issue. This is the real challenge with polls and governing. People want climate change tackled but they want to do it without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Howard faced up to this dilemma in the 2004 election when he wrestled with what do about old-growth forests in Tasmania. On the eve of the election his advisers were urging him to tuck away a very substantial compensation package to pay for locking up significant forest reserves. The then-Labor leader Mark Latham had highlighted the issue during the year with a high profile visit to Tasmania and the recruitment of Peter Garrett to run in the seat of Kingsford Smith.

For the campaign, Latham put together a big forests package and according to Tim Gartrell, the then ALP national secretary, it polled well. Howard played cat and mouse with Latham during the campaign.

Early on in the campaign in the seat of Richmond on the NSW North Coast, Howard alluded to his dilemma. He was worried about sacrificing the jobs of timber workers in isolated communities with few alternative job prospects. He wanted a fair go for them and the environment. His chance came when Latham finally blinked and went down to Tasmania at the start of the last week of the campaign. The images of him being driven into an underground car park and virtually throwing his plan across the table in a "take it or leave it" attitude said it all.

Howard moved to finalise his policy in consultation with affected communities and in the middle of that week turned up at the Albert Hall in Launceston to announce it. He was rapturously received by the timber workers and their families; he had looked after them and had the courage to meet them and address their concerns. It sent a message to other affected communities on the mainland that Howard was about balancing jobs and conservation.

In a recent welcome development, Bob Brown, the leader of the Greens, and John Gay, the executive chairman of Gunns, have met to discuss the proposed paper mill that has caused no end of controversy in Tasmania. It is good that they are at least talking and perhaps will find a practical outcome to this long-running saga.



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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


An email from George Lloyd [] below

Chapter 15 of the Working Group 2 report in the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4) deals with the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. It draws heavily upon the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report (2005) (ACIA, 2005) and, indeed, praises ACIA, 2005 in the following words: "[ACIA, 2005]... has substantially improved the understanding of the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, is a benchmark for regional impact assessments, and may become the basis for a sustainable management plan for the Arctic."

Whist the document has clearly been around for some time I have seen very few references to it and, notwithstanding the clear bias of ACIA 2005 in favour of AGW, I believe your readers will find parts of it fascinating. In particular, chapter 2 "Arctic Climate: Past and Present" and, specifically, Section 2.7 "Arctic climate variability prior to 100 years BP" (pages 46 to 54) which documents the climate changes in the region from 2 million years ago up to the recent past.

The information on the Arctic climate during the Holocene (the past approx. 11,000 years to the present), some of which is summarised below, provides an interesting contrast with the alarmist views of today:

* climatic conditions were significantly warmer than today,

* marine mammals were present far north of their present day range,

* over most of Russia forests advanced to or near the Arctic coastline between 9 and 7 thousand years ago, and retreated to their present position by between 4 and 3 thousand years ago,

* during the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperature along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5 to 7 deg C warmer than present,

* the period from 1550 to 1900 may have been the coldest period in the entire Holocene... The Little Ice Age (LIA), during which glaciers advanced on all continents, and

* Glaciers started to retreat around 1850 but between 1880 and 1890 there were glacier advances. In the early 20th century, glacier recession continued, with interruptions by some periods of advance. The most rapid glacial retreat took place between the 1920s and 1940s.

Those of your readers interested in exploring ACIA, 2005 in greater detail will find it HERE

In practice, wind power does NOT reduce carbon emissions

The introduction to a very long and thorough study below:

Integrating random, highly variable wind energy into an electricity system presents substantial problems that subvert wind technology’s ability to offset the use of fossil fuels–and avoid air emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Measuring this accurately is important because many believe that wind projects significantly reduce such emissions.

This analysis finds that natural gas used as wind back-up in place of baseload or intermediate gas (in the absence of wind) results in approximately the same gas burn and an increase in related emissions, including CO2. Extrapolating from this example to the whole, the working hypothesis is that intermittent wind (and solar) are not effective CO2 mitigation strategies because of inefficiencies introduced by fast-ramping (inefficient) operation of gas turbines for firming otherwise intermittent and thus non-usable power.


In the absence of extensive real-time load dispatch analyses at finely grained time intervals capable of accurately and sufficiently assessing all the variables affecting electricity system behavior as wind energy penetration increases, I propose a method – a calculator – that captures a wide range of considerations. I am unaware of any previous attempt that is as inclusive as what I present here and welcome reader comments for improvements on the present framework or alternative approaches.

This model, or calculator, provides a framework for the considerations involved and an interim assessment of their effects until sufficiently comprehensive studies can be performed in the areas indicated. It shows the impact on fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to typical claims by wind proponents and other bodies, including some government policy makers. As it is parameter driven, the calculator allows examination of the sensitivity of these considerations. The result is that the typical claims are not supported, except by ignoring most of the following considerations:

* The amount of wind mirroring/shadowing backup required.

* Inefficient operation imposed on the mirroring/shadowing backup, in terms of both the fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, treated separately.

* The need to make comparisons, with respect to gas plants, of:

o Case A – The more efficient Combined Cycle plants (CCGT) operating alone, in other words without the presence of wind, versus;

o Case B – The appropriate mix of gas plant type used to balance wind’s volatile output. This includes the need to introduce less efficient, but faster-reacting, Open Cycle Gas Turbine gas plants (OCGT) to mirror/shadow the wind production, especially as wind penetration increases.

* The effect of reduced wind capacity factor.

* The effect of wind output exceeding 1-2 percentage points of a total electricity system, on a country or regional basis.

The framework used is similar to that of Warren Katzenstein and Jay Apt (see citations below). It focuses on the wind/gas plant combination and has general applicability. Additional considerations involving wind’s impact on other electricity system elements particular to a specific jurisdiction, such as baseload capacity as analyzed by Campbell, will have to be assessed separately and could have implications that further offset wind’s claimed benefits.

Much more HERE

Greenie madness destroys California farms

For Fresno and California's entire Central Valley, it should be the best of times. With the dollar weak and the world hungry, the exceptionally fertile fields along the Golden State highway should be producing record yields of grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Instead framers are struggling to keep even a third of their potential acreage in use. Mile after mile of parched land greets the approach to the city of 500,000. And angry signs along the roadside condemn the federal government that has cut off the valley's water.

The delta smelt, a small fish that makes its home in the vast Sacramento Delta, has been declared endangered. Since late last year the water lifeline from the north to the south has been reduced to a trickle.

The pumps that power the water to the farms have been stilled for months at a time so as to avoid sucking in smelt. The smelt's numbers have been reduced by many causes, but the one the federal government has decided to target is the pumps.

When Washington, D.C., ordered the water shut off, jobs went down the drain. Tens of thousands of farm jobs have been lost, and unemployment in some farming towns has hit 40 percent.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., posture about their concern (Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., can't even be bothered to meet with local officials), and the region's Democratic congressmen like Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa pledge action, but the president, his senior officials and congressional allies have done nothing. A new, man-made dust bowl is taking shape, and the devastation is palpable.

Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry was a guest on my broadcast from the city's downtown last week and told the audience about a food distribution day that drew 15,000 people. Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church spoke about the growing desperation among many in his flock.

Third-generation farmers admitted on air that they couldn't imagine how they could hold on to their farms if the water wasn't turned back and with the assurance of stability so the annual cycle of preparation and planting that must begin now can proceed backed by financing that wouldn't be forthcoming unless the banks see the near certainty that the water will flow throughout 2010.

President Obama doesn't need a jobs summit or a second stimulus to create thousands of jobs overnight. All he has to do is order -- order -- his staff to insist that the Congress include relief in the appropriations bills headed his way.

Or President Obama could order -- order -- Secretary Salazar to conduct a rapid review by serious science of the deeply politicized findings that led to the water cutoff. There is much suspicion about the agency's deliberations here that a National Academy of Sciences review of the data has been promised by Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, but it will take months and months to complete. The president could demand his team work like their jobs were in as much jeopardy as those in the valley.

Alternatively, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger could order that the restrictions on water delivery imposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 15, 2008, be lifted until an environmental impact statement is prepared by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation that wholly and fairly assesses the consequences of the service's job-destroying diktat. The judge ruled just last week that farmers and water agencies were entitled to summary judgment on their claim that the feds had acted contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act.

The court has scheduled a hearing on potential remedies for Nov. 24, two days before Thanksgiving. If he orders the suspension of the draconian "biological opinion" that imposed the water cutoff and mandated the drought, it will be a festive Thanksgiving in the valley.

Christmas will be brighter for tens of thousands of workers and farmers and their families who have seen their livelihoods imperiled by radical environmentalists and bogus "science." (Details on the hearing are available at But if the judge doesn't act and President Obama continues to give speeches and hold "summits" instead of ordering relief, a grim 2009 will turn into a catastrophic 2010.


It was the Sun wot done it. Or was it?

Interesting to see the following article in "The Times" of London

Like it or not, it will soon be time to start placing bets for a white Christmas. If most climatologists are to be believed you are almost certainly throwing your money away.

The onward march of global warming is consigning such traditional Christmas card scenes to history. No more deep and crisp and even winters for Britain, replaced instead by damp and slush and stormy.

But, if a small group of maverick scientists are right, the chances of Yuletide snow may rise dramatically over the coming decades.

The difference of opinion hinges on what role — if any — the Sun plays in climate change. The vast majority of climate scientists maintain that the solar influence is limited or even negligible, and it is the unsustainable growth of industrialised nations that is driving the climate into chaos. The mavericks contend that the Sun’s activity dwarfs the human contribution, and that there is nothing we can do except wait for the Sun to change.

The public seems to agree with the mavericks. In a recent poll for The Times, only 41 per cent of UK voters thought the case for man-made global warning had been proved. Now, by a quirk of nature, the Sun has presented us with a golden opportunity to resolve this debate once and for all.

Satellite measurements for the past 30 years show that the Sun’s energy output has remained remarkably constant. What is changing is the level of solar activity. Solar activity governs the appearance of sunspots — dark blemishes on the solar surface. Sunspots form where magnetism reaches out from the Sun into space. In times of high solar activity, sunspots pockmark the solar surface for years and the Sun’s magnetic field balloons outwards to shield the Earth from deep space particles called cosmic rays.

According to the mavericks, cosmic rays induce clouds to form when they strike our atmosphere and low-level clouds are thought to reflect sunlight, cooling the Earth. So, when solar activity is high, the Earth is protected from cosmic rays and fewer clouds are formed. Thus, more sunlight reaches Earth’s surface and the planet heats up.

But how to prove this? During the 20th century, solar activity rose steadily, as did the amount of industrial gases being pumped into the atmosphere. With both quantities rising, it has been impossible to distinguish between them. Now, that has all changed.

In the past 12 months solar activity has fallen to levels unseen since the 1920s. Sunspots have become rare sights and for three quarters of this year the Sun has been spot-free. According to one study if the trend continues at its current rate, the Sun will lose its ability to produce sunspots by 2015. That would take it back to its condition in the latter 17th century, when hardly any sunspots appeared for 70 years — and Northern Europe underwent the worst years of the so-called Little Ice Age.

Winter scenes from this period were romanticised by artists such as Brueghel painting frost fairs and hunting scenes. But was the 17th century sunspot crash responsible for the Little Ice Age or a coincidence? Could we now find ourselves plunged into a similar freeze if the sunspots do not return?

The answer to the latter is, presumably, yes if the Sun is solely responsible for climate change; no if the mainstream is correct and solar influence is negligible. With this in mind, tonight in Bruges, I am chairing a public debate for the sixth annual European Space Weather Week between world authorities on solar variability who represent all sides of this discussion and have differing opinions about the Sun’s influence on climate. Topping the agenda is the sunspot crash and the opportunity that it presents. The plunging solar activity level will effectively remove the solar influence on climate change. If we are vigilant and honest about any slowdown in warming, its amount will tell us exactly how much the Sun was contributing.

The smart money is on the level of solar contribution being somewhere between the two extremes. In other words, both solar activity and industrial gases play a role. There is credible scientific work that ascribes up to a third of current warming to solar influence. Studies show that the Earth’s temperature mirrored solar activity until the 1980s. Then the number of sunspots stabilised but the temperature continued to rise. In other words, something overtook the Sun as the primary driver of the Earth’s temperature. That is generally thought to be industrial gases.

Now the test can be made. It is time for all sides to put away the rivalry and begin to work together. Observations must be made, experiments performed and all data must be published, not cherry-picked. This golden opportunity to reach consensus must not be squandered.

Above all, we must not let any downturn in temperatures be used as an excuse by reluctant nations to wriggle out of pollution controls. Just as certainly as the solar activity has gone away, so it will return. If we have done nothing in the interim to curb man-made global warming, we will be in worse trouble than ever.


Elevating environmentalism over ‘less worthy’ lifestyles

The legal ruling that a belief in climate change is similar to a religious conviction seriously damages science, philosophy and democracy

Some scientists are bemused that a British judge has decided that a strong belief in alarmist climate-change scenarios ought to be awarded the status of religious faith. Following a judge’s decision at a UK employment tribunal that Tim Nicholson, a sustainability officer who was sacked from a property firm, was entitled to legal protection for his ‘philosophical belief’ in climate change, scientists have been expressing their shock. ‘As a scientist who works on climate change, I find it deeply alarming’, said Myles Allen, who heads the Climate Dynamics group at the University of Oxford (1).

Allen’s concerns are entirely understandable. Since the rise of the modern era, science has prided itself on its capacity to explain the world on the basis of experimentation, research and, above all, hard evidence. Science emerged, self-consciously, as an alternative to worldviews based on faith, moral conviction and other forms of a priori thought. So it is natural that a genuine scientist would feel insulted by the judge Sir Michael Burton’s ruling that Nicholson’s concern with climate change qualified as a ‘philosophical belief’ under the Religion and Belief Regulations 2003.

One reason why Allen and some of his colleagues are concerned about this decision is that it actually serves to undermine the pre-eminent authority of science today. In the twenty-first century, science has a near monopoly on authorising claims about virtually every aspect of human experience. We are far more interested in what ‘science says’ than in what ‘God says’. Consequently, even those who are sceptical about science and the scientific method will nevertheless mobilise these things to support their arguments. Not long ago, in the 1970s and 80s, leading environmentalists insisted that science was undemocratic, that it was responsible for many of the problems facing the planet. Now, in public at least, their hostility towards science has given way to their embrace and endorsement of science. The global warming lobby depends on the legitimation provided by scientific evidence and expertise.

However, if science is recast by a legal ruling as simply a moral or religious worldview, then its pre-eminent authority is likely to be compromised. What is to distinguish science from quacks with strongly held principles?

The erosion of the line between science and moralising has not simply been brought about by one eccentric judge. In recent times more than a few scientists have found it difficult to resist the temptation to cross the line into domain of public moralising. Take the case of Professor David Nutt, the expert recently sacked from the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. As a scientist, he is entitled to point to evidence which unequivocally calls into question the government’s policy on drugs. But Nutt is not prepared to confine his role to that of a disinterested scientist; he also wants to be a moral crusader fighting against the scourge of alcohol.

‘I want parents to know alcohol will kill your kids, not ecstasy’, said Nutt last week, before insisting that the minimum drinking age should be increased to 21 (2). Nutt obviously has strong views on the subject of the minimum age of drinking, but these views are based on his personal moral attitude, not on science. The way in which Nutt can quite easily make a conceptual leap from scientific evidence to the domain of moral and political decision-making is symptomatic of a powerful trend today: the transformation of science into an ideology, if not a dogma.

Indeed, science often has the quality of a quasi-religious dogma these days, especially in the arena of climate-change alarmism. ‘The scientists have spoken’, says one British-based green campaign group, in an updated version of the religious phrase: ‘This is the Word of the Lord.’ ‘This is what the science says we must do’, many greens claim, before adding that the debate about global warming is ‘finished’.

As I have argued previously on spiked, campaigners against climate change frequently prefix the term science with the definite article, ‘the’. So Sir David Read, a former vice president of the prestigious scientific institution the Royal Society, stated: ‘The science very clearly points towards the need for us all – nations, businesses and individuals – to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.’ (3) Unlike ‘science’, this new term – ‘The Science’ – is a deeply moralised and politicised category. Today, those who claim to wield the authority of The Science are really demanding unquestioning submission. The legal ruling that someone’s belief in the behaviour modification demanded by climate-change activists should have the status of a religious conviction shows how much The Science now influences Britain’s legal culture.

Although some scientists feel insulted that their views on climate change have been equated with a religion, there are many green activists who are more than happy to recruit the support of God to their cause. One blogger says ‘thinking about environmentalism as if it were a religion is an interesting way to go’. Why? Because religion ‘looks a lot more successful at achieving its aim worldwide than the environmental movement’ (4). Tim Nicholson wants to have both God and Science on his team. After the judgement he noted that ‘my moral and ethical values are similar to those promoted by many of the world’s religions’. However, he also added that ‘the difference is mine are not faith-based or spiritual, but grounded in overwhelming scientific evidence’.

Whether this ‘philosophy’ presents itself as science with a bit of religion, or as a religion based on science, appears to be a matter of personal opinion amongst campaigners, all of whom seem to believe that their cause is far too important for them to worry about opportunistic inconsistencies in argumentation.

Giving philosophy a bad name

When the law was changed to protect people from discrimination at work on the basis of their beliefs, many humanist and secular commentators believed this was a positive step forward. And some argued that philosophical beliefs ought to be accorded the same rights as religious beliefs. Unfortunately, what many supporters of the change in the law did not grasp was that if secular views were also transformed into ‘weighty and substantial’ beliefs, they would in effect become a form of pseudo-religion. This development is particularly striking in the way in which philosophy has been recast as religion-lite.

From the standpoint of Mr Justice Burton, adherence to climate-change theory is a philosophical belief because it is a view that is genuinely and deeply held. But where is the philosophy in all this? It is possible to argue that climate-change theory is inspired by a distinct epistemology and teleology and influenced by ethical and moral concerns. But in and of itself the belief in recycling and reducing consumption is not a philosophy.

Philosophy raises fundamental questions about the meaning of human existence. It engages with fundamental issues that underpin the sciences and public debate. Strictly speaking, the term ‘philosophical belief’ makes little sense, because philosophy is principally devoted to the task of asking questions and speculating about things, rather than providing answers. Philosophy is devoted to the quest for the truth in its quest for wisdom. It is not a secular form of religion. It does not rely on religious revelation for guidance, nor does it thrive when its search for answers is compromised by an adherence to a priori beliefs.

Such beliefs may arise out of a philosophical inquiry, but these beliefs do not constitute a philosophy as such. The term that Mr Justice Burton is really looking for to describe the beliefs and behaviour of climate-change crusaders is not philosophy or religion, but lifestyle.

The sacralisation of lifestyle

The decision to provide environmentalist arguments with the protection of the law, in a manner akin to that afforded to religion, demonstrates that the legal and political elites have lost their way. But it is important not to take too seriously the arguments used to support this decision. Strongly held moral views about the conduct of life have never been the essence of religions alone. In previous times, such sentiments informed political ideals and cultural movements. Today, the beliefs and practices advocated by Nicholson are part of his lifestyle. Yes, we take our lifestyles very seriously: what we eat, how we look or travel and whom we sleep with define many people’s identities. But in a world where there are a multitude of lifestyles, all of which have assumed great significance, it is not possible to treat them all as quasi-religions.

To qualify for protection under the Equality and Employment (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, a philosophical belief must be ‘genuinely held’, be about a ‘weighty and substantial’ aspect of human experience, possess ‘seriousness, cohesion and importance’, and be ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’. This last point is most significant. Who decides which strongly held view is ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’? Certainly our legal and cultural elites have clear assumptions about which views are worthy of respect, and which are not. So last week we discovered that, under new proposals from the New Labour government, parents who are hostile to the provision of sex education in schools are not ‘worthy of respect’ despite the fact that their views are informed by genuine and deeply held convictions – their ability to withdraw their children from sex-education classes will be restricted.

Some forms of lifestyles are protected, or at least sacralised, by law, while others are stigmatised. So Christians who, in keeping with their beliefs, refuse to perform same-sex marriages are unlikely to gain legal protection, even though they express traditionally recognised religious convictions. However, those whose conscience does not allow them fly on Ryanair will now enjoy legal privileges and dispensation that are not accorded to their morally inferior colleagues. The sacralisation of elite-approved lifestyles creates a double standard that directly contradicts democratic norms.

Those who hold strongly held environmentalist views even have a semi-official mandate to break the law these days. Protesters against genetically modified (GM) food or nuclear power are often represented as idealist young people who are acting on ‘everyone’s behalf’. In truth, being part of the British political oligarchy, they have the kind of freedom to protest that is usually denied to ordinary mortals. That is why such protesters who break the law often face a sympathetic court hearing and win ‘not guilty’ verdicts (see State-sanctioned radicalism, by Brendan O’Neill).

So when Lord Melchett, the aristocratic former leader of Greenpeace, was arrested for criminal damage and theft after taking part in a protest against GM crops, he was genuinely shocked by his treatment. As far as he was concerned, his action was a ‘direct expression of “people’s power”’. Greenpeace, the self-appointed voice of the British people, described its action as an exercise in ‘active citizenship’ which ‘keeps democracy healthy and responsive’.

Melchett, like many other leading lobbyists, has an elitist notion of democracy, one driven by a conviction that, if they believe that something is wrong, then waiting for an unresponsive political system to do something about it is a luxury that society cannot afford. Professional environmental protesters assume that they have the moral authority to take matters into their own hands, since they are acting on behalf of The People. They believe that their unique philosophical insights entitle them to special dispensation. Now, Mr Justice Burton has effectively agreed with them, elevating environmentalism over other, inferior, less ‘worthy’ beliefs – and democracy is all the more impoverished for it.


The silly prophecies never stop coming

An absurd premise leads to an absurd conclusion again: Global warming threatens to rob Italy of durum wheat used to make pasta, says leaky Jonathan. They'd be better off importing cheaper Australian durum wheat anyway

Scientists will this week warn that Italy may be forced to import the basic ingredients for pasta, its national food, because climate change will make it impossible to grow durum wheat.

In a report to be released by the Met Office tomorrow, scientists predict that Italy’s durum yields will start to decline from 2020 and the crop will almost disappear from the country later this century.

The report will say: “Projected climate changes in this region, in particular rising temperature and decreasing rainfall, may seriously compromise wheat yields.”

The warning is the latest example of the impact climate change could have on lifestyles and diets across Europe. It has emerged from the five-year Ensembles project, an EU-sponsored study straddling 66 research centres in 20 countries across Europe.

The project has been led by the Met Office which will host a conference to unveil its findings this week.

The aim was to combine the power of various super-computers used to predict climate by different research groups across Europe. This would enable the researchers to generate climate projections for particular countries and regions.

One element involved predicting how rising temperatures and changing rainfall might affect food production. Italy was chosen as a case study because it is a leading food producer and its southerly position means it is especially vulnerable to temperature rises.

The same report will deliver similar warnings about potato and wheat growing in Poland, which supplies other parts of the European Union. The study contradicts earlier research which suggested rising levels of CO2 might boost crop yields.

Plants use CO2 as a raw material for building the proteins and carbohydrates needed to survive and grow. The Ensembles project found that this effect would be outweighed by the damaging impact of climate change.

Paul van der Linden, director of Ensembles, who is based at the Met Office, said: “We have looked at a small number of crops but many others could experience similar declines as Europe gets hotter and drier summers.”

It reinforces earlier research suggesting climate change may leave France unable to produce many of its leading wines, including champagne.

Similarly, Spain may also be unable to retain its position as a leading producer of fruit and vegetables because rising temperatures are predicted to turn much of the country into desert.



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


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Al Gore, the scientist

Political scientist only, it would seem

Note Al Gore's recent rant about earth's core being several million degrees...SEVERAL MILLION DEGREES!?‏ See here where Al Gore tells O'Brien (at 40 seconds): "the earth's core is "several million degrees."

Not hardly, Al, you doofus. The core of the earth is "only" about 10,000 degrees F. (5700 K; 5400 C)

Besides, we've already been using geothermal energy for years in easily accessible places where it vents to the earth's surface; it's not new.

Regardless, Libs will forgive his pure ignorance because, after all, "he means well." Intelligent folks will further question his motivations (besides smarts) for pursuing CO2 so vigorously. (Income he gets from selling books, carbon credits and speeches on Catastrophic AGW, perhaps?)

Of course, we now we also understand his rants on supposed Manmade Global Warming/Climate Change; he really doesn't understand temperature differences.

Global warming traps icebreaker

It got stuck last year too -- in ice that was not supposed to be there

More than 100 penguin-loving tourists including dozens from Britain are trapped by ice off Antarctica aboard a Russian ice-breaker cruise ship, officials and the tour operator said on Monday. The Kapitan Khlebnikov is in a bay near Snow Hill island, located off the northeastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, and cannot leave as the bay is sealed off with ice, the Russian transportation ministry said.

"The wind has currently slowed down in the area and the massing of the ice has ended. Everything is calm aboard the ice-breaker, nothing is threatening the passengers and crew," the ministry said in a statement. "When the wind changes to a favourable direction, the ice-breaker will head into clear water and on to the port of Ushuaia," at the extreme southern end of Argentina, the ministry predicted.

There were 105 passengers aboard the vessel and the total delay in the ship's scheduled trip could be around two days, it added. The ship has been at its current location for four days, German Kuzin, an official with the Far Eastern Shipping Company, the ship's owner, said in televised remarks. "There's nothing to worry about there," Kuzin said. "To put it plainly, the ship got stuck between an island and an ice massif."

Many of the passengers are Britons who paid more than STG10,000 ($A17,901.9) for a tour whose highlight was seeing emperor penguins on Snow Hill island, according to Exodus, a British tour operator. Around 50 mostly British passengers booked their tours through Exodus and have been well cared-for while the ship has been stuck, Rob Dixon, a spokesman for Exodus, told AFP by telephone from London. "There's a lot of entertainment on board," Dixon said. He said the weather was improving and predicted the ship would reach Ushaia by the end of this week, two or three days behind schedule. "They've certainly seen the penguins they came to see," Dixon added, noting that passengers had been able to leave the ship by helicopter.

Others aboard the ship included a three-person BBC television crew filming a documentary called The Frozen Planet, a spokeswoman for the British television network said in London. "Everyone's fit and well, there's no cause for concern, and they're filming today," she said, noting that they were filming emperor penguins for Frozen Planet, a BBC nature documentary series due to be aired in 2011.

Amenities aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov include a swimming pool, a sauna and a bar operated by a professional bartender, according to the website of US-based tourism firm Quark Expeditions. The ship is "a polar-class icebreaker, combining power and technology with creature comforts", said Quark Expeditions, which leases the ship from Russia's Far Eastern Shipping Company.


Tipping points galore

Not again! Another 10-year climate 'tipping point' warning issued -- Despite fact that UN began 10-Year 'Climate Tipping Point' in 1989!

Once again, the world is being warned of a climate “tipping point.” The latest bout of stern warnings comes from the UK Met Office: 'World has only ten years to control global warming, warns Met Office - UK Telegraph – November 15, 2009

Excerpt: Pollution needs to be brought under control within ten years to stop runaway climate change, according to the latest Met Office predictions. [...] "To limit global mean temperature [increases] to below 2C, implied emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere at the end of the century fall close to zero in most cases."

Inconvenient History of Climate 'Tipping Point' Warnings:

As early as 1989, the UN was already trying to sell their “tipping point” rhetoric on the public. See: U.N. Warning of 10-Year 'Climate Tipping Point' Began in 1989 – Excerpt: According to July 5, 1989, article in the Miami Herald, the then-director of the New York office of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Noel Brown, warned of a “10-year window of opportunity to solve” global warming. According to the 1989 article, “A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of 'eco-refugees,' threatening political chaos.” (LINK) & (LINK)

NASA scientist James Hansen has been warning of a “tipping point” for years now. See: Earth's Climate Approaches Dangerous Tipping Point – June 1, 2007 – Excerpt: A stern warning that global warming is nearing an irreversible tipping point was issued today” by James Hansen.

Former Vice President Al Gore invented his own “tipping point” clock a few years ago. Excerpt: Former Vice-President Al Gore came to Washington on July 17, 2008, to deliver yet another speech warning of the “climate crisis.” “The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis,” Gore stated.

Prince Charles claimed a 96-month tipping point in July 2009. Excerpt: The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James's Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world. And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the "age of convenience" was over.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon further shortened the "tipping point" in August 2009, when he warned of 'incalculable' suffering without climate deal in December 2009!

Newsweek magazine waded into the tipping point claims as well. Newsweek wrote: "The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." But, Newsweek's "tipping point" quote appeared in a April 28, 1975 article about global cooling! Same rhetoric, different eco-scare.

UK Scientist Philip Stott ridiculed “tipping point” claims in 2007. Excerpt: In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning regularly for the last fifty or so years. We have been serially doomed. [...] Our post-modern period of climate change angst can probably be traced back to the late-1960s, if not earlier. By 1973, and the 'global cooling' scare, it was in full swing, with predictions of the imminent collapse of the world within ten to twenty years, exacerbated by the impacts of a nuclear winter. Environmentalists were warning that, by the year 2000, the population of the US would have fallen to only 22 million [the 2007 population estimate is 302,824,000]. [...] In 1987, the scare abruptly changed to 'global warming', and the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was established (1988), issuing its first assessment report in 1990, which served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

More HERE (See the original for links)

CERN looking at effect of cosmic rays on clouds and hence climate

While CERN's vast Large Hadron Collider accelerator gathers all the headlines - allowing humble hacks to become Hollywood blockbuster scriptwriters - an ancient piece of atom hardware is beginning experiments that may prove to be of significance.

CERN's much-anticipated CLOUD experiment has begun, the atom lab says. Using the 50-year-old Proton Synchrotron, the experiment simulates cosmic rays passing through the earth's atmosphere, and hopes to reveal the extent to which the constant background drizzle of charged particles plays a role in cloud formation. Earlier experiments have suggested that ionisation causes clouds to "seed" - and that ionisation is influenced by the type and quantity of cosmic rays that reach the earth.

Both the sun and the earth's magnetic fields act as umbrellas, protecting the surface from the high energy particles, although two particles still reach the surface per second. But small changes in the cosmic ray flux produce significant changes in cloud cover. When fewer cosmic rays reach earth, the planet's climate is warmer, when more reach earth, the climate cools.

"So marked is the response to relatively small variations in the total ionization, we suspect that a large fraction of Earth's clouds could be controlled by ionisation," noted Danish scientist Henrik Svesmark this summer. Svensmark has pioneered the research using smaller experiments, but has waited over a decade to see it tested on such a scale.

Much of the recent interest comes from climate watchers. Clouds are one of the biggest factors in determining global surface temperature, but the UN's IPCC admits the level of scientific understanding of them is poor.

The cosmic ray effect - a factor of the background CBR bombardment itself, and the relative strength of the earth and the Sun's magnetic shields - shows a strong correlation between temperature, CBR and is extraordinary. Here's the relationship over the short term - around 2,000 years.

And here's the correlation into deep time, with CO2 as a comparison.

In addition, "deep freezes" in the Earth's temperatures have coincided with short-lived but intense bursts of cosmic ray activity. Modulation is thought to reflect the Sun's passage through spiral arms of the Milky Way, and also the Sun's oscillation in relation to the plane of the galaxy. The Sun bobs up and down 2.7 times per orbit.

CERN became involved when a visiting lecture by former New Scientist editor Nigel Calder was attended by Jason Kirkby - CLOUD's project leader. It's taken 12 years to fire up the particles for this major test. CERN has an interview with Kirby here.


Does Britain's Green craziness ever stop?

Greenies used to LIKE trees once

Britain is set to plunder the lungs of the world to feed its growing hunger for wood to burn in power stations. A series of biomass-fired plants are being built in the UK that will trigger a 150 per cent surge in timber imports from 20 million tonnes today to 50 million tonnes by 2015, according to the Forestry Commission. British power plants are already shipping wood from Canada, Brazil, Scandinavia and South Korea.

Just one of the new biomass plants at Port Talbot, South Wales, will consume three million tonnes of wood per year — equivalent to 30 per cent of the UK’s domestic annual wood harvest of ten million tonnes. But the plant, which is due to open in 2012, will generate only 300 megawatt hours of electricity, or about 0.4 per cent of the UK's current power-generating capacity. At least four more 300-megawatt plants are planned, including three in Yorkshire that have been proposed by Drax, operator of Britain’s largest coal-fired power station. Another company, MGT, plans to build one on Teesside.

A spokesman for Prenergy, which is behind the Port Talbot plant, said 90 per cent of its wood supplies would be imported, although he insisted that all of it would be sourced from proven sustainable sources.

Nevertheless, environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the carbon emissions involved in shipping the wood such large distances, while to meet UK pest control laws the timber will need to be baked before it can be shipped to the UK.

Wood industry officials have warned that British families could face soaring prices for a range of wood-based products, including furniture, wood panels and even wallpaper because of its impact on low-grade timber and wood pulp prices. “It’s going to push timber prices through the roof,” said Gavin Adkins, chairman of the Wood Panel Industry Federation. He is concerned that large parts of the £1 billion industry that rely on wood as its main raw material will be forced offshore.

Although wood prices have moderated during the recession, rapid growth in demand had led to a 25 per cent rise since 2007, Mr Adkins said. “We operate in a low-margin industry and our ability to absorb such increases in raw material costs is limited. Inevitably these costs will have to be passed on to the consumer. Obviously, the timing could not be worse for the construction industry, which has been seriously hit in this recession.”

He said the number of jobs that may be lost was causing concerns for companies in the saw-milling, wood-panel and paper and pulp industries. The federation is lobbying for the biomass industry, which is supported by a government subsidy regime, to be given extra incentives to use waste wood instead of virgin timber for fuel. An estimated 4.5 million tonnes of waste wood are landfilled in the UK each year, according to government estimates.

A recent report from the Environment Agency stated that shipping timber from overseas could halve the potential carbon dioxide savings from biomass power.


Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing the Public on Climate Change

An amusing lament from Greenies Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger excerpted below. The one explanation for climate skepticism that they fail to consider is that the evidence for man-made global warming is just not there. A horse in blinkers would see more than they do

Last month, the Pew Research Center released its latest poll of public attitudes on global warming. On its face, the news was not good: Belief that global warming is occurring had declined from 71 percent in April of 2008 to 56 percent in October — an astonishing drop in just 18 months. The belief that global warming is human-caused declined from 47 percent to 36 percent.

While some pollsters questioned these numbers, the Pew statistics are consistent with the findings by Gallup in March that public concern about global warming had declined, that the number of Americans who believed that news about global warming was exaggerated had increased, and that the number of Americans who believed that the effects of global warming had already begun had declined.

The reasons offered for these declines are as varied as opinion about climate change itself. Skeptics say the gig is up: Americans have finally figured out that global warming is a hoax. Climate activists blame skeptics for sowing doubts about climate science. Pew’s Andrew Kohut, who conducted the survey, says it’s (mostly) the economy, stupid. And some folks have concluded that Americans, with our high levels of disbelief in evolution, are just too stupid or too anti-science to sort it all out.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated. It is simpler in the sense that most Americans just aren’t paying a whole lot of attention. Between being asked about things like whether they would provide CPR to save the life of a pet (most pet owners say yes) or whether they would allow their child to be given the swine flu vaccine (a third of parents say no), pollsters occasionally get around to asking Americans what they think about global warming. When they do, Americans find a variety of ways to tell us that they don’t think about it very much at all.

Three years after it seemed that “An Inconvenient Truth” had changed everything, it turns out that it didn’t. The current Pew survey is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that Al Gore probably had a good deal more effect upon elite opinion than public opinion.

Public opinion about global warming, it turns out, has been remarkably stable for the better part of two decades, despite the recent decline in expressed public confidence in climate science. Roughly two-thirds of Americans have consistently told pollsters that global warming is occurring. By about the same majority, most Americans agree that global warming is at least in part human-caused, with this majority roughly equally divided between those believing that warming is entirely caused by humans and those who believe it to be a combination of human and natural causes. And about the same two-thirds majority has consistently supported government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 1989.

This would be good news for action to address climate change if most Americans felt very strongly about the subject. Unfortunately, they don’t. Looking back over 20 years, only about 35 to 40 percent of the U.S. public worry about global warming “a great deal,” and only about one-third consider it a “serious personal threat.” Moreover, when asked in open-ended formats to name the most serious problems facing the country, virtually no Americans volunteer global warming. Even other environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, are often rated higher priorities by U.S. voters than global warming, which is less visible and is experienced less personally than many other problems.

What is arguably most remarkable about U.S. public opinion on global warming has been both its stability and its inelasticity in response to new developments, greater scientific understanding of the problem, and greater attention from both the media and politicians. Public opinion about global warming has remained largely unchanged through periods of intensive media attention and periods of neglect, good economic times and bad, the relatively activist Clinton years and the skeptical Bush years. And majorities of Americans have, at least in principle, consistently supported government action to do something about global warming even if they were not entirely sold that the science was settled, suggesting that public understanding and acceptance of climate science may not be a precondition for supporting action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The more complicated questions have to do with why. Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed? Why has two decades of education and advocacy about climate change had so little discernible impact on public opinion? And why, at the height of media coverage and publicity about global warming in the years after the release of Gore’s movie, did confidence in climate science actually appear to decline?

Political psychology can help us answer these questions. First, climate change seems tailor-made to be a low priority for most people. The threat is distant in both time and space. It is difficult to visualize. And it is difficult to identify a clearly defined enemy. Coal executives may deny that global warming exists, but at the end of the day they’re just in it for a buck, not hiding in caves in Pakistan plotting new and exotic ways to kill us.

Second, the dominant climate change solutions run up against established ideologies and identities. Consider the psychological concept of “system justification.” System justification theory builds upon earlier work on ego justification and group justification to suggest that many people have a psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order, whatever it may be. This need manifests itself, not surprisingly, in the strong tendency to perceive existing social relations as fair, legitimate, and desirable, even in contexts in which those relations substantively disadvantage the person involved.

Many observers have suggested that Gore’s leading role in the global warming debate has had much to do with the rising partisan polarization around the issue. And while this almost certainly has played a part, it is worth considering that there may be other significant psychological dynamics at play as well.

Dr. John Jost, a leading political psychologist at New York University, recently demonstrated that much of the partisan divide on global warming can be explained by system justification theory. Calls for economic sacrifice, major changes to our lifestyles, and the immorality of continuing “business as usual” — such as going on about the business of our daily lives in the face of looming ecological catastrophe — are almost tailor-made to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

Combine these two psychological phenomena — a low sense of imminent threat (what psychologists call low-threat salience) and system justification — and what you get is public opinion that is highly resistant to education or persuasion. Most Americans aren’t alarmed enough to pay much attention, and efforts to raise the volume simply trigger system-justifying responses. The lesson of recent years would appear to be that apocalyptic threats — when their impacts are relatively far off in the future, difficult to imagine or visualize, and emanate from everyday activities, not an external and hostile source — are not easily acknowledged and are unlikely to become priority concerns for most people. In fact, the louder and more alarmed climate advocates become in these efforts, the more they polarize the issue, driving away a conservative or moderate for every liberal they recruit to the cause.

These same efforts to increase salience through offering increasingly dire prognosis about the fate of the planet (and humanity) have also probably undermined public confidence in climate science. Rather than galvanizing public demand for difficult and far-reaching action, apocalyptic visions of global warming disaster have led many Americans to question the science. Having been told that climate science demands that we fundamentally change our way of life, many Americans have, not surprisingly, concluded that the problem is not with their lifestyles but with what they’ve been told about the science. And in this they are not entirely wrong, insofar as some prominent climate advocates, in their zeal to promote action, have made representations about the state of climate science that go well beyond any established scientific consensus on the subject, hyping the most dire scenarios and most extreme recent studies, which are often at odds with the consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

These factors predate but appear to have been exacerbated by recession. Pew’s pollster Kohut points to evidence indicating that the recession has led many Americans to prioritize economic over environmental concerns...

Perhaps we should give the American public a little more credit. They may not know climate science very well, but they are not going to be muscled into accepting apocalyptic visions about our planetary future — or embracing calls to radically transform “our way of life” — just because environmentalists or climate scientists tell them they must. They typically give less credit to expert opinion than do educated elites, and those of us who tend to pay more attention to these questions would do well to remember that expert opinion and indeed, expert consensus, has tended to have a less sterling track record than most of us might like to admit....



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


Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Warmist assumption shattered

None of their models predict this sort of thing. They predict gradual warming. BUT: "Ice Age 'took six months to freeze Europe'

It took just six months for a warm and sunny Europe to be engulfed in ice, according to new research. Previous studies have suggested the arrival of the last Ice Age nearly 13,000 years ago took about a decade - but now scientists believe the process was up to 20 times as fast.

Geological sciences professor William Patterson, who led the research, said: 'It would have been very sudden for those alive at the time. It would be the equivalent of taking Britain and moving it to the Arctic over the space of a few months.'

Professor Patterson's findings emerged from one of the most painstaking studies of climate changes ever attempted and reinforce the theory that the earth's climate is unstable and can switch between warm and cold incredibly quickly. [Which makes ALL prophecies based on current knowledge useless]

His conclusions, published in New Scientist, are based on a study of mud deposits extracted from a lake in Western Ireland, Lough Monreagh - a region he describes as having the 'best mud in the world in scientific terms'. Professor Patterson used a precision robotic scalpel to scrape off layers of mud just 0.5mm thick. Each layer represented three months of sediment deposition, so variations between them could be used to measure changes in temperature over very short periods. He found that temperatures had plummeted, with the lake's plants and animals rapidly dying over just a few months. ... The subsequent mini Ice Age lasted for 1300 years....

More HERE (I have not reproduced the speculation added on to the above factual report -- JR)

World Leaders Agree to Delay Global Warming Deal

I mentioned this yesterday but it is such good news for the planet that it desrves a re-run. Prosperity is very good for the environment and Warmist laws would be a frontal attack on prosperity

World leaders meeting in Singapore have decided to punt on reaching any firm agreement at next month's global warming conference in Copenhagen.

The decision represents a huge setback to the Obama administration's goal of passing a cap and trade bill this year, which conversely is great news for virtually every company in America that has been worried about the higher cost of doing business that would come from the enactment of such legislation.

As the New York Times reported:
"President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month, agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific "politically binding" agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future. [...]

"There was an assessment by the leaders that it is unrealistic to expect a full internationally, legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days," said Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. "I don't think the negotiations have proceeded in such a way that any of the leaders thought it was likely that we were going to achieve a final agreement in Copenhagen, and yet thought that it was important that Copenhagen be an important step forward, including with operational impact." [...]

The agreement on Sunday codifies what negotiators had already accepted as all but inevitable: that representatives of the 192 nations in the talks would not resolve the outstanding issues in time. The gulf between rich and poor countries, and even among the wealthiest nations, was just too wide.

Among the chief barriers to a comprehensive deal in Copenhagen was Congress's inability to enact climate and energy legislation that sets binding targets on greenhouse gases in the United States. Without such a commitment, other nations are loath to make their own pledges.

Administration officials and Congressional leaders have said that final legislative action on a climate bill would not occur before the first half of next year".

All together now -- aaaawwwww!


COP15 and the Shameless Manipulation of Children

The United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen is fast approaching, and with cap and trade legislation languishing in Congress, developing nations averse to binding regulations, and the public preoccupied with a faltering economy, hopes by climate treaty advocates that a climate agreement will be reached this December are diminishing. Nevertheless, advocates for a sovereignty-usurping, economically-devastating, wealth-redistributing and environmentally-fraudulent treaty are tirelessly churning out materials meant to sway the public and assert pressure on leaders to reach an enforceable agreement.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) provides an example. Agitating for a "green industrial revolution," the WWF is a vociferous advocate for global warming legislation and environmental activism - regardless of the practical consequences. Last month, for example, the outfit came out with the breathless pronouncement that the world has less than five years to drastically cut carbon emissions or, it claims, climate catastrophe will be inevitable. (To be fair, this was less absurd than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's October 19 prediction that the global community had only 50 days to avert disaster.)

Several days ago the WWF crossed a line, releasing a propagandistic video of children of WWF staffers parroting the illogical doomsday scenarios the group works to propagate. The WWF explained the video's objective:

"To urge the President to lead us in Copenhagen and outline what we'd like to see in the agreement, we invited children of WWF staffers to tape a personal message to the President asking for his support... We hope you'll be inspired to send an email or write a letter to the White House that tells President Obama that you want him to go to Copenhagen to protect our planet."

Child welfare officials have investigated the now infamous parents of "Balloon Boy" for allegedly coaching him to lie in a publicity scheme. These WWF parents coerced their children for political influence, and, should their efforts succeed, a thoroughly destructive climate treaty.

Which is worse?

SOURCE (See the original for video)

An Alarmist Modeler’s History of Climate Change

Behind the persistent global warming scare is the hypothesis and assertion that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing Earth to warm dangerously. The thesis is espoused most prominently by Al Gore, James Hansen, modelers and other alarmists. It is the fundamental assumption behind the computer models that consistently conjure up headline-grabbing climate change disaster scenarios.

A basic principle of geology and other sciences is that the same natural processes we observe today – erosion, plant growth, species adaptation and so on – occurred in a similar manner throughout Earth’s history. Therefore, if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing global warming today, they must have done so in the past, and certainly in the recent historic past.

The challenge, then, is to discover the sources of those climate villains throughout history. This brief summary of key events is intended to aid in that quest, and explain how the Gore-Hansen thesis worked through the ages.

Sea levels have risen 400 feet since the last Ice Age ended, melting mile-thick Pleistocene glaciers, drowning land bridges and creating new coral reefs. The repeated glacial and interglacial epochs were caused by rising and falling levels of mammoth flatulence and emissions from cave man fires, the only sources of substantial greenhouse gases (GHG) at the time.

In northern Africa, green river valleys were once home to contented hippopotami and happy human villagers. Then, 4,000 years ago, the region metamorphosed into the Sahara Desert, as Egyptian slaves cooked over open fires and breathed heavily, while building pyramids for pharaohs.

Earth warmed further during the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, as fires from constant warfare and sacked cities dramatically increased GHG. The burning of English and Irish villages by Viking raiders raised global temperatures even further, enabling Eric the Red to colonize Greenland. As the Vikings swapped raiding for farming, however, atmospheric CO2 levels declined, and the Little Ice Age set in.

For centuries, peaceable Anasazi Indians built cliff dwellings and farmed the land in Arizona and New Mexico. But then other tribes began setting forest fires to create farmland, and lightning started prairie fires. GHG levels rose, causing a prolonged drought that finally made life unbearable for the Anasazi, who abandoned their magnificent stone villages on the Colorado Plateau.

In more recent times, American families tamed and farmed the Great Plains. But then the automobile, airplane and World War I drove CO2 and GHG previously unheard of levels. The resultant Dust Bowl devastated the region, forcing millions to leave their homesteads.

Fortunately, World War II intervened, and even higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, dust, and particulates from burning oil and cities ended the warming and droughts, and ushered in a new era of global cooling. It was marked by snows and freezing cold at Stalingrad and the Battle of the Bulge, and later by the “new Little Ice Age” scare headlined by Newsweek in 1975.

As GHG levels continued to “soar,” all the way from 0.0280% of Earth’s atmosphere to 0.0350% (250-350 ppm), global cooling gave way to a new bout with global warming. Finally, as CO2 and GHG climbed even higher (all the way to 0.0380% of the atmosphere, equivalent to 38 cents out of $1000), planetary temperatures mysteriously stabilized around 1998 and then began to decline slightly. The world entered the age of “climate change,” or more accurately “manmade catastrophic climate change,” in which every weather anomaly is blamed on emissions from human use of hydrocarbons.

This brief recounting of human history is admittedly incomplete, and fails to address events in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, historians can certainly fill in those gaps.

Alternatively, scientists, journalists, academics, modelers and politicians could begin to examine the climate change issue from a more scientific, less ideological perspective. They could worry less about perpetuating or expanding the one-track $89-billion (1989-2009) gravy train of federal government grants for breathless studies of how “manmade climate change” causes frightening increases in everything from house cats and hurricanes to malaria, rainfall, droughts and suicides. (An online search under “everything is caused by global warming,” will locate a complete list.)

Gore, Hansen, Stephen Schneider, and Senators Boxer and Kerry could actually engage in a few debates about global warming/catastrophic climate change science and economics.

They might be surprised to learn that climate change has actually brought benefits to mankind and planet Earth, including a greening of the Sahara Desert over the last twenty years, due to increased rainfall and CO2 levels. Even trees and animals are coming back to a region once devastated by Egyptian slaves.

They might be stunned to find that ice core and other data demonstrate that temperatures warmed first during past climate changes, and then atmospheric CO2 levels increased, as warming ocean waters released some of the carbon dioxide that they sequestered during colder periods.

They might be amazed to discover that our ancestors, who were even more dependent on agriculture than we are – and even less technologically advanced – somehow managed to cope with climate change. They adapted! As James Burke, Brian Fagan and other historians have noted, they responded to the Little Ice Age by modifying their houses, heating systems, clothing and farming practices. (Optimists might suppose that our far more advanced technologies will make us even better able to adapt to whatever climate changes nature, or man, might visit upon us in the future.)

Alarmists might be shocked to think the causes of past climate changes were the same natural forces and influences that drive changes in Earth’s complex, chaotic, unpredictable weather and climate today: continental movements and volcanoes, and periodic shifts in water vapor and cloud cover, evaporation and precipitation, ocean currents and jet streams, planetary alignments and the shape of the Earth’s orbit, the tilt and wobble of Earth’s axis, solar energy output, and cosmic rays hitting the planet.

Meanwhile, hard-pressed consumers and taxpayers might finally figure out that the fear-mongering over global warming has little to do with scientific “evidence” to back up the speculation, assumptions and assertions that mankind faces a climate cataclysm. (Models are not evidence.) It has everything to do with money, prestige, careers, power and control over energy use and economic opportunity – and an abiding distaste for hydrocarbons, personal freedom, modern living standards, and real environmental justice.

But don’t hold your breath for a debate. Climate alarmists are scared to death to debate. They prefer to dismiss and intimidate climate realists, assert “consensus,” and assiduously ignore both Earth’s history of natural climate change and the 31,000 “Oregon Petition” natural scientists who vigorously contest their claims of manmade Climate Armageddon.


Al Gore Heckled During Global Warming Speech In Boca Raton

Nobel Laureate Al Gore was heckled during a global warming speech he gave Saturday in Boca Raton, Florida. Addressing a crowd of a thousand people at the Mizner Park Amphitheater, Gore was repeatedly booed by about 200 protesters stationed outside the open-air facility. As reported by the Sun Sentinel Saturday:
"Stationed outside the Mizner Park Amphitheater, the protesters jeered at Gore as he took the podium and at those walking into the open-air venue to listen to the speech.

"This is the most dangerous crisis we've ever faced," Gore said of climate change. He spoke over a chorus of boos from protesters, who were monitored by at least a dozen uniformed city police officers.

Many of the protesters were with the groups Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and South Florida Tea Party, the latter of which feels that Gore's views will eventually lead to increased taxes and flawed business legislation. The protesters carried drums, bullhorns and posters. One read "Practice what you preach," accusing Gore of not living a green lifestyle. Another poster read "The masses follow the asses," depicting the protesters' opinion that Gore's message is not backed by scientific evidence.


Bacteria turn carbon dixoide into fuel

US researchers have genetically modified bacteria to eat carbon dioxide and produce isobutyraldehyde - a precursor to several useful chemicals, including isobutanol, which has great potential as a fuel alternative to petrol. The modified bacteria are highly efficient and powered by sunlight, so a future goal is to set up colonies near to industrial plants. This would allow greenhouse gases to be recycled into useful chemical feedstock - supplying several hydrocarbons that are typically obtained from petroleum.

Liao and his team used genetically modified cyanobacteria to produce isobutyraldehyde from carbon dioxide. Cyanobacteria and microalgae that consume CO2 have been identified for a long time, but none produce any liquid molecules that can easily be used as fuel. In the past, attempts have been made to engineer these organisms to produce hydrogen or ethanol, but making the process efficient is a challenge.

'Here, we were successful in engineering CO2-eating bacteria to produce isobutyraldehyde very efficiently,' says James Liao, who led the work at the University of California, Los Angeles, US. 'Our process is around 10 times faster than hydrogen production and about 100 times faster than genetically engineered ethanol production.'

Liao's team modified the genome of the cyanobacteria Synechococcus elongatus by incorporating four genes from other bacteria into the structure. These genes, which come from L. lactis, B. subtilis and E. coli, produce enzymes that hijack the metabolism of the microbes - turning them into miniature reaction vessels.

The synthetic pathway begins with the photosynthetic conversion of CO2 to pyruvic acid by the bacteria. Next, the reaction continues in the bacteria as the added genes trigger three further steps to make isobutyraldehyde.

Importantly, extracting the final product from the mix is a simple process. 'The fuel vaporises to the gas phase easily, making separation extremely simple. Afterwards, we can liquefy it again by simple condensation,' Liao told Chemistry World. This process helps keep the bacteria alive longer, as they are not exposed to large amounts of chemicals. 'The bacteria are very stable, and in our flasks without much environmental control, the bacteria continued to produce for about 10 days,' Liao says.

But there are still much work to be done before the process can be commercialised, Liao notes, particular with scaling up 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


Sunday, November 15, 2009

More about ‘Scientific Consensus’

By S. Fred Singer

According to the UK Met Office, the core climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was written by 152 scientists from more than 30 countries and contributed to and/or reviewed by some 600 experts. Not mentioned, however, is the fact that many of the reviewers disagreed with the IPCC conclusion that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is “very likely” (>90% sure) due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations.

Also unmentioned is the fact that most of the science of the IPCC report is not controversial. The only crucial chapter is Chapter 9 (on “Attribution”), in which the IPCC attempts to show that 20th century warming was anthropogenic. It was written by only 9 scientists and is dominated by a tightly controlled clique whose members referee each others' papers and consider ‘attribution studies’ as their private fiefdom.

The NIPCC was set up to break down this monopoly. The NIPCC Summary (2008) and full report (2009) demonstrate that there is no real evidence backing the IPCC conclusion

The following letter, signed by senior physicists, was sent to all 100 U.S. senators on October 29, 2009:

You have recently received a letter from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), purporting to convey a “consensus” of the scientific community that immediate and drastic action is needed to avert a climatic catastrophe.

We do not seek to make the scientific arguments here (we did that in an earlier letter, sent a couple of months ago), but simply note that the claim of consensus is fake, designed to stampede you into actions that will cripple our economy, and which you will regret for many years. There is no consensus, and even if there were, consensus is not the test of scientific validity. Theories that disagree with the facts are wrong, consensus or no.

We know of no evidence that any of the “leaders” of the scientific community who signed the [AAAS] letter to you ever asked their memberships for their opinions, before claiming to represent them on this important matter.

We also note that the American Physical Society (APS, and we are physicists) did not sign the letter, though the scientific issues at stake are fundamentally matters of applied physics. You can do physics without climatology, but you can't do climatology without physics.

The APS is at this moment reviewing its stance on so-called global warming, having received a petition from its membership to do so. That petition was signed by 160 [by now well over 200] distinguished members and fellows of the Society, including one Nobelist and 12 members of the National Academies. Indeed a score of the signers are Members and Fellows of the AAAS, none of whom were consulted before the AAAS letter to you.

SEPP Science Editorial #36-2009 (11/14/09)

NOTE: Fred Singer is headed for Europe at the moment -- for lectures/briefs/debates. He invites you to come by if you are close. Get detailed schedule and contacts from but here is the outline: Brussels (EU Parliament) Nov 18-19. London (IEA) Nov 20-24. Zurich Nov 25. Stuttgart (DLR) Nov 26. Heidelberg, Mainz Nov 27-28. Brussels Nov 30-Dec 2. Berlin Dec 4. CPH Dec 6 –11.

"No fixed target" for emissions say Asian leaders

ASIA-Pacific leaders will drop a fixed target for halving greenhouse gas emissions in a final summit statement, a Chinese official said, ahead of a breakfast meeting on climate issues organised by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. "On the 50 per cent reduction target (from 1990 levels) by 2050, yes, it did appear in the draft," said Yi Xianliang, a Chinese foreign ministry official who is part of the country's negotiating team at world climate talks. "However, it is a very controversial issue in the world community... if we put it in this (final) statement, I think it would disrupt the negotiation process," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Leaders from 21 APEC members including US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are in Singapore for an annual summit ending today. The meeting is one of the last international gatherings ahead of world climate change talks opening in Copenhagen on December 7.

Chinese officials said Mr Hu would attend a breakfast meeting called by Mr Rudd dedicated to the climate change issue, and would give a speech outlining steps China has taken to battle global warming. Mr Obama is also expected to attend Mr Rudd's climate breakfast, other officials said.

A rift has widened between rich nations such as the United States and developing ones like China over who should bear the most responsibility for reducing the emissions blamed for global warming. The United States wants China to commit to aggressive steps to curb its rapidly rising emissions. China, however, says the West bears historical responsibility for the build-up of carbon levels in the atmosphere and must shoulder most of the burden for cutting emissions. The United States and China are the two largest sources of such emissions.

Mr Yi declined to comment on which nations pushed for the removal of the emission cut target from the draft APEC statement, which was obtained by AFP last week. "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be reduced to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries," it had said.

The Chinese official said the excision of the 50 per cent target was a "collective decision" by the APEC members. Mr Yi added that rich nations were increasingly showing a tendency to back away from tough action on climate change. "It is fair to say that the biggest obstacle to climate change negotiations is the bloc of developed nations," he said.


Propaganda failure: Global warming is not our fault, say most British voters

Less than half the population believes that human activity is to blame for global warming, according to an exclusive poll for The Times.

The revelation that ministers have failed in their campaign to persuade the public that the greenhouse effect is a serious threat requiring urgent action will make uncomfortable reading for the Government as it prepares for next month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Only 41 per cent accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made. Almost a third (32 per cent) believe that the link is not yet proved; 8 per cent say that it is environmentalist propaganda to blame man and 15 per cent say that the world is not warming.

Tory voters are more likely to doubt the scientific evidence that man is to blame. Only 38 per cent accept it, compared with 45 per cent of Labour supporters and 47 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters.

The high level of scepticism underlines the difficulty the Government will have in persuading the public to accept higher green taxes to help to meet Britain’s legally binding targets to cut carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

The recession appears to have made tackling climate change less of a priority for many people. Only just over a quarter (28 per cent) think that it is happening and is “far and away the most serious problem we face as a country and internationally”, while just over half (51 per cent) think it is “a serious problem, but other problems are more serious”.

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said that growing awareness of the scale of the problem appeared to be resulting in people taking refuge in denial. “Being confronted with the possibility of higher energy bills, wind farms down the road and new nuclear power stations encourages people to question everything about climate change,” she said. “There is a resistance to change and some people see the problem being used as an excuse to charge them more taxes.”

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “The overwhelming body of scientific information is stacked up against the deniers and shows us that climate change is man-made and is happening now. We know that we still have a way to go in informing people about climate change and that is why we make no apologies about pushing forward with our new Act on CO2 campaign.”


Beach alarmism comes unglued

Hawaii's famed white sandy beaches are shrinking so the "global warming" shriek arose -- but some pesky Prof. stymied that by pointing out that sea levels have been rising for over a century. It's not a recent rise, as the Warmists would have you believe. And there are still untold miles of beautiful deserted sandy beaches in Northern Australia so the sea level has got a ways to go yet. If you get on a flight to Cairns International airport in Australia, you will have ready access to beaches that you can only dream of in Hawaii

Jenn Boneza remembers when the white sandy beach near the boat ramp in her hometown was wide enough for people to build sand castles. "It really used to be a beautiful beach," said the 35-year-old mother of two. "And now when you look at it, it's gone."

What's happening to portions of the beach in Kailua — a sunny coastal suburb of Honolulu where President Barack Obama spent his last two family vacations in the islands — is being repeated around the Hawaiian Islands. Geologists say more than 70 percent of Kauai's beaches are eroding while Oahu has lost a quarter of its sandy shoreline. They warn the problem is only likely to get significantly worse in coming decades as global warming causes sea levels to rise more rapidly. "It will probably have occurred to a scale that we will have only been able to save a few places and maintain beaches, and the rest are kind of a write-off," said Dolan Eversole, a coastal geologist with the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program.

The loss of so many beaches is an alarming prospect for Hawaii on many levels. Many tourists come to Hawaii precisely because they want to lounge on and walk along its soft sandy shoreline. These visitors spend some $11.4 billion each year, making tourism the state's largest employer.

Disappearing sands would also wreak havoc on the environment as many animals and plants would lose important habitats. The Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, gives birth and nurses pups on beaches. The green sea turtle, a threatened species, lays eggs in the sand.

Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii geology professor, says scientists in Hawaii haven't yet observed an accelerated rate of sea level rise due to global warming. Instead, the erosion the islands are experiencing now is caused by several factors including a steady historical climb in sea levels that likely dates back to the 19th century. Other causes include storms and human actions like the construction of seawalls, jetties, and the dredging of stream mouths. Each of these human actions disrupts the natural flow of sand.

But a more rapid rise in sea levels, caused by global warming, is expected to contribute to erosion in Hawaii within decades. In 100 years, sea levels are likely to be at least 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, higher than they are now, pushing the ocean inland along coastal areas. Fletcher says between 60 to 80 percent of the nation's shoreline is chronically eroding. But the problem is felt particularly acutely in Hawaii because the economy and lifestyle are so dependent on healthy beaches.

The state is doing everything it can to keep the sand in Waikiki, for example, joining with hotels in the state's tourist hub on a plan to spend between $2 million and $3 million pumping in sand from offshore.

Sam Lemmo, administrator of the state's Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, says the state would need a variety of adaptation strategies for different beaches. It would likely have to abandon hope for beaches in posh Lanikai and suburban Ewa Beach on Oahu because they're already lined with seawalls and are badly eroded. The same probably goes for shoreline next to highways or other critical public infrastructure, where seawalls already exist or may have to be built. Seawalls protect individual properties from encroaching waters but they exacerbate erosion nearby by preventing waves from reaching the sand needed to replenish the beach.

For undeveloped shoreline, the state wants to make sure these areas stay pristine. This happened recently when a Florida-based developer announced plans to build luxury homes on sand dunes in Kahuku on Oahu's North Shore. "We just kind of went nuts, pulled out all the guns on that one, basically got them to back off," Lemmo said. "We're working pretty hard to keep any new development away from these areas."


Corn Ethanol: A "Slow-Motion Train Wreck"

On Monday, Pavel Molchanov, a Houston-based analyst with Raymond James & Associates issued a report that should be required reading for every member of Congress. The first few lines of Molchanov’s report, “Corn Ethanol’s Slow-Motion Train Wreck: What Will Follow In Its Wake?” are classic examples of both sharp thinking and razor-sharp writing: “Finito. Kaputt. Sayonara. However you say it, we think there is no denying the fact that America’s corn ethanol industry is finished… the industry is finished in the sense of no longer being seen as a ‘game-changing,’ long-term solution to the structural imbalance between oil supply and demand.”

Molchanov goes on, saying that as other alternative fuels, like compressed natural gas get more political support, “it is likely that corn ethanol will be increasingly relegated to the big grain elevator in the sky.”

This kind of plain talking from a Wall Street analyst like Molchanov about the corn ethanol scam is long overdue. The ongoing robbery of US taxpayers via the corn ethanol mandates has achieved the one thing that the ethanol boosters promised. Specifically, it has not resulted in a reduction in US oil imports. For more on that, read Robert Rapier’s killer analysis which we published last month. Or, also see my piece, published in Slate, in November 2008 on the same subject.

Despite the facts about the corn ethanol, Congress continues to give political cover to the corn ethanol scammers, a point that Molchanov makes very clearly:
Notwithstanding all the controversies surrounding ethanol in recent years – its impact on global food prices, to name just one – Washington continues to provide Midwestern farmers (many of whom live, amazingly enough, in electoral swing states) with lots of goodies. The three big ones are the blenders’ tax credit, the ethanol import tariff (helping keep out Brazilian sugar ethanol), and most importantly, a guaranteed floor for demand via the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Originally enacted in 2005, the RFA was upsized in the December 2007 energy bill by a Democratic Congress and a Republican president – showing that if there is one thing the parties can agree on, it’s pandering to farmers.

Ah yes, pandering to farmers – one of the oldest of the Washington professions. For a classic example of that pandering, recall that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill which passed the House in June included a provision – which was reportedly inserted at the behest of Minnesota Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson -- that exempts the corn ethanol scam from any oversight by the EPA on its total greenhouse gas emissions. That’s important because a number of studies have shown that when compared with conventional gasoline, corn ethanol is actually worse in terms of greenhouse gases. In 2008, a study led by Princeton academic Tim Searchinger found that corn ethanol nearly doubles greenhouse gases over a 30-year time period. Another study by Searchinger, published last month in Science, also underscored the need for more rigorous accounting when it comes to biofuels and their total greenhouse gas emissions. (See here for an interview I did with Searchinger in March 2008.)

The US now has 202 ethanol distilleries with a total nameplate capacity of 13.1 billion gallons per year (about 850,000 barrels per day). But according to Ethanol Producer magazine, 23 of those distilleries – with a total capacity of 1.27 billion gallons of alcohol – are now sitting idle. In other words, nearly 10% of total US corn ethanol production capacity is now sitting idle because the economics of the business are lousy. The investors who rushed to build new production capacity back in 2007 now are wondering what to do with their expensive machinery. Of course, the industry has rebounded somewhat in recent months. Back in February, about 16% of total US ethanol production capacity was idle.

But looking forward, Molchanov doesn’t see much relief for the corn ethanol scam. He points out that investment capital is scarce and that the industry may not have enough capacity by 2015 to meet the Congressional mandates, which require US motor fuel suppliers to be blending at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline supplies by 2015. “Even if the EPA allows ethanol blending at 12% or 15% rather than 10% – as the industry is aggressively lobbying for – the industry’s poor economics,” will still hamper any new investment in additional distilleries.

And what about cellulosic ethanol, that wonder fuel that everyone talks about but no one ever sees? Here’s Molchanov’s take: As the pitfalls of corn ethanol have become increasingly apparent, cellulosic ethanol developers will have an opportunity to provide a better alternative, but it’s still years away from commerciality, with significant financing and execution risks in the meantime.” Now there’s an understatement. Despite decades of hype from various media darlings including Amory Lovins, cellulosic ethanol still has not achieved anything close to commercial levels of production. And it’s doubtful that it will achieve commerciality at any time over the next few decades.

What does that mean? Well, it means that Congress is going to have to rethink the rules that it laid out in the 2007 energy bill which require fuel suppliers to be blending 21 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the US fuel supply by 2022.

Molchanov’s look the ethanol train wreck is a welcome bit of truth amid an energy debate that is increasingly detached from any semblance of reality.


Australia: Prime Minister Rudd buys off the farmers. He wants a climate deal at any price

Agriculture now to be exempt from Warmist laws but that blows a huge hole in any effect the laws might have. Rudd is showing his Chinese influences: He is now just trying to save face. He cares about global warming about as much as I do

In a shock move, the Federal Government has decided to exempt all agriculture from its proposed emissions trading scheme, turning up the heat on Malcolm Turnbull's Opposition leadership. The Coalition has been calling for the exemption – and the Government's surprise move dramatically raises the stakes for Mr Turnbull to close a deal with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to pass the ETS in the next two weeks of Parliament.

Yet sections of the Opposition Leader's Liberal Party and the Nationals are likely to remain opposed to any such deal regardless, leaving Mr Turnbull's authority in shreds.

The surprise concession by the Government will be announced by Senator Wong today ahead of the resumption of Parliament this week. The initiative will also isolate the Nationals, who have been using the inclusion of agriculture in the proposed scheme by 2015 to spearhead its opposition to the package.

Senator Wong's announcement is likely to get backing for the scheme from key Nationals constituencies such as the National Farmers Federation, which has been lobbying heavily for such a decision. In another concession, Senator Wong will also announce the Government will develop plans to give farmers carbon credits for any efforts to capture and store carbon as part of their farm practices.

Opposition climate change spokesman Ian Macfarlane has been locked in talks with Senator Wong trying to negotiate a deal to get the scheme through the Senate. By announcing the exemption of agriculture, the Government will be able to say it has made major concessions and Mr Turnbull should now secure the backing of his party room to pass the scheme.

But Mr Turnbull is still likely to face a revolt. A number of Liberals, including Senate Leader Nick Minchin and senators Cory Bernardi and Julian McGauran, along with WA backbenchers Dennis Jensen and Wilson Tuckey, remain sceptical of the idea of man-made global warming and the Nationals are continuing to oppose the ETS outright. A refusal by the joint party room to back a compromise that includes the exemption of agriculture could make Mr Turnbull's leadership untenable. He has previously said he does not want to lead a party that does not embrace the idea of climate change.

The exclusion of agriculture had been presented by Mr Macfarlane as a "deal-breaker" in the ongoing talks. The move by the Government means farmers now will not have to buy permits for their carbon emissions, substantially reducing farm costs.

The exemption is likely to be attacked by economists, who argue that to be effective a carbon emissions system must be broadly based to share the huge costs. If one sector is exempted it increases costs on other sectors, such as energy-producing industries.

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has estimated Australia has the potential to store up to a billion tonnes of carbon a year for the next 40 years through improved pasture management and farm practices. The group says if Australia were to capture just 15 per cent of this capacity, it would offset the equivalent of 25 per cent of our current annual greenhouse emissions over that period. Under the new concessions farmers will be compensated for such carbon offsets, opening up new sources of income.



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


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Virtual Climate Conference on Dec 7: "Copenhagen -- another Pearl Harbor"‏

An announcement below from S. Fred Singer (

The UN-COP-15 conference opens in Copenhagen on Dec 7 -- Pearl Harbor Day.

Geologist Leighton Steward and I will both be in CPH, holding forth at a briefing session at the Danish Parliament, together with Lord Monckton and other notables (incl some surprise participants). But we propose to conduct also a Virtual Conference on the Internet, entitled "Copenhagen -- another Pearl Harbor" This title suggests that a CPH Accord would be a disaster for the US, and indeed the whole world -- even worse than the notorious Kyoto Protocol.

Leighton runs the website and will organize the VC. I am the organizer and coauthor of NIPCC reports [NIPCC is our answer to IPCC, and presents the scientific evidence against IPCC in the report “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”]

In my current role as a 'community organizer ' I seek your participation in the VC. We plan to run dozens of short videos (30 to 120 seconds) where you can identify yourself and present a brief statement against IPCC and AGW, against CO2 rationing, against the folly of Cap and Trade, and discourse on the uselessness of the CPH conference.

If you are willing to cooperate, please send your name, a bio (20-40 words), phone number, and e-mail address directly to Leighton Steward via the contact form on CO2 is Green. A professional organization will then contact you and handle the production.

Your participation is entirely voluntary, of course. But I hope you will want to play a part in this pioneering venture and look foward to seeing your handsome face on the web on Dec 7.

Assumptions trump measurements

On 11th I put up a translation of a report by a Warmist (Leinfelder) that noted many doubts about climate change being expressed by German scientists. The article was headed: GERMANY’S GEO-RESEARCH INSTITUTES CRITICISE CLIMATE ALARMISM.

In an endeavour to refute the doubts, Leinfelder said: "Not mentioned, however, was the essential fact: the CO2 emitted by us is now gathering in the atmosphere, unlike other greenhouse gases over thousands of years, where it now exceeds all historical values for at least a million years."

That is certainly an IPCC assumption but it is simply not true. CO2 does NOT accumulate in the atmosphere for any length of time. It is absorbed, mainly by the oceans, within a few years of being emitted. I reproduce below a 2007 article on that which reports comments by Norwegian geologist Tom Segalstad. Segalstad also has an August 2009 article here which reports further research confirmation for his comments given below

We are doomed, say climate change scientists associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that is organizing most of the climate change research occurring in the world today. Carbon dioxide from man-made sources rises to the atmosphere and then stays there for 50, 100, or even 200 years. This unprecedented buildup of CO2 then traps heat that would otherwise escape our atmosphere, threatening us all.

"This is nonsense," says Tom V. Segalstad, head of the Geological Museum at the University of Oslo and formerly an expert reviewer with the same IPCC. He laments the paucity of geologic knowledge among IPCC scientists -- a knowledge that is central to understanding climate change, in his view, since geologic processes ultimately determine the level of atmospheric CO2.

"The IPCC needs a lesson in geology to avoid making fundamental mistakes," he says. "Most leading geologists, throughout the world, know that the IPCC's view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible."

Catastrophic theories of climate change depend on carbon dioxide staying in the atmosphere for long periods of time -- otherwise, the CO2 enveloping the globe wouldn't be dense enough to keep the heat in. Until recently, the world of science was near-unanimous that CO2 couldn't stay in the atmosphere for more than about five to 10 years because of the oceans' near-limitless ability to absorb CO2.

"This time period has been established by measurements based on natural carbon-14 and also from readings of carbon-14 from nuclear weapons testing, it has been established by radon-222 measurements, it has been established by measurements of the solubility of atmospheric gases in the oceans, it has been established by comparing the isotope mass balance, it has been established through other mechanisms, too, and over many decades, and by many scientists in many disciplines," says Prof. Segalstad, whose work has often relied upon such measurements.

Then, with the advent of IPCC-influenced science, the length of time that carbon stays in the atmosphere became controversial. Climate change scientists began creating carbon cycle models to explain what they thought must be an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These computer models calculated a long life for carbon dioxide.

Amazingly, the hypothetical results from climate models have trumped the real world measurements of carbon dioxide's longevity in the atmosphere. Those who claim that CO2 lasts decades or centuries have no such measurements or other physical evidence to support their claims.

Neither can they demonstrate that the various forms of measurement are erroneous. "They don't even try," says Prof. Segalstad. "They simply dismiss evidence that is, for all intents and purposes, irrefutable. Instead, they substitute their faith, constructing a kind of science fiction or fantasy world in the process."

In the real world, as measurable by science, CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean reach a stable balance when the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. "The IPCC postulates an atmospheric doubling of CO2, meaning that the oceans would need to receive 50 times more CO2 to obtain chemical equilibrium," explains Prof. Segalstad. "This total of 51 times the present amount of carbon in atmospheric CO2 exceeds the known reserves of fossil carbon-- it represents more carbon than exists in all the coal, gas, and oil that we can exploit anywhere in the world."

Also in the real world, Prof. Segalstad's isotope mass balance calculations -- a standard technique in science -- show that if CO2 in the atmosphere had a lifetime of 50 to 200 years, as claimed by IPCC scientists, the atmosphere would necessarily have half of its current CO2 mass. Because this is a nonsensical outcome, the IPCC model postulates that half of the CO2 must be hiding somewhere, in "a missing sink." Many studies have sought this missing sink -- a Holy Grail of climate science research-- without success.

"It is a search for a mythical CO2 sink to explain an immeasurable CO2 lifetime to fit a hypothetical CO2 computer model that purports to show that an impossible amount of fossil fuel burning is heating the atmosphere," Prof. Segalstad concludes. "It is all a fiction."


Why Joe Romm is influential

Some excerpts below from a long article by by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus

What gave rise to Joe Romm and Climate McCarthyism? In a word: hyper-partisanship. America is more polarized politically today than it has been in 130 years. The fracturing of traditional media has political partisans looking for people who will filter news, analysis, and opinions for them. Democrats who care about the environment have been turning to Joe Romm. They wished for somebody tough to stand up to the bad guys on climate change. They wished for somebody to simplify complicated questions. In "The Hyper-Partisan Mind," we see why they should be careful what they wish for.

In Part 1 and in Part 2 we documented how Joe Romm uses McCarthyite tactics, including character assassination, misrepresentation, and guilt-by-association, to intimidate the press corps and discredit non-skeptical climate experts as "global warming deniers." In this post we will explore one of the main forces that gave rise to Climate McCarthyism: hyper-partisan polarization.

America is more polarized today than at any time since Reconstruction. A major quantitative analysis by social scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal found today to be the most polarized period in 130 years.

Little wonder then that Romm's strength lies in his appeals to Democratic partisan identity. He writes for a Democratic audience and mobilizes liberal and environmentalist readers to attack reporters, activists, and policymakers who diverge, literally, from the Party line.

Today's fractured and polarized media environment has allowed Joe Romm to become the most influential liberal climate activist in the country, largely because he has convinced liberals and Democrats that he is an energy and climate science expert. This explains why Nobel Prize Winner and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says "I trust Joe Romm," Thomas Friedman calls "the indispensable blog," Al Gore relies on him for technical analysis, and the Center for American Progress makes him the organization's chief spokesperson on climate and energy issues.

In this post we will see how Romm helps Democrats make mental short-cuts about who to trust and distrust, which technologies are promising and which are chimeras, and which policies to advocate and which to oppose. We will document how Romm does this by inventing associations between people he disagrees with and various Republicans, particularly George W. Bush.

And we will argue - against those who pooh-pooh his influence - that Joe Romm is, in fact, far more influential today than Joe McCarthy was in the 1950s, a fact that, unfortunately, has proven poisonous to creating the consensus needed for serious action on climate.

Partisan Identity as a Mental Short-Cut

It's no coincidence that America's Climate McCarthyite-in-chief is a blogger at the largest liberal think tank and not a U.S. Senator. Busy fundraising and campaigning, members of Congress have largely outsourced the deliberative process of legislating to partisan interest groups and think tanks.

Meanwhile, the explosion of new media and the resulting flood of information means that educated partisans - including beat reporters and national columnists -- are looking for partisan specialists to filter their news, analysis, and media commentary. "We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions," Times columnists Nicholas Kristof noted, "but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber."

Much has been written about the ideological echo chamber conservatives like Sen. James Inhofe, Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck have created to enforce anti-environmental orthodoxy on the Right. Less remarked upon has been the creation of its analog on the Left - an accomplishment in which Romm has taken a leading role. Romm has mastered the echo chamber in its liberal expression and creates a reassuring green womb for his growing cadre of loyal readers. Every day of the week he dutifully filters the news, telling readers the good news of yet another McKinsey report on how energy efficiency more than pays for itself!, and the bad news of yet another outrageous declaration by the dastardly Sen. Inhofe. In one post Romm serves up news stories of natural disasters as evidence of the imminent apocalypse, while in the next he touts new studies showing how cheap solar power is and how expensive nuclear is.

Most importantly Romm functions to inform his readers of the partisan identity of any given thing, whether it be a new technology, policy, or analysis. Thus, when it came time for Romm to criticize a rather technical piece on the rising carbon intensity of the global economy that appeared in the journal Nature -- which we discussed in our last post -- he attacked it, not as inaccurate or incorrect, but rather as Republican....


How Dense Can They Get? Good fuels need no subsidies

When it comes to power, density is the key. Energy density. The reason that solar power, wind power, and ethanol are so expensive is that they are derived from very diffuse energy sources. It takes a lot of energy collectors such as solar cells, wind turbines, or corn stalks covering many square miles to produce the same amount of power that traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants can on just a few acres.

Each of these alternative energy sources is based on mature technology. Agriculture and fermentation have their roots in prehistory; windmills date back at least to 65 B.C.; the photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839. Yet in nowhere in the world are these technologies serving as primary energy sources without significant government subsidies. While incremental improvements can be expected, what is needed for them to become viable is an order-of-magnitude increase in productivity. As old and as well-researched as the technologies are, such improvements are possible but unlikely. As significant future energy sources, these technologies are dead ends, which is why the government, and not the private sector, is funding them.

Industry is more than willing to risk research dollars on technologies that show real promise, but it is not willing to flush shareholder money down a rat hole. Politicians, however, operate from different incentives. When a crisis, real or imagined, makes headlines, they want voters to see them doing “something” about it, and they must move quickly because election cycles and constituent attention spans are short. Funding long-term research in promising technologies is not sufficient to meet politicians’ needs. Solar panels, wind turbines, and ethanol refineries are all current technology and can be erected quickly with fanfare and photo-ops. By the time these alternative power sources prove to be financial and, possibly, environmental busts, the politicians will have been reelected and voters’ attention will have shifted to the next crisis.

Another benefit of subsidizing “shovel ready” solutions is that existing technologies have existing supporters who can provide campaign funds. Such supporters, however, constitute a well-financed “status quo” that will make government funding, once started, difficult to end. For example, even though corn-based ethanol has driven up food and fuel prices, increased auto emissions, raised atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (by causing additional acreage to be tilled), and possibly resulted in net energy losses, the government is still subsidizing the industry and still requiring that the fuel be added to gasoline.

Wind turbines, for their part, kill large numbers of birds, and this will only get worse as more turbines are erected. Eventually, such kills could reach a level at which they hurt local environments by reducing the natural check that birds and bats place on insect and rodent populations. Even should this occur, however, the wind turbine juggernaut will be hard to stop in the face of an entrenched lobby.

By contrast, consider the significant oil-industry investments in researching biofuels made from algae. Unlike ethanol, biofuels are chemically similar to fuel made from petroleum and, like petroleum-based fuels, have a significantly higher energy content than does ethanol. Biofuels can also be handled by current fuel distribution systems and can be burned in today’s vehicles.

Algae can be grown in brackish water on desert land and, with today’s technology, can produce over 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre each year. This compares favorably with the approximately 250 gallons of ethanol that can be produced from an acre of corn – a ratio of 8 to 1. Accounting for the differences in BTU content, the ratio jumps to over 12 to 1. It may even be possible to boost productivity to 100,000 gallons per acre per year, raising algae’s potential to over 600 times that of corn-based ethanol!

Biofuels are carbon-neutral because the carbon dioxide released when they are burned is first extracted from the atmosphere by the algae. Unlike burning petroleum-based fuels, then, burning biofuels will not result in a net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

With algae’s vast potential, it is easy to understand why private industry is interested and why no government subsidies are needed to encourage investment. Moreover, if algae-based fuels do not prove viable, the companies now researching them will have no “status quo” problems with ending their investments and shifting scarce resources to more promising technologies – where “promise” is measured in density.


Britain's Warmist fairytale

Britain has no chance of meeting its main carbon-reduction target because it lacks the engineering and manufacturing capacity to deliver the required renewable energy, a study has found.

The Government has made a legally binding commitment to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 but has failed to set out how this could be achieved.

The study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says that the target, the central plank of Britain’s negotiating position at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen next month, is “an act of faith” with no grounding in reality. Britain would need to build the equivalent of 30 nuclear power stations by 2015 to be on course to meet the target, the study says. On Monday the Government said it hoped that private companies would build ten by 2025.

The institution calls on the Government to accept the “uncomfortable reality” that the 80 per cent target, mandated in the Climate Change Act, is unachieveable. It says: “Given the magnitude of the engineering challenge and the pace of action required, the institution concludes that the Climate Change Act has failed even before it has started. It seems likely that the Act will have to be revisited by Parliament or simply ignored by policymakers.”

The study estimates that, even using optimistic assumptions about annual rates of carbon reduction, the earliest the target for 2050 could be achieved is 2100.

Emissions per unit of GDP, known as carbon intensity, would have to fall by 5 per cent a year for the next 40 years to meet the target. Britain’s highest rate of carbon intensity reduction was 2.3 per cent a year in the mid-1990s when several coal-fired power stations were replaced by more efficient gas-fired ones. In recent years, carbon intensity has been falling by about 1.3 per cent a year.

The institution accuses the Government of ignoring its own evidence about how long it takes to deliver infrastructure. It dismisses the idea that Britain could recruit engineers from abroad. It also says that private companies, on which the Government is relying to deliver low-carbon infrastructure, are “simply not that interested”.

Stephen Tetlow, the institution’s chief executive, said Britain needed to adopt a “wartime mentality”, with people as acutely aware of their energy consumption as they were of food consumption during the Second World War.


Brits to pay up big in pursuit of a Greenie fantasy

Families will pay a new levy on electricity bills for at least the next 20 years to fund technology designed to capture the carbon from coal-fired power stations. The Government is planning to raise £9.5 billion from the levy to subsidise up to four carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants. Details of the first plant will be announced early next year. The Department for Energy and Climate Change said yesterday that uncertainty over the commercial viability of CCS meant that public support might have to continue beyond 2030.

The Government is promoting CCS to justify approving new coal plants to replace the eight due to close by 2015 under European rules on air pollution. Burning coal produces far more carbon than burning gas for the same amount of electricity but ministers want to build new coal plants to reduce Britain’s dependence on imported gas.

E.On announced last month that it was delaying its plan for a new coal station with CCS at Kingsnorth, Kent, for at least three years. However, the Kingsnorth plant may yet go ahead and, along with a proposed plant at Longannet in Scotland, is competing to be the first subsidised CCS demonstration project.

The department said the CCS levy, likely to start in 2011, would be about £17 a year per household. It said that the cost could be higher if its assumptions about the cost of CCS proved too optimistic. The initial levy, which will be imposed on electricity suppliers but passed on to consumers, will run for 15 years. This will pay for the first phase of CCS, under which new coal plants will have to capture the carbon from only about a quarter of their generating capacity.

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that the levy could be continued beyond the 15-year period to subsidise CCS for the entire output of the four plants.

An official from the department said it was possible that the levy could remain in place for an additional 15 years, but this would depend on the price of permits to emit carbon. If the price remained at the present low level, CCS would continue to need huge subsidies because it would be cheaper for generators to buy permits for their carbon emissions than to invest in technology to reduce them.

Mr Miliband admitted that further regulations or financial incentives might be needed to encourage the development of CCS. He ordered a “rolling review” of progress on CCS and said it would report by 2018 on whether it was “technically or economically viable”. The department said its ambition was for any coal plant opening after 2020 to have CCS covering its full capacity from the outset. Its draft policy on “clean coal” said it hoped that the four demonstration projects would allow CCS to be applied to existing coal plants from 2020. “Our ambition is for CCS to be ready for widespread deployment from 2020.”

It admitted that there was a risk that CCS, which has yet to be shown to work commercially anywhere in the world, might prove unviable. “In the event that CCS is not on track to become technically or commercially viable, preventing retrofit, an appropriate regulatory approach for managing emissions will be needed.”

Keith Allott, head of climate change at the environmental group WWF-UK, said: “The acknowledgement that we need a safety net in place, in case carbon capture and storage technology doesn’t work or costs too much, is a sensible step forward. However, waiting until the 2020s to put such a plan into action is foolhardy. “It gives us no guarantee that the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which urges the UK to decarbonise the power sector by 2030, will be met. “It would also do nothing to stop the building of largely unabated coal power stations in the interim.”


Australia: More dreamers who want you to believe that they can see 100 years into the future

The usual stupid straight-line extrapolation; No mention that sea levels have stopped rising in recent years; No mention that we could well be in the middle of an ice-age by then

Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to $63 billion, will be "at risk of inundation" by the end of the century, under "worst-case but plausible" predictions of rising sea levels. The study -- released ahead of the crucial Senate vote on Labor's emissions trading scheme -- modelled the effect of a 1.1m sea-level rise on cities and towns around Australia. This is a higher level than the 79cm end-of-century rise predicted by the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but in the mid-range of some subsequently published research.

It found between 157,000 and 247,000 homes "at risk of inundation" -- meaning they would be permanently flooded or frequently flooded by storm surges or king tides -- with hospitals, water-treatment plants and other public buildings also found to be at risk. Even Sydney airport would be at "increased risk" of inundation, according to the study, written by the Department of Climate Change with input from CSIRO, Geosciences Australia and scores of academics.

The study -- which models possible risks down to township and local government areas complete with aerial photographs of towns showing the possible inundation -- appears timed to give the public a sharp reminder of the possible dangers of climate change. It also increases pressure on the opposition as the government's ETS bill is brought back to parliament next week.

It found NSW had "the greatest exposure", with between 40,800 and 62,400 homes at risk, followed by Queensland (35,900 to 56,900), Victoria (27,600 to 44,600), South Australia (25,200 to 43,000) and Western Australia (18,700 to 28,000). Within each state, it identified the local government areas where property was most "at risk" -- for NSW, Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Rockdale; for Queensland, Moreton Bay, Mackay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast; and for Victoria, Kingston, Geelong, Wellington and Port Phillip.

The study says that "based on the recent science 1.1m was selected as a plausible value for sea-level rise for this risk assessment. It is important to note that the purpose of a risk assessment is to identify areas of risk and therefore plausible worse-case scenarios need to be considered."

Andrew Ash, director of the CSIRO climate-change adaption flagship, said the 1.1m sea-level rise was "certainly plausible". "As things stand, the only variation will be exactly when we reach that level," Dr Ash said. Given the study was meant to help government planning decisions, it was therefore "both plausible and appropriate" to model a 1.1m rise. As well as the threat of inundation, the study calculates how many buildings are under threat from "soft" erodable shorelines.



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


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Huge Mistake

While the Senate is working on its version of the Cap and Trade Bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last June, new criticism of Cap and Trade has emerged from a rather unlikely source: two lawyers for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Laurie Williams and Allen Zabel, the two EPA attorneys, have produced a YouTube video comparing passage of the Cap and Trade Bill to: “the ill-fated launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.” Allen Zabel: The push to launch this climate bill reminds us of the ill-fated launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The people responsible for the launch refused to listen to the rocket designers with the experience to know the shuttle was fatally flawed. This failure to listen resulted in tragedy.

Naturally, the EPA is not thrilled with the idea of two of its attorneys speaking out against Cap and Trade. From Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman comes the following:
The Environmental Protection Agency is being accused of trying to silence two EPA attorneys who have publicly criticized a key component of the climate change legislation being considered by Congress. The EPA attorneys, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, have warned that a cap and trade plan will not accomplish its goals and will not effectively curb global warming. The couple posted a video on YouTube outlining their concerns and published an op-ed in the Washington Post. The EPA has since ordered them to remove or edit the video and to get approval for any future “outside writing projects.” In the video, Laurie Williams describes cap and trade as a big mistake.

Laurie Williams: Cap and trade will not create confidence that clean energy will become profitable, and so it will not ignite the huge shift in investment needed to begin the clean energy revolution. Cap and trade for climate change has been tried in Europe. It produced harmful volatility in energy prices and few greenhouse gas reductions. It raised energy prices for consumers and made billions in windfall profits for utilities.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cap and Trade, the concept is actually quite simple. Companies could ‘offset’ their own carbon emissions by buying or selling “emission credits” among themselves. Williams and Zabel argue that the offsets are unquantifiable and trading the credits will accomplish nothing. In fact, their conclusion leads them to refer to offsets as “The Big Rip-Off.”

As evidence of this, the attorneys point to Europe’s cap and trade program, already in use, which has drastically raised energy costs and has had no effect on greenhouse gas emissions. Europe’s emissions, in fact, have exceeded the caps put in place.

There will, however, be one person keeping his fingers crossed, hoping for the passage of Cap and Trade: Al Gore.

The former Vice President is a big proponent of carbon offsets, and he has himself purchased many of them to offset his own rather sizable carbon footprint. Fortunately, he is able to purchase them through a company on which he serves as chair: Generation Investment Management.

Al Gore will, quite possibly, become the first “carbon multi-millionaire” with the passage of Cap and Trade, thus making him (to paraphrase Williams and Zabel): “The Big Rip-Off Artist.”

SOURCE (Video at link)

If Cap and Trade Doesn't Work, Obama will Make it Work

All the talk in Washington is surrounding a government health insurance plan, but there's a little discussed insurance plan in the Boxer-Kerry cap and trade bill that's worth some attention. The Senate version of the cap and trade bill includes a section that grants the President the authority to "direct relevant federal agencies" to impose additional greenhouse gas regulations. Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and John Barrasso (R-WY) have been working assiduously to uncover the true costs of cap and trade legislation.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are measured in parts per million (ppm). Many global warming alarmists believe that upper limit on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent catastrophic harm is 450 parts per million (ppm). Once we reach that threshold, water will rise to the torch of the Statue of Liberty, California will be an island, the polar ice caps will cease to exist and island nations will no longer be nations but submerged pieces of land. To put the numbers in some perspective, Sharon Begley notes in her Newsweek column that the carbon dioxide concentration is currently at 386 ppm; we were at 280ppm before the Industrial Revolution. If you include the carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases, we’ve arguably reached the 450 ppm threshold. The Boxer-Kerry legislation says that if global greenhouse gas concentrations exceed 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent:

Sec. 707 Not later than July 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter–

`(1) the President shall direct relevant Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions identified in the reports submitted under sections 705 and 706 and to address any shortfalls identified in such reports.

The passed House version, Waxman-Markey, also contains language that grant the administration similar authority. So, for those who thought cap and trade legislation would pre-empt costly regulations, think again. This is more or less an insurance policy that would allow EPA officials regulate just about every aspect of the market and guarantees there will be economic pain. Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, “We get further faster without top-down regulation.” Added regulations on top of cap and trade would be a bureaucratic nightmare that could delay economic projects and tie them up in litigation and result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in compliance costs.

If we’ve learned anything from the health care debate, it’s that companies shouldn’t trust government promises that their bottom lines will not be affected. Proponents of a government-run option made repeated claims that private businesses would remain competitive but Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, recently sent a letter to the White House and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saying the plan “would bankrupt hospitals, dismantle employer coverage.

The same can be said for cap and trade. In order to garner business support, Members promised generous allowance revenue handouts for various industries and special interests. President Obama originally called for an auction of the emission allowances, forcing companies to bid on the right to emit. Businesses, knowing very well this would impose a severe cost on their bottom line, sent their lobbyists to Washington to protect them. And it worked – at least they thought it did. Sections 705-707 of the Boxer-Kerry cap and trade bill would pile costly regulations on these allegedly protected companies. And these costs would be passed onto the consumer, making the bill all that more painful.

Even if we are only at 386 ppm, the way China and other developing countries are growing and refusing to cap greenhouse gas emissions, global greenhouse gas concentrations could reach 450 ppm in no time. George Will writes, “On Oct. 21, China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases, and India, which ranks fourth — together they account for 26 percent of emissions — jointly agreed: They, with their combined one-third of the world’s population, will not play in what increasingly resembles a global game of climate-change charades. Neither nation is interested in jeopardizing its economic growth with emissions caps of a sort that never impeded the growth of the developed nations that now praise them.”

With the rate of growth of global greenhouse gas emissions, cap and trade paired with top down regulation assures economic pain for every part of the economy, especially the American energy consumer, with nothing to show for it.


Climate Bill Likely on the Shelf For Rest of the Year

Key Senate Democrats Tuesday said it is unlikely there will be any more major committee action on climate-change legislation this year, the strongest indication yet that a comprehensive bill to cut greenhouse-gas emissions won't be voted on until at least next year.

Although the Senate Environment Committee last week approved a version of the bill, the proposal will face strong revisions from moderate Democrats, particularly from senators on the Finance and Agriculture committees. "It's common understanding that climate-change legislation will not be brought up on the Senate floor and pass the Senate this year," Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said on the sidelines of a caucus lunch.

Mr. Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he planned to hold a number of hearings on climate legislation and eventually mark up a bill in his panel. "But I don't know that I can get a bill put together by this year, as important as climate-change legislation is," he said.

Mr. Baucus was the lone dissenting Democratic vote on the Environment Panel last week because he wanted weaker emission-reduction targets and stronger provisions to protect energy-intensive industries and encourage clean-coal technologies. "I wouldn't want to bet my paycheck that all the relevant committees will report out legislation by the end of this year," said Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.).

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), who is leading an effort by moderate, heartland Democrats to protect manufacturing and agriculture industries, said committees were no longer under any timetables to produce legislation.

Ms. Stabenow said the Agriculture Committee—which has jurisdiction over climate provisions fundamental to containing costs and cutting emissions in the farming and forestry sectors--might not even debate or vote on any provisions for the bill. "The question is whether or not Agriculture actually marks up something or it gets done on the floor," she said.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.), who chairs the Agriculture Committee, is facing a tough re-election campaign next year, and handling a highly controversial climate-change bill in her panel may risk alienating voters.

In the face of the hard-fought debate on health-care legislation--not to mention appropriations bills and finance-reform proposals—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has dropped his earlier schedules for committees. A Reid aide said he hadn't drafted any new timetable for panel action on climate change.

Even Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), a climate-bill champion who last week said committees should have climate legislation processed by the end of the year, Tuesday backed off such expectations. "I don't want to create artificial deadlines which get in the way of our being methodical about this," he said.

Instead, Mr. Kerry said he is focused on getting the 60 votes necessary to pass controversial climate legislation -- a higher margin than a simple majority and no mean feat. "The main thing to do here is to build the adequate base of support and consensus," he said.


The ‘corporatisation’ of environmental activism

In the first part of his new book, Peter Taylor scrutinises the scientific research that underpins concern about global warming and finds that it is unconvincing. This extract, taken from the second part of the book, looks at the political dynamics that have promoted global warming to the top of the international agenda. As a life-long environmental campaigner Peter is well placed to consider the role that activist organisations have played in this process.

In addition to the world of science institutions, governmental influence and media bias, there has also been a growing and powerful environmental lobby pressing for an unequivocal commitment from the scientists. NGOs well appreciated that governments will not move when there is major uncertainty and a lobby has evolved out of a coalition of interests on the part of environmental campaigners and those industries standing to gain from a shift in policy. Naturally, there is also an opposing lobby from oil, gas and coal interests. The nuclear lobby has remained somewhat hidden, but has benefited enormously from the climate issue. Some campaign groups have allied directly to renewable energy interests, especially wind turbine manufacturers and solar collectors, whereas others have remained independent of commercial interests but used the projections of technology and capability to underpin their campaigns.

In addition to these straightforward political alliances, there has been a growing corporatisation of the environmental sector. NGOS have grown from a few small back-street offices into a multi-million dollar international organisation - in the case of Greenpeace, with a fleet of ships, modern office suites, staff and pension funds. Such organisation requires a steady income stream and does not have the option, as for example at the end of a successful ocean pollution campaign to simply pack up and go home. When an organisation’s ethos is essentially combative, it seeks out problems and threats.

Which is fine, as long as there really are serious threats that cannot be dealt with by trusted government. But in my view, as a seasoned campaigner, the game changed significantly after Rio in 1992. The ‘enemy’ metamorphosed from being the dumpers and polluters ably supported by a science- industry alliance (including the modellers), to a more subtle menace. As a result of the shift to the Precautionary Principle, industry and the regulators began to move in another direction - Clean Development Mechanisms were set in motion and large amounts of money shifted toward preventative strategies. This shift required a different type of environmental organisation, and although the campaign groups made significant efforts to provide ‘solutions’, they were still ruled by the old ethos of campaign and combat.

The problem with combat is that there always has to be a threat, an enemy, something to be fought against. And such was the demand that campaigners became professionals, with books and manuals drawing from the expertise of the advertising industry and the experience of political lobby groups. Image and simplicity, together with achievable targets were essential tools of the trade. A corporate organisation answers to the shareholders, but an environmental pressure group answers to subscribers who need to feel something is being achieved, otherwise they remove their subscription.

This dynamic is not talked of openly and any suggestion that it has played a role in the climate debate is met with hostility. But to discuss this issue is not to impugn the integrity of any organisation, it is to draw attention to how a powerful and unacknowledged force can distort judgement. As in the case of Mark Lynas, if you have published a best-selling book on global warming and achieved some status as an environmental correspondent, you are not motivated to seek out those scientists who disagree with the IPCC orthodoxy. Likewise, if you are a large multi-national campaigning organisation with a decade long commitment to fighting climate change, you are going to listen more to the views of Mark Lynas and Al Gore, than to Dr Akasofu, Professor Christy and Professor Lindzen. And it helps that all of the world’s science institutions also (now) speak with one voice.

Thus, the environmental lobbyists become defenders of the orthodoxy, ably supported by all liberal-thinking environmentally conscious laypeople and journalists. And that leaves only the conservative, business-as-usual, economic optimists and free marketers to espouse the cause of the climate model’s dissenters!

It is with great sadness that I now witness the level of collusion operating within environmental NGOs. They had finally begun making an impression on the international process of environmental protection in the lead-up to the Rio Summit in 1992 and helped produce the ground-breaking Agenda for the 21st Century that supported connectivity and inter-dependence - a true ecology that included all aspects of human well-being and in particular, steps toward a global equity. Given the competitive nature of the world economy and the massive scale of inequity in wealth and economic power, these steps were never going to be easy, but I at least felt that environmental NGOs would be at the forefront of thinking.

Though this movement started out with great integrity of purpose, something has been lost. NGOs have embraced science to a greater extent but in the climate debate at least, have come to rely upon and uncritically accept the authority of scientific institutions. In no other area have NGOs been so uncritical - there is a long history of former critical analysis - on the risks of low level radiation; nuclear reactor hazards and waste disposal options; toxic discharges to the marine environment; incineration of toxic wastes at sea; the impact of acid rain; the deployment of GMO technology - in all these areas science institutions were part of the problem rather than the solution.

It was precisely the collusion between government, corporations and the science establishment that motivated NGOs to develop critical science expertise. The institutional science community has proven all too willing to accommodate government and business agendas and suppress or distort scientific assessments (there are many examples from pesticide studies, pharmaceutical trials, impact of GMOs, nuclear accident hazard analysis, the modelling of ocean dumping of nuclear waste and discharges of toxic chemicals such as PCBs). It was critical science, funded by the NGOs and supported by a very few progressive governments, that led to the crucial changes in the ‘burden of proof’ that led to the ‘precautionary principle’ being written in to international conventions.

I played a role in that work - and had the privilege to work closely with some of the best environmental scientists of our day. I hope therefore that the assessment I now make of the current situation will cause some reflection among my former allies. I have always held that we should work with the cutting edge of scientific truth - that whatever the short-term goals or campaign advantages, truth would ultimately serve our cause.

I am concerned now that - a ‘corporate creep’ has taken place whereby environmental NGOs have begun to behave like the large corporations we hitherto held to account. It is not hard to understand why this might happen - NGOs have grown in size and now command considerable resources. This requires a whole suite of corporate skills - from professional personnel management to accounting and investment, the handling of press, media, publicity and public relations, as well as lobbying and strategic development of policies. This requires specialist training and hence recruitment of staff from business schools and organisational realms not known for being well-attuned to the ethos of sustainability, nor for a commitment to scientific truths. Such specialists have to be represented at many levels of decision-making within the organisation - and it would be an act of naivety or denial to pretend this creeping effect cannot or does not now influence policy. This is not to say that anyone recruited from professional management and business circles lacks integrity, or feeling for the natural world, or concern for the overall well-being of humanity, rather it is a question of how these concerns are transformed into action and whether professional training can create blind-spots, particularly with regard to the ‘group-mind’ that evolves within corporate entities.

Corporate ‘creep’ and the culture of targets

I would argue that this corporate creep affects the kind of targets chosen and the simplicity of the messages put out by the campaigners. Targets are selected that are visibly achievable and because they convey a simple message that can have effect in the ‘market place’ of parliaments and government policy. Complex issues are avoided.

One such complexity can be illustrated by renewable energy developments - almost all of which require industrial development in the countryside. These locations affect rural communities, national recreational resources, and are often in wildlife rich and remote places. At present, almost all such operations are ‘developer-led’ - that is, the industrial developer selects the technology and the site. No alternatives or strategic assessments are available to the communities that must assess the proposal. This situation has changed little from the 1970s when the drive for more nuclear stations, chemical installations and motorways all benefited from the lack of strategic planning and the piecemeal approach to the great disadvantage of communities that bore the impact. In this age, environmentalists should be embracing a paradigm that supports and empowers local communities, not the same old developer-biased ‘trade-off’ that operated in the past - yet this would require campaigning for planning reforms and the empowerment of local communities - not an easy sell to the subscribers, nor welcomed by government agencies with whom modern NGOs do a lot of business.

In the latest proposals for ‘planning reform’ in the wake of the UK government’s most recent White Paper on energy policy there are disturbing announcements of the curtailment of individual and local democratic rights to both question government policy and, most disturbingly the appropriateness of the sites chosen by developers. Thus, the apparent urgency of tackling climate change is used as an argument to give developers greater power to select sites and technologies that reflect their reduced costs and profitability rather than considering the impact upon local communities.

Much more HERE

British homeowners to be slugged £15,000 to comply with government's Green mania

The head of Britain's climate change watchdog predicted today that households will need to spend up to £15,000 on a full energy efficiency makeover if the government is to meet its ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions. Warning that Britain needs to step up its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases after picking all the "low-hanging fruit", Adair Turner said radical steps would be needed for electricity generation, cars and homes.

Amid growing concern that next month's Copenhagen climate change summit could end in bitter failure, the chairman of the government's climate change commission warned against using the drop in emissions caused by the longest recession since the 1930s as an excuse to relax in the fight against climate change.

The government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 34% from their 1990 levels by 2020 but slipped off course during the economic boom earlier this decade. "When we get the figures for 2008-09 we may look to be on target, but only because we have had a thumping recession," Lord Turner said. "There is a danger of the government saying "look, we are back on target". We will be back on target for the worst possible reason."

Turner said that the UK had made "pretty rapid progress" on cutting emissions during the "dash for gas" in the 1990s, but had not maintained the progress during this decade. Tough decisions were now needed because there were limits to improvements to the internal combustion engine and Britain was running out of "easy things" to do in the home. "After home insulation and more efficient boilers, we now need more intrusive things – double glazing, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation." He added: "We need much more of a whole house approach – one-stop shops where people can get a total report on what they need to do to their homes. It may be expensive – between £10,000 and £15,000."

The CCC believes that the cost of the scheme would be paid for by a combination of government subsidy and higher electricity bills.

Turner said there was a case for greater state intervention in helping to reduce carbon emissions from the motor industry. Arguing that there were "limits" to what markets could achieve, the CCC chairman said: "We need support for the initial wave of electric cars."

The government has allocated £250m to hasten the arrival of electric cars but Turner said the CCC would like to see £800m of public money spent on setting up a network of charging points. "It's chicken and egg. Motorists won't buy the cars unless there are enough charging points; the government is reluctant to put in the charging points while there are no electric cars."

Ministers have accepted the CCC's recommendation that carbon emissions should be reduced by 80% from their 1990 levels by 2050, and the first three carbon budgets covering the period up to the early 2020s were made legally binding earlier this year. Turner said his organisation was now working on a tough fourth budget. "The 2020s will have to see the radical decarbonisation of electricity, " he said. "That means more renewables, a significant expansion of nuclear or carbon capture and storage plants."

He warned ministers that they would need to contemplate curbs on the expansion of air travel unless there was a way of increasing the supply of biofuels without affecting the ability of countries to feed growing populations. The government has pledged that emissions from aviation will not be above 2005 levels in 2050 and the CCC will provide a range of options for aviation in a report next month.

Turner said experts should look at the possibility of using a financial services transaction tax to help poor countries develop low-carbon growth strategies. "Any tax would have to be agreed at the global level because it would be difficult to enforce in one country. That's why people have tended to think that the proceeds should be used for global common goods, such as the environment."

Power stations that do not have carbon capture and storage will be taken out of commission, Turner said.


Green levies to drive UK data centres abroad

Carbon-neutral Iceland courts British mission-critical facilities. Existing taxes have already chased many big British firms out of Britain but the Labour government is still intent on destroying as much of Britain's prosperity as it can while it can

The Invest in Iceland Agency, which exhibited at DatacenterDynamics London earlier this week, reported massive interest from a wide range of UK businesses, anxious to divest themselves of data centre carbon-tax woes.

One of the greatest attractions about Iceland is that it is carbon-neutral, explained Einar Hansen Tomasson, a project manager with the agency. The country boasts carbon-neutral energy sources, such as geothermal electricity. Its cold climate lends itself to many days of free cooling per year, further reducing a data centre’s carbon footprint. “If you port your data centre in Iceland, you can forget all those carbon tax worries,” Tomasson said.

Dale, director of sales at data centre builder and host Verne Global, said there has been a lot of interest at the show among UK companies. “Even the geographical distance isn’t a problem. We’ve had banks, which obviously have latency issues with trading systems to worry about, talking to us,” he said. “One bank estimated it could still port 95 percent of its data onto an Icelandic data centre.”



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


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Georgia Tech: “50 percent of the [USA] warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes rather than greenhouse gases”

From a Georgia Tech Press Release:

Reducing Greenhouse Gases May Not Be Enough to Slow Climate Change

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone’s paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

“Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Stone. “Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole – a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs – like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress – may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming.”

According to Stone’s research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

“Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming,” said Stone. “The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media.”

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the “green loss effect” through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

“As we look to address the climate change issue from a land use perspective, there is a huge opportunity for local and state governments,” said Stone. “Presently, local government capacity is largely unharnessed in climate management structures under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Yet local governments possess extensive powers to manage the land use activities in both the urban and rural areas.”

The Environmental Science and Technology article is available at

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

Climate bill's 'emergency provision' gives Obama strong-man powers

Both the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy approved earlier this year and the version just okayed by Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Democrats (Republicans boycotted the vote) contains an obscure but nasty bureaucratic provision that requires President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez.

Here’s how: The bills require a federal declaration of a “climate emergency” if world greenhouse gas levels reach 450 parts per million. Guess what? The Pacific Northwest National Lab says it is a virtual certainty that level will be reached within a few months. The bill then requires the president to “direct all Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate address shortfalls" in achieving needed greenhouse gas reductions.

When Vitter asked EPA Administrator what would be done in such a situation, she refused to say. So it must be asked: Would the president be empowered to do things like nationalize whole sectors of industry, ban coal use, restrict private automobile use, or anything else the “emergency” requires?

The Examiner's David Freddoso reports that Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, is holding a news conference later today concerning this provision. Vitter wonders if companies that support cap-and-trade in the hope they will profit from going green realize what could happen to them soon after enactment. More to the point, we wonder what the American people will do when they realize what is actually going on here.

UPDATED: CEI's Horner says it's about power, not climate

In a detailed post on, Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar and environmental expert Chris Horner warns that this provision is clearly intended to concentrate power in an unprecedented manner:

"But as we have been warning you in detail, this agenda transparently is not about GHG concentrations, or the climate. It’s about what this provision would bring: Almost limitless power over private economic activity and individual liberty for the activist president and, for the reluctant leader, litigious greens and courts that in this case would only have two choices. Those are follow the law, or declare it unconstitutional knowing the predilections of the appellate courts and what will very soon be Obama’s Supreme Court."


Its Not Easy Being Green

A recent feature story inadvertently illustrated the sinister extremes of the environmental movement. The AP profiled a New York City couple who had spent a year trying to reduce their net environmental impact to almost zero. “They stopped using anything disposable or buying anything new. . . they had given up elevators. They went everywhere by bicycle, bought food directly from local farmers, had even sworn off toilet paper.”

The one-year experiment is now the subject of a documentary and book. The story details how the couple and their three-year old daughter were predictably changed, and it is littered with matter-of-fact references to the “devastation wrought by worldwide human consumption” and the “growing awareness of. . . the damage our lifestyles cause.”

The story ends with the wife deciding not to buy a dishwasher — at least not for now — lamenting the huge box and packaging. She also feels a “weird feeling of grief” before boarding a plane to visit her parents. The husband couldn’t bring himself to go, though he now flies to promote his book.

Their devotion to living green is undoubtedly extreme, thus their approving national profile, and one could argue that environmentalists are only proposing modest day-to-day adjustments to fight global warming. Still, an unintentional sadness permeates the whole dreary piece, leaving the reader to wonder if modern environmentalism doesn’t harbor an agenda less concerned with human needs than with the aim of building an American socialist utopia with the same world significance of, say, Sweden.

An ideological movement that instills guilt for boarding a plane to visit family cannot be predicated on human well-being. ‘Carbon credit’ stands to replace ‘frequent flyer miles’ in the traveler’s lingo (thanks, also, to Cap & Trade). How far is modern culture from stigmatizing SUV ownership and traditional light bulbs the way it once did pornography and pre-marital sex?

Planet Green is a channel — not a show but a channel — devoted to, you guessed it. Their fun-filled line-up, including actor Ed Begley, Jr. competing for the honor of greenest household, imbues their mission with the civic virtue of voting or feeding the hungry. Likewise, the Discovery Channel will launch Planet Green, expected to reach 50 million households, continuing a trend that saw thousands of cities worldwide earlier this year go dark for Earth Hour. By green standards, can one not reasonably ask if the darkened jungles of South America are morally, albeit not economically, superior to the glaring nighttime skylines of New York or Chicago?

Meanwhile, in a story known but to aviation enthusiasts, in late October United Airlines retired its last Boeing 737, opting to use Airbus aircraft on its short and medium-range routes. Still a mainstay of the airline industry in its 40th year, the 737’s benefit to humankind has been incalculable. Because of passenger jets, journeys that once took weeks or months, if taken at all, are now completed in mere hours. Automobiles, elevators, air conditioners, etc., represent not disposable luxuries or necessary evils but staples for better living. Technology and innovation solve problems, including, yes, pollution, and the most fuel-inefficient 737 has benefited humanity far more than cloth shopping bags and copies of An Inconvenient Truth.

A culture dedicated to the betterment of human-kind emphasizes individual freedom and encourages technological advancement. Granted, the green movement will never eliminate jet airplanes and dishwashers, but neither should it be allowed to instill fear and guilt for their use. Furthermore, it is as true for cultures bent on their own demise as it is for individuals: Be careful what you wish for. . .


Ethical Travel Company Scorns Carbon Offsetting

One of Britain's leading ethical travel operators has launched a scathing attack on the carbon offset industry and has decided to stop offering offsets to its customers as a way of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Justin Francis, the founder of, said he had decided to abandon offsets because he believes they have become a "medieval pardon that allows people to continue polluting".

In 2002 his company became one of the first British travel operators to begin offering customers the opportunity to buy into an offsetting scheme. By paying money to a third party operator that ran carbon-reducing projects in the developing world, holidaymakers could jump on board flights supposedly happy in the knowledge that any carbon dioxide released during their journey would eventually be reduced by the equivalent amount somewhere else.

Supporters of the scheme, which has now become a multibillion pound industry, say it is a vital way of quickly reducing the world's carbon emissions and combating climate change. But a growing number of critics say it is simply a way for people and businesses in the developed world to buy their way out of a problem without actually committing themselves to reductions in their own emissions. After years of falling into the former camp, Mr Francis has now joined the growing number of offset critics.

"Carbon offsetting is an ingenious way to avoid genuinely reducing your carbon emissions," he said yesterday. "It's a very attractive idea – that you can go on living exactly as you did before when there's a magic pill or medieval pardon out there that allows people to continue polluting."



Five current articles below


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG draws our attention to a video by an Australian Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi that pisses all over proposed global warming laws

Open Letter to the Australian Prime Minister from Dr David Evans

The letter below appears on the site of Science Speak, a scientific modeling and mathematical research company. David Evans [] has a background in mathematics, computing, and electrical engineering. He helped build the carbon accounting model for the Australian Government that tracks carbon in plants, debris, soils, and agricultural products

Dear Gullible Kevin

The banks want us to trade carbon. The big financial institutions saw you coming, didn't they? Make you feel all important and "progressive", save the planet, lead the move to save humanity from disaster. No you patsy, they are just taking Australia's sovereignty and locking in a profitable carbon trading scheme for themselves. A world "emissions" currency manufactured from thin air, world government, and worldwide wealth redistribution based on imaginary carbon "crimes". There will be no escape.

You are rushing to sign away our wealth and impoverish us, because you wouldn't take a couple of hours to understand the science of global warming and it's weak points. You never audited it did you? Just jumped into the scam feet first. "Oh, all those people said it was right", you smirk, "and those who don't believe are so.evil and inferior!"

That's the thing about scams Kevin, they always rush you so you don't have time to check it out properly, you just have to get in right away. All those admirers telling you how smart and compassionate you are, for swallowing an unaudited tale about wind and clouds, invisible trace gases, and will-o-the-wisps! Smartest man in the ALP, but you cannot understand what the "boneheads" in the National Party already know?

The alarmist theory is based on an assumption made in 1984, when there was insufficient data. The chronology is important. That assumption was disproved beyond reasonable doubt in 1999, after the IPCC had been set up, Kyoto was signed, a huge bureaucracy was in place to deal with carbon emissions, carbon trading plans were hatched, and the western climate establishment was lavishly spending billions looking to blame carbon dioxide for global warming. Too much at stake for the bureaucracy and government scientists to turn back. Hence the fracas.

Here's a clue Kev, find out about "feedbacks", especially those involving water-clouds, water vapor, humidity, evaporation, rain, and so on. How does the Earth respond when it is warmed a little by our carbon dioxide? Does the Earth amplify the warming, tripling it due to water feedbacks as the carbon dioxide theory claims? Or does it dampen the warming, as any stable system would do, as recent radiosonde and satellite data indicate? But the banks want carbon trading.

Carbon emissions will be the biggest "commodity" market soon, bigger than oil. Carbon traders will trade back and forth, creaming off a few percent on all those government issued permits created out of thin air, and the rest of us will be compelled to pay for them. Brilliant Kev! Why not a carbon tax if you just want to reduce carbon emissions? And it's no use asking shiny-pants over in the opposition, because he used to be head of Goldman Sachs in Australia. No wonder he wants carbon trading.


Warmist data manipulation shames science

Kevin Rudd went over the top last week in a speech to the Lowy institute, declaring it was "time to remove any polite veneer" from the climate change debate, which he claims is the "moral challenge of our generation". Then he launched an extraordinary tirade against "the climate change sceptics, the climate change deniers" who he claims are "powerful", "too dangerous to be ignored", "driven by vested interests … quite literally holding the world to ransom … Our children's fate - and our grandchildren's fate - will lie entirely with them."

If he had any shame, the Prime Minister would be mortified to be associated with such a hysterical, undergraduate piece of ad hominem hyperbole. History will record his embarrassment and the debasing of his office. But the speech shows Rudd's desperation in the week before his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Emissions Trading Scheme) is debated in Parliament and less than a month before the Copenhagen climate summit at which he wants to parade a signed-off scheme. As the public cools towards this new energy tax, politicians, green groups and other alarmists with the real "vested interest" in this debate are stooping ever lower in their attempts to shun dissenters....

Against the apocalyptic rhetoric pushed by Rudd comes a cool-minded new book which unpicks the science underpinning the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports. Global Warming, False Alarm by Ralph Alexander, an Australian-born US scientist with a PhD in physics from Oxford, is subtitled ''The bad science behind the United Nations' assertion that man-made CO2 causes global warming". Alexander wrote the book, "because I'm a scientist. Because I'm offended that science has been perverted in the name of global warming."

He became a sceptic when he taught a course on physical science and found the textbook presented the "alarmist line on man-made global warming without question". "To me that made a mockery of the history of science presented in the course, which featured several examples of how mainstream scientific thinking has been wrong in the past."

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change says the earth has effectively developed an allergy to CO2. The effect of a tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is amplified by water vapour and clouds - in a positive feedback loop which enhances the climate's sensitivity to extra CO2 and causes "runaway global warming". That is the big Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change hypothesis. Alexander explains the three problems with the hypothesis.

* First, recent satellite observations show cloud feedback to be a negative loop, that is, clouds reduce global warming, rather than amplify it in a positive feedback loop, as the panel's models predict.

* Second, the panel has used flawed data. It "stooped to trickery and rewrote history" to make the temperature and CO2 records correlate over the past 2000 years, creating the notorious "hockey stick" graph that wiped out the well-documented Medieval Warm Period (a warm spell about the year 1000) and Little Ice Age (cool period in about 1650). The graph relied on data from a few tree rings to estimate historic temperatures, which have since been shown to be inaccurate.

* The third problem for the panel hypothesis is that CO2 lags behind temperature in the Ice Age era, which has been explained by the delayed release of stored CO2 from oceans, but the panel model has CO2 and temperature rising together since 1850. "Either temperature and CO2 go up and down at the same time or they don't … You can't have it one way during the ice ages and another way today."

Alexander says data manipulation has been the panel's main tool of deception. For instance, it has ignored the bias in the modern temperature record caused by the "urban heat island effect" that inflates warming near cities.

The panel has also ignored the bias in its temperature data caused by the shutting down of weather stations in cold parts of the world in the 1990s - from about 5000 to 2000 or so - most notably in the former Soviet Union. Again, this artificially increases the recent warming rate. Alexander says the panel has "cherry-picked" 19th century CO2 data to exaggerate the rise in CO2 levels since pre-industrial times, and has trivialised the sun's contribution to the present warming trend.

Don't get him started on computer climate models which he says are "full of unfounded assumptions". He points to the drop in the earth's temperature since 2001 which wasn't predicted by the models. Ultimately, "trillions of dollars could be wasted to fix a problem that doesn't exist''.

Alexander's book is a useful tool to make sense of climate change. As they did in the republic debate, regardless of elite consensus, Australians make up their own minds, and are probably turned off by official attempts to stifle dissent.


A footshot by the Federal "Greens" -- they block new Queensland dam to save fish, turtles etc.

So the "Green" Queensland State government now plans to meet water needs by building and running desalination plants at huge cost -- which will gobble up huge amounts of electricity -- while Federal "Green" policy is trying to REDUCE electricity use!

AFTER the emotion and relief that accompanied yesterday's no-go for the Traveston Dam comes the sobering reality. There are three major outcomes that flow from federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's decision and none of them are especially pretty.

Australia's fastest growing region is welcoming thousands of new residents each week yet remains without a sustainable water supply adequate to meet its needs. The Bligh Government is now the biggest landowner in the Mary Valley, with 17,000ha it has no use for.

And water policy in southeast Queensland consists of a desalination plant that is rusting, a recycled water facility that is not being used properly and plans for a dam that will never get built.

The ad hocery that has afflicted the Government's approach to meeting the region's water needs was exposed for all to see yesterday. It has spent six years drawing up a regional water supply strategy and billions of dollars borrowed at the top of the market to arrive at a place where it still cannot guarantee it has the definitive answer to our water problems.

The Government now faces yet another fight to convince residents of the merits of more desalination plants at a time when Queensland needs to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint or pay dearly for its energy usage. One of those plants will have intake and outfall pipes traversing Mt Coolum National Park, hardly a good look for a Government desperate to be seen to be greener than green.

The proposed Marcoola desalination facility also could affect a major economic driver for the region, the Sunshine Coast Airport. But its biggest problem is likely to be cost. No matter where they are located, desalination plants are extremely energy intensive. The existing Tugun plant uses enough electricity to power every home in a town the size of Mt Isa. Think what another two plants of the same size mean for the region's electricity use. The abacus at Energex would have been working overtime yesterday.

Consultants Marsden Jacob estimated last year that, compared with building and operating Traveston Dam, the cost of a desalination plant would be up to $807 million more expensive over its life. That translates into ever higher power and water prices, which is what Anna Bligh was referring to when she said yesterday that axing Traveston meant people would pay more for water sooner.

But blaming Canberra entirely would be disingenuous. Ms Bligh painted herself into a corner last year when she declared purified recycled water would not be added to the drinking supply unless there was a repeat of the so-called millennium drought. The price to be paid for the region's explosive growth keeps getting greater and greater and this Government is beginning to show signs of being overwhelmed by the task before it.


And even the existing desalination plant is so troubled as to be virtually useless

Fortunately, the Good Lord took charge and sent down lots of rain, so the plant is not for the moment needed

FEARS the $1.2 billion Gold Coast desalination plant was rushed, compromising its quality, have been raised by officials overseeing the troubled project. The Tugun plant, meant to be a showpiece of the State Government's $9 billion water grid, has been plagued by problems including rusting pipes, cracking concrete, faulty valves and leaching of contaminants from a rubbish dump. The Government is refusing to take delivery of the facility until next June because of serious faults that have delayed the handover by 18 months.

Now, documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under Freedom to Information laws reveal serious concerns were raised about the pace of construction. Executives from what is now WaterSecure, the Government authority in charge of the water grid, held crisis talks in January this year after it became clear the technical problems would delay the plant from meeting its operational targets. Minutes from an executive meeting reveal at least 10 problems with the plant had been identified, including excessive vibration and rusting and leaking parts. "The EMT (executive management team) expressed concerns . . . about more issues and problems which may surface," the minutes stated.

The executives, including current WaterSecure chief Keith Davies, held "lengthy discussions" about construction time versus quality and cost. The mammoth plant was built in about two years by a consortium known as the Gold Coast Desalination Alliance, headed by French water giant Veolia and construction company John Holland. "The EMT believes that the GCD Alliance have focused on time as a priority, compromising quality . . . ," the meeting minutes said.

WaterSecure executives questioned whether Veolia and John Holland were liable for the faults and also sought legal advice. They also discussed withholding payments to the alliance. "VWA (Veolia Water Australia) and John Holland stand to gain a lot of money from gain share," the minutes said. "If WaterSecure decides to withhold money, this will be a major issue."

The minutes reveal WaterSecure officials held an emergency meeting in mid-January on the same day Deputy Premier Paul Lucas held a press conference at the plant to announce expected delays. Officially opened by Premier Anna Bligh last November, the desalination plant has been periodically shut down for weeks at a time and has failed to meet production targets.

Last month Mr Davies said the facility had been running at full capacity that month. But he said the faults were still being fixed and the Government was not expected to take ownership until next June.



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


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Super Pesky! New CO2 research

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.

This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.

The strength of the new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models.

This work is extremely important for climate change policy, because emission targets to be negotiated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen early next month have been based on projections that have a carbon free sink of already factored in. Some researchers have cautioned against this approach, pointing at evidence that suggests the sink has already started to decrease.

So is this good news for climate negotiations in Copenhagen? “Not necessarily”, says Knorr. “Like all studies of this kind, there are uncertainties in the data, so rather than relying on Nature to provide a free service, soaking up our waste carbon, we need to ascertain why the proportion being absorbed has not changed”.

Another result of the study is that emissions from deforestation might have been overestimated by between 18 and 75 per cent. This would agree with results published last week in Nature Geoscience by a team led by Guido van der Werf from VU University Amsterdam. They re-visited deforestation data and concluded that emissions have been overestimated by at least a factor of two.


The paper: "Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing?" by Wolfgang Knorr. Geophysical Research Letters, VOL. 36, L21710, doi:10.1029/2009GL040613, 2009.

Airborne Fraction of Human CO2 Emissions Constant over Time

Another comment below on the findings above, noting that Joe Romm's empty assertions have been demolished again. I have just realized that I have the same initials as Joe Romm. How grievious! -- JR

A couple of months back, there was a discussion taking place over at Joe Romm’s ClimateProgress blog concerning a report that the earth’s ability to take-up atmospheric carbon dioxide was declining. A declining CO2 sink, of course, meant that things climatological were going to be even worse than expected, because a growing proportion of anthropogenic CO2 emissions were going to remain in the atmosphere, thus pushing the rise of CO2 concentrations and the degree of climate change higher.

At the time, an alert reader pointed out to Joe Romm that there was in fact, no indication from data and observations that a larger percentage of human CO2 emissions were ending up in the atmosphere. In fact, the data showed that the fraction of CO2 emitted into the atmospheric by human activities has remained constant for the past 40 years.

This fact runs directly counter to the idea that the earth’s natural CO2 sinks are weakening—instead it indicates that natural sinks have been expanding as anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased. After all, in order to keep the airborne fraction of CO2 emissions constant over time, increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions must be countered by an increasing CO2 sink.

Joe Romm was a bit dismissive (to say the least) of this line of argument. Here was one such exchange (Comment 13 of this thread):
Comment 13. Chip Knappenberger says: Mr. Romm,

I am not sure how you justify this statement:

“At the same time that CO2 emissions are soaring, CO2 sinks are saturating.”

Take your numbers for the rate of CO2 increase each year and divide them by the numbers for the annual global CO2 emissions each year (available from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, ftp/ ndp030/ global.1751_2005.ems) and see what you get.

Hint: the ppm/emissions ratio shows no trend at all which means that there is no decline in the CO2 sink—otherwise, this ratio would be increasing.

-Chip Knappenberger

[JR: It is Dr. Romm, Chip, and, hint, it is what the scientific literature says. Try reading it, some time. Start with the Global Carbon Project.]

Just in case JR (Dr. Romm) really is interested in what the latest scientific literature on the topic says, there is a new paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that directly examines this issue. The paper is by Wolfgang Knorr a senior researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at the U.K’s University of Bristol, and is aptly titled with the question “Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing?”

Dr. Knorr carefully analyzed the record of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and anthropogenic land-use changes for the past 150 years. Keeping in mind the various sources of potential errors inherent in these data, he developed several different possible solutions to fitting a trend to the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. In all cases, he found no significant trend (at the 95% significance level) in airborne fraction since 1850. (Note: It is not that the total atmospheric burden of CO2 has not been increasing over time, but that of the total CO2 released into the atmosphere each year by human activities, about 45% remains in the atmosphere while the other 55% is taken up by various natural processes—and these percentages have not changed during the past 150 years)

The Abstract of the paper directly addresses Romm’s concerns, but, unfortunately, Knorr finds no support for Romm’s take on the issue:
Several recent studies have highlighted the possibility that the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems have started loosing part of their ability to sequester a large proportion of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This is an important claim, because so far only about 40% of those emissions have stayed in the atmosphere, which has prevented additional climate change. This study re-examines the available atmospheric CO2 and emissions data including their uncertainties. It is shown that with those uncertainties, the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, i.e. close to and not significantly different from zero. The analysis further shows that the statistical model of a constant airborne fraction agrees best with the available data if emissions from land use change are scaled down to 82% or less of their original estimates. Despite the predictions of coupled climate-carbon cycle models, no trend in the airborne fraction can be found.

....Further, Knorr noted that we still have a good bit of work to do to completely understand why this is the case, especially if we want to be able to predict the future course of atmospheric CO2 concentrations (a necessity if we want to predict future climate change). Knorr concludes:
Given the importance of the [the anthropogenic CO2 airborne fraction] for the degree of future climate change, the question is how to best predict its future course. One pre-requisite is that we gain a thorough understand of why it has stayed approximately constant in the past, another that we improve our ability to detect if and when it changes. The most urgent need seems to exist for more accurate estimates of land use emissions. Another possible approach is to add more data through the combination of many detailed regional studies such as the ones by Schuster and Watson (2007) and Le Quéré et al. (2007), or using process based models combined with data assimilation approaches (Rayner et al., 2005). If process models are used, however, they need to be carefully constructed in order to answer the question of why the AF has remained constant and not shown more pronounced decadal-scale fluctuations or a stronger secular trend.

In other words, like we have repeated over and over, if the models can’t replicate the past (for the right reasons), they can’t be relied on for producing accurate future projections. And as things now stand, the earth is responding to anthropogenic CO2 emissions in a different (and perhaps better) manner than we thought that it would. Despite what Joe Romm would have you believe.

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


By Reinhold Leinfelder (Leinfelder is a geoscientist. He is the director of Berlin's Natural History Museum and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Government on Global Climate Change)

What the heads of Germany’s major Geo-Research Institutes presented at a conference in Berlin last week was reminiscent of the climate debate a decade ago. It seems as if we have made a big step backwards.

The conference "Climate and the Earth System - Answers and Questions from the Earth Sciences" yielded no answers, but raised even more questions as well as strong criticism of the political focus on the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Reinhard Hüttl, the director of the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam more or less accused climate researchers of being alarmist, but without offering clear evidence for it.

Many relationships within climate processes were not scientifically understood and natural factors should be much more considered, it was stressed at the conference, which was also supported by the Alfred Wegener Institute Foundation for Polar & Marine Research , Bremerhaven and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research in Frankfurt/Main. The audience was presented with talks about plate tectonics, land elevations after the Ice Age, cosmic rays, and even the earth's magnetic field was considered as climate-relevant. Only: hardly anything was said about the relevant time scales and extent, and their relevance to current climate change.

The truism was repeatedly emphasized that CO2 is not the most important greenhouse gas - it is water vapour - or that current climate models fail to reproduce the global warming of 50 million years ago. The reason is that computer models underestimate the enormous heat dynamics in times of global warming, which is, in fact, anything but a reassuring message. And, even more a truism was the message that the climate has always been changing. That is what every geologist learns in the first semester.

Not mentioned, however, was the essential fact: the CO2 emitted by us is now gathering in the atmosphere, unlike other greenhouse gases over thousands of years, where it now exceeds all historical values for at least a million years. Therefore, the CO2 increase in the main driver of the processes warming.

Our civilization, based on agriculture, the division of labour and a vulnerable infrastructure, relies on a stable climate. So far, we have been lucky: In the last 5000 years, the climate at a global (not regional) level has only varied by a few tenths of a degree per 100 years. Only the 20th Century, with its warming of 0.8 degrees, is an exception.

Planet Earth did not care three million years ago that the climate was about three degrees warmer and sea level was 25 to 35 feet higher. For our civilization today, a rise by just one meter rise would have negative consequences. The objective of limiting global warming to a maximum rise of two degrees by 2100, is, scientifically speaking, a very reasonable upper limit. It minimises the risk of large and uncontrollable climate change. Only such a limit of global warming makes the technologies that were strongly advocated at the conference for adapting to climate change meaningful.

To demand more research on climate change and technological countermeasures, such as flood control, reforestation, or carbon capture and storage are an old hat yet necessary. But if these misleading claims are used in the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit for the purpose of questioning the two-degree target and delaying science-based action now, it would be a disservice by geoscientists not only for themselves but for society as a whole .

SOURCE [transl. BJP]

India rejects Himalayan glacier panic

For the first time, the Indian government has challenged western research that says global warming has hastened the melting of Himalayan glaciers. On Monday, environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh released a paper saying there was no evidence of such a link.

V.K. Raina, a former deputy director general of the Geological Survey of India, wrote the paper, Himalayan Glaciers. "The health of Himalayan glaciers is poor," Ramesh said. "But according to the paper, the doomsday prediction of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore is also not correct. I want scientists to critique the report."

The government’s view goes against the IPCC’s claims that most Himalayan glaciers will vanish by 2035. "Our prediction [in 2007] was based on government data, and a peer review was done by all countries before our report was released," IPCC chief R.K. Pachauri said. "I disagree that there’s no evidence of impact of global warming, but agree there’s a need to do more research on Himalayan glaciers."

The IPCC’s forecast was based on Indian Space Research Organisation data that said 1,000 Himalayan glaciers had retreated by 16 per cent between 1962 and 2004.

Raina’s paper is based on previously classified information — going back more than 100 years — that was provided to researchers recently to generate a debate on the state of Himalayan glaciers. "Nothing abnormal is happening to Indian glaciers," said Raina. "They’re retreating because of negative mass balance. There’s no evidence of climate change." Mass balance is primarily determined by annual snow precipitation. Raina could not give reasons for the decrease in snowfall in the Himalayas. "It is for the weather departments to tell," he said.

Government bodies such as the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, have blamed climate change as one of the reasons for weather changes in the Himalayas. "Our studies of glaciers in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim over 10 years have shown that temperature rise (caused by climate change) is a big reason for the melting of glaciers," said Delhi-based glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain.

L.M.S. Pani, director, GB Pant Institute for Himalayan Environment and Development, Dehradun, said it was difficult to understand weather changes in the Himalayas when there was just one weather station (in J&K) for the 2,500-km-long range. The Himalayan range is said to have between 9,000 and 12,000 glaciers.


BritGov surrenders to reality

Ten nuclear stations to be built in bid to prevent energy shortage. But will they be ready in time?

Ten nuclear power stations are to be built in Britain at a cost of up to £50 billion as the Government tries to prevent the threat of regular power cuts by the middle of the coming decade. The nuclear industry welcomed the plans, but critics said that ministers had acted too late to avoid an energy crunch caused by the closure of ageing coal-fired stations.

Although the sites were known to be in line for development, the announcement signals the Government’s increasing ambition for nuclear power. Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, intends that construction of the stations should be quick enough to help to meet Britain’s 2050 target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent while bolstering energy security as North Sea gas supplies decline.

The announcement comes after a radical shake-up in planning laws. Under powers awarded to the Government last month, local authorities have been stripped of the right of veto over new nuclear plants and other key energy projects. Decisions will instead be taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which was created to slash the period required to secure consent for energy projects from seven years to one year.

Mr Miliband said: "The current planning system is a barrier to this shift. It serves neither the interests of energy security, the interests of the low-carbon transition, nor the interests of people living in areas where infrastructure may be built."

The reactors should meet at least a quarter of electricity demand by 2025. "New nuclear is right for energy security and climate change and will be good for jobs too," Mr Miliband said. "The threat of climate change means we need to make a transition from a system that relies heavily on high-carbon fossil fuels to a radically different system that includes nuclear, renewables and clean coal power."

None of the plants, which will cost at least £4 billion each, will be ready before 2017 — too late to replace eight coal-fired stations earmarked for closure by 2015.

Greg Clark, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, branded Mr Miliband’s statement a "declaration of a national emergency for our energy security". He said: "Every one of the measures contained in this statement should have been brought forward ten years ago when they had the chance to secure the investments that are so desperately needed to keep the lights on, keep prices down and cut carbon emissions. Why did they leave it so late?"

Last month Ofgem, the energy regulator, warned that Britain may face blackouts within four years owing to a supply shortage.

Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, which is a partner with EDF, welcomed the changes. He said: "Britain has a power generation gap looming from 2015 onwards which will need to be filled by new low-carbon replacements, particularly nuclear, and speed of decision making is very important. The current planning system has been a significant barrier so moves to streamline the process are welcome."

Each new reactor will generate up to 1.6 gigawatt-hours — enough to power a city the size of Manchester — and should last for 60 years. The first is likely to be built by EDF Energy at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and should come into service by the end of 2017. New reactors at Sizewell, Suffolk, Wylfa, Anglesey, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, are also likely to be among the first wave. Hartlepool, Co Durham, Bradwell, Essex, Heysham, Lancashire and three sites near Sellafield, West Cumbria, were also named. Ministers have ruled out construction of a new plant at Dungeness, Kent, citing the risk it faced from rising sea levels.

Mr Miliband indicated three greenfield sites that might be suitable later on, although he cautioned that there were "serious impediments" to all of them. They are Kingsnorth, Kent, and Owston Ferry and Druridge Bay, both in the North East.

About 13 per cent of Britain’s electricity was generated from nuclear power reactors last year and the Government wants to raise this to 25 per cent by 2025.

Ben Ayliffe, the head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, rejected the plans. "Miliband can name as many sites as he likes for new nuclear power stations, but the fact remains that the figures simply don’t add up," he said. "Our lawyers will be examining this announcement very closely. You can’t justify building more nuclear power stations when there is no solution to radioactive waste and when international regulators are saying there are huge uncertainties surrounding the basic safety of new reactor designs," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed last night that the Government was studying an exemption for electricity produced from nuclear reactors from the Climate Change Levy, a tax on energy use imposed on industrial companies. The levy, which was introduced in 2001, raises an estimated £1 billion per year for the Treasury.

Jeremy Nicholson, a spokesman for the Energy Intensive Users Group, an industry association that has lobbied for the tax break, estimated an exemption would be worth between £160 and £300 million per year to the nuclear power industry. Last week EDF told The Times that it was unclear if the plants would be built without fresh government support.


At last I've been singled out by the PM

By Andrew Bolt, writing from Australia

I HAD no idea I was a corrupt, reckless, arrogant, dangerous and gutless conspirator who'd rather put my children in danger than help the Prime Minister stop global warming. But so Kevin Rudd has told the nation, naming me as one of just four Australians who've joined a global cabal plotting to stop him from saving you.

Never have I heard such a mad speech from a prime minister as the one Rudd gave on Friday at the Lowy Institute, when he exposed an alleged "legion of climate change sceptics" who were "active across the world" and had "tentacles" deep in the Opposition. These "deniers", now a "major force", "simply do not care" that "the clock is ticking for the planet" since "the vested interests at work are simply too great". So "well resourced" were we "political cowards" that we were "prepared to destroy our children's future".

And four times Rudd singled out the four villains at the heart of this plot, as in: "Malcolm, Barnaby, Andrew and Janet - stop gambling with our future." From the left, that's Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull (actually a climate change dupe), Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, me and Australian columnist Janet Albrechtsen.

Has any past prime minister singled out just four people - two mere journalists - as part of a conspiracy to hurt the Australian way of life? It is grotesque, a misuse of Rudd's authority. But it also shows how fatally weak is Rudd's reason - or at least his reason for wanting to hit us with a colossal tax on our emissions that will shut power stations, throw thousands out of work and yet do nothing to lower the world's temperatures.

Rudd's speech also confirmed he had no answer to my challenge last week: to tell us how much he'll pay of the $7 billion a year the United Nations asks from us under the draft Copenhagen treaty he wants to sign next month.

Let me make a few things clear to Rudd. First, no one pays me a cent to be sceptical; in fact, my boss suggests I "give the planet the benefit of the doubt". Your claim that I argue from just a "vested interest" is a despicable lie.

Second, the real "vested interests" in this debate are behind the alarmists, not the sceptics, which is why your Government has just given a $90 million grant to a trial "green" energy plant whose shareholders include doom-preacher Tim Flannery - even though all three wells of the company's first geothermal plant have broken down.

Third, what threatens my children's future is not my scepticism but your mad plans to waste billions of dollars on a threat that seems not to exist.

Fourth, you deceive when you say "4000 scientists" wrote the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on which you base your claim man is heating the world to hell.

In fact, just 60 of those (actually fewer than 3000) scientists specifically endorsed that claim, and even they admitted they were just 90 per cent sure. Moreover, their finding has been rejected by petitions signed by thousands of other scientists.

Lastly, I'm in no conspiracy, and until a year ago fought almost alone here as a sceptic. The real "political cowards" are those of your own ministers who know your global warming plan is a hoax fix to a hoax scare, but dare not speak.

Now this, Prime Minister, is how to argue. By citing evidence. Checking predictions against reality. Your attempt to instead demonise me as a menace to even my own children proves nothing but that you have no facts to justify your megalomaniacal plan - and that you may be unworthy of your office.


Rudd's hysteria is certainly telling -- JR


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


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New geologic evidence of past periods of oscillating, abrupt warming, and cooling

Prof Easterbrook has emailed the following introduction to his recent paper. The email includes graphics which are not reproduced below but which can be obtained from the author at the email address given below or at

Two hundred years ago, Charles Lyell coined the phrase "The present is the key to the past." In today's highly contentious issues of global climate change, we might well add "The past is the key to the future, i.e., to forecast future geologic events, we must understand past climate changes. This paper documents past global climate changes in the geologic and historic past.

Recent laser imaging of the Earth's surface provides new evidence for abrupt, fluctuating, warm and cool climatic episodes that could not have been caused by changes in atmospheric CO2. In a paper presented at the national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, OR, Professor Don J. Easterbrook, Professor of Geology at Western Washington University, presented new data from airborne laser imagery showing well-defined, previously unknown, multiple moraines deposited by glaciers 11,700 to 10,250 years ago.

At least 9 significant, abrupt periods of warming that resulted in retreat of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet are documented by moraines from successive glacial retreats in the Fraser Lowland of NW Washington l(Fig. 1). In addition, smaller multiple glacier recessions are found within the more prominent episodes of glacier retreat. As indicated by the amount of glacier recession between each of the successive moraines, the warming events were of greater magnitude than those observed in recent centuries....

What we can learn from this geologic climate changes is that the past is indeed the key to the future. In 1999, the year after the warmest year of recent times, I projected the climate pattern from the past century and past 500 years into the future and predicted that we would be due for 25-30 years of global cooling beginning about 2000. The PDO changed from its warm to cool mode in 1999 and since then we have had global cooling, quite moderate to flat (interrupted by two warm El Ninos) and intensifying since 2007.

Abstract of paper presented to Geological Society of America, Oct. 19, 2009:


EASTERBROOK, Don J., Dept. of Geology, Western Washington Univ, Bellingham, WA 98225,

Lidar imagery of the southern part of the Fraser Lowland in WA reveals previously unknown, multiple, latest Pleistocene (Sumas Stade) end moraines overlying Everson glaciomarine drift (gmd). Multiple marine shorelines extend from about 540' to about 100'above present sea level and are truncated by two of the oldest Sumas end moraines. These moraines are younger than the underlying Everson gmd, which is well dated at 11,700 14C yrs. B.P., and older than 11,400 14C yrs. B.P. basal bog dates behind the moraines. Recession of the ice from the outermost moraines was followed by building of at least nine end moraines, some of which clearly represent glacial readvances. Basal bog dates from a kettle in outwash from the youngest Sumas moraine has been dated at 10,250 14C yrs. B.P.

Isotope data from Greenland ice cores and historic atmospheric and oceanic temperature records show a consistent pattern of fluctuating 25-30-year warm and cool periods over the past 500 years. During the past century, five of these climate fluctuations can be tied to glacial oscillations, oceanic temperature changes, atmospheric temperature changes, and solar variation.

The question is-what drives these oscillations? The older fluctuations can be linked to changes in 14C and 10Be isotope production rates in the upper atmosphere, suggesting variation in cosmogenic radiation. Historic climatic and oceanic temperature fluctuations are associated with solar variations. The excellent correlation of glacial, climatic, oceanic, and solar variation strongly suggests cause and effect relationships. Past patterns of these variations allow projection into the future.


An email from hydrologist Will Alexander []

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged negotiators at December's Copenhagen talks to reach some kind of agreement. We must seal a deal in Copenhagen for a global, equitable and comprehensive deal for the future of humanity and the future of planet earth. CCNet 03 September. Is this noble objective achievable? I fear not.

We are now witnessing the collapse of climate change theory. It is caused by two concurrent events. These are the global economic crisis and the expectation that all nations of the world will jointly and concurrently agree to pass irreversible legislation to limit emissions of undesirable greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The fundamental assumption is that the increasing concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere will result in increases in global temperatures. These will result in increases in hydrological extremes, floods and droughts. These in turn will cause a serious damage and pose threats to national water supplies. There are also a number of lesser concerns such as environmental damage.

How should we test this theory? We are told that the theory is sound because it is the consensus view of hundreds of scientists. It is only the dumb and ill-informed who dare challenge it. However, there are three powerful tests that can be applied to test the theory.

The first is whether or not global temperatures are rising in parallel with rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. All the evidence is to the contrary. Global temperatures are falling, not rising. Several scientists have contested the scientific basis for the linkage between carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperatures.

The second test is to examine long hydrological records and search for evidence of increases in the hydrological extremes. This is what I have been doing for the past 30 years. There is simply no scientifically believable evidence at all of increases that can be attributed to global warming.

There is a third and more difficult test. There are very clear periodic anomalies in long hydro-meteorological records that are well documented in the hydrological literature. These are the Joseph Effect (droughts), Noah Effect (floods), and the Hurst Phenomenon (water resources). There are also the well-known cyclical phenomena such as the El Niño - La Nina effect, the Southern Oscillation Index, and others.

Some of these observed anomalies are synchronous with the double (not single) sunspot cycle, which in turn is related to the sun's wobble caused by the orbiting planets as the solar system moves through Galactic space. Other cyclical climatic phenomena are undoubtedly present on a number of time scales. The most likely causal mechanisms are a combination of cyclicity in the driving mechanisms, amplified by oscillations in the responding mechanisms.

There are many misconceptions regarding the solar linkage. Here are a few. It is the linkage with the double sunspot cycles not the single cycles that is statistically significant. The evenly numbered cycles are associated with more variable climate than the quieter responses associated with the following, odd numbered cycles. We have just entered a quieter cycle.

High flood sequences are associated with the acceleration of solar activity associated with the occurrence of the sunspot minima, and not the occurrence of sunspot maxima. The changes from drought sequences to flood sequences are sudden, not gradual. This indicates the role of instability phenomena. There are other examples. These changes are not amenable to mathematical descriptions. Because they are undetectable by conventional mathematical analyses, climate change scientists assume that they do not exist! They then continue to postulate that changes are the consequence of global warming. Much research has still to be done in this field but the observations of the presence of cyclical periodicity in the climatic processes are unequivocal.

The basic issue is climate CHANGE. It is obvious that any research in this field should commence with studies of the drivers and consequent behaviour of natural climate variability on which the effects of human activity have to be superimposed. This has not been done. The basic assumption made by climate change scientists is that global climate is a steady state phenomenon. This is simply not so as the above tests and many other examples demonstrate. All the IPCC's reports based on this assumption are clearly erroneous.

Why then have virtually all the nations of the world accepted climate change theory? The answer is obvious. The developing nations now smell blood in the form of financial reparations on the scale of the Marshall Plan after World War II as one commentator remarked. This is well illustrated in the recent reaction of the African Union as reported in CCNet of 04 September.


It may seem strange that all nations have accepted climate change science with all its alarmist consequences without question. This is a fundamentally important political decision. The implication is that the affluent nations acknowledge that they are the major cause of climate-related damage up to this time. This is the basis for the African Union's claim for substantial, legally binding reparations from the developed countries for all climate-related damage.

They insist that there will be no compromises in principle although the amount as well as who pays and who receives have yet to be decided. This issue alone could potentially wreck the negotiations. Notice how Nicholas Stern supports this position. Notice also that this is quite apart from climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.


Mitigation involves the prevention or reduction of discharges of greenhouse gas emissions on a scale required to stabilise or diminish carbon dioxide concentrations in the global atmosphere. This can only be achieved on the required scale by not building new coal-fired power stations, or by capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power stations, or building nuclear power stations. All the alternative measures, without exception, will result in substantial increases in the cost to consumers and thereby damage national prosperities unless these costs are recoverable from the affluent nations.


Adaptation is far more difficult to define. It will require a clear distinction between naturally occurring floods and droughts and those caused by climate change. As I demonstrate in my analyses there is no evidence at all of measurable effects of climate change on the hydro-meteorological processes.

We now have a situation where the affluent countries will have to pay threefold - reparation for damages already caused, as well as mitigation and adaptation costs to developing countries, and mitigation and adaptation costs in their own countries. Will their taxpayers be prepared to carry this additional burden? Will they start arguing about each claim? It cannot work.


What will be the basis for Africa's claims for reparation, mitigation and adaptation? These will have to be debated and defined at Copenhagen. This is a near impossible task. For the first time in history, the world's most powerful nations will be held to ransom by the developing nations. I am one of those who can recall how the bravery of the few saved the United Kingdom during World War II. It is my belief that the economically disadvantaged countries of the world will unwittingly bring about the downfall of this whole climate change charade.

There is a very strong likelihood that conflicts of interest between the East and the West and between the rich and the poor nations will cause far more damage than the postulated consequences of climate change. Hopefully all the negotiators at Copenhagen will be aware of this.


The French Statesman Talleyrand once said "that speech is given to man to disguise his thoughts". In today's mass media democracies it could be translated into "speeches are made by politicians to disguise their intentions."

Gordon Browns apocalyptical warnings about the future of the planet if Copenhagen should fail can be interpreted as cry for help: Please make sure that we get a face saving agreement that can be presented as a success. And this is what will come to pass. With or without Barack Obama's presence - Copenhagen will be presented as a great success, like all the other global environmental conferences before.

But the conflict between the West and the new industrial powers cannot and will not be resolved. What we are seeing in the remaining weeks before the conference is an desperate attempt of all major players not to be seen as the culprit who will be blamed for the failure.

The original EU strategy was, we will set an example and go for binding cuts in green house gas emissions and the world will follow - clearly a naive approach, reminiscent of other unilateral intentions in the past.

But now, especially after the financial and economic crisis, this sort of climate unilateralism is untenable - it would mean a dramatic financial transfer from the west to the advantage of our competitors China and India which our economies can ill afford and our populations won't accept. Public opinion in Europe and America, according to the latest research, published by the Financial Times, is further hardening against any financial transfers.

As far as the ambitious targets of the UK and other EU states are concerned, Professor Roger Pielke Jr. is right when he points out that setting "unachievable targets is not a policy, it is an act of wishful thinking". He calls it "a politics of symbolism with no impact on real world outcomes." Pielke adds that the focus on "magical solutions" is leaving little room for the practical.

Leading business figures agree with this damning verdict. The CEO of Eon, Bernotat, said that the British politicians need "to stop misleading the public about what is achievable." He is scathing about the target of 30% electricity coming from renewables in 2020 and refers particularly to the plan to build 33 gigawatts of off shore wind power up from the present 0.6 gigawatt, a plan he calls naïve and unachievable. Of a similar opinion is Tony Hayward, CEO of BP.

There are too many illusions propagated and circling around alternative and renewable technologies: about their promise and potential, about the time frame, in which they can be introduced and changes be realized, about the jobs, that a new green Keynisanism can create and about the political impact of a radical green policy. Centre left politicians in Britain and Germany, the new leader of the German social democrats, Sigmar Gabriel and the Labour Ministers David and Ed Miliband seem seriously to believe that climate change will be the new mass mobilizing topic and will help saving their parties too. A more likely outcome is that this strategy will neither save the centre left nor will it help to save the planet. Such a strategy seems to drive away voters fearful of loosing the lifestyle of mobility, warmth and comfort.

The arguments against the extensive use of wind are well known. Wind is intermittent and needs conventional backup, the electricity it delivers is extremely expensive, feasible only with high subsidies. It won't even deliver the promise of jobs: Wind turbines can and will be more cheaply built in China, the same goes for solar panels, as Germany recently found out. In the UK, the closure of the turbine factory on the Isle of Wight was another example of the same trend.

This does not stop business to be keen on wind power. It is attracted by huge subsidies, offered by governments, driven by "the pressure of fashionable, green ideology", as James Lovelock writes in his latest book "The vanishing face of Gaia". Lovelocks judgement could not be clearer: "Europes massive use of wind as a supplement to baseload electricity will be remembered as one of the great follies of the twenty first century".

What ever happens, if the folly is continued or not, the next twenty years could be called "the new age of carbon." If the UK really intends to cut CO 2 emissions by 34% till 2022, the UK would need to build in the next 6 years the equivalent of 30 new nuclear power stations. The telling comment of the (Labour) chairman of the "Climate Change Committee" of the House of Commons: "Well beyond our political capacity to deliver".

More oil, gas and coal will be burned than ever before - and carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise. Renewables can't and won't deliver the scale of energy needed for a rising world population. For the time being only fossil fuels and nuclear power will be able to deliver the necessary energy. In the light of these facts it is especially sad that Britain and Germany, once leading nations in nuclear technology, have either neglected or given up on it completely and left the field to other, more farsighted nations like the French. 30 years ago Britain had 15 000 nuclear engineers, now the figure is just a tenth of that. Germany decided an atomic exit strategy which at least will be reverted now. But precious time has been lost.

We can call ourselves lucky that we have gained a bit of breathing space. The global warming trend has stopped, for the time being at least. Since 1998 global average temperatures have not risen. In fact, there has even been a slight fall - despite the fact that CO2 emissions have been rising relentlessly during this period, and in spite of the "binding" agreements in Kyoto to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The climate modellers of the IPCC did not foresee the halt in global warming. Professor Mojib Latif, one of the leading IPCC scientists, admitted to this inconvenient truth recently during a climate conference in Geneva and talked about "one or two decades more of cooling", before he expects the recommencement and continuation of the global warming trend.

One thing is clear. The belief in the accuracy of computer models has suffered. The science is not settled, as many climate researchers claimed in the past few years, a claim which goes against the essence of science and research and should never have been made in the first place.

We are faced with an awkward position. Nobody seems to know what the future holds; even if we are prepared to follow the lead of the IPCC, we are faced with huge, irreconcilable differences of opinion. Some school of thought predicts catastrophe, if not apocalypse, another forecasts at least a massive challenge to our usual way of life while some sceptics seem to suggest, that we will, in a few years time, wake up to the fact, that global warming was just another one of the many unfounded scares which modern mass media societies are prone to fall for.

What to do? Yes, we need more energy efficiency, we need to decarbonise our industries, we need to diversify our sources of energy as much as possible and we need new, clean technologies. We should start building nuclear power stations, at the moment the only effective way of producing carbon free electricity. At the same time we should avoid damaging our western economies, either by transferring too much money to our competitors or falling into the trap of the "green-industrial complex," about whose malign influence even James Lovelock, the founder of the Gaia theory, of earth and biosphere being a self-regulating super-organism, and convinced that it is too late to stop 'global heating,' is scathing.

We should in future be more sceptical of computer-based predictions of climate change and focus more on observing what is actually happening in reality: Is there any sign that the rise of global temperature or the sea level is accelerating, for instance. We need to prepare for adaptation and on top of it all we need an insurance policy in form of geo-engineering, in case the worst predictions should come true. Some of the technologies are already available and geo-engineering might prove to be a significantly cheaper solution than the desperate attempt to mitigate climate change, by cutting emissions and creating economic hardship for billions of people.



Will government solutions to global warming be worse than global warming itself? Remember that man-made global warming is a negative externality that occurs when burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Economists define negative externality as a spillover from an economic transaction that harms parties not directly involved in the transaction. In this case, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is thought to be boosting temperatures, raising sea levels, and having other effects on the climate that people must involuntarily pay to adapt to (more air conditioning, switching crops, and so forth). Thus, goes the argument, the price of fossil fuels does not reflect the full cost of consuming them.

Ideally, once the full costs of man-made global warming are calculated, consumers, businesses, governments, and international agencies can adopt policies to take such costs into account. The two policy options generally discussed in this light are cap-and-trade carbon markets and carbon taxes. The idea behind carbon markets is that governments ration how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases may be emitted by setting an overall limit on emissions. Emitters are then required to have a government-issued permit for each ton of carbon dioxide they release into the air. The total amount of permits cannot exceed the cap. Emitters that need to increase their emission allowance must buy permits from those who emit less, creating a market for carbon dioxide emissions permits. The goal of such a rationing scheme is to create a market that sets a price on the negative externalities imposed by burning fossil fuels.

Similarly, imposing a tax on emissions aims to correct the negative climate externalities produced by burning fossil fuels. A carbon tax is a Pigouvian tax (after the economist Arthur Pigou) levied on a market activity to take into account the negative externalities of that activity. In Pigou's formulation, negative externalities occur when the social cost of a market activity exceeds the private cost of the activity, which is another way of saying that the activities of some people are imposing uncompensated harms on other people. The result is that markets over-supply a good—in this case, the energy produced from fossil fuels. The goal is to set a tax equal to the cost of the negative externality, thus nudging markets to produce efficient amounts of a good.

The laudable goal of both carbon markets and carbon taxes is basically the same: make polluters pay for the costs they involuntarily impose on others. So all that remains is to calculate the costs and let policy makers impose either the appropriate markets or taxes. The problem is that in the real world things are never as simple as economic theory would have it. Estimates of the potential damage caused by global warming range widely, depending on estimates of how the climate is likely to react to extra carbon dioxide, future economic growth, and, most crucially, the discount rate.

That term refers to the fact that most people prefer to have a dollar today than a dollar a year from now. This means that current dollars are worth more than future dollars; that people discount the value of future dollars. In other words, a person might be willing to forego a dollar now, but only in exchange for more than a dollar next year. From this insight, economists have developed the concept of discount rates. Let's say someone is willing to forgo a dollar today in exchange for $1.10 next year. The discount rate would be 10 percent. So here's the question that bedevils those trying to calculate the future damages caused by climate change: How much is a dollar in 2100 worth in terms of dollars foregone today? Let's just say that experts have a wide range of opinions on what the proper discount rate should be.

What about the damage we can expect from man-made global warming versus the costs of taking action? According to one calculation performed by Yale economist William Nordhaus, the optimum path toward cooling the climate using a carbon tax would cost $2.2 trillion and reduce climate change damage globally by $5.2 trillion over the next century. His calculation implies a globally harmonized carbon tax that rises in constant dollars from about $35 per ton in 2010, to $90 per ton in 2050, eventually reaching $200 per ton in 2100. In his recent comprehensive review of the literature on economic impacts of future climate change for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Dutch economist Richard Tol calculated that the optimal policy would be imposing the equivalent of a $0.50 per ton carbon dioxide tax rising at 5 percent per year for the next 90 years. This policy would yield $3 in benefits for every $2 spent. "Available estimates suggest that the welfare loss induced by climate change in the year 2100 is in the same order as losing a few percent of income," notes Tol. "That is, a century worth of climate change is about as bad as losing one or two years of economic growth."

On the other hand, there are a few studies that suggest the benefits of early steep reductions in carbon emissions will far outweigh the costs. A 2006 study by British economist Nicholas Stern found that spending 1 percent of GDP annually to achieve massive early reductions in carbon dioxide emissions is justified. Stern has now upped his estimate to 2 percent per year. Many economists, however, argue that Stern used an unrealistically low discount rate of 0.1 percent to achieve his results. A 0.1 percent discount rate implies that someone would forego $100 today in order to obtain $100.10 a year from now.

Looking at recent reports by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the activist group the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. GDP in 2100 is projected to be between 0.6 and 3.6 percent lower than it would otherwise have been. Assuming the $14 trillion U.S. economy grows at 2.5 percent per year, GDP in 2100 would be $130 trillion. If climate change damages push GDP 3.6 percent below what it would otherwise have been that means that GDP in 2100 would be about $125 trillion, or $5 trillion lower. That's not nothing, but the loss is more than double ($12 trillion) what would occur if U.S. economic growth were depressed from 2.5 to 2.4 percent per year between now and 2100.

Clearly, econometric models tell us that implementing smart policies could avoid some damage from climate change. But whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs depends entirely on the policies being optimally adopted. But will governments and international agencies be able to sustain smart policies over the next century? The tribulations of the European Union's cap-and-trade scheme and the current political jockeying over the 1,468-page Waxman-Markey climate change bill in the U.S. Congress are not promising. On the international level, rapidly developing countries like China, India, and Brazil are refusing to accept limits on their greenhouse gas emissions.

Along similar lines, numerous econometric models project that while climate change will have relatively minor effects on developed countries it will significantly harm poor countries. One proposed policy soluton is to have rich countries that emit a disproportionate share compensate poor countries. While this idea might seem appealing to some, one must also consider the sorry 50-year record of wealth transfers in the form of foreign development aid. As development economist William Easterly has argued, most of the $2.3 trillion in aid that rich countries have poured into developing countries over the past half century has been wasted. Is there any reason to think that trillions in climate change aid would be any more effectively managed?

Man-made global warming may simply be a negative externality for which the transaction costs are too high. In other words, any benefits achieved from trying to mitigate global warming will most likely be swamped by the costs of distributing the corporate welfare used to buy the political acquiescence of various industries. As much as one might hope to implement good public policy to deal with the problem, policy nihilism might be the only rational response to global warming.



Three current articles below

Prime Minister Rudd's Chilling Speech

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has given the most chilling speech (PDF here) with respect to open policy debate that I have ever heard from a leader of a democratic country. The focus of his speech is on "climate change deniers." Who are these people? They include people who are skeptical of climate change science, but remarkably, they also include people who believe that climate change is real and a problem, but disagree with the Prime Minister's preferred policy approach. Rudd states that "climate change deniers" fall into one of three categories:

· First, the climate science deniers.

· Second, those that pay lip service to the science and the need to act on climate change but oppose every practicable mechanism being proposed to bring about that action.

· Third, those in each country that believe their country should wait for others to act first.

He says of these groups: "As we approach the Copenhagen conference these groups of climate change deniers face a moment of truth, and the truth is this: we will need to work much harder to reach an agreement in Copenhagen because these advocates of inaction are holding back domestic commitments, and are in turn holding back global commitments on climate change."

Rudd uses extremely strong terms to characterize those who disagree with his policy prescriptions:
"Climate change deniers are small in number, but they are too dangerous to be ignored. They are well resourced and well represented by political conservatives in many, many countries.

And the danger they pose is this by collapsing political momentum towards national and global action on climate change, they collapse global political will to act at all. They are the stick that gets stuck in the wheel, that despite its size may yet bring the train to a complete stop.

And that is what they want, because they are driven by a narrowly defined self interest of the present and are utterly contemptuous towards our children's interest in the future.

This brigade of do nothing climate change skeptics are dangerous because if they succeed, then it is all of us who will suffer. Our children. And our grandchildren.

Rudd explains why it is that the Copenhagen meeting may fail:
If Copenhagen does not deliver the outcome we so urgently need, no individual climate change skeptic will be responsible, but each of them will have played their part.

Rudd explains that there is no place in government for people holding these views, a position seemingly reinforced this week when the CSIRO stands accused of censoring a paper critical of the Australian ETS:
Climate change skeptics in all their guises and disguises are not conservatives. They are radicals. They are reckless gamblers who are betting all our futures on their arrogant assumption that their intuitions should triumph over the evidence. The logic of these skeptics belongs in a casino, not a science lab, and not in the ranks of any responsible government.

Can witch trials and pogroms be far behind? What bothers me about the speech is not so much the criticism of people who reject mainstream science. Fine, criticism of them as rolling the dice on a minority view is fair and appropriate. What bothers me is the explicit equation of people who question a policy's effectiveness or desirability with the idea of being a "denier" and thus being "dangerous." Rudd is openly conflating views on science with views on politics. Not only does this further the politicization of science, but it also make a mockery of democratic governance. Imagine if George W. Bush had given this same speech in 2003 but about people who deny the merits of his desired policy of going to war in Iraq. There would have been national and international outrage, and rightfully so.

Rudd may be trying to set the stage for domestic failure of the CPRS and more generally that in Copenhagen. But he is doing so in a way that stomps on the notion of democracy and the fact that people have different values and perspectives that can only be reconciled through the democratic process. An observer at the Lowy Institute (where the speech was given) said afterward:
The implication was that these descriptions applied to anyone who opposed the Government's climate change agenda — the PM seemed to admit of no possibility that anyone of good will could be opposed to that agenda

That is a pretty good description of the climate debate. Demonizing one's opponents and calling their views "dangerous" is a first step down a path we don't want to go.


"Snouts in the Carbon Trough"

Mr Rudd accuses opponents of his Ration-N-Tax Scheme of “bowing to vested interests”. That is the pot calling the kettle black. The biggest vested interest is the ALP itself, hoping to harvest Green preference votes from their green posturing. Supporting the alarmists are the gaggle of green industries already reaping dividends from the Rudd subsidies and market protection rackets.

Mr Rudd also tells us that his big business mates want the “certainty” of Emissions Trading. A roll call of these people reveals domination by big firms of auditors and accountants, bankers and brokers, speculators and solicitors, touts and traders - all longing to get into the biggest trading lottery the world has ever seen - more snouts in the carbon trough. The rest of big business merely wants the “certainty” of free emission permits or other special exemptions denied to Joe the Plumber and Fred the Farmer.

Sceptics on the other hand do not have a mercenary army of academics, bureaucrats and publicists who can be bribed or bullied to produce scary climate forecasts or doomsdays ads on demand. Nor do sceptics have the power to silence or sack dissidents in their ranks. Nor do they have the pulpits and power of the UN which, having failed at “peace keeping”, sees “climate control” as its new business model.

The climate realists have only one big vested interest – the desire to live their lives free from the “certainty” of new taxes on everything they buy and new controls on everything they do. This is not about global pollution or global warming – it is about global energy taxes, global government and global redistribution.


Pervasive climate skepticism among Australian conservative politicians

LIBERAL Senate leader Nick Minchin's warning that a majority of the party does not believe in man-made climate change has emboldened Malcolm Turnbull's critics with fresh warnings today the partyroom may reject a deal on emissions trading.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong today challenged the Liberal leader to repudiate Senator Minchin's outspoken rejection of climate change science. She described Senator Minchin's comments as a “direct attack” on Mr Turnbull's leadership.

But today Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop joined the attack, backing Senator Minchin's outspoken comments on last night's Four Corners program, suggesting it was he and not Mr Turnbull who was speaking for the party. “I thought Nick Minchin put the position of the partyroom very well,” she told Sky News. “There is a belief that when we voted the legislation down last time that was the right thing to do. This is a tax that does not address the climate change problem one iota.”

The climate change stoush comes amid fresh speculation Joe Hockey is positioning himself for the leadership with a speech on God and religion. But the opposition Treasury spokesman today denied this was the case. “The leadership is not vacant,” he told ABC Radio today. “Malcolm has my very, very strong support.” Mr Hockey sidestepped questions about whether he wanted to be Liberal leader down the track. “I went into politics to serve my country, my party and my community, and Lord knows where that will take me,” he said. “If one day an opportunity came up then it would be up to others to determine that, not up to me.”

Earlier, Senator Wong conceded getting a deal through will be difficult with many in the Liberal Party convinced climate change is some sort of left-wing “conspiracy”. “It will be difficult. There are too many people in the Coalition who are not fair dinkum on climate change,” she said. “I think the question most Australians would have is who is speaking for the Liberal Party.”

Senator Wong also conceded what world leaders have been saying for weeks that a political agreement with goals and aspirations rather than a binding treaty to replace the Kyoto agreement on climate change is the most likely outcome of talks in Copenhagen. “What we need at Copenhagen is that effective political agreement,” she said. “Not every detail of the treaty is going to be sorted out by Copenhagen.”

Mr Turnbull said today that “good faith” negotiations were continuing with the Rudd government on emissions trading legislation ahead of the talks. “We are in good faith negotiations with the government. I'm not going to be deflected from those negotiations. They will have an outcome. At the end of that we will then decide whether we as a shadow cabinet agree with the outcome and then we will either recommend its acceptance or not to the partyroom,” he said.

“Now the fact of the matter is the Australian people expect us to take a constructive approach to this and that is exactly what we're doing. I mean the Prime Minister's outburst last week was not consistent with those good faith negotiations. But I can assure you we will not be deflected by him and the negotiations are continuing and they will have a conclusion and then we will consider 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


Monday, November 09, 2009


Germany's Dr. Ernst Beck some time ago questioned the practice of using proxy data as measures of past CO2 levels. The favoured ice-core proxies have many known problems. He pointed out that chemists have been making direct measurements of ambient CO2 way back into the 19th century and asks why that data is not used. That the direct measurements show much higher levels in the past than the Warmists claim was of course the obvious reason why they have been ignored. The direct measurements show a very different picture from the smooth rise in CO2 levels that the Warmists present.

Warmists have however tried to answer Beck on scientific grounds by alleging that the huge body of past CO2 measurements that he collected had sources of inaccuracy in it too. Prof. Beck has now answered his critics by doing a validation study of the direct measurements. He shows that the direct measurements correspond well to the best modern data. Bottom line: Beck's measurents are the best evidence for past CO2 levels and they show that modern changes in such levels are similar to normal oscillations of the past.

The new paper was presented at a recent climate science conference and was awarded as the best paper presented there. That implies a publication in the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management and a special book. Dr. Beck [] was rather surprised to win and thinks that they may not have realized the full implications of his work. The paper is a huge and detailed one with many graphics so I have presented only the abstract and conclusions below. The full paper is however available here.
Accurate estimation of CO2 background level from near ground measurements at non-mixed environments

Authors: Dr. Francis Massen, Dipl. Biol. Ernst-Georg Beck


Atmospheric CO2 background levels are sampled and processed according to the standards of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Earth System Research Laboratory mostly at marine environments to minimize the local influence of vegetation, ground or anthropogenic sources. Continental measurements usually show large diurnal and seasonal variations, which makes it difficult to estimate well mixed CO2 levels

Historical CO2 measurements are usually derived from proxies, with ice cores being the favorite. Those done by chemical methods prior to 1960 are often rejected as being inadequate due too poor siting, timing or method. The CO2 versus wind speed plot represents a simple but valuable tool for validating modern and historic continental data. It is shown that either a visual or a mathematical fit can give data that are close to the regional CO2 background, even if the average local mixing ratio is much different......


It has been shown that the CO2 versus wind-speed plot can represent a valuable tool to estimate continental local background CO2 levels despite of distorted mixing ratios or local influences. Applying the procedure to recent well known data gives results that are relatively close to the yearly average of the observational data at Mauna Loa and suggest a maximum difference of about 10 ppm with the global CO2 background as given by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

A validation check has been made for 3 historical CO2 series. The overall impression is one of continental European historic regional CO2 background levels significantly higher than the commonly assumed global ice-core proxy levels.

The CO2 versus wind-speed plot seems to be a good first level validation tool for historical data. With the required caveats it could deliver a reasonable approximation of past regional and possibly past global CO2 background levels.


We're doomed without a green religion

A British judge has recently ruled that Greenie beliefs are a religion. The Leftist author below is trying to come to terms with that. He concludes that people must be forced to obey what Warmists want even if Warmism does have an odious religious side. He thinks, probably rightly, that the religious nature of Warmism is a part of what makes it popular and he is on the whole happy about that

The justification for burning heretics was perfectly simple: dissent threatened the survival of society. Nothing was worse than anarchy. This is a viewpoint most people in the West today find pretty much incomprehensible. It is a self-evident truth to them that morality must be a matter of individual choice. And if you believe that, the arguments around the Tim Nicholson case are very difficult to resolve. If there is a moral imperative to preserve the human race, or as much of it as possible, collective consequences must follow. It is not enough for us to do the right thing. Others must as well. If you don't believe that, then there is no point in agitating for success in Copenhagen.

But if collective consequences follow, others must be forced to do things against their will by our moral imperatives. This is exactly the quality that is supposed to be so very obnoxious about religion.

The idea that morality is and must be a matter of individual choice is taken as axiomatic in these debates. It is thought true in the sense that it is held to describe a fact about the world. Very often the same people who believe this will also believe, and maintain with equal vehemence in other contexts the belief that morals are merely opinions, or at least that there couldn't in the nature of things be moral facts: true or false statements about whether something or someone is good or bad.

This was neatly if not nicely expressed by one of the commenters on Tim Nicholson's article here, who said: "You may believe less flying and driving, and more wind farms, and so on to be moral imperatives. I don't. You are entitled to your beliefs, and should not be persecuted for them. But they are just beliefs. You want to argue the politics of how to respond to climate change: great. But you can stop wrapping your proposed solutions up in 'moral imperative' cotton wool."

These are not the only confusions which the Nicholson case raises. Many people who are upset by the court's equating a scientific opinion with a religion belief suppose that science is true and rational, religion is false and irrational, and that this division of the world is itself factual and rational. If this is how the world appears to you, then there is no question that climate change is not a religion. That would mean that it wasn't really happening, and that we were free to ignore it. Both supporters and opponents of environmentalism can often agree both that it might be a religion and that would be a bad thing. This is why, in general, the people who maintain that environmentalism is like a religion are opposed to it; while those in favour deny it is anything like a religion. (A further complication is supplied by right-wing Christians like Daniel Johnson who maintain that religion is a good thing, but environmentalism is a false religion.)

But can this sharp distinction between truth and falsity, fact and value, actually describe the world? The unexamined assumption is that we can split the world into a sphere of facts and a sphere of opinions and that the facts will speak for themselves. And, as a matter of fact, that is false. I'm not caliming here that there are no facts, or that there are only opinions, or that science is only socially constructed. I just need to point out that fact and opinion are not two distinct substances.

Myles Allen wrote yesterday: "I don't ask anyone to believe in human influence on climate because I do, or because thousands of other scientists do. I ask them to look at the evidence." But while this is an admirable ideal, it is wholly impossible in practice. You cannot believe in science if you do not also believe in scientists. That is why the faking of results is such a terrible threat to the whole enterprise [And who are the ones doing the faking? Warmists like Briffa, Mann etc]. Nor is "evidence" a a simple thing visible to the naked eye. Without quite a specialised education, the nature and force of scientific evidence is quite literally invisible. Even when the evidence is overwhelming there will always be smart and otherwise well-educated people to ignore it if they have other more powerful reasons to do so. The instinct of most scientists is to suppose that this can be cured by teaching people science. But that's never going to work, however desirable it is for other reasons. Scientists want to be believed becasuse of the truth they are telling is so overwhelming as to make trust unnecessary, but in practice they will either be trusted or ignored.

There is a strand of atheism, or perhaps of anti-theism, which redefines "religion" to include all forms of collective faith, chiefly communism. Although this may have originated as a rhetorical move in order to deny that the communists who killed millions of Christians were actually atheists, it does express something deeper: a conviction that compulsion in the name of any belief is itself immoral. Now whether anyone actually truly and consistently believes this is another question. What matters in this context is that lots of people believe that they do believe it.

Climate change makes that position entirely incoherent. Because it is a global tragedy of the commons, individual action cannot be enough. I cannot ensure the survival of my grandchildren, nor even yours, without compelling you to behave in ways that science tells me are necessary. Not to act, not to coerce, itself becomes immoral.

There is a further twist to the argument. Compulsion will be needed but compulsion alone won't do it. People aren't made like that. They need to believe in what they are forced to do. They need idealism, and that will also mean its dark side: the pressure of conformism, the force of self-righteousness, huge moral weight attached to practically useless gestures like unplugging phone chargers. They need, in fact, something that does look a lot like religion. But we can't engineer it. It can only arise spontaneously. Should that happen, the denialists, who claim that it is all a religion, will for once be telling the truth, and when they do that, they'll have lost. I just hope it doesn't happen too late.


The Dawn of Weimar Britain

An apparently Left-leaning sociologist below is not so happy with Warmism as a religion. He sees it as potentially leading to Nazism

Last week a UK High Court gave the green light for a green activist to sue his employer, who had sacked him for refusing to do an errand because it conflicted with his green beliefs. For intellectual ballast, the judge quoted no less – or, should I say, no more? – than Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, a work whose authoritativeness matches that of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Everything in the history of science discipline. But that’s not really my point….

My point is to draw attention to the five criteria that the judge offered to expand the definition of ‘religious discrimination’ that may be invoked by others in the future in similar cases:

• The belief must be genuinely held.

• It must be a belief and not an opinion or view based on the present state of information available.

• It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life.

• It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.

• It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Humanism was given as an example meeting the criteria, while belief in a political party or the supreme nature of Jedi knights, from the Star Wars movies, were offered as ones that do not.

The general response to this ruling has been positive, with some lawyers seeing it as opening the door to the re-classification of stances like feminism, humanism and vegetarianism as protected religious beliefs. Even New Atheism might count!

I completely disagree with the ruling and the sentiment informing it. In fact, I published a letter in the Guardian the next day, which said: "Justice Burton’s ruling in favour of a green activist whose beliefs interfered with his job has the potential for becoming an epistemological nightmare. In particular, by raising what were previously treated as ‘political’ and ‘lifestyle’ choices to the status of ‘genuinely held beliefs’, the ruling effectively creates an incentive to be dogmatic in one’s opinions, simply in order to avoid forms of social intercourse that one finds disagreeable. After all, evidence of a changed mind is all that would be needed to lose one the protection afforded by the ruling."

A potential practical consequence of this ruling is complete social and political gridlock. It reminds me of Article 118 of the old Weimar Constitution, the first half of which reads as follows: "Every German is entitled, within the bounds set by general law, to express his opinion freely in word, writing, print, image or otherwise. No job contract may obstruct him in the exercise of this right; nobody may put him at a disadvantage if he makes use of this right."

What’s gone wrong here? Part of the answer lies in how ‘free individuals’ is conceptualised. The Weimar Constitution began with a majority principle based on the idea of a ‘German people’ whose common values uphold the constitution. One of those values, of course, is freedom of expression. But to enforce that freedom, the constitution then needs to allow for ‘minority rights’, whereby individuals with deeply held beliefs are allowed opt-out clauses from certain aspects of normal social life that inhibit their expression; otherwise, the majority principle would prove oppressive. Hans Kelsen, one of the great legal minds behind the Weimar Constitution, justifies all this (though without quite seeing its practical consequences) in On the Essence and Value of Democracy (1929).

In the Weimar period, ‘minority rights’ were normally understood in ethnic terms but of course this was also the time when feminism, vegetarianism, etc. start to be recognized as ‘identity politics’. In any case, the pernicious long-term consequence of this way of thinking about freedom of expression is that it encourages a hardening of one’s sense of identity in order to gain personal and political leverage. Of course, in the case of ethnic identity, such a move can be easily turned against oneself – as the Nazis showed all too well.

My own view is that liberal democratic societies should discourage the formation of strong identities – be they around blood or belief – otherwise they will end up undermining their own principles.


Non-believers fill the church of green gods

By Dominic Lawson, son of Nigel Lawson. Both are skeptical about Warmism

‘Al Gore, who art in thy fully offset private jet; Nobel-prized be thy name; thy carbon-free kingdom come; on planet Earth (otherwise known as Gaia) as it should be after Copenhagen; give us this day our daily meat-free diet; and forgive us our emissions, though we don’t forgive any other big fat Americans who emit against us; lead us not into exotic holiday flights; and deliver us from climate denial; for the science is settled. Amen.”

That lacks a certain resonance, I must admit; but now that a British judge has ruled that believers in man-made global warming catastrophe should be protected under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, we should try to come forward with some suitable prayers for this newly identified faith.

Mr Justice Burton, of the High Court, is the man behind the ruling. He found for a “sustainability officer” called Tim Nicholson, who claimed he had been made redundant by the property company Grainger because of his beliefs in imminent man-made climate catastrophe. To be precise, the judge did not say that Nicholson had actually been sacked for that reason; only that he had the right to sue for unfair dismissal under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations.

Why should Tim Nicholson (who looked sweet with his fold-up bicycle outside the High Court) have wanted to establish this as the reason for his dismissal? Possibly it was a desire to become an ecological hero; but I am equally inclined to see the hand of some very clever employment lawyers. In a “normal” redundancy, the departing employee is entitled only to a statutory minimum payoff together with anything already defined in his contract; but when a court finds that the employee has been sacked as a result of some form of discrimination, then there is no legal limit to the amount that can be claimed.

This is why there have been a number of multi-million-pound payouts for City women winning claims that they have been victims of sex discrimination at work. It may seem unlikely that Nicholson’s case, even if it ultimately succeeds at the forthcoming tribunal, will be followed by many others; but given the number of “sustainability officers” employed in the soon-to-be-cut-back public sector and the ingenious opportunism of employment lawyers, who knows?

The more perceptive environmental campaigners did not join in Nicholson’s rejoicing at his victory. They noted that in Burton’s judgment a belief qualified for protection only if it could be said to be “not an opinion or view based on the present state of information available”. In other words, said the judge, Nicholson’s views on man’s influence on climate — which had brought him into conflict with his chief executive over allegedly excessive air trips — went beyond evidence and were more a form of philosophy, or even faith.

Interestingly, Burton is the very same judge that two years ago found for a Kent school governor who brought a case against the government’s plans to supply every school with a DVD of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The judge agreed that the film was flawed. He decreed that it contained nine scientific errors and that the government should accompany any DVDs sent to schools with guidance pointing out, among other things, that polar bears are not drowning in the absence of sufficient quantities of ice. Put away those hankies, children: they’re going to be all right.

It’s one of the properties of established religions that people profess to believe even when they don’t, really. That may seem hypocritical, but social pressure is a powerful force that can make even the most independent minds quail. Richard Dawkins is probably right, for example, when he says there are many Americans who are privately atheist but find it much easier to pretend to be Christians. A similar point was made to me by one of the only five Conservative MPs to vote against the Climate Change Bill. When I told him I was surprised so many Tories felt the carbon cutbacks required by the bill were achievable, he laughed. “None of them do, but they want to be seen to be virtuous.”

A year or so ago, a couple of ministers, Ed Balls and Shaun Woodward, were observed travelling in separate chauffeur-driven cars from the same Downing Street meeting to the same dinner party, 150 yards away. Their chauffeurs waited outside and then after dinner drove the two ministers, again separately, to the Commons, all of 300 yards further on. Because the dinner party was for Labour donors, the Tories insisted that it had been inappropriate to use official limousines — at least for the first 150 yards. The more interesting point was that if Balls and Woodward truly believed — as the government claims — that millions of children yet unborn will die of thirst if we do not immediately check our excessive and avoidable CO2 emissions, they surely would not have condemned another suppositious baby African or two to death by choosing not to walk a quarter of a mile down Whitehall. As so often, it is our actions that reveal our thinking, rather than our words.

This has been made clear by the run-up to next month’s Copenhagen summit, which was supposed to supply the successor treaty to the Kyoto protocol, according mandatory CO2 emissions targets to all the nations of the world. Kyoto had excluded developing countries, and the US refuses to sign any treaty (Barack Obama is little different from George W Bush in this respect) unless such vast nations as China and India come on board. Almost every country pays lip-service to the view that an agreement in Copenhagen is necessary to “save the planet”, but it is now clear that no treaty will be agreed next month.

An article in Prospect magazine by one who had been attending the interminable meetings leading up to the Copenhagen summit reveals how this process really functions — or, rather, doesn’t. It points out that there will be at least 20,000 delegates flying into Copenhagen, but even the intermediate meetings of the relevant UN committee attract up to 10,000 delegates, producing negotiations described by one attendee as “complete unreality ... delegates just talk past each other”.

Apparently the most intractable delegation — and bear in mind that a deal requires complete consensus, not a mere majority — is the Saudi team, which has been arguing that a swingeing cutback on fossil fuels is “economic discrimination” against oil-exporting nations. Yes, Saudi Arabia is already an arid desert nation, but it is rich enough to keep its people supplied with irrigation: this makes the unfashionable point that it is not climate change that condemns Africans to early death, but poverty. The poorer nations understand this only too well, which is why they see Copenhagen as being about the transfer of vast sums of money from north to south: how much we also cut back our emissions is of much less importance to them.

This is not what adherents of the “catastrophic global warming” faith — the sort of people identified by Mr Justice Burton — want to hear. They believe that the wretched of the world’s poorest nations will not be saved unless we construct vast wind farms across the British countryside and give up generating electricity from coal and gas. In fact, given our own very small share of global emissions, such a policy might lead to the poorest Britons dying of hypothermia, while being of no perceptible benefit to the life of a single future African or Bangladeshi.

I hope that this is not what will happen, either here or there. If it does, perhaps some future traveller to Britain, centuries from now, will examine the excavated remnants of those giant wind turbines and speculate that they were the temples of some primitive faith. He would not be entirely mistaken.


Political climate constipation

Most of those concerned with climate have had their eyes on Barcelona this week, where delegates from 192 countries plus hundreds of observers, campaigners, lobbyists - and journalists - convened for the final session of preparatory talks before the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

Barcelona talks: As I've reported, there's been a deal of tension between rich and poor - with the developing world accusing the developed world of forgetting about its needs, as rich nations refuse to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to stave off "dangerous" climate change (their view).

How much of the rancour turns out to be real and how much synthesized as a political bargaining tool we will find out in Copenhagen - although perhaps not until the last few days of that meeting.

What's certain is that unless the US comes forward with a pledge on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, there will be no deal of any kind, legally binding or politically binding (whatever those phrases may mean precisely).

If the US does produce a figure, it can realistically be in no other ballpark than a 17-20% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 - that's roughly what President Obama pledged before the election, and roughly what the Boxer-Kerry bill now going through the Senate would produce.

In a news conference here, US negotiator Jonathan Pershing reckoned this would put the US way ahead of the EU on ambition - the US would cut emissions faster that Europe over the next 11 years. The reason is that the EU has already cut emissions markedly between 1990 - the baseline that everyone else uses - and today. And against that baseline, the US pledge will only be about 4% - paltry beside the EU's 20-30% and Japan's 25%.

Mr Pershing may not want the administration to which he belongs to shoulder the burden of making cuts that the Bush government did not... but from the perspective of a developing country many miles away, the US is the US is the US, whoever is in charge at various times.

Is there a formula that everyone could live with? Will the EU consider 4% "comparable" to its own efforts? Would developing countries accept a US pledge as binding in the absence of Senate legislation - given that on the Kyoto Protocol, the US first signed, then declined to ratify, then withdrew?

Could money and technology bridge the gap? Is it, indeed, bridgeable?

Mr Pershing said it's not yet been decided whether the US will put forward a target in Copenhagen and one reason for the non-decision - if non-decision it is, rather than a decision that's been taken and is being kept under wraps - is presumably the sticky passage envisaged for the Boxer-Kerry bill.

Republican senators on the influential Environment and Public Works Committee decided to boycott discussions on the bill this week, saying that a full analysis of its financial costs and benefits was needed first. So committee chair - and bill sponsor - Barbara Boxer pushed it through the committee without debate - a procedure that's apparently rarely used. However, in a sign that not everything is going swimmingly well, senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham started working on a "parallel track" towards a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to pass legislation in the full Senate. It's likely to include more support for nuclear power and perhaps for the oil and gas industry, while maintaining the cap-and-trade programme that is the current bill's centerpiece.

What this means for prospects of passing climate legislation isn't clear - perhaps not to anyone. But it doesn't exactly sound like a fast track - particularly as the further legislation evolves from the text that the House of Representatives passed in June, the harder it will be to reconcile the two.

Angela Merkel: A high-level European delegation was in Washington this week and although German Chancellor Angela Merkel's address to Congress asking for more action on climate change was received with applause on the Democrat side, there was reportedly silence on the other side of the house - another indication that not all US lawmakers are convinced that their president is on the right track on climate change.

Other potentially significant moves this week include the meeting of G20 finance ministers - a meeting expressly charged at the last G20 summit in Pittsburgh with putting a new offer of climate finance on the table. Campaigners are urging them to phase out fossil fuel subsidies as soon as possible. To do so was a pledge made by governments at the G20 summit - it's also an agreed aim under the UN climate convention, which dates all the way back to 1992.

At the time of writing, the finance ministers' meeting is under way but nothing has yet emerged - you can follow my colleague Andrew Walker's reports on the BBC News website and we'll look at it again next week.

A conference will open in the Maldives next week of countries considered especially vulnerable to climate change. Governments invited include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, and a number of Caribbean and Pacific island states. What they'll come up with is likely to include demands for reducing greenhouse gas emissions further and faster than is currently envisaged under the UN process.

The UN texts, the advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and some of the developed country targets are loosely aimed at keeping the rise in global average temperatures within 2C since pre-industrial times. The equations are inexact but that may roughly translate to keeping greenhouse gas concentrations below the equivalent of 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. For the small island developing states (SIDS), that's too much. They want a maximum of 350ppm adopted as the benchmark.

Although on the surface politicians - especially from Europe - are trimming expectations for Copenhagen, behind the scenes they are also encouraging campaigners to step up the pressure in the intervening weeks.


A BOOK REVIEW of two books: "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming" by Nigel Lawson and "Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity" by Nicholas Stern.


Both these books look comprehensively at global warming and cover much the same ground in much the same order. There the similarities end. First published last year, Lord Lawson's Appeal is the best short book on the entire range of issues in the global warming debate that is available from a British publisher. This paperback edition with a substantial new afterword is therefore most welcome. Lawson is lucid, thoughtful and fair-minded. The book's highly useful footnotes and bibliography attest to Lawson's familiarity with the wide range of scholarship on the many scientific disciplines that contribute to understanding the climate and with the major economic analyses of the energy-rationing policies proposed to deal with warming.

That should not be surprising. Lawson was an active participant in the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, which took expert testimony from a wide range of scientists and economists. In 2005, the committee produced the best official report on global warming that has so far been done. Although leading peers from all three major parties were involved and agreed unanimously, their report has been ignored by all three major parties. Its conclusions, you see, were "sceptical".

Lawson's book is for the most part sceptical as well. And appropriately so: a healthy scepticism is a most reasonable attitude to take towards claims of intellectual and political authority. He argues that the rate of warming has been modest, the predictions from computer models of much faster rates in the future are not credible, and the possible adverse impacts are wildly exaggerated. Turning to policy, he argues that adapting to changing climate is much more sensible than trying to reduce drastically greenhouse gas emissions, which would be colossally expensive even if it were possible. Lawson observes that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the European Union's efforts to reduce emissions are not working and that a new international agreement to follow Kyoto that would include the US, China and India is almost certain to fail as well.

More speculatively, Lawson finds the attraction of pursuing energy-rationing policies that would cause much more harm than the potential global warming they are meant to prevent to be based on a quasi-religious enthusiasm. He shrewdly observes that this recent quasi-religious commitment to saving the planet from a harmless trace gas necessary for life, which is popular among the secularised chattering class, is encouraged by political leaders and government officials because it serves their interests by providing a new rationale for exercising their authority and expanding government control over people's lives.

Providing a rationale for more government is exactly what Lord Stern has done, first with the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change, released in 2006, and now with his Blueprint for a Safer Planet. The then-Chancellor Gordon Brown commissioned the Review to provide support for government climate policy. It was researched by a large team of government economists led by Stern, a senior UK and international bureaucrat and, most conveniently, Labour Party loyalist. Stern, then plain Sir Nicholas, gave Brown and Prime Minister Blair exactly what they wanted and in so doing became a policy wonk celebrity. He was given a life peerage for his efforts.

Although the mammoth Review appears to be a most professional piece of work and contains an impressive economic apparatus, its methodology and analysis have been rubbished by leading resource economists. The include William Nordhaus of Yale, Richard Tol with multiple academic appointments, Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge, and a team headed by David Henderson, former chief economist at the OECD (to whom Lawson dedicates his book).

I expect many more people will buy Stern's new book than Lawson's, but I doubt that many will read much of it. It is dreary, tedious and full of humbug, but since it appears to confirm the conventional wisdom, buyers can feel reassured by having it on their shelves. The irony is that Lawson's understanding, if not his conclusions, is closer to the mainstream than Stern's. Although acclaimed as a pillar of the establishment view that global warming is a looming catastrophe that requires drastic and immediate action, he is in fact on the extreme fringe on both the science and the economics.

On the science, Stern claims that the case for alarm is indisputable. In fact, however, he does not base his case on scientific facts and observations but rather on the alarming predictions of computer models. As Lawson points out, this is a public relations con by the alarmist industry. The computer models have no forecasting ability, nor do United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists claim that they do, however much they give that impression.

On the economics, in a section titled "Why some economists got it so badly wrong", he dismisses in two pages the economists, more distinguished and expert in the field than he is, who criticised his Review. Rather than explaining why this consensus is wrong, Stern mounts his high horse and claims that the economists who disagree with him do so because they are morally obtuse. This is comical. Lawson aptly compares him to Dickens's immortal creation, Mrs Jellyby in Bleak House.

Stern speaks the language of international do-goodism as only a lifelong practitioner can. We must offer the world's poorest people a low-carbon path out of poverty. Development and saving the planet are not conflicting goals — they can only be accomplished simultaneously. All that is needed is a grand "global deal". This global deal merely requires international collaboration on an unprecedented scale, well-designed policies that are implemented with great care immediately and pursued with unwavering commitment for 40 years, and a vast redistribution of wealth from rich to poor countries. In short, international central planning run by people bearing a remarkable resemblance to Lord Stern.

Stern's global deal looks to me like a series of Heath Robinson contraptions that must be made to run in perfect harmony. I'm not surprised that the Labour government finds it an alluring prospect, but I am disturbed that the intellectual adolescents now leading the Conservative Party have found an agreeable guru in Stern as well.

The Tories would in my view do much better if they listened to the sage advice of one of their soundest leaders of the past half century — the former Energy Secretary and Chancellor, Nigel Lawson.

But that may soon happen. Since the Tory leaders base their leadership on what the polls and focus groups tell them to do, even they will eventually recognise that the fad has peaked. Although global warning alarmism is still an article of faith for the chattering class, the general public have never been sold on it and are now becoming painfully aware of the staggering costs to them of reducing emissions.



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


Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Consensus about Anthropogenic Global Warming

By S. Fred Singer

There is a general impression, based on flawed analyses [Oreskes in Science 2004] that scientists support nearly unanimously the so-called scientific consensus on AGW. But more than 31,000 scientists and engineers disagree and have signed a petition that affirms their disbelief in AGW [for a listing of names see pp. 745-855, in Climate Change Reconsidered, available at]

There is even widespread belief that major scientific societies, like the American Geophysical Union (AGU), have polled their membership before issuing formal Statements which essentially endorse the IPCC conclusion that the temperature rise of the past 50 years has been caused by human activity – and more specifically by the emission of greenhouse (GH) gases. Not so: This false impression seems to be due to a misleading survey result published in an AGU journal [P. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman, Eos 90, 20 Jan 2009, pp 22-23].

We will discuss this survey here and the question of bias and confounding factors. The Eos authors report the response of 3146 earth scientists to two questions:

1. Has the climate warmed, cooled, or remained constant -- compared to pre-1800?

Regardless of what one may believe about the causes of climate change, the answer must be: 'Warming.' Pre-1800 refers to the Little Ice Age, which ended around 1800. [If the question were changed to 'compared to 1998,' then the answer would be 'Cooling.']

2. Do you think human activity is a significant factor in changing global mean temperature?

Here the answer will depend on what is meant by 'significant' -- and whether 'human activity' should include urbanization, land changes, agriculture, irrigation, deforestation, etc. Many might answer 'Yes' – even if they don't think that GH gases are a significant factor in climate change.

The authors report that their selection involved faculty in relevant academic departments and employees of government establishments. Presumably, they did not include retirees or those in the private sector. The authors claim that known dissenters were included. But my casual inquiries did not find anyone who participated.

Most of the responders described themselves as geochemists; only 5% claimed to be 'climate scientists.' (But where are the 'atmospheric scientists'?)

The widely quoted result of the survey is a 97.4% 'Yes' to question #2; it is based on a sample of only 77 responses from 'actively publishing climate scientists.' Disregarding the claimed accuracy, what can we deduce from this response? That these are likely individuals who derive large research grants and contracts from a federal budget that almost exclusively supports research designed to affirm AGW. [Of this same group, only 96.2% (rather than 100%) thought that the climate had warmed since 1800. It would be interesting to learn who these individuals are.]

By contrast, on question #2, less than half of 'economic geologists' (103 responses) said 'Yes' and slightly more than one-third of 'meteorologists' (36 responses) said 'No.'

The American Physical Society (APS) in 2007 published a position statement enthusiastically endorsing AGW, without reference to the views of its members. Recently, some 200 APS members and Fellows have petitioned the APS Council to change or withdraw the Statement, in view of scientific evidence that is counter to AGW. Perhaps there will develop a similar initiative within the AGU.

SEPP Science Editorial #35-2009 (11/7/09)

Warmists creating Green jobs -- in China

Evergreen Solar Inc. reported a 21 percent sequential rise in revenue in the third quarter on brisk sales of its solar panels, but the company confirmed speculation that they will be moving the production of panels out of its Devens plant. The Marlborough-based solar panel maker said that it would refocus the Devens plant, built in 2007, to production of the solar wafers but it would construct panels in China through a contract manufacturing agreement with Jaiwei Solarchina Co. Ltd.

A Boston Business Journal article in June indicated that company officials were considering such a move if solar panel prices fell sharply and the company was unable to cut labor costs fast enough.

On Wednesday, Evergreen CEO Richard Feldt said in a statement those factors ultimately came into play in the decision. “Panel prices have fallen 30 percent since mid-2008, making it very difficult for manufacturers located in high-cost regions to remain price competitive. Therefore, we are accelerating our strategic initiative of increasing the focus on our unique wafer manufacturing technology, and we will begin to transition our Devens-based panel assembly to China in mid-2010,” he said.

The announcement comes as Evergreen Solar appears to have regained some financial footing after the steep dropoff in solar demand earlier this year. It posted third quarter revenue of $77.7 million compared with revenue of $63.8 million last quarter and $17.8 million for the same quarter a year ago. Yet despite narrowing operating losses year over year by 73 percent to $6 million, a heavy tax hit resulted in Evergreen posting a net loss of $82.4 million.


More “work” for the president

The Obama administration takes aim at climate scientists

In the blame game, the Obama administration isn't about to stop with Fox News. Instead, it's moving on to lowly scientists. Last month, President Obama gave a somewhat chilling, if somewhat ignored, speech on climate change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He stated that any scientific debate about the magnitude of global warming is unscrupulous, decrying "those who . . . make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary." Then, the president talked tough, saying, "We'll just have to deal with those people," language familiar to anyone who knows the vagaries of Chicago politics.

This surely isn't the first time in world history that some president, premier, or pope has attempted to define science and threaten those who disagree. But the truth of the matter is that disagreement, one way or another, is a given. One can selectively cite recent climate data in support of pretty much any point of view, from the rejection of any influence by humankind at all to the wild notion that the world is about to come to an end.

The ease with which anyone can construct just about any climate argument he wants has to do with the inconstant nature of climate itself. The sun warms the earth, but the amount of energy it radiates changes (right now it's pretty cold). The earth's surface is dominated by two very different substances — uneven rocks and large, smooth oceans — so internal climate oscillations and accidents happen as well.

Temperatures seesaw up and down depending upon ever-changing currents of air in the tropical atmosphere and oceans, including El Niño in the Pacific and other weather features elsewhere. They can be either cold or warm. When the warm ones are absent or weak for a decade or so — a common occurrence — temperatures may stay the same or even fall. When there's a huge warm phase in El Niño, global temperatures rise, as they did in 1998, setting records that have yet to be broken.

Finally, there's carbon dioxide itself. We put it in the air whenever we burn pretty much anything, be it in a power plant or in an automobile. Everything else being equal, that will warm temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere. Just how much is the subject of a great scientific debate that has yet to be resolved.

And everything else is never equal. Cold portions of El Niño and a cold sun can completely halt carbon-dioxide–induced warming (and clearly have for more than ten years now). And this behavior creates a fertile environment for criticism of the projections of computer models for this century.

What you can say is happening to the climate depends on the period you choose to study. Using the surface-temperature record that scientists cite the most, you will find a significant cooling trend after 2000. You'll find no significant trend whatsoever if you start in any year between 1996 and 2000. Beginning your trend before 1996 will yield you significant warming. And so forth. It's therefore not surprising that anyone can see anything on the climate Ouija board.

In fact, though, there's only one thing that is clear: For the last decade and a half, our climate has not behaved in accordance with the predictions of most climate models. They just don't predict such a long hiatus in warming even as carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity continue to climb.

Note to the president: I do not say that to "defeat or delay" your policies on climate change. The fact is that the U.S. Senate is likely to do that anyway, with or without this information. Early on Election Day, the GOP boycotted a session of the Environment and Public Works Committee in protest of a climate-change bill's costs, and Democrats were split on the legislation as well. Tuesday's election results are likely to give Blue Dog Democrats further pause.

If the Senate does not pass a climate bill that is acceptable to the president, Obama is almost certain to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to issue regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions that he can take to the Copenhagen climate conference next month as evidence of America's efforts. These will then be used to extract some vague concessions on the part of the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, and the Copenhagen Protocol will be hailed as a major victory over global warming.

Of course, it will be no such thing. If the EPA does issue global-warming regulations, it will have to defend the science that it uses to raise the price of virtually everything. And it is true, Mr. President, that people will use the inconvenient facts of recent climate behavior to defeat or delay the "change" the EPA commands. The administration may respond by "working on" the global-warming people it doesn't like, but it can't "work on" the obvious and growing disconnect between what was forecast and what is happening.

The administration did a great job of increasing the ratings of Fox News. Maybe it can do the same for dissident scientists.


Renewable Banality: The Latest British Export

I loved the true story of the Nigerian energy worker who, having received a pay check for $900, amended the figure to read $9,000. As the reporter wittily put it, “The check fraud proved entirely successful ... right up to the point where he attempted to cash it.” That’s kind of how I feel about the renewable energy revolution. It will prove entirely successful in the eyes of the public and media -- right up to the point where the lights start going out. And those lights will soon start going out, according to a new report.

I fully understand the romantic attraction of the clean energy revolution and the rush to replace ‘dirty’ fossil fuels. In the light of the war on carbon it’s a no brainer, right? Which is precisely why, just as diminishing EU and UK subsidies are prompting an industry exodus westward, the British renewables industry may be about to be given an unexpected investment shot in the arm from some of the world’s biggest multinational companies in one of the biggest analogs to the adage “I gave at the church,” in this case the environmentalism church. Companies, it seems, in their rush to appear politically correct are oblivious to how that renewable revolution is ushering in a new dark age in Britain.

Why the multinationals?

Speaking at a UK Confederation of British Industries (CBI) conference in October, the Bank of America’s head of power and utilities, John Lynch, named companies like Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and IKEA (the Swedish home goods company) as being potential new investors for Britain’s offshore wind industry. “This is the technology that the UK is leading in, and these companies are looking at ways to get involved,” Lynch told his CBI audience, “because it meets their own corporate social responsibility objectives.” Enthusing over the prospect of a massive new injection of funds for British industry, Lynch noted how the Crown Estate (which owns the UK seabed) had launched the offshore program specifically to enable Britain to meet its target of 80 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. Clearly nobody had told Lynch that in recent weeks the leaders of Britain’s biggest energy companies privately warned the government that its climate targets, contingent upon renewable sources replacing hydrocarbon fuels, are “illusory” and “delusional.”

Not that the sudden growing corporate sense of responsibility should be seen in entirely philanthropic terms. The greater motivating factor is the spectre of national climate bills, post-Copenhagen in December, when their low carbon commitments will need to be demonstrated. And what could be more credible than investing in the world’s premier energy experiment?

But I wonder if the promoters of renewables might not think twice given so many UK energy insiders are predicting an impending national energy crisis? A crisis brought on by a UK energy policy based on achieving the economically non-viable, the geographically unacceptable, and, ultimately and most crucially, the mathematically impossible.

As regards to the economically-non-viable, we might begin by noting there would be no renewable energy revolution at all if it were not for government subsidies fuelling it. Quite simply, no business or private equity investor in his right mind would invest in a loss-making business with such an appallingly poor rate of return.

That is why, just a few weeks ago the UK saw its only turbine manufacturer close the door of a major plant, citing low demand, public opposition and diminishing government revenue. Note how public opposition – the geographical unacceptability – has seen UK land-based wind farm applications mired in planning battles, leaving only the even more expensive offshore option. What does this presage for those nations with less available seabed, I wonder? More generally, the non-viability of renewables, and wind power specifically, as a serious commercial proposition has been demonstrated time and again. Wind’s unreliability, its need for (mostly gas turbine) back-up facilities, the problem of storage in times of over-capacity and the fact that it will not save at all on natural gas use, combine to present a formidable technological obstacle.

But while the, oft-hidden, costs associated with all renewable energies on closer inspection should prove prohibitive and potentially economy-busting, the intellectual axe for the renewables revolution finally falls when basic math proves that it makes no economic sense at all. In his brilliant essay Understanding E=mc2, William Tucker helpfully applies the understanding of energy = mass to the issue of renewables. Above all he demonstrates why renewables, and wind and water specifically, are mathematically unable to produce the industrial scale energy power essential to keeping the lights on in any industrialized society.

Tucker explains, “Wind and water are matter in motion that we harness to produce energy.” In a nutshell, what Tucker shows is that the density of mass in both wind and water, being critically far less than oil, coal and gas, is simply unable to produce anything approaching a reasonable energy output. Tucker calculates, for instance, that a land mass of about 375 square miles with around 660 widely spaced windmills would be necessary to get a power return of just 1,000MW, the production capacity of one large hydrocarbon-powered facility. (With offshore wind turbines associated problems of distance, leakage and maintenance costs must all be significantly scaled up.) Put bluntly, Tucker shows that industrial scale renewable energy is, realistically and mathematically, an economic non-starter.

Ironically, just as UK and European subsidy opportunities are dwindling and the revolution faltering, the retail multinationals may be about to reinvigorate the flagging UK program. And as the economic cost of renewables is being counted across Europe, Britain’s energy-climate policy is likely to be touted increasingly as the blueprint for others to follow. A rash of UK studies continue to sound alarm bells over the government’s current energy direction and, one of these, just published, should do the same well beyond UK shores.

Does it really take an Einstein?

In October, the UK energy regulator, Ofgem (The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), warned that Britain was facing 1970s style power blackouts within just four years – a much shorter timescale than previously thought. Project Discovery cited the British government’s failure to renovate its “crumbling power infrastructure” due to compliance with new EU rules that will force the closure of a quarter of the country’s power stations by 2015. In a typically British understatement, Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem’s chief executive warned, “There could be a potential shortfall in the period 2013-18 ... Life might be pretty cold.” Buchanan’s assessment is that only an “involuntary curtailment of demand” – power cuts – can conserve household supplies, unless the government acts urgently to upgrade its nuclear plants. Jeremy Nicholson, of the Energy Intensive Users Group, representing some of Britain’s biggest manufacturers, said that power cuts that hit UK business first would present a “material threat to heavy industry.” Nicholson also warned that once the crisis hit the 60 percent hike in British energy bills currently being acknowledged by the government will, more realistically, hit the 120 percent mark.

Bottom line? If Einstein’s E=mc2 as it applies to renewable energy doesn’t cut the intellectual ice for prospective investors and foreign governments alike, perhaps another will. Try this: UK energy-climate policy, circa 2009 = a blueprint for black-outs. See what I mean about a fraudulent check being entirely successful right up to the point of cashing it?


Freaking Out over Global Warming

One of the ugliest battles in the blogosphere climate wars has involved the newly released Superfreakonomics, sequel to the best-selling Freakonomics. In their new book's final chapter,Download PDF economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner set out to challenge the view that massively restricting carbon emissions is the only hope for averting planetwide catastrophe. Some of the most outspoken advocates for immediate "carbon legislation," such as Joe Romm and Paul Krugman, were appalled by the chapter.

I can't do Levitt and Dubner's presentation justice here; I encourage the interested reader to read the chapter. To summarize very briefly, they argue that if global warming really is a threat, then it does not follow that governments need to enforce draconian cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, which would cost many trillions of dollars over the next few decades.

Instead, a "geoengineering" solution could be adopted to keep the earth cool despite increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Perhaps the most fanciful idea is to suspend a hose using helium balloons, in order to pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This would reflect some of the incoming sunlight and arrest (or even reverse) global warming, just as occurred after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Best of all, this particular approach would only cost about $250 million total — less than what Al Gore's foundation is spending just to "raise awareness" about climate change.

Naturally, the proponents of massive government interventions into the economy were furious at Levitt and Dubner's claims. Physicist and Clinton administration Department of Energy official Joe Romm got the ball rolling with this fiery post in which he accused the Superfreakonomics writers not merely of being incredibly sloppy in their summary of the climate science but also of consciously distorting the views of the scientists they quoted.

Romm's frequent ally in such matters, Paul Krugman, soon followed suit and claimed that the authors horribly mischaracterized the views of leading climate economists in the chapter. Dubner defended himself and co-author Levitt against Romm's accusations of intentional distortion in this post, and physicist (and all-around guru) Nathan Myhrvold, one of the primary sources for the chapter, defended himself from Romm's accusations of ignorance here....

In a series of posts (one, two, and three), DeLong heaps extreme criticism on our authors. Under normal circumstances, DeLong's criticisms would be described as "scathing," yet compared to Romm's treatment, it's kid-glove stuff. For our purposes here, I want to focus on just two of DeLong's (many) complaints. First, DeLong quotes Levitt who said (during an NPR interview): "If you look at the history of modern mankind, I think you will be hard pressed to find any particular problem that was serious that was solved by a behavioral change, as opposed to by a technological solution…."

DeLong is astounded by this claim, and responds, "That's just not economics: economics is that incentives change, and as incentives change people's behavior changes."

DeLong is right: what Levitt said is "not economics." Rather, it's a historical claim. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong, but DeLong can't trump it by citing a tautology from microeconomics. I am sure that Levitt would concede the narrow point that if governments around the world instituted a massive carbon tax, and enforced it with draconian penalties for evasion, then global emissions would indeed fall quickly.

But one of Levitt's main points is that governments around the world are not going to do this — that it is naive to expect them to sacrifice their own economies when (in Levitt's opinion) the climate science is not nearly certain enough to justify this painful step.

Levitt is making a prediction — based on his interpretation of history — that if man-made global warming really does require drastic measures in the next few decades, the response will involve various forms of geoengineering, which (Levitt predicts) will cost a tiny fraction of what the carbon mitigation proposals would require. To repeat, I'm not saying I necessarily endorse Levitt's glib proclamations on these points, but DeLong is wrong to dismiss them as somehow "not economics."

Finally let's deal with another point on which DeLong completely misses Levitt's valid argument. He first quotes Levitt: "Now, in the long run, perhaps you'll want to deal with the [high] carbon [dioxide] issue [even with geoengineering] because we're going to have acidification of the oceans and the coral reefs will die if we don't do something about the carbon. But if you just buy the time to keep the Earth cool for a while longer, I am certain that if we invest we will come up with technology that will allow us much more effectively in the future to pull carbon out of the air than we currently have…."

DeLong points out that whatever mechanism our descendants use to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, it will require power generation. He then argues: "So now we have (a) our normal power plants to power our civilization, plus (b) our atmosphere carbon-scrubbing industry, which is (c) powered by even more carbon power plants to generate the power to break the carbon-oxygen bonds that our first set of power plants made. But plants (c) put more carbon into the atmosphere than plants (a) did. I know, says Steve Levitt, we can power our carbon-scrubbing industry (b) by power plants (c) that use nuclear or solar or… But then why not power our original civilization-sustaining power plants (a) by nuclear or solar or whatever?"

Now this is frankly silly. Let's be clear, I think Levitt and Dubner made some major goofs in their chapter, and DeLong (as well as Romm and Krugman) nailed them. But here DeLong is making an obvious mistake. He is neglecting the fact that it will be much, much cheaper to engage in carbon-free energy production the longer we wait. Does DeLong really not see this elementary point and how it makes Levitt's argument perfectly sensible?

For an analogy, consider people who contract a terminal illness and then elect to have their bodies cryonically frozen so that they can be resuscitated and cured in the future. Now maybe that's a good idea or maybe it's not, but it wouldn't really make sense for someone to say, "That's just bad economics! Why go to the trouble of having your cancer cured in the future? Just do it now." Yet that is exactly the argument DeLong has deployed against Levitt.


There is a reason that the energy infrastructure in today's market economies is so heavily based upon fossil fuels: they are by far the cheapest, most reliable forms of energy, given the needs of modern society. Regardless of their (alleged) sloppy scholarship, Levitt and Dubner raise an interesting possibility that deserves careful scrutiny, not ridicule: even if it turns out that unfettered use of fossil fuels will spell unacceptable climate damages to future generations, it does not follow that the only solution is immediate and drastic reductions in carbon emissions.

Another possibility is to buy a few decades' worth of "breathing room" (Myhrvold's phrase in the book) through pumping SO2 into the stratosphere, for example, and then make the transition to carbon-free energy production when it will not be so terribly costly.

It's surprising that some of the people who warn that the fate of the planet itself is it stake are so dismissive of what could be a crucial component of humanity's response to the very dangers of which they're warning.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Britain's already bled-dry taxpayers owe lots more again, according to Warmists

Should a country that cannot even staff its hospitals adequately be sending billions to African dictators? Reality-challenged Warmists say YES!

Britain owes developing countries "climate compensation" of more than £17 billion a year for its contribution to climate change, according to a report by anti-poverty groups. The UN estimates more than £250 billion a year will be needed in coming decades to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Based on the UK's emissions, Britain is responsible for providing six per cent of the total.

The report also attacked the government's climate finance proposals as "grossly inadequate" to tackle the scale of the problem. The proposals, which look as though they will dominate this weekend's G20 talks, are more likely to increase third world debt.

The World Development Movement and Jubilee Debt Campaign warned the issue of climate debt will be a "Copenhagen deal-breaker" for developing countries. Report author Tim Jones said: "It's incredibly alarming that cash the government claims will help developing countries cope with climate change will actually increase their unfair debts. "This is a huge injustice because we owe a much bigger debt to compensate developing countries for climate change.

"The UK government needs to realise that the issue of climate debt will be a Copenhagen-deal breaker," he continued. "If rich countries refuse to recognise it, deeply rooted inequality and injustice will be locked in for decades to come."

The report criticises the UK's policy of channelling climate aid through the World Bank, which comes under fire for distributing finance through loans instead of aid, and for not insisting the money funds low carbon energy investment. The campaigners recommend grants be used in place of loans, and for climate finance to be dispersed through the UN.



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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Experts say that fears surrounding climate change are overblown

Alarming predictions that climate change will lead to the extinction of hundreds of species may be exaggerated, according to Oxford scientists. They say that many biodiversity forecasts have not taken into account the complexities of the landscape and frequently underestimate the ability of plants and animals to adapt to changes in their environment. “The evidence of climate change-driven extinctions have really been overplayed. We’re going to lose five or six species due to climate change, not hundreds,” said Professor Kathy Willis, a long-term ecologist at the University of Oxford and lead author of the article.

Professor Willis warned that alarmist reports were leading to ill-founded biodiversity policies in government and some major conservation groups. She said that climate change has become a “buzz word” that is taking priority while, in practice, changes in human use of land have a greater impact on the survival of species. “I’m certainly not a climate change denier, far from it, but we have to have sound policies for managing our ecosystems,” she said.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature backed the article, saying that climate change is “far from the number-one threat” to the survival of most species. “There are so many other immediate threats that, by the time climate change really kicks in, many species will not exist any more,” said Jean Christophe Vie, deputy head of the IUCN species program, which is responsible for compiling the international Redlist of endangered species. He listed hunting, overfishing, and destruction of habitat by humans as more critical for the majority of species.

However, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds disagreed, saying that climate change was the single biggest threat to biodiversity on the planet. “There’s an absolutely undeniable affect that’s happening now,” said John Clare, an RSPB spokesman. “There have been huge declines in British sea birds.”

The article, published today in the journal Science, reviews recent research on climate change and biodiversity, arguing that many simulations are not sufficiently detailed to give accurate predictions. In particular, the landscape is often described at very low resolution, not taking into account finer variations in vegetation and altitude that are vital predictors for biodiversity.

In one analysis of the likelihood of survival of alpine plant species in the Swiss Alps, the landscape was depicted with a 16km by 16km (10 miles by 10 miles) grid scale. This model predicted that all suitable habitats for alpine plants would have disappeared by the end of the century. When the simulation was repeated with a 25m by 25m (82ft by 82ft) scale, the model predicted that areas of suitable habitat would remain for all plant species.

The article suggests that migration to new regions and changes in living patterns of species would take place but that actual extinction would be rare.

Other studies comparing predictions of extinction rates with actual extinction rates have come to similar conclusions. According to a high-profile paper published in the journal Nature in 2004, up to 35 per cent of bird species would be extinct by 2050 due to changes in climate. To be on track to meet this figure, Professor Keith Bennett, head of geography at Queen’s University Belfast, calculated that about 36 species would have to have become extinct each year between 2004 and 2008. In reality, three species of bird became extinct.

He said that many species are far more versatile than some prediction models give them credit for. “If it gets a couple of degrees warmer than they’re comfortable with, they don’t just die, they move,” he said.


All hope is lost for Copenhagen climate treaty, British officials say

A world treaty on climate change will be delayed by up to a year and is likely to be watered down because countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions are refusing to commit to legally binding reductions.

British officials preparing for next month’s UN summit in Copenhagen said the best that could be hoped for was that national leaders would make “political agreements” on emission cuts and payments to help poor countries to adapt to climate change. These agreements would be non-binding, however, and could later be revised or rescinded by national parliaments.

At pre-summit talks in Barcelona, the officials said the final agreement would not emerge until at least six months after the Copenhagen summit, which ends on December 17. They said they hoped another meeting would be convened by next December to allow leaders to sign the treaty.

The admission that no treaty will be signed at Copenhagen marks the failure of the process agreed at a UN meeting in Bali in December 2007, when industrialised countries agreed to deliver a binding climate-change agreement within two years. The delay has angered developing countries, which say they are already suffering from man-made climate change. The Global Humanitarian Forum, based in Geneva, has estimated that more than 300,000 people are killed each year by climate change, nearly all of them in poor countries.

Delegates from 190 countries are now trying to agree a new timetable for signing a treaty but it is likely to be vague and contain no clear deadline. Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, told the House of Commons yesterday that little progress was being made in Barcelona, where delegates are discussing more than the 1,000 remaining disagreements over wording. He said: “The UN negotiations are moving too slowly and not going well. We would have preferred a full legal treaty, it has to be said. I think the important thing about the agreement we now seek in December is that while it may be a political agreement it must lead, on a very clear timetable, to a legally binding treaty.”

Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s negotiator on climate change, said in Barcelona that the absence of commitment from the United States on emission cuts was a key factor contributing to the delay, although other countries were also to blame. He said that without a treaty the EU would agree to cut its 1990 emissions by only 20 per cent by 2020, whereas with a treaty it would agree to a 30 per cent cut. Cuts of 25-40 per cent are needed by developed countries if a dangerous rise in global temperatures is to be avoided, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN-appointed group of more than 2,000 scientists.

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has also failed to announce targets. It has promised to cut carbon dioxide emisissions per unit of GDP but has not said by how much.

Benedict Dempsey, Save the Children’s humanitarian policy officer, said: “The cost of any delay to a climate deal will be counted in children’s lives. Save the Children estimates that 250,000 children could be killed by climate change next year. “Negotiators must realise that the world’s poorest communities can’t afford to wait.”

Joss Garman, of Greenpeace UK, said the EU should put more pressure on the US to agree targets. Copenhagen was the best chance to slash emissions, he said, but added “politicians seem determined to blow it”. He said that the US, influenced by “Big Carbon special interests”, was “a dead weight” on the talks.


The Quiet Death of the Kyoto Protocol

Reading the climate-change news in recent weeks, one might wonder who won the last election. The Obama administration has rejected the Kyoto Protocol (ensuring it will expire), adopted some of former President George W. Bush’s key positions in international climate negotiations, and demurred when asked about reports that the president has decided to skip the December climate summit in Copenhagen. United Nations climate negotiator Yvo de Boer has concluded that it is “unrealistic” to expect the conference to produce a new, comprehensive climate treaty—which also describes the once-fond hopes for passage of domestic climate legislation this year—or even in Obama’s first term.

This is not how it was supposed to be. Among all the things that President Bush did to infuriate environmentalists, none was more inexcusable than his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and it was assumed that Obama’s election meant a triumphant American return to the Kyoto fold—symbolically, at least, if not literally. Backed by large majorities in both houses of Congress, Obama was widely expected to quickly pass a Kyoto-style domestic cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases, positioning America to take the moral high ground in Copenhagen, thus luring (or compelling) China and India to accept emissions targets.

The story, at least on the international side, is complicated by our actual history with Kyoto, which is not as simple as some greens would portray it today. Rejection of Kyoto—in 1997, three years before Bush’s election—was a rare moment of bipartisan consensus on climate policy; the Senate voted unanimously (95-0) against its basic tenets, and the Clinton-Gore administration never submitted it for ratification. (Even a little-known state legislator from Illinois named Barack Obama voted to condemn Kyoto and prohibit the state from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.)

The treaty’s fundamental flaws were well understood: It set very ambitious—and costly—targets for the United States while allowing emissions from the developing world to continue to rise unchecked. (And indeed today, despite Kyoto’s ratification, China has become the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases.) Americans don’t mind contributing to a solution, but Kyoto asked a lot of sacrifice for little reward.

Despite that moment of bipartisan consensus on Kyoto, the election of George W. Bush quickly made opposition to Kyoto indefensible among all right-thinking environmentalists; Kyoto’s genuine structural flaws were excused, if not forgotten, by all but a few. And instead of it being Al Gore’s fault for agreeing a pie-in-the-sky treaty in defiance of a unanimous vote of the Senate, Kyoto’s demise was blamed on Bush for his more forthright refusal in 2001 to seek ratification. This is natural in politics, of course, but the cost was a loss of focus on the need for effective alternatives to Kyoto.

While Barack Obama did not explicitly campaign on a pledge to ratify Kyoto, his hope-and-change message was clear: Elect me and America will no longer be an outcast on climate policy; I will lead the charge for a new, Kyoto-style agreement in Copenhagen. And President-elect Obama’s first statement on climate change was a bold pledge: “Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.” In retrospect, the commitment seems a bit vague, but his audience has no doubt what he meant. As one British newspaper breathlessly reported:

Prospects for success in the world's struggle to combat global warming have been transformed at a stroke after U.S. President-elect Barack Obama made it clear that America would play its full part in renewing the Kyoto Protocol climate-change treaty. His words, in effect, brought an end to eight years of willful climate obstructionism by the administration of George Bush, who withdrew the U.S. from Kyoto in March 2001, thus doing incalculable damage to the efforts of the international community to construct a unified response to the threat.

Eleven months later, the dream of a successful global climate policy seems as far out of reach as ever, and America continues to have profound disagreements over climate policy with much of the world. In the good old days of the bad old Bush administration, it was easy to paper over the profoundly complicated and difficult obstacles to effective national and international climate agreements; “Blame Bush!” was a cry greens could all rally around. Today, the inconvenient truth of the matter is harder to hide, and to a surprising degree, the rallying cry for the rest of the world remains “Blame America!”

How did we reach this point, less than a year into the Obama administration? There are different dynamics at work: undue deference to Congress on domestic legislation, and insufficient leverage in international negotiations to overcome vastly dissimilar national interests and abilities.

As he has with a number of key issues, President Obama has let Congress largely take the lead in crafting domestic climate legislation—to his regret, one must imagine, seeing the results. The bill that passed the House by the narrowest of margins was a monstrosity by any measure, hailed even by its most fervent supporters as a detestable mess. Progress in the Senate has been far slower, and it is increasingly clear that no bill will pass this year. Hopes for action on climate will have carry over to 2010—a contentious election year, at a time when unemployment may well top 10 percent and polling suggests that public concern about climate change is falling dramatically. The prospects for a bill in 2010 are not good—and Democrats are likely to lose seats in those elections, leaving them poorly positioned to pass legislation in 2011–12 as the next presidential election approaches.

Less than a year into Obama’s first term, it seems plausible that no climate bill will pass before 2013 at the earliest, and that the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012 without a comprehensive successor agreement to take its place.

Having promised to lead the Copenhagen negotiations to a successful conclusion, Obama now finds himself in a bind: Unable to get a bill through Congress, he doesn’t want to repeat Gore’s mistake of letting Europeans pressure him into signing a treaty the Senate won’t ratify while sanctioning unrestricted emissions from the developing world. Since treaties require the support of two-thirds of the Senate, ratification will be more difficult than passage of domestic legislation. So the administration’s draft implementing agreement submitted to the UN in May specified that emissions reductions would be subject to “conformity with domestic law.” In other words, whatever is agreed to here doesn’t mean a thing if the Senate doesn’t agree. As Jonathan Pershing, a top State Department negotiator, remarked at the recent climate negotiators’ meeting in Bangkok. “We are not going to be part of an agreement we cannot meet.”

This position protects Obama from the danger of getting ahead of the Senate—while infuriating Europe and developing nations that consider strong American action on climate long overdue. As an anonymous European Commission official remarked in September, climate negotiations are “not going well”:

European Union officials have grown increasingly frustrated at the U.S. stance, saying it has fallen short on both its level of ambition to reduce emissions and on offering aid to developing nations. “So far, we thought the basic problem was the Chinese and the Indians. But now I think the problem appears to lie most clearly with the U.S.”

The China-India problem remains unsolved as well, and Obama clearly is not blind to the serious political, economic, and environmental problems with any treaty that reaffirms Kyoto’s sanction of unrestricted emissions from developing countries. Climate advocates have long argued that the key to overcoming developing world resistance to emissions limits is American leadership; if we go first, China and India will follow. Skeptics note that what we gain in credibility we may lose in leverage needed to force a deal in Copenhagen. In any case, Congress’s inaction—and its continued concern about trade competitiveness questions—has forced Obama, in effect, to take the Bush position: No new treaty without developing world participation. As NPR recently reported, Kyoto will be allowed to expire after 2012. “The United States never ratified the agreement because it doesn't require any action from the developing world, including China, the world’s largest emitter. The Bush administration considered that a fatal flaw. And so does the Obama White House.”

This is the crux of the argument: The crucial feature of the deal that Gore struck in Kyoto was its exemption of the developing world from emissions reduction obligations. Without that concession, the developing world would never have accepted the treaty—but with it, the treaty was almost worthless (particularly since, as a political matter, that provision precluded American participation). This was the fatal flaw of Kyoto—and, having established that exemption, it will be doubly hard to persuade developing nations to undo it.

Obama apparently hopes to finesse these issues by reaching bilateral agreements with China and India, although critics complain that doing so would potentially undermine the multilateral architecture of the prospective Copenhagen treaty. But recent reports that no bilateral agreement will be announced during Obama’s visit to China in November suggest that a deal by Copenhagen is unlikely. China and India are both under enormous international pressure to accept emissions limits—and even greater domestic pressure to maintain a strong rate of economic growth. Both countries have so far firmly resisted calls for binding emissions caps, although President Hu Jintao has said that China will cut its emissions relative to economic growth—that is, the greenhouse-gas “intensity” of the Chinese economy, not total emissions—by a “notable” margin by 2020.

Meanwhile, to its credit, the administration is taking a surprisingly hard line with developing countries. State Department envoy Todd Stern recently called on developing nations to make significant, binding commitments to emissions reductions, remarking: "We don’t in the U.S. deny that we have real historical responsibility but the IEA [International Energy Agency] in Paris will tell you that 97 percent of the growth in emissions between now and 2050 will come from the developing world. The U.S. has to act and the EU and Japan but also the developing countries. It’s the only way to solve this problem."

This is strong stuff—and it runs contrary to much conventional liberal wisdom in the United States, Europe, and particularly in the developing world, which holds that the nations most responsible for past emissions should be primarily responsible for mitigation. If climate change is a moral issue (as most liberals insist), then the polluter responsible for past emissions should be on the hook for their consequences today; if we see the issue purely in pragmatic terms, then responsibility must be shared significantly with the major developing economies. The insistence that developing nations make credible commitments to emissions reductions has been a core conservative principle on climate; seeing Obama pick up that torch is encouraging—it is vital to crafting any true, effective global agreement—but it remains to be seen whether any combination of pressure and persuasion will be sufficient to strike a deal on those terms.

What should we make of the surprising Bushification of these aspects of Obama’s climate policy? It is too soon to say. It is easy to see these events as a series of failures, yet they may still prove to be the first steps to success if the president is committed to crafting real alternatives. Certainly the first step to success lies in rejecting the failed approaches of the past—and inadvertently or not, Obama has moved further in that direction than might have been expected a year ago. On the international side, he has taken a surprisingly reformist stance. But building a new architecture for domestic and international climate policy would be an enormous undertaking.

Doing so would require a willingness to challenge the cherished assumptions of many environmental advocates, a risky proposition for a president who has been increasingly forced to rely on his base for support. Yet the potential rewards are also great: if ever an issue cried out for a sensible, centrist approach, it is climate change.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the President Bush’s climate policy was not its substantive flaws (although there were many), but rather that the president was such an inarticulate advocate for it. The president’s greatest power is the bully pulpit, and if he uses it wisely, he can change the way America, and even the world, thinks about a complex issue like climate change. President Bush had that opportunity and squandered it; President Obama is better positioned to tackle the task, but healthcare and other matters have, so far, come first. The question is whether, as the president retrenches following a disappointing first year in office, he will be willing to take a gamble on a new approach to climate.

The odds against that scenario are tall; the smart—or at least, natural—political move for Obama would be to simply blame Republicans for blocking the climate bill, an easy charge to make, and both parties appear willing to take their positions to the voters. Yet a new approach to climate policy will require a willingness to somehow rise above politics to challenge conventional liberal wisdom on key aspects of climate policy. Doing so would not be easy for Obama in this intensely partisan time. But with polls indicating dwindling support for him from independents and Republicans, a creative, centrist approach to climate could be the key to turning that trend around.

There is a credible body of serious, creative work exploring different approaches to both domestic and international climate change issues; if, in the face of gridlock in Congress and the collapse of the Kyoto system, Obama chooses to make this issue a top priority, a fresh start on climate policy could still earn bipartisan support. Alas, what we have heard so far from President Obama is merely a pledge to “redouble” his efforts to strike a deal in Copenhagen—or, at least, to create a “framework for progress”—without acknowledging the genuinely thorny issues that have precluded agreement to date. Admitting failure is the first step to success—yet it violates the first rule of politics. Obama campaigned on a promise to change politics as usual in Washington and around the world. Can he do it on climate? Some commentators argue that the only problem with the legislation being considered by Congress is that it lacks sufficient votes for passage; in fact, its political problems are rooted in its structural flaws, not vice versa. An acknowledgment from President Obama that a new approach is needed would start a fresh conversation on climate that is long overdue.


Red-faced Times abandons fishy eco ad

The Times newspaper says it won't be repeating an advertisement that contained a false and misleading piece of environmental alarmism. The advert, part of a series boasting its eco-credentials, claimed that the world's oceans would be free of fish by 2048. But the prediction was debunked when it was made three years ago, and the academic responsible has since joined forces with his critics to disown his earlier claim.

The paper has told fishing industry journal Intrafish that it wouldn't be repeating the advert, which was created to show that The Times was the only national paper with an Ocean correspondent. Last month we reported how The Times had claimed in advertisements that the North East Passage - a commercial trade route open since 1934 - had just been "opened" for the first time by global warming. Again, it used an assertion to justify its, er... brilliant environmental reporting credentials.

Maritime conservation researcher Boris Worm had made the claim in a 2006 paper in Science, which despite its reputation as a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, has a weakness for publishing shoddy junk science on environmental subjects. In a note accidentally sent to the press, Worm had said the attention grabbing claim could be an effective "news hook to get people's attention."

The Worm has since turned: revising his earlier view. According to Intrafish, Times correspondent Frank Pope contacted the paper's marketing department.

But if there's one thing dumber than environment reporters, it's environmentally "aware" celebrities. This summer Greta Scacchi was one of several celebrities to pose nude with a cod, to draw attention to the cause. Richard E. Grant, Terry Gilliam and Lenny Henry also stripped off. A documentary called The End Of The Line also makes the "No Fish by 2048" claim. The film has been described as the equivalent of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth for fishing. Which says it all, really.


A Rational Look at Sea Level Rise

The one thing that is the most certain about climate change, is that no matter what happens, we’ll have to adapt. In fact, even if the climate doesn’t change a lick, adaptations will take place, aimed at improving our overall health and welfare by either better protecting us from, or taking better advantage of, the prevailing climate conditions. Such has always been the case, and such always will be.

This is something that global warming alarmists either fail to understand, or fail to acknowledge.

Consider the dire warning that anthropogenic climate change is going to lead to a global food crisis. This scenario is predicated upon the “dumb farmer scenario” in which agriculturists around the fail to respond to changing climate conditions, and instead hold on to old, failing ways, as the climate changes around them. The “dumb farmer” scenario, should more aptly be termed the “dumb forecaster” scenario, because such an assumption illustrates a glaring disconnect between theory and reality. People adapt to change.

Another grossly inaccurate claim which totally ignores our adaptive response involves sea level rise. Al Gore likes to show maps of what coastal areas look like presently, and what they would look like assuming a multi-meter sea level rise. A dramatic section of Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth showed some before and afters of coastal locations under Gore’s scenario of a 20 foot sea level rise that would happen “[i]f Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea—or half of Greenland and half of Antarctica melted or broke up and slipped into the sea.” For a dose of reality, a recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters pegged the current rate of sea level rise contributed by Antarctica and Greenland combined at 6 inches/century. How inconvenient.

No matter what, is that Gore’s pictures will never represent reality for the simple reason that we won’t let them. Do you really think that the powers that be will let a large portions of Manhattan Island sink beneath the waves like Gore depicts? Of course not. Instead, appropriate responses will take place to protect the high-priced development there. This will happen not only in Manhattan, but in most places where we have already invested a lot of time, effort, and money.

This was the conclusion recently reached by a team led by EPA sea level rise researcher Jim Titus, who has been working with land-use planners up and down the eastern seaboard to determine how various areas along the coast will be impacted by sea level rise—whatever the magnitude.

Titus’s team categorized all the dry land along the East Coast that is within 1 meter of sea level into four categories—developed, intermediate (likely to be developed), undeveloped, and protected from development. The first two categories were considered land-use types that would be largely protected from sea level rise by human intervention—raising of the land, or holding back the sea. These categories make up about 60% of the low-lying coastal land area between Florida and Massachusetts.

The remaining 40% of the low-lying land area is potentially flooded by rising oceans at some point in time. This is considered good by Titus et al. because it allows for natural processes to respond to rising sea levels (i.e., letting ecosystems migrate inland). But only about one-quarter of it is currently protected by conservation requirements. The other 3/4th (or 30% of the total land area within 1 meter of sea level) is currently unprotected. Titus et al. would like to see as much of this unprotected land as possible left alone (or moved into conservation).

The major point Titus et al. are trying to make is that now is the time to be thinking about the how to designate land use for the future in light of rising ocean levels. This sounds like a pretty rational approach because, it is virtually certain that sea levels will continue to rise into the future. Starting to talk about how to best prepare for this eventuality is a good thing.

Contrast this with the irrational approach that shows urban areas under 20 feet of water and demands that human greenhouse gas emissions need to be immediately curtailed to prevent this.

Here is what Titus et al. have to say about that favorite technique of the Al Gores on the world: "We hope that [our work] can help to change the way people think about rising sea level. Researchers and the media need to stop suggesting that Manhattan or even Miami will be lost to a rising sea. That’s not realistic; it promotes denial and panic, not a reasoned consideration of the future. Our maps show some of the choices coastal residents face, but losing Manhattan is not one of them."


Australia: Sea rise much slower than predicted

SEA levels on Australia's eastern seaboard are rising at less than a third of the rate that the New South Wales Government is predicting as it overhauls the state's planning laws and bans thousands of landowners from developing coastal sites. The Rees Government this week warned that coastal waters would rise 40cm on 1990 levels by 2050, with potentially disastrous effects. Even yesterday Kevin Rudd warned in a speech to the Lowy Institute that 700,000 homes and businesses, valued at up to $150 billion, were at risk from the surging tide.

However, if current sea-level rises continue, it would not be until about 2200 - another 191 years - before the east coast experienced the kind of increases that have been flagged. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Meteorology's National Tidal Centre, issued in June, there has been an average yearly increase of 1.9mm in the combined net rate of relative sea level at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, since the station was installed in 1991. This is consistent with historical analysis showing that, throughout the 20th century, there was a modest rise in global sea levels of about 20cm, or 1.7mm per year on average.

By comparison, the NSW Government's projections - based on global modelling by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as CSIRO regional analysis - equate to a future rise of about 6.6mm a year. Such a projection has caused widespread concern for landowners and developers, derision from "climate sceptics" within the scientific community and even some head-scratching from Wollongong locals such as Kevin Court, 80.

"I have swum at this beach every day for the past 50 years, and nothing much changes here," Mr Court said yesterday as he emerged from the surf at Wollongong's North Beach, just a short paddle from the Port Kembla gauging station. "All this talk about rising sea levels - most of us old-timers haven't seen any change and we've been coming down here for decades. "A few years ago part of the bank at the back of the beach was eroded. But you look at it now, and all the grass has grown back over it. The water hasn't washed back there for years. "And that's nature. It's up and down, it comes and goes in cycles - nothing dramatic."



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


Friday, November 06, 2009

Gore abandons science-talk for theology

The science is too pesky and he was after all a divinity student once

Al’s Gore’s much-anticipated sequel to An Inconvenent Truth is published today, with an admission that facts alone will not persuade Americans to act on global warming and that appealing to their spiritual side is the way forward....

Much of the material was developed through the series of brainstorming sessions organised by Gore. Since 2007, the former vice-president has been calling experts together to discuss possible solutions to climate change. He has also held countless telephone conversations with scientists at America’s best institutions.

“He is one of the only politicians that takes the time to actually talk to scientists who are producing the cutting-edge stuff and he comes in with questions. He doesn’t ask us how our results impinge on a particular policy he actually asks about science,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who spoke to Gore along with colleagues four or five times for the book. “Nobody that we have dealt with has ever taken as much time to understand the subtlety of the science and all the different complications and what it all means as Al Gore.”

Those conversations led Gore to politically inconvenient conclusions in this new book. In his conversations with Schmidt and other colleagues at the beginning of the year, Gore explored new studies – published only last week – that show methane and black carbon or soot had a far greater impact on global warming than previously thought. Carbon dioxide – while the focus of the politics of climate change – produces around 40% of the actual warming.

Gore acknowledged to Newsweek that the findings could complicate efforts to build a political consensus around the need to limit carbon emissions. “Over the years I have been among those who focused most of all on CO2, and I think that’s still justified,” he told the magazine. “But a comprehensive plan to solve the climate crisis has to widen the focus to encompass strategies for all” of the greenhouse culprits identified in the Nasa study.

The former vice-president has been working behind the scenes to try to nudge the White House and Congress to move forward on a 920-page proposed law to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions and encourage its use of clean energy sources like solar and wind power. On Saturday, he told the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, he was “almost certain” Obama would attend the negotiations. The White House has so far refused to make a commitment.

But Gore has also been confronted with almost daily fresh reminders of the difficulties of prodding Americans to action. The proposed legislation has set off a ferocious debate about the costs of dealing with climate change – with conservative Democrats and Republicans saying reducing America’s use of oil will deepen unemployment and hurt average American families.

Republicans in the Senate have threatened to boycott a session today that had been called to move forward a draft of a 920-page proposed law to deal with climate change. Progress on the bill is seen as crucial to getting a binding deal at Copenhagen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate’s environment and public works committee, said yesterday she was ready to move ahead without any Republican participation.


Damn this false God! How in the name of sanity can being green be a religion?

Have you ever noticed how closely green zealotry resembles religious fanaticism? Well, now the law has, in effect, recognised environmentalism as a religion. An employee who claimed his boss showed 'contempt' for his green beliefs has won the right to seek unlimited damages for unfair dismissal. In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Barton found in favour of Tim Nicholson, who was made redundant by the property company he worked for. The judge argued that a 'philosophical belief which is based on science' should receive the same protection as religious beliefs.

Some of us would question whether the more extreme opinions of green activists have any basis in science at all. For example, their violent opposition to nuclear power runs against the tide of scientific opinion.

Climate change is a contentious issue, yet green activists brook no opposition to their views that unless we give up air travel, throw away our lightbulbs and slaughter every cow, the world is doomed.

But Mr Justice Barton is profoundly mistaken to suppose that, just because greens often behave like zealots, therefore their beliefs amount to a religion. A political ideology, such as environmentalism, is not a religion. Only totalitarian societies such as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia try to turn politics into a religion - with disastrous consequences for human freedom.

The whole of Western civilisation has Jewish and Christian roots, without which it cannot thrive. There is no comparison between the fundamental role of Christianity in our history and that of ephemeral red or green political fashions. In our militantly secular society, however, official recognition of people's religious convictions - especially Christian ones - is being constantly eroded. For example, a Christian registrar in Islington, North London, was sacked because she felt unable to conduct civil partnership ceremonies at her register office, arguing that homosexuality runs contrary to Christian morality. An even more notorious case was that of the British Airways check-in worker who was suspended for wearing a crucifix.

That well-worn prophecy attributed to G.K. Chesterton - 'When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything' - now seems more pertinent than ever.

It appears that no fashionable nostrum, from Madonna's Kabbalah to Carole Caplin's crystals, is too fatuous. Today, the chattering classes might more accurately be called the credulous classes. They hold everything sacred up to ridicule, while treating as sacred all that is most ridiculous.

And so the green creed of Mr Nicholson is protected by law, while the belief that a child is best brought up by a mother and a father, on which Catholic adoption agencies have traditionally been based, is expressly prohibited by the courts who insist that those same agencies must allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

It seems the only religion that is still sometimes granted unqualified respect and cast-iron protection in Britain is Islam. Our bold secularists are unaccountably timid when it comes to offending Muslim sensibilities. But nobody is afraid of trampling over the rich legacy that Christianity has bequeathed to our civilisation.

And so the green creed of Mr Nicholson is protected by law, while the belief that a child is best brought up by a mother and a father, on which Catholic adoption agencies have traditionally been based, is expressly prohibited by the courts who insist that those same agencies must allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

The European Court of Human Rights has this week ordered Italy, the heartland of Catholicism, to remove crucifixes from classrooms on the bizarre grounds that these traditional symbols are a violation of pupils' religious and educational liberties. The secularists who are behind such aggressive campaigns want nothing less than to extinguish Europe's Christian identity.

What will replace Judaeo-Christian morality, based on the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount? We have only to look at the horrors on our streets and our sink estates to see how the vacuum created by secularism is being filled by an amoral morass of lawlessness.

Green zealotry is one of the most influential of the pseudo-religions that today substitute for Christianity. It offers a view of the world in which the true believer in, say, manmade global warming can feel morally superior to the sceptic.

One of the arguments by which Mr Nicholson persuaded Mr Justice Barton was his claim that he no longer travels by aircraft, because air travel produces carbon emissions. Yet the prejudice against air travel is preposterous humbug. Not only do the most zealous advocates of extreme environmentalism, such as Al Gore, turn out to have the largest 'carbon footprint', but the entire green movement, not to mention such global jamborees as next month's Copenhagen climate change summit, is made possible only by air travel.

Mr Nicholson and others who share his views are entitled to do without air travel. That is their right in a free society. But they are not entitled to bully others who wish to fly abroad for work or pleasure. Yet that is the consequence of elevating their zealotry into a legally protected realm. How many employers will discipline an employee who tries to make colleagues feel guilty every time they take a trip by air?

Mr Justice Barton has contributed to placing the greens above the law. In doing so, he is following a trend. Last year, six Greenpeace activists were cleared of causing £30,000 of criminal damage at Kingsnorth in Kent, the first of a new generation of coal-fired power stations. The Greenpeace zealots persuaded the court at Maidstone that they were entitled to damage the power station - which they claimed was causing climate change - because climate change might cause even greater damage to the planet. This dangerous verdict, which legitimised violent protests, has now been reinforced by Mr Justice Barton's ruling that green politics should enjoy the status of a religion.



Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races may make some congressional Democrats more leery of backing key elements of President Barack Obama's agenda because of the political price they could pay, analysts said.

Democrats in competitive House districts, many of them already cautious about Obama's push to overhaul the U.S. health- care system and curb emissions blamed for global warming, might be more resistant to move ahead on the measures and face attacks from a newly energized Republican Party, the analysts said.

The Nov. 3 election results are "a real warning bell for moderate Democrats," said Tobe Berkovitz, associate professor of communications at Boston University. "They are not going to think twice about their vote on health care. They're going to think five times."

David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York, said Democrats in competitive districts may demand more concessions in exchange for their votes on contentious legislation.

The election "may make it harder to swing moderates on the fence in favor of Obama's proposals, for fear of being made examples in the midterm elections," Primo said. "The results may increase the price those on the fence charge for their support."



Russia doesn't seem to care two bits about global warming, and it's not hard to see why. Most Russians would probably be happy if the country was a little warmer. Officials even joke that once climate change has run its course, people may start pouring into Siberia instead of trying to escape it. If the polar ice caps melt any further, Russia would be able to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean, where it's believed to have huge fossil-fuel reserves. For the rest of the planet, however, the picture is not so cheerful.

To say that Russia is hesitant about tackling climate change is putting it mildly. The last time the world tried to get the country's cooperation on the issue was in 1997, during negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol (the international treaty on limiting greenhouse-gas emissions). Because Russia is the world's third largest source of emissions after the U.S. and China, the accord would have failed without it. So the treaty was written in a way that would allow Russia to keep polluting as much as it wanted and grant the country billions of dollars in emissions allowances to sell to other countries that needed to meet their Kyoto commitments.

As a U.N. official who participated in the talks put it, "Russia got the sweetest deal: free money, no restrictions." But apparently even that wasn't enough. It took another seven years of painstaking negotiations - and promises from the West to help Russia join the World Trade Organization (WTO) - to get the country to ratify the deal. How the world will persuade Russia to take an active part in the upcoming climate-change summit in Copenhagen on Dec. 2 remains to be seen.


Forests in the desert: the answer to climate concerns?

CO2 levels could be reduced by a staggeringly ambitious plan to plant the Sahara desert and Australian outback with trees. But it's unlikely to be a destructive enough policy for the Greenies. They will probably say that it threaten the habitat of the desert rat, or some-such

Some talk of hoisting mirrors into space to reflect sunlight, while others want to cloud the high atmosphere with millions of tonnes of shiny sulphur dust. Now, scientists could have dreamed up the most ambitious geoengineering plan to deal with climate change yet: converting the parched Sahara desert to a lush forest. The scale of the ambition is matched only by the promised rewards – the scientists behind the plan say it could "end global warming".

The scheme has been thought up by Leonard Ornstein, a cell biologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, together with Igor Aleinov and David Rind, climate modellers at Nasa. The trio have outlined their plan in a new paper published in the Journal of Climatic Change, and they modestly conclude it "probably provides the best, near-term route to complete control of greenhouse gas induced global warming".

Under the scheme, planted fields of fast growing trees such as eucalyptus would cover the deserts of the Sahara and Australian outback, watered by seawater treated by a string of coastal desalination plants and channelled through a vast irrigation network. The new blanket of tree cover would bring its own weather system and rainfall, while soaking up carbon dioxide from the world's atmosphere. The team's calculations suggest the forested deserts could draw down around 8bn tonnes of carbon a year, about the same as emitted from fossil fuels and deforestation today. Sounds expensive? The researchers say it could be more economic than planned global investment in carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).

"The costs are enormous but the scale of the problem is enormous," says Ornstein, who is best known for pioneering a cell biology technique called polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the 1950s. "It's a serious suggestion in that I believe it is the most promising and practical option in terms of current technology to solve the biggest parts of the problem."

The scheme could cost $1.9tn a year, he says. "When that's compared to figures like estimates of $800bn per year for CCS, our plan looks like a loser. But CCS can address only about 20% of the problem at the $800bn price. Mine addresses the whole thing. And CCS would involve a network of dangerous high-pressure pipelines coursing through the most developed neighbourhoods of our civilisations, compared to relatively benign water aqueducts in what are presently virtually uninhabited deserts."

Planting trees to combat rising carbon dioxide levels is controversial on a large scale, because most places where it has been suggested, such as Canada and Siberia, are in the northern hemisphere where the resulting change in surface colour, from predominantly light snow and rock to predominantly dark trees, could soak up more sunlight and cancel out the cooling benefit. Ornstein says subtropical regions, such as the Sahara and the Australian outback, do not have this problem. The areas have only minimal "human occupation, agricultural food and fibre resources and competing natural biomes" the team says. "We must bite the bullet, global warming will not go away by itself ... solar, geothermal and wind power can make modest contributions. All of these are other parts of a fix. But the quicker a forest can be grown, the more time will be available to choose among and to implement such adjustments, and perhaps to develop more attractive substitutes."

Ornstein says several desert-heavy countries are suitable, including large chunks of Saudi Arabia and a string of African nations west of Egypt. The scheme would provide jobs and investment, he says, as well as a long-term source of sustainable wood that could be used as a biofuel to replace fossil fuels. Other plans for the desert region, such as the installation of giant arrays of mirrors and solar panels to generate electricity would not be affected, he says. Tree-planters, and the resulting clouds, would stick to the flatter regions further south.

Since the paper was published a few weeks ago, Ornstein has attempted to seed serious discussions on specialist websites, with little success. Critics have pointed out that the deserts are not total wildernesses, but rich and diverse ecosystems in their own right, which would be destroyed. Ornstein says: "If sacrifices are required to stem global warming, the almost non-existent ecosystems of the central Sahara and the outback seem like reasonable candidates compared to the alternatives."

The scheme does have some support. "It is incredibly important and definitely worth taking seriously," says Rick Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. "While there are many practical and political difficulties of afforestation of regions this large, the benefits could be enormous and go well beyond carbon sequestration."



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


Thursday, November 05, 2009


An email from Henry Geraedts [] below


The UN's IPCC's Chairman Pachauri acting as climate advisor to the Chinese government, no less? And the same "climate advisor" stating in Beijing that China and India should "shame" developed economies into "wealth transfer"? Based on evidence, taking Pachauri aside and explaining the fundamentals of conflict of interest to him would likely be an exercise in futility.

Two things have at least been achieved by Pachauri's actions: One, any pretence that may have remained about the IPCC as a "scientific" "intergovernmental" advisory body has been removed, hopefully once and for all.

And two, confirmation by Pachauri himself of what AGW/ACC really has been about all along: a 20 year campaign of fearmongering, orchestrated to trigger massive wealth transfer by the developed economies to the rest of the world, managed by an "appropriate global governance structure" - as explained by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's last week - without any accountability, of course.


An email from Wayne Richards [] below:

I've reached my own personal tipping point. I've heard once too often that the Arctic ice melt of 2007 was unprecedented, that it's going to happen again, only worse, and that we're all doomed. Including the polar bears. Never before in history...etc.

Less than a half mile from my home in Vancouver, B.C. sits the RCMP Vessel Saint Roch. She's been declared a national monument or some such designation, and for good reason. In the early 1940's she traversed the Northwest Passage. Then she did it again. Then again, in the other direction. Three times, three times.

She's a small thing, but sturdily built. At a little over a hundred feet long, she displaces about 325 tons. She was powered by some small auxiliary sails and a piddling 150 hp.diesel engine. And she's not steel. She's built of good British Columbia Douglas fir, externally sheathed with Australian gumwood (thank you, Aussies). Mind you, her bow had some metal on it, whether iron or steel I do not know.

This small, woefully underpowered vessel was the first to traverse the Northwest Passage west to east, was the first to traverse it more than once, was the first to traverse it in both directions, and was the first to circumnavigate North America (using the Panama Canal at the small end).

But she was not the first in recorded history to traverse the Northwest Passage. In 1906 Roald Amundsen ran it from east to west in his even smaller (76ft) sloop "Gjoa". It may have been all sail; if it had an auxiliary motor I do not know of it.

The log books of neither the Gjoa nor the St. Roch record any drowning polar bears.


Note that there is a slight rising trend but that it was happening long before the late 20th century and the era of widespread industrialization

Obama "Bailing Out" Al Gore and Utilities

Obama Rewards Companies Supporting Cap-and-Trade with Over $600,000,000 Million in Grants

Today's page one New York Times story on Al Gore profiting from global warming advocacy illustrates how taxpayer money is being used to reward businesses that support Obama's energy agenda, says Tom Borelli Ph.D., director of the Free Enterprise Project. Gore's venture capital company, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, will benefit from the Department of Energy grants to support the development of the so-called smart grid, according to the Times. "The Department of Energy is doling out $3.4 billion in smart grid grants and some of these funds are being steered to "friends of Obama," said Borelli.

The Department of Energy (DOE) funds were part of the "American Reinvestment and Recovery Act" – President Obama's economic stimulus plan. According to the Times, $560 million in grants were awarded to utilities that had contracts with Silver Spring Networks – a company that Gore's firm has invested in. Silver Spring Networks develops technologies to increase the efficiency of the electricity grid.

John Doerr, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. "Grants to Gore, unfortunately, are only the tip of the global warming iceberg. The big money is going to companies that are lobbying for cap-and-trade legislation," added Borelli.

Utilities lobbying for cap-and-trade legislation are recipients of over $600,000,000 in DOE grants. Duke Energy, FPL Group and Exelon are members of the United States Climate Action Partnership -- a lobbying group seeking a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions. DOE awarded the following grants:

Duke Energy Carolinas $3,927,899

Duke Energy Business Services LLC $200,000,000

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) $200,000,000

PECO Energy Company (Exelon) $ 200,000,000

"It's outrageous that taxpayer money is going to corporations that have their own resources. Clearly, it pays to be on team Obama. No wonder Exelon is turning in its membership with the U.S Chamber of Commerce and Duke Energy left the National Association of Manufactures," said Borelli. "These trade associations are opposing the global warming bill moving through Congress."


Al Gore the new Madoff?

Al Gore, the former US vice president, could become the world's first carbon billionaire after investing heavily in green energy companies. Last year Mr Gore's venture capital firm loaned a small California firm $75m to develop energy-saving technology. The company, Silver Spring Networks, produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient.

The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants, the New York Times reports. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts. The move means that venture capital company Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years.

Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy as Mr Gore. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.

Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming sceptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world's first "carbon billionaire," profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, has claimed that Mr Gore stood to benefit personally from the energy and climate policies he was urging Congress to adopt.

Mr Gore had said that he is simply putting his money where his mouth is. "Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?" Mr. Gore said. "I am proud of it. I am proud of it."


Africans balking at climate proposals too

African countries boycotted meetings at U.N. climate talks Tuesday, saying that industrial countries had set carbon-cutting targets too low for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The action forced several technical meetings to be canceled at this week's U.N. climate talks in Barcelona. Delegates warned that, unless the African protest was settled, it could set back the timetable for concluding a new climate change pact at a major U.N. conference next month in Copenhagen.

The 50 or so African countries said they would only discuss pledges submitted by wealthy countries, and that talks on other issues including carbon offsets and action by developing countries should not move forward until there is full commitment by industrial countries. "I don't think we can get to a result in the way we're going now," said Algerian negotiator Kamel Djemouai, who chairs the Africa group. "We cannot prejudge what will happen next until we see the reactions of others."

It was the first time the Africans have taken such concerted action at the U.N. climate talks, but they have been coordinating their position over the past year to ensure unity in the final lead-up to the Copenhagen conference, said Antonio Hill, of Oxfam International. Scientists say industrial countries should reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, but targets announced so far amount to far less than the minimum.

The African walkout stymied only part of the talks, which operate in two parallel bodies. Negotiations on the overall shape of a deal and on financing for poor countries continued uninterrupted.

European delegates met leaders of the African group for two hours, but failed to persuade them to return to the committee rooms. A broader meeting was called to try to break the impasse....


American Agri-Women honor skeptical Meteorologist

American Agri-Women (AAW) will present their highest honor, the Veritas Award, to Oregon Meteorologist George Taylor, at their 34rd annual convention in Salem, Oregon, November 13. The Veritas Award is given to individuals who have been public witness to the “pursuit of truth” in accordance with the principles expressed in the AAW statement of philosophy. Of specific interest are personalities of importance to agriculture, or responsible media coverage of agricultural issues and events.

George Taylor has been working in the field of meteorology and climatology for over 34 years. Taylor, who lives in Corvallis, Oregon, served for 19 years as Oregon’s climatologist and was elected president of the American Association of Climatologists in 1998. He now runs his own business, Applied Climate Service.

Through his research over the years Taylor has shown that global warming is a natural occurrence with minimal influence by man and that by looking back further than the past few decades, the data shows that warming and cooling periods are common. Taylor continually works to keep the public informed of the effects climate has on their lives by publishing over 200 reports, books and articles, and by writing a bi-weekly column in two local newspapers. He is also a popular speaker, standing up for what he knows to be the truth, even when it disagrees with the prevailing opinion. AAW president Marcie Williams notes that, “George Taylor’s credentials and his courage in speaking out makes him an outstanding Veritas Award winner and we are excited to be able to honor him in this way.”

Past Veritas recipients include Paul Harvey, Michael DeBakey, Julia Child, Dr. C. Everett Koop, and John Stossel, to name a few.

Come to the AAW convention to hear these informative and entertaining speakers. For information about the convention, or agenda and registration form, visit the American Agri-Women website at



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


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NOAA deletes an “inconvenient” kids science web page

Hadley CRU isn’t the only government agency that deletes web content related to climate. NOAA/NWS Southern Region Headquarters has gotten into the act. An interesting thing happened today. NOAA deleted an educational web page about an experiment you can do with CO2.

Ordinarily such a thing would go unnoticed, especially since it doesn’t impact anything particularly important like policy, or climate data. It’s just an experiment for kids in the classroom.
Fortunately, I still had the web page open in my browser. I had been looking at it yesterday, and I had been thinking I might try the experiment myself with a datalogging thermometer, just for fun. Here’s the web page as it was open in my browser:


click pic for full size image

And here is what the same URL looks like now:

click pic for full size image

You can try it out for yourself:

What could cause NOAA to pull a web page like this on a moment’s notice? Two things.

1 It was featured on Climate Depot yesterday.

2 It had this passage that must not have agreed with somebody higher up in the NOAA food chain:
It has been thought that an increase in carbon dioxide will lead to global warming. While carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing over the past 100 years, there is no evidence that it is causing an increase in global temperatures.

Or maybe it was this one:
The behavior of the atmosphere is extremely complex. Therefore, discovering the validity of global warming is complex as well. How much effect will the increase in carbon dioxide will have is unclear or even if we recognize the effects of any increase.

So rather than corrupt young minds with a simple science experiment with some inconvenient language attached to it, NOAA simply deleted it. Of course nothing is really deleted on the Internet anymore. NOAA looks pretty silly thinking it would go away with a simple delete. The Wayback machine has the missing web page for posterity:


Is Global Warmism Real? What politicians actually DO suggests that they secretly don't believe in it

This item asks not if global warming is real but if global warmism is real. That is, does anyone actually believe all the alarmist talk we've been hearing for upward of two decades now? We were prompted to ponder this by an article in "Der Spiegel", which suggests that next month's Copenhagen conference on "climate change" is likely to be a bust:
[Germany's Chancellor] Angela Merkel is blocking aid commitments for climate protection and risking the failure of a global deal in Copenhagen. The chancellor is squandering an opportunity to demonstrate European leadership and show Barack Obama what it really means to be a "citizen of the world."

She was once celebrated as the "Climate Chancellor" and seen as an important campaigner for the environment on the international political stage. Now it appears that it is Angela Merkel, of all people, who is dealing a death blow to international climate deals--by navigating a shortsighted course within the European Union.

Merkel, it seems has "enraged environmentalists" by opposing massive transfer payments from European Union nations to Third World countries for "environmental projects":
Such funds should help to cover the additional costs of setting up renewable energy forms, more efficient technologies and green infrastructures in developing countries. Only in that way can it be guaranteed that the most environmentally nondestructive technologies are implemented globally, to put a halt on catastrophic climate change, its advocates say. The talk is of €20 billion ($30 billion) starting immediately, then €50 billion from 2016 and €100 billion annually from 2020. This extra burden should be covered by the US, the EU and Japan.

Merkel's decision to block a concrete financial pledge will not exactly boost enthusiasm in other parts of the world--rather it will dampen it. When delays are created by the Europeans, who always pride themselves on being frontrunners in climate protection, then the US and China can get away with not making any progress.

Everyone always talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it! Politicians consistently act as if they don't take seriously the warnings about impending climate "catastrophe." It's possible that they do believe the warnings but are politically constrained from doing what it would supposedly take to avert it. But if they are so constrained, it is because voters act as if they don't take the warnings seriously.

Maybe it's all just a massive political failure, as a result of which we'll all roast to death in a few years. Stranger things have happened. Then again, maybe this is an emperor's-new-clothes situation in which people who aren't actually fooled by the underlying claim are convinced nonetheless that it's not respectable to let anyone know.


Weathering Congress, global warming

Weather changed. People died. They called it the “Little Ice-Age,” a period that spanned the mid-1600s. As global temperatures dropped, the number and frequency of wars rose. Worldwide mortality rates increased. Famines struck across Asia. The pattern of human misery seemed so significant that, about 300 years later, historian Eric Hobsbawm labeled it “the 17th century crisis.”

This summary is not meant as a cautionary tale about the grave dangers of climate change. Quite the opposite. It’s offered as a warning not to run lemminglike off a cliff as we grapple with global warming. What history actually teaches us is that trying to predict the long-term consequences of changes between humans and their environment is a march of folly. The 17th-century crisis is a good example. It was not a century of nonstop crisis. It was, in fact, a mixed bag.

Yes, the tempo of war increased. But the era also experienced an explosion of scientific and intellectual creativity. And it ushered in an economic expansion and increased political stability that produced future superpowers like Britain and France.

Furthermore, after studying “the century” for centuries, scholars are still not sure what caused what. The failure to construct a compelling explanation of the past has left many skeptical of any “social-scientific” explanation of history, let alone the ability of such theories to predict the future.

Jared Diamond’s highly regarded history, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” explains why predictions are folly. Diamond lists a daunting 12 factors that historically contributed to the collapse of a society. And, he can explain how they affected one another in each of his case studies only with the hindsight gained through hundreds of years of historical and archaeological research. “Collapse” illustrates the immense difficulty of mapping cause and effect in complex human-environment systems. Additionally, our ability to apply these “lessons” to the future is greatly complicated by the fact that both human institutions and the natural environment are continually changing and changing each other.

In short, it is virtually impossible to predict the long-term consequence of humans and climate change. That ought to give Congress pause when it hears arguments it must pass a cap-and-trade bill or bear the blame for sparking Armageddon.

The premise behind cap and trade is that the United States must impose a complex energy tax scheme to penalize businesses and other outfits (like, say, schools and nonprofit hospitals) that emit “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. Proponents argue that this highly expensive approach to reducing man-made carbon emissions is needed to avoid adverse climate changes.

Failure to do so, they claim, will leave us to the mercy of future natural disasters that will yield unprecedented humanitarian crises. These, in turn, will cause some nations to fail and lead others to engage in chronic combat over remaining resources.

The House passed a cap-and-trade bill earlier this year. But the measure has become increasingly controversial as the economic consequences of the legislation have become more apparent. A study by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis finds that the law would make the U.S. about $9.4 trillion poorer by 2035. Much of this decline would be from reduced economic productivity and job loss. Despite all the talk about “green jobs” galore, Heritage found the bill would actually retard net employment by 1.15 million jobs.

To distract Americans from the economic catastrophe the bill would cause, proponents have turned to arguing that passing the bill is an imperative for national security. The reality, however, is it is too difficult to predict over the long term how the interactions between humans and the environment will turn out.

But here is what we do know. In the short term, the negative economic effects of the bill will create a “21st century crisis.” A collapse in U.S. economic growth would result in even more draconian cuts to the defense budget, leaving America with a military much less prepared to deal with future threats. Indeed, if America’s military power declines, there would probably be more wars, not fewer.

Likewise, a steep drop in American economic growth would lengthen and deepen the global recession. That in turn will make other states poorer, undermining their ability to protect themselves and recover from natural disasters. Now that is something to worry about.



Last week it became clear that the Advertising Standards Authority had launched an inquiry into the Government's £6m TV advertising campaign aimed at climate change sceptics. Now it appears that the UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, will also investigate complaints that the advert is politically motivated and therefore breeches the ban on broadcasting political adverts. They would seem to have good reason for deciding to do so.

This is what the advert tells viewers about climate change:

So far, the ASA has received over 650 complaints and rising. That score ranks with the most complained about advert of 2008, which attracted 840 complaints. According to a letter that I received from the ASA this morning the following points will be investigated:

1. The ad was political in nature and should not be broadcast;

2. The theme and content of the ad, for example the dog drowning in the storybook and the depiction of the young girl to whom the story was being read, could be distressing for children who saw it;

3. The ad should not have been shown when children were likely to be watching television;

4. The ad was misleading because it presented human induced climate change as a fact, when there was a significant division amongst the scientific community on that point;

5. The claim "over 40% of the C02 was coming from ordinary everyday things" was misleading;

6. The representation of C02 as a rising cloud of black smog was misleading;

7. The claims about the possible advent of strange weather and flooding, and associated imagery in the ad, in the UK were exaggerated, distressing and misleading;

They also say that:

Points (1) and (4) in relation to the TV ad may be subject to Section 4 of the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code, which is administered by Ofcom. We will therefore be referring to Ofcom objections to the TV campaign raised in respect of 'political' objectives; Ofcom will in due course be publishing a Finding of its determination. When both bodies have concluded their investigations, we plan to notify complainants of both our and Ofcom's determinations.


Fish not bothered by variations in ocean acidity

Discussing: Melzner, F., Gobel, S., Langenbuch, M., Gutowska, M.A., Portner, H.-0. and Lucassen, M. 2009. Swimming performance in Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) following long-term (4-12 months) acclimation to elevated seawater PCO2. Aquatic Toxicology 92: 30-37.


With respect to earth's 30,000 species of teleost fish, which include virtually all of the world's important sport and commercial fishes, the authors write that several of them have previously been shown to be able to "fully compensate extra cellular fluid pH," as well as "maintain oxygen consumption rates and growth performance under ocean acidification conditions (e.g. Larsen et al., 1997; Foss et al., 2003; Fivelstad et al., 1998, 2003; Deigweiher et al., 2008)," but they note that there have been no studies of these phenomena that have lasted for more than a few days.

What was done

To rectify this situation, Melzner et al. maintained a group of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) for four months in a re-circulating aquaculture system of 15 cubic meters volume at an atmospheric CO2 partial pressure of 0.3 kPa (~3,000 ppm) and another group for twelve months at a CO2 partial pressure of 0.6 kPa (~6,000 ppm), after which the fishes' swimming metabolism was investigated in a swim-tunnel respirometer, and tissue samples of their gills were taken for various chemical analyses, including gill Na+/K+-ATPase capacity, which serves "as a general indicator for ion regulatory effort."

What was learned

The six German scientists report that "motor activity in adult Atlantic Cod is not compromised by long-term exposure to water PCO2 levels of 0.3-0.6 kPa," which are "scenarios exceeding the 0.2 kPa value predicted for surface ocean waters around the year 2300 (Calderia and Wickett, 2003)."

What it means

In light of what they learned from their study, Melzner et al. conclude that "adults of active fish species with a high ion regulatory capacity [which is employed to eliminate metabolic CO2] are well equipped to cope with prospected scenarios of global climate change," even those far beyond what could likely be produced by the burning of all fossil fuels in the crust of the earth.


Seeing through the hoax of the century

By national columnist, Janet Albrechtsen, writing from Australia

INCREASINGLY, the road to Copenhagen resembles a suburban street on Halloween with the number of climate change freak shows and stunts reaching a nadir in recent weeks. Nicholas Stern says we should turn vegetarian in order to combat climate change. If you must eat meat, eat kangaroos, says Ross Garnaut, because marsupials emit negligible amounts of methane. And that champagne you drank on Melbourne Cup day? Scientists scolded us with a report that a 750ml bottle of bubbly could produce 100 million bubbles, releasing five litres of carbon dioxide.

Yet far from rallying people to the cause of immediate action on climate change, every new cri de coeur may be turning people away. Could it be that those derided as the great unwashed are beginning to ask more questions than their smart political leaders or the bastions of intellectual curiosity in the media?

Late last month, activists gathered at Sydney Opera House to listen to Sydney mayor Clover Moore announce that “the time for talk is past”. “Already we know that this building, our Opera House, for decades a symbol of optimism and the human spirit, is under threat from global warming,” she says.

The Opera House under threat? That would be from rising sea levels, right? Just like the small island nation of Maldives where, last month, the president conducted a cabinet meeting underwater to remind the world that his country would be rendered uninhabitable by rising sea levels. Kitted out in full scuba-diving outfits, Mohamed Nasheed and his ministers sat at a table underwater off the coast of the capital of Male. As planned, the president’s stunt made headlines across the globe. Send us money - and lots of it - is his message. The media love stunts. They are so easy to report.

Sadly, the media is not inquisitive enough to report those who question the circus acts of climate change. A week after the Maldives underwater show, Nils-Axel Morner - a leading world authority on sea levels - wrote an open letter to the president telling him that his stunt was “not founded in observational facts and true scientific judgments”.

Morner is a former professor who headed the department of paleogeophysics and geodynamics at Stockholm University and past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research commission on sea level changes and coastal evolution. INQUA was founded in 1928 by scientists who aimed to improve the understanding of environmental change during the glacial ages through interdisciplinary research. In other words, the Swedish professor has gravitas when it comes to sea levels. Alas his letter did not make headlines. That is a shame. Morner says there is “no rational basis” for the hysterical claims that the people of Maldives - or the rest of the world - are threatened by rising sea levels. And he sets out some facts.

Fact number 1: During the past 2000 years, sea levels have fluctuated with 5 peaks reaching 0.6m to 1.2m above present sea level. Fact number 2: From 1790 to 1970 sea levels were about 20cm higher than today. Fact number 3: In the 1970s, the sea level fell by about 20cm to its present level. Fact number 4: Sea levels have remained constant for the past 30 years “implying that there are no traces of any alarming ongoing sea level rise”. Fact number 5 (and I am paraphrasing here): The notion presented by the President of the Maldives that his country will be flooded is bunkum.

Yet, last week a federal parliamentary report told Australians to make plans to evacuate if we live on the coast. Warning that the “time to act is now”, the bipartisan report said the 711,000 addresses within 3km of the Australian coast - and less than 6m above sea level - face threats from rising sea levels. The report called for an inquiry by the Productivity Commission to examine the need for bans on homes within these areas. Viewers of the 7pm News on ABC1 were told by a Richard Branson lookalike - complete with longish wavy grey hair, beard and crisp white shirt - that the township of Byron Bay would be completely flooded by rising sea levels. His expertise? He is a resident of Byron Bay.

Despite the headline grabbing rhetoric about climate change calamity, recent polls reveal that more and more people appear to be challenging the orthodoxy. The most recent Lowy Institute poll found that while 48 per cent of Australian believe that global warming is a serious and pressing problem, the numbers are down 12 points since 2008 and 20 points down since 2006. “This is also the first year that it has not had majority support,” said the Lowy Institute.

A poll by Ipso Reid in Canada in September found that global warming has dropped down the list of people’s concerns. Indeed, a full 41 per cent now say the threat has been overblown. In the US, Associated Press reported on a poll last month that found 57 per cent of people believe there is clear evidence that the world is heating up, down 20 points from three years ago. These are some trend lines worth watching.

Perhaps we are wising up to modern day millenarianism where end-of-the-world cults - those who have the most to gain from their fear mongering - preach calamity. Remember Y2K? The cult back then comprised computer experts. They predicted disaster. Planes would fall from the skies. People would be caught in halting elevators. Chaos would descend on anything that relied on a computer, from financial markets to utilities. Governments duly prepared for disaster with the BBC reporting that global preparations for the millennium bug were estimated to have cost more than $US300 billion. All for nought. Nothing happened. It was, as James Taranto wrote in The Wall Street Journal, the hoax of the century.

Maurice Newman, who was chairman of the federal government’s Y2K committee told The Australian last week that “in pressing the urgency for compliance, the committee members relied heavily on confirmatory bias. Most of this came from so-called experts who had much to gain from creating a sense of alarm. The consequence of widespread inaction was claimed to result in chaos and systemic failure. As there was no alternative authoritative voice, this became perceived wisdom and was certainly believed by the committee. As such the Y2K phenomenon took on a life of its own.”

Deja vu? Preparing for the deluge of rising sea levels, we were treated to footage last week from parliamentary question time starring Julia Gillard and her gumboots. Appropriately she was followed on ABC1 by Bananas in Pyjamas. Could man-made climate change turn out to be the greatest hoax of the present century? Certainly, ordinary people are beginning to ask questions.



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


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jim Hansen is not alone: More Warmist "adjustments" to pesky data

The high-quality Argo data has been embarrassing Warmists because it shows the ocean as cooling. So what to do? Say that the sensors showing most cooling are "bad" and discard their data. Then combine the data from the remaining sensors with data known to show too much warming and -- hey presto! -- you have got rid of that pesky ocean cooling! Relevant excerpt below

When scientists mistrust their data, they do they same thing you do when you think your watch is off: they check another clock. To diagnose the problem in the Atlantic, Willis needed to compare ocean temperature measurements from multiple sources. The first source he turned to was sea level data from satellite altimeters.

Because water expands when it absorbs heat, and contracts when it cools, sea level is physically connected to heat content in the upper ocean. Satellite altimeters measure sea surface height with radar. The radar sends a pulse of energy toward the Earth’s surface and listens for the echo. The time delay and intensity of the echo reveal the altitude of the sea surface.

Willis also had ocean-based data sets, including temperature profiles from the Argo robot fleet as well as from expendable bathythermographs, called “XBTs” for short. XBTs are the equivalent of a disposable razor. A temperature sensor is spooled out behind a ship by thin copper wire. It sinks, making measurements at increasing depths, transmitting them back to the ship via the wire until the line snaps and the sensor sinks to the bottom of the ocean, discarded.

The devices are manufactured to free-fall through the water at a known rate; scientists infer the depth of the temperature measurements by the time lapsed after the sensor hits the water. They have been used by the U.S. Navy and oceanographers since the 1960s.

“Basically, I used the sea level data as a bridge to the in situ [ocean-based] data,” explains Willis, comparing them to one another figuring out where they didn’t agree. “First, I identified some new Argo floats that were giving bad data; they were too cool compared to other sources of data during the time period. It wasn’t a large number of floats, but the data were bad enough, so that when I tossed them, most of the cooling went away. But there was still a little bit, so I kept digging and digging.”

The digging led him to the data from the expendable temperature sensors, the XBTs. A month before, Willis had seen a paper by Viktor Gouretski and Peter Koltermann that showed a comparison of XBT data collected over the past few decades to temperatures obtained in the same ocean areas by more accurate techniques, such as bottled water samples collected during research cruises. Compared to more accurate observations, the XBTs were too warm. The problem was more pronounced at some points in time than others.

The Gouretski paper hadn’t rung any alarm bells right away, explains Willis, “because I knew from the earlier analysis that there was a big cooling signal in Argo all by itself. It was there even if I didn’t use the XBT data. That’s part of the reason that we thought it was real in the first place,” explains Willis.

But when he factored the too-warm XBT measurements into his ocean warming time series, the last of the ocean cooling went away.


Climate deal must consider forests: Putin

A GLOBAL warming pact to be agreed next month in Copenhagen must take into account the carbon dioxide absorption potential of Russia's sprawling forests, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says. "Are we ready to support Denmark's efforts in the post-Kyoto period? We are ready to do this,'' Putin said on Monday at a press conference with visiting Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen. "But there are two conditions: all countries must sign it. And Russia will insist that the capacity of its forests for absorbing carbon dioxide must be taken into account.''

Mr Putin's conditions highlighted another impediment on the already difficult path to reaching an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is due to take place in Copenhagen from December 7-18.

The demand spells out a position previously adopted by Russia under the Kyoto Protocol, whose current pledges expire at the end of 2012. Russia and other countries demanded big concessions on forestry in 2001 when Kyoto's complex rule book was being negotiated. They argued that forests are a bulwark against global warming as trees absorb carbon dioxide - the principal greenhouse gas - through the natural process of photosynthesis.

The issue of how much forested land should be offset against emissions targets by rich countries turned out to be a major stumbling block for completing Kyoto. The treaty eventually took effect in February 2005 after a long delay by Russia in ratifying it.

Many green activists say the forestry rules are a potential loophole, enabling polluting countries to statistically write off their emissions yet not reduce them in real terms.


Britons least concerned about climate change

Despite (or because of?) their fanatically Warmist government

Britain is less concerned about climate change than any other country in the world, according to a new survey. The annual Climate Confidence Monitor found the number of people worrying about global warming worldwide has fallen by eight per cent to just over a third in the last year as the economic downturn kicked in.

Just fifteen per cent of people in Britain worry about climate change and how the world responds to the problem, the lowest figure for any of the 12 countries surveyed. The figure is down from 26 per cent last year. In the US 18 per cent of people said global warming was one of their biggest concerns followed by 22 per cent in Australia. In general people in developing countries are more concerned about climate change, with more than half of people in Mexico citing the issue as a major problem and 42 per cent in Brazil and India.

Britain was also the most pessimistic about the world's ability to tackle climate change, with almost half believing nothing can be done compared to 38 per cent worldwide.

However, people still believe that action should be taken. On average, almost half of people say they are taking some action to reduce their carbon footprint such as switching off lights, walking rather than driving or recycling. This is a rise of seven per cent since 2007.

In the run up the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, nearly two thirds of people in the world think a global deal to cut emissions is important. The US, the world's second largest emitter, was the only country where less than half the population thought world needed to take action compared to 86 per cent in Brazil and 75 per cent in China - the world's biggest emitter.

The report, that has been running for three years, questions 1,000 people in each country. HSBC, that commissioned the study, said despite the recession people remain concerned about climate change and are more determined than ever to do something to tackle the problem.

Lord Stern, the former World Bank economist who first warned the British Government about climate change, said the meeting in Copenhagen was a chance for people from all countries to make a difference. "With just over a month to go before Copenhagen, this is a clear call from the global population for a strong and effective deal," he said. "Rich and developing countries must act together to create an agreement that will lay the foundations for a future era of dynamic low-carbon growth.”



The climate change bill that has been moving slowly through the Senate faces a stark political reality when it is read in committee this week: with Democrats deeply divided on the issue, unless some Republican lawmakers risk the backlash for signing on to the climate change legislation, there is almost no hope for passage.

For all the effort of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to keep Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as his most visible GOP ally, key Republicans are making their opposition clear. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee who was initially seen as one of the only Republicans who might consider backing the majority, is now helping lead the opposition. He wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson twice this summer to ask for a more detailed economic analysis of the House-passed climate bill, and he has joined the other six Republicans on the committee in boycotting the climate bill markup scheduled for Tuesday. "Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?" he asked during a hearing last week. "Wouldn't it be smarter to take our time and do it right?"

Like the bill adopted by the House, the legislation favors a cap-and-trade system that would issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lower the amount of emissions allowed, and let companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs. The bill has deeply divided Democrats. With states in the Midwest, South and Rocky Mountain West dependent on fossil fuels for energy, many senators are worried about the legislation's impact on industry and consumers.

So Democratic leaders, with the support of the Obama administration, are trying to enlist at least half a dozen Republicans by offering amendments to speed along their top priority - building nuclear power plants.

Graham has suggested provisions on nuclear power and offshore oil drilling could win his support for a cap-and-trade climate bill; Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, has established a bipartisan working group of 17 Senate offices that is close to producing a detailed amendment aimed at speeding the construction of U.S. nuclear reactors.

But it remains unclear if that approach holds currency in the current era of political polarization. One of the top Republicans that Democrats hope to enlist in this effort - Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, whom Graham and Kerry recently buttonholed on the Senate floor - has voiced skepticism about the bill Kerry had authored along with Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "A tepid nuclear title isn't enough to get her to support a bad climate bill," said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Boxer.


The Eco-Apocalypse Craze

As I pointed out in a recent article on Quadrant Online, apocalypticism has a firm grip on Western Civilization, reaching fever-pitch on many occasions over the last 2500 years. Critically, in the 20th century, apocalypticism assumed a secular guise, as various cultural historians have observed, “evoking world destruction and transformation through ecological disaster … and technological breakdown”, with both religious and secular versions “converging upon the belief that the [world] is about to undergo a staggering transformation, in which long-established institutions and ways of life will be destroyed” (Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, 1992, p.336).

As a further example of such doom-laden prophecy, here is the latest sermon on the impending eco-apocalypse, according to James Lovelock, “the closest thing we have to an Old Testament prophet”, as the Sunday Times observed in its review (19 February 2009) of his latest Jeremiad, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning (2009). According to Lovelock, in the next few years we will face an abrupt leap in average global temperatures of 9 degrees Celsius, leading to the collapse of global civilization and the virtual extinction of humanity in an orgy of violence that Lovelock gloatingly dismisses as a “massive natural cull of humanity”.

Quite quickly, “the earth's landmasses will be largely destroyed by flood and drought, and most of the world's seven billion inhabitants will not survive”, while those who do will struggle for life amidst billions of rotting corpses backing in the sun of a “desert world” that stretches across the globe. Such a prospect might be expected to appall most people but the reviewer just remarks that, “all this should make for a bleak read [but] the effect is strangely exhilarating” - such is the morbid fascination with the eco-apocalypse in our culture.

There is some hope, with fortuitously located island nations like Britain and Australia serving as life boats in this ocean of misery, although some crucial decisions will have to be made – not democratically, for democracy is a luxury that the world cannot afford, but by ruthless, environmentally aware warlords who rise to the top amidst the chaos. They will determine who is kept aboard and who is jettisoned, with evolutionary theory dictating that the old, the sick, and the infirm will have to go, along with those who choose to accompany them as helpers, in a last fleeting expression of human compassion, while the rest surrender to the ruthless amorality of natural selection.

Because “genocide by tribal mobs is as natural as breathing”, human beings will embrace various forms of Green fascism and eagerly agree to the suspension of constitutional rights, convinced that blind obedience is the only way to survive and that their free will and personal autonomy must the surrendered to a self-selected elite of omnipotent environmental scientists and the strutting self-righteous Green politicians who exist to implement their dictates – a species that Australia possesses in abundance.

As a fundamentally religious thinker, Lovelock claims that the earth should be properly known as ‘Gaia’, the Earth Goddess, because she is allegedly a living organism - indeed ‘the largest living being on the planet’ (because she is the planet!) – and ‘she’ operates according to scientific laws that dictate that humanity is an evolutionary dead end – a sort of sentient stool - that will be excreted by Gaia as she continues to ensure her own homeostatic well-being through her manipulation of various environmental parameters, as she has done for millions of years in the past and will continue to do for millions of years after humanity’s apparently well-deserved demise.

Not long ago, most people would have thought that such ideas were best left to bad science fiction, but no longer. Indeed, it is a measure of the corruption of science amidst the moral panic of global warming that Lovelock’s ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ has now been elevated to the status of a scientific theory, which Tim Flannery – one of Australia’s own eco-apocalyptic prophets – assures us means that it has “been tested and is considered true” (“A Great Jump to Disaster”, New York Review of Books, 19 November 2009). Consequently, in 2006 Lovelock was awarded the the Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London, for opening up a “whole new field of Earth Science study”, apparently some sort of geo-theology.

Moreover that Lovelock feels confident in making such dire predictions on the basis of experiments conducted on a “simple” computer model, while this impending catastrophe is made all the more sinister and irrefutable by his insistence that just “before the jump to a desert world, the climate will briefly become cooler again”, which means that “a cold summer, or even a series of them, is not proof that global heating has ended”. In other words, global cooling – like we are currently experiencing - will only be confirmation that global warming is real and is accelerating towards ‘the final jump’ into the eco-apocalypse.

Such extreme claims, and the invocation of allegedly ‘scientific’ arguments that cannot be falsified, because even negative observations confirm their predictions, is further evidence that the global warming panic and its projected catastrophic effects is a fundamentally religious phenomenon and signals the emergence of an eco-fundamentalist cult that follows a 2500-year old pattern in predicting an apocalypse according to which the world and all human civilization will shortly come to a catastrophic end.

The vital question that we now face is whether our politicians really believe this type of hysterical nonsense or whether some have the courage to step back from the brink of eco-apocalyptic hysteria to insist that Australia’s national interests are best served by a rigorously skeptical attitude towards what is emerging as one of the greatest moral panics the world has faced since the witch-craze of the middle ages.


Australia: Carbon tax will light a slow fuse

A FORM of carbon tax such as the emissions trading scheme cannot reduce global emissions unless there is agreement for a similar level of tax across all economies. That aside, the government's immediate issues are how to spend the money the tax raises, including how to avoid compensating the privatised brown coal generators for losses the tax causes.

Naturally, to ensure re-election, the Rudd government wants as much of the revenue as possible to go to voters. But the government is constrained because the tax would cripple firms that are unable to pass on all its costs. Twenty-five per cent to 35 per cent of the revenues raised are, therefore, to flow to the emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries. This has kept those firms quiet by cushioning the effects of the carbon tax on their existing assets.

That the carbon tax means nobody will again build an aluminium smelter, a steelworks or any other facility that makes use of Australian low-cost energy is not their worry. Nor, apparently, is it a concern of governments, all of which seem to envisage a dreamy, new low-energy economy that jettisons domestic consumption of our coal reserves and, eventually, our gas reserves.

Other business users also will be losers from the higher priced electricity brought about by the ETS tax. Higher energy costs will undermine the profits of all firms and even destroy some businesses. But the damage to relatively low energy users will be less easily traced to the government imposition.

The other major loser industry comprises carbon-based electricity producers. These provide 85 per cent of Australia's electricity. The ETS tax hits the brown coal generators hardest, followed by black coal generators. Notwithstanding the government's fantasy about new low-cost power generation technologies emerging, there is no alternative to the present supply profile, so it's more than likely we will see few generator departures.

Indeed, the compensation offered to the coal power stations is contingent on them remaining online when the only way the government can meet its stated carbon reduction goals is if they close down.

That aside, as with energy-intensive industries, the government has made it impossible for any firm to again build a base load power station in Australia without giving it a cast-iron carbon tax indemnification. As with the energy-intensive industries, the proposed tax will impose substantial costs on the existing generators. The most vulnerable are Victoria's privately owned brown coal generators.

Though Canberra refuses to publish its own estimates of the cost to the generators' shareholders, these are unlikely to differ from the $8billion to $10bn estimated by commissioned studies for the Victorian government and for the generators themselves.

Canberra is keen to avoid paying these costs to businesses it has already demonised as producing dirty energy. Its process has been to play the tough cop, soft cop game. The tough cop, Labor's consultant Ross Garnaut, argued that the generators should get no compensation on the (incorrect) basis that there was no tradition for such provision in Australia. Uncharacteristically, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong played the soft cop and offered $3.5bn in compensation.

The Coalition is arguing for $10bn in compensation, though an unknown amount of that is to go to the state-owned black coal generators in NSW and Queensland.

The issues are perceptions of "sovereign risk" on all future foreign investment and whether a hardline approach will mean distress sales and low maintenance causing power outages. The latter is an open question but has belatedly become a concern of the Brumby government since brown coal provides 96 per cent of Victoria's supplies.

With regard to sovereign risk, it is argued that the investors bought these facilities more than five years after the 1990 Kyoto Protocol writing was on the wall, and any business risk of expropriation by regulatory taxation should have been built into their decision frameworks. The generators would maintain that the state government sales documents contained no indication that a future government would impose a new discriminatory tax on the assets being sold, thereby reducing their value. Nor did the opposition at the time indicate such likelihood.

If the sale was by a private enterprise that withheld information about the imposition of post-sale measures, that would significantly devalue the assets and the buyers would have legal recourse.

In fact, the generators have a better case to be compensated than emission-intensive industries, at least those built or bought in the past 15 years, since the emission-intensive industries were not bought from the government, a related branch of which is now imposing a discriminatory tax on them.

This haggling over compensation is vital to present investors and of concern also to the government, which could see some depletion of its election-buying pot of new taxes.

For the Australian economy the stakes are far greater. The planned carbon tax regime (and opposition to nuclear generation) makes significant new power plant investment impossible. This lights a slow fuse under the economy's growth potential.



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


Monday, November 02, 2009

Biblical lessons lost in the rush to control Earth's natural processes

Article below by Richard Courtney from the mainstream "Scotsman"

IN THE Bronze Age, Joseph told Pharaoh that climate had always changed everywhere: it always would. He told Pharaoh to prepare for bad times when in good times, and all sensible governments have adopted that policy throughout the millenniums since. It is a sensible policy, because people merely complain about taxes in good times. They revolt if short of food in bad times. But several governments have abandoned it and, instead, are trying to stabilise the climate of the entire Earth by controlling it.

This attempt at global climate control arises from the hypothesis of anthropogenic (that is, man-made) global warming (AGW). AGW does not pose a global crisis, but the policy does, because it threatens constraint of fossil fuels and that would kill millions – probably billions – of people. There is no evidence for man-made global warming. None, not any of any kind. The existence of global warming is not evidence of AGW, because warming of the Earth does not prove humans warmed it.

At issue is whether humans are, or are not, affecting changes to the Earth's temperature that have always happened naturally. The AGW-hypothesis says increased greenhouse gases – notably carbon dioxide – in the air raise global temperature and anthropogenic emissions are increasing the carbon dioxide in the air to overwhelm the natural climate system.

But empirical evidence says the hypothesis is wrong. Firstly, the man-made emissions and global temperature do not correlate. Secondly, change to atmospheric concentration follows change to global temperature at all time scales. Thirdly, the recent rise in global temperature has not been induced by a rise in atmospheric concentrations.

Global temperature fell from 1940 to 1970, rose to 1998 and has fallen since. That is 40 years of cooling and 28 years of warming. Global temperature is now similar to that of 1990. But atmospheric has increased at a near constant rate and by more than 30 per cent since 1940. It has increased by 8 per cent since 1990. So, the normal rules of science say the AGW hypothesis is completely refuted. Nothing the hypothesis predicts is observed, and the opposite of some of its predictions are observed.

Some people still promote the hypothesis, for several reasons (personal financial gain, protection of their career histories and futures, political opportunism). But support of science cannot be one such motive, because science denies the hypothesis.

Stopping the emissions would mean reducing fossil fuel usage, resulting in economic damage. This would be worse than the oil crisis of the 1970s, because the reduction would be greater, would be permanent and energy use has increased since then. The economic disruption would be world-wide.


Panic, little ones, it's the Carbon Monster

IF you don't reduce your carbon footprint, then puppies will drown and bunny rabbits will die. And a terrifying, jagged-toothed monster with crazy hooked hands will descend from the clouds to eat you up. Believe it or not, that is the message being delivered by the British government to children, in a 6 million pound ($10m) advertising campaign designed to scare the next generation witless about the alleged horrors of global warming.

Taking environmentalist propaganda to a new low, the TV ad shows a father reading a nightmarish bedtime story to his perturbed-looking young daughter. He tells her of a land where the "weather is very, very strange". There are "awful heatwaves" and "terrible storms and floods". A cartoon bunny is shown crying as it starves on the dried, cracked earth, while elsewhere a puppy drowns in floodwaters. Above it all, a sooty, blackened monster - CO2 made hideous flesh - surveys the horrors with a grotesque grin on its face.

And just in case the little girl, and the millions of children that the TV ad is aimed at, thinks this is merely a twisted fairytale, her father makes clear that it is reality. It is the "horrible consequence", he says, of human beings using too much CO2, much of which comes from "everyday things like keeping houses warm and driving cars". In short? Children who live in warm houses and who get lifts to school or football practice should feel guilty, because their evil antics are causing dogs to die and cute rabbits to go hungry.

Not surprisingly, the ad has caused a storm. Nearly 400 people have complained to Britain's Advertising Standards Authority. Some are disturbed by the ad's scientific illiteracy (how one gets from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's relatively sober reports about changing weather patterns to a cartoon dog drowning in a flooded city is anybody's guess). Others have slammed the government for knowingly and deliberately - and with taxypayers' money - scaring kids.

Yet the ad is only an extreme version of what has become mainstream environmentalist policy in recent years: terrifying children. The environmentalist ethos, whether it is spouted by official bodies or radical, dreadlock-sporting campaigners, presents itself as caring and considerate, yet it is shot through with the politics of fear. In place of grown-up, adult debate about the future, environmentalists continually use scaremongering - conjuring up horrid, squalid future scenarios based more on their fantastic imaginations than scientific fact - to try to force people to lower their horizons and change their behaviour.

And this green politics of fear is starting to have a detrimental effect on children. As popular culture bombards kids with messages about a fiery, bunny-hostile future, and as many schools in Britain and elsewhere rebrand themselves as "eco schools", devoted to reducing children's carbon footprints as much as expanding their minds, so children are becoming paralysed by fear. In 2007, a survey of 1150 seven to 11-year-olds in Britain found that more than half had lost sleep as a result of worrying about climate change. "It's making me and my friends go mad," said a 12-year-old girl.

The children were most likely to be kept awake thinking about "the possible submergence of entire countries" and the "welfare of animals", indicating that hysterical, fact-lite, The Day After Tomorrow-style scare stories about worldwide flooding or the wiping out of polar bears have hit children where it hurts.

Worryingly, the survey also found that one in seven children blamed their own parents for the coming climate doom. This suggests that environmentalists' emphasis on the destructiveness of people's everyday behaviour - their driving habits, their food choices, their holidays - has successfully convinced kids that all adults, even mummy and daddy, are dirty and dangerous.

Indeed, environmentalist activists now cynically exploit children's fears to try to get them to snitch on their parents. A book called How To Turn Your Parents Green, by James Russell, encourages children to "nag, pester, bug, torment and punish the people who are merrily wrecking our world", that is, grown-ups, or "Groans".

It tells kids to become "Guardians of a Glorious Green Future" and to get their parents to sign up to a "Glorious Green Charter". Traditionally, it has only been the most authoritarian regimes on Earth - think Mao's China or Stalin's Soviet Union - that encouraged children to spy on and squeal on their parents. Now environmentalists do it, too, though with a Little Green Book rather than a little red one.

When I was a child in the 1980s, the spectre of nuclear war was used to keep children in a permanent state of panic; today climate change plays that role. We should be wary indeed of any campaign that makes children feel scared and guilty and even drives them mad, and which turns them against their own parents.



With just five weeks to go before world leaders meet for a global climate summit in Copenhagen, a split has emerged within the European Union. Nobody, it seems, can agree on who should foot the bill. In the past, Europe has played a crucial role in pushing for global consensus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But the bloc may lose its position at the fore of environmental protection if it can't come to an agreement on how to spread the costs fighting climate change.

European politicians said one of the main tasks of a two-day summit that began in Brussels on Thursday would be to work toward a compromise on financing climate protection measures. Developing nations have said they will not agree to tackle climate change unless they receive funding from rich countries, whose industries are largely responsible for the problem.

According to the European Commission, poorer countries will need an annual sum of 100 billion euros ($147 billion) until 2020 to help fight global warming. The EU is proposing that it should contribute 15 billion euros to this annual figure.

Despite falling far below the 35 billion euros called for by environmental organizations, the EU's proposal has met with vocal protest from Poland and eight other central European countries. Poland, which depends largely on coal for its energy, objects to the idea that countries should pay according to what they pollute. "There is a possibility to agree on a mechanism under which, the richer the country, the more it pays," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. "We will not agree to a mechanism which means the more you pollute, the more you pay."

Some in the EU are looking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for progress on the funding because Berlin has resisted calls to set a precise sum for funding, saying the EU should wait for others to show their hand. "I want Copenhagen to be a success," Merkel said after arriving in Brussels. "The EU has to make clear its ideas. But it is crucial that the United States and China also make clear what they are willing to contribute."

The EU's bickering is the latest in a series of blows which threaten to undermine the Copenhagen summit before it has even begun. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that while he's still optimistic a political deal to slow climate change can be reached in Copenhagen, negotiaters will not be able to reach the wide-ranging deal many observers had hoped for at the beginning of 2009. The UN head is now urging leaders to make nonbinding agreements with a view to working out the details once the summit is over.

On Wednesday, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, pushed nations to make commitments to fight climate change quickly. "What has to be absolutely clear is that we do not have another year to sit on our hands," he said.


"Clean" Coal a delusion

Here’s a bit of unalloyed pessimism for you: Carbon capture and sequestration, more widely known as clean coal technology, is not going to work out. Governments and the coal industry are trying to bite off too much at once.

In theory, clean coal is a fine idea. The process of burning coal releases gases, which all modern plants already “scrub” of harmful substances like sulfur dioxide. To fight global warming, coal mine and plant owners want to do the same for carbon dioxide.

Sounds great, except that a fairly average-sized 1,500 megawatt coal plant produces about three billion [million? -- JR] tons of CO2 yearly. All that CO2 has to be separated out, a process that uses up a lot of the energy the plant produces. Then, according to current thinking, we must bury the CO2 and hope that it doesn’t come back up.

That’s a hell of a challenge. A report released Thursday by the pro-CCS Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute helps outline just how much. A few bullet-points:

* Clean coal research is currently moribund; only seven CCS projects exist today, and all are attached to gas plants

* The GCCSSI expects national governments to coordinate to give $100 billion yearly to CCS research

* Provided the money is forked over immediately, we might have 20 plants by 2020

* And if those initial plants work out as expected it will take until 2030 to have a significant number operating

* If the technology works as expected, it will add an average of 78 percent to the cost of electricity from coal

Anyone familiar with the basics of risk wouldn’t bet on that many “ifs”, especially given the looming difficulty of not only coaxing governments to throw trillions of dollars into research, but also share the technology as it develops.

Nevertheless, everything could work out perfectly and clean coal could be spreading in 2030. By that time, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere may be over 500ppm. That’s no problem if the climate change skeptics are right; if the 97 percent of climatologists who study climate change are right, that number would mean we’re in for some major upheaval.

In other words, we need better solutions, right now. For coal, there are already some available. Old, inefficient plants can be shut down in favor of new ones that operate at a much higher thermal efficiency, and work onnew concepts like underground coal gasification could be accelerated.

The $2.4 trillion the International Energy Agency says we should spend researching clean coal sould also be spent other ways; research and investment into renewables like geothermal and solar power come to mind, and it’s also enough money to buy several hundred nuclear plants.

If we do insist on clean coal, the concept needs a rethink. Trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to scrub CO2 is enough of a challenge. The additional problem of permanently sequestering it underground adds too much expense and uncertainty.

There are better ways. One would be to use the CO2 to create liquid fuels for transportation. Oddly, this idea is rarely brought up in the debate over clean coal, although scientists are already working on ways to use CO2 they captured from ambient air for fuel.



A new report (PDF) from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) reveals the high costs being imposed on British and European consumers by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The ETS is intended to reduce carbon emissions across Europe by increasing the cost of energy for households, businesses and other organisations. This increases household bills, but also increases business running costs and the cost of running public services such as hospitals.

As well as calculating the cost of the scheme, the report investigates the flaws in its design and function. These include the problem of the burden falling disproportionately upon the poor, the highly volatile price of carbon emissions under the Scheme and the failure of the Scheme to properly balance the social costs of carbon emissions with the cost of reducing them.

Key Findings

• The Emission Trading Scheme cost British consumers nearly £3 billion in 2008, equivalent to around £117 per family, by increasing the cost of energy. The report also presents estimates of the cost to consumers in every country participating in the scheme, in each year of the scheme’s operation.

• From its introduction on 1st January 2005 to the end of 2008, our central estimate of the Scheme's cost to consumers across Europe is £67 billion (€93 billion). That is equivalent to around €185 (£132) for every person in the ETS participating countries.

• Some countries' energy markets pass on these costs to consumers at different rates, meaning that at best the Scheme cost around £33 billion (€46 billion) and at worst £83 billion (€116 billion).

• New evidence uncovered using the Freedom of Information Act shows that the British Government has not just accepted this significant burden on consumers, but has actively worked to increase it. Despite continuing rhetoric about reducing fuel poverty, the Government in fact spent £42,899.69 of taxpayers’ money to assist the European Commission in legal attempts at the European Court of Justice to forcibly reduce the supply of emissions allowances and thereby increase the emissions price further.

Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has cost ordinary families billions, while energy companies have made huge windfall profits. Despite that, it has failed to produce a stable carbon price, leaving consumers with an unpredictable addition to their bills. Manufacturers already struggling to compete with emerging economies like India and China cannot cope with such a substantial addition to their costs, and driving them abroad won’t help cut emissions but will mean fewer jobs in Britain. The Government claim to be against high energy prices but then embrace policies like this and even use taxpayers’ money to support European Commission legal cases which threaten to increase the bill to British families further. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has been an expensive failure and should be abolished.”



Bid to gag scientific attack on Australia's proposed Warmist laws

Censorship of disagreement is a kneejerk reaction among Leftists but it is sad to see it from a major science organization. The CSIRO is obviously putting politics before science

THE nation's peak science agency has tried to gag the publication of a paper by one of its senior environmental economists attacking the Rudd government's climate change policies. The paper, by the CSIRO's Clive Spash, argues the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is an ineffective way to cut emissions, and instead direct legislation or a tax on carbon is needed. The paper was accepted for publication by the journal New Political Economy after being internationally peer-reviewed.

But Dr Spash told the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics conference that the CSIRO had since June tried to block its publication.

In the paper, Dr Spash argues the economic theory underpinning emissions trading schemes is "far removed" from the reality of permit markets. "While carbon trading and offset schemes seem set to spread, they so far appear ineffective in terms of actually reducing GHGs (greenhouse gases)," he says. "Despite this apparent failure, ETS remain politically popular amongst the industrialised polluters. "The public appearance is that action is being undertaken. The reality is that GHGs are increasing and society is avoiding the need for substantive proposals to address the problem of behavioural and structural change."

Dr Spash said trading schemes did not efficiently allocate emission cuts because their design was manipulated by vested interests. For example, in Australia, large polluters would be compensated with free permits while smaller, more competitive firms would have to buy theirs at auction. The schemes were also flawed because: global warming was caused by gases other than carbon; emissions were difficult to measure; carbon offsets bought from other countries were of dubious value; and the schemes "crowded out" voluntary action by individuals. He concludes that more direct measures, such as a carbon tax, regulations or new infrastructure would be simpler, more effective and less open to manipulation.

Dr Spash could not be contacted by The Australian. However, his presentation to the ANZSEE conference in Darwin last Wednesday stated: "The CSIRO is currently maintaining they have the right to ban the written version of this paper from publication by myself as a representative of the organisation and by myself as a private citizen." Dr Spash said CSIRO managers had written to the journal's editor demanding the paper not be published.

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said the publication of Dr Spash's paper was an internal matter and was being reviewed by the chief executive's office. However, he said that under the agency's charter scientists were forbidden from commenting on matters of government or opposition policy.

The CSIRO charter, introduced last year, was trumpeted by Science Minister Kim Carr as a way to guarantee freedom of expression for scientists. Senator Carr said he was seeking a briefing from the CSIRO. Opposition science spokesman Eric Abetz accused the government of empty spin.

Julian Cribb, adjunct professor of science communication at the University of Technology, Sydney, said gagging scientists deprived the public of scientific knowledge they had funded. ANZSEE president Wendy Proctor said if Dr Spash's research questioned current orthodoxy, it should be made public to inform debate.



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


Sunday, November 01, 2009


Two years ago, a United Nations scientific panel won the Nobel Peace Prize after concluding that global warming is "unequivocal" and is "very likely" caused by man. Then came a development unforeseen by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC: Data suggested that Earth's temperature was beginning to drop.

That has reignited debate over what has become scientific consensus: that climate change is due not to nature, but to humans burning fossil fuels. Scientists who don't believe in man-made global warming cite the cooling as evidence for their case. Those who do believe in man-made warming dismiss the cooling as a blip triggered by fleeting changes in ocean currents; they predict greenhouse gases will produce rising temperatures again soon.

The reality is more complex. A few years of cooling doesn't mean that people aren't heating up the planet over the long term. But the cooling wasn't predicted by all the computer models that underlie climate science. That has led to one point of agreement: The models are imperfect. "There is a lot of room for improvement" in the models, says Mojib Latif, a climate scientist in Germany and co-author of a paper predicting the planet will cool for perhaps a decade before starting to warm again -- a long-term trend he attributes to greenhouse-gas emissions. "You need to know what you can believe and can't believe from the models."

The renewed discussion of inherent shortcomings in climate models comes on the cusp of potentially big financial commitments. In five weeks, diplomats from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to hash out a new agreement to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions. The science continues to evolve.

The goal of climate models is to project how rising greenhouse-gas emissions will interact with natural forces to affect the global temperature. The models are technological marvels. Using supercomputers, they divide the world into grids of roughly 4,000 cubic miles apiece. The grids are stacked, one on top of the other, up through the atmosphere.

It is complicated stuff. The models consist of dozens of equations written to reflect how liquids and gases move about the planet. Just as a symphony's sound is affected by the crash of cymbals or the pluck of a violin string, the planet's future temperature is influenced by powerful ocean currents and tiny specks of sea salt. In between are other players, such as sunlight, clouds and rain.

Added to the equations are such measurements as past temperatures, barometric pressure and sea salinity. Calculations about the influence of sunlight are entered. Then various projections of greenhouse-gas emissions are factored in. The computers run the equations and generate projections of global temperatures.

The models are only as good as the information they are fed. One big uncertainty is ocean temperature. Oceans trap huge amounts of heat, and they process by which they release it over time affects the temperature of the planet. But there isn't a lot of actual data, because the vastness of the oceans makes gathering temperature data costly and arduous.

The success of the models also depends on the soundness of their assumptions. The effects of clouds, for example, are unclear. Depending on their shape and altitude, clouds can either trap heat, warming the earth, or reflect it, cooling the planet. The way that greenhouse gases affect cloud formation -- and how clouds in turn affect temperature -- remains a subject of debate. Different models treat these factors differently.

On a graph, the models' temperature projections ultimately point upward, signifying warming. But along the way, each line has dips -- temporary periods of cooling. The timing and depth of the drops differ from model to model. Most climate scientists have regarded these zigs and zags as noise. Their models are designed to project how greenhouse gases will affect the global thermostat over a century, not what temperatures will be in any year or even in any decade. "We care about the climate in the 2080s. We don't care about the climate on Aug. 15, 2084," says Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.

The models' focus on century-long trends is in part a function of limited data. Predicting short-term temperatures requires more measurements than projecting long-term trends. But such data have been lacking. "These long-term climate projections are a much easier problem than these shorter-term climate projections," says Mr. Dessler. "It's sort of counterintuitive."

Though often overlooked in the debate about man-made warming, natural factors have contributed to record high temperatures. The year 1998, for example, was widely noted as the hottest year on record, intensifying concerns about global warming and people's role in it. But one reason that 1998 set a record is that a strong shift in ocean temperature known as El Niño occurred that year. "1998 was a very hot year because it was an El Niño year," says Mr. Dessler.

The 2007 U.N. report included in its widely read summary a chart of projected temperatures that lacked visible periods of cooling. That is because it was an average of the lines from many different climate models. As averages do, it looked smooth. And it pointed up, indicating rising temperatures. Yet as the report was released, the global average temperature was below what it had been in 2005, which along with 1998 was one of the two hottest years on record. Even so, the average temperature in 2006 and 2007 remained among the 10 highest ever recorded.

About a year of the U.N. report's release, researchers in Germany published a paper in the journal Nature that attributed the cooling to the enigmatic ocean currents. The paper was based on a model that used new ocean-temperature measurements. It concluded that a shift in ocean currents was counteracting the warming from greenhouse gases. And that is causing the planet, on balance, to cool.

The paper argues that intermittent cooling from natural factors such as ocean currents will prove less significant in the long term than continued warming from greenhouse-gas emissions. But climate scientists acknowledge that those natural variabilities aren't fully understood. "This is pioneering work," says Mr. Latif, one of the authors of the authors of the German paper. "I won't say our forecast will be correct."

A separate study by researchers in the U.K., published in 2007 in the journal Science, also says the cooling will soon be outweighed by warming from greenhouse gases.

Unsurprisingly, the research hasn't settled the debate. Scientists who have long questioned man-made global warming cite the temperature drop that began in 2006 as more evidence the models are wrong. "They were predicting warming," says Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mr. Lindzen's work, regarded as leading the research challenging man-made warming, suggests that natural factors such as clouds generally inhibit, rather than intensify, greenhouse-gas warming. He wrote in a recent article that the study from the U.K. admits that the kind of climate model cited in the U.N.'s IPCC report "did not appropriately deal with natural internal variability, thus demolishing the basis for the IPCC's iconic attribution" linking greenhouse-gas emissions to climate change. He added that "even when all models agree, they can all be wrong."

The researchers behind those studies strenuously reject that description. But they disagree among themselves on how long the cooling will last. The British paper says warming will resume as early as this year. The German paper says warming won't resume for perhaps a decade.

Such disagreements aren't unusual in a nascent science. "I don't think anybody is surprised that we're going to get one model that suggests it's going to cool and another that suggests it's going to warm," says Vicky Pope, a scientist at the Hadley Center, the U.K. institute where the research for the British paper was done. "That's consistent with where we are with the science."



The EU has agreed a conditional deal on how to help other nations fight global warming, ahead of a key climate summit, but set no figure on what it would pay. The EU agreed climate change would need 100bn euros ($148bn; £90bn) a year by 2020, and would pay its "fair share", conditional on other nations. UK PM Gordon Brown said the EU was leading the way with bold proposals.

Talks at the EU summit in Brussels had been deadlocked over how EU nations would share its costs. A coalition of nine poorer EU nations had threatened to block a deal unless richer countries paid more. No cost targets for individual EU nations were announced and the initial funding will be voluntary. Details of how the burden will be shared will be sorted out [or not] later by a working group.

Green groups have criticised the EU deal, saying it was not nearly enough.

Mr Brown, announcing the deal, said the EU climate discussions had been a success. "We can look the others in the eye," said the president of the European Commission, "we Europeans have done our job." But to critics, that job may look only half-done. EU leaders have agreed that developing nations would need $150bn a year to tackle climate change and pledged they would pay their fair share. But they haven't said how much. And poorer EU nations like Poland will continue on a voluntary basis or according to their means. It's now up to the other big global players - the US, China and India - to decide if that's enough for them to put an offer on the table and avoid failure in Copenhagen.

"We were aware that if the European Union did not come together to solve some of the impasses, the possibility of a deal at the Copenhagen summit would be a lot less likely." He said: "The EU is leading the way with bold proposals - do not allow years to go by without action."

The EU said the amount to come from public funding from all countries to meet the estimated 100bn euros a year needed by 2020 would be between 22bn and 50bn euros a year. However, it did not fix the EU's contribution, saying it would only pay its "fair share".

But Mr Brown did announce a "fast track" scheme to reduce carbon emissions, with the richest countries providing development finance to the poorest. This would come in soon after the Copenhagen summit and would cost 5bn to 7bn euros immediately, to come from all richer countries. He insisted that all these funding targets would be conditional on other richer countries making funding offers and on developing countries showing how they would spend the money.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the agreement was "an important breakthrough that brings new momentum". He said the EU nations had "agreed a negotiating mandate" for the Copenhagen climate talks. "Next week, we'll meet the US president and will say 'let's make Copenhagen a success'," Mr Barroso said.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, PM of Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said: "The EU has a very strong negotiating position. This enables the EU to continue taking a lead in the negotiations and encourages others."

However, the Green bloc in the European parliament criticised the EU leaders for failing to fix the costing, calling the deal "a calamitous result for the climate". "The EU preferred to give into dissension, opacity and internal tactics during the negotiations between the member states," the bloc's leaders said. Joris den Blanken of environmental group Greenpeace, said: "[The EU] failed to use this opportunity to put its money where its mouth is. "President Barack Obama should now step up and break the deadlock in negotiations."


The Verdict’s In: Cap and Trade Will Not Work

Over the summer The Washington Post called Europe’s experience with cap and trade as “Exhibit A” of what not to do on climate. Yesterday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Iain Murray brought evidence to the jury – that jury being Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. Murray detailed the failures of the EU cap and trade scheme. Despite the European Union establishing an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in the year 2000, the United States has had similar or better emissions reductions than most countries:
“According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, the United States has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions 2 by 3 percent. By comparison, the only major economy to reduce its emissions more was France, at 6 percent. The United Kingdom managed a similar performance to the US at -2.9 percent. Most other economies performed much worse.”

Murray then refers to a study by the Taxpayers’ Alliance in London to weigh in the costs side of ETS and discusses what it would take to achieve a 20 percent reduction by 2020 - same as the Boxer-Kerry cap and trade bill in the United States:
EU emissions did drop a negligible 1.5 percent in 2008. Being charitable, let’s assume that all of that emissions drop can be ascribed to the ETS. If so, then to achieve the 20 percent reduction target the EU has for 2020, simple extrapolation suggests that will cost the EU a staggering $2.28 trillion that year (and the accumulated costs would be even more massive). In fact, the cost could be way higher than that, because we tend to make the more affordable cuts first; deeper cuts will naturally cost more per unit.”

In testimony in July, Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman brought his own evidence to the table for why Europe’s model is not the one to follow:
We have also seen examples of fraud and unfairness in the process. Given the similar politics here, where big businesses have lobbied for free allocations much more effectively than the little guys–consumers, homeowners, small business owners, farmers–it is quite likely that the inequities would appear here as well.

The reason for the failure of carbon cap and trade is simple — reducing carbon dioxide from the existing installed base of energy-producing and -using equipment and vehicles is prohibitively expensive, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. Many nations committed to emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol are going to miss the targets (unless the recession lingers) and any talk of tougher targets is empty rhetoric.”

Lost jobs. Lost income. Lost economic activity. Nothing to show for it. The evidence is incontrovertible. Let’s hope the jury listens.


Save the planet? Kill cap-and-trade

If members of Congress need yet another reason to kill the Waxman-Markey bill, the Obama administration's economy-suffocating, job-destroying energy program, Princeton University's Tim Searchinger and his colleagues have a humdinger: Carbon reduction laws encourage widespread deforestation as trees and other vegetation are harvested to produce energy from biomass to replace oil and gas. The problem is that in long run, this process actually increases greenhouse gas emissions, which cap-and-trade is meant to reduce, according to Searchinger.

The Princeton researcher's paper, published Oct. 23 in Science, points out that almost all prior global warming studies failed to take into account the carbon emissions that result from converting cropland and forests to energy production. This accounting error treats all bio-energy as carbon-neutral, the authors say, despite the fact that burning wood and clearing land actually releases quite a large quantity of carbon into the atmosphere.

"By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years," the Princeton authors say. "Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%." Neither the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nor existing European cap-and-trade programs have taken into account widespread deforestation as farmers worldwide respond to the new economic incentives, Searchinger added.

Those figures might actually underestimate the growth of greenhouse gas production caused by reliance on energy produced from bio-mass sources because cap-and-trade includes $30 billion in subsidies for alternative energy research, development, and commercialization, including bio-mass. In other words: A vote for the House version of cap-and-trade or the companion legislation sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, actually means a vote for even more greenhouse gases. Who knew? Now, it's the opponents of cap-and-trade bills who can honestly say they are just trying to save the planet from the ravages of greenhouse gases.

And one more consideration: Kerry contends global warming presents a national security problem for the U.S. This is because, according to Kerry, global warming "injects a major new source of chaos, tension, and human insecurity into an already volatile world. It threatens to bring more famine and drought, worse pandemics, more natural disasters, more resource scarcity, and human displacement on a staggering scale. We risk fanning the flames of failed-statism, and offering glaring opportunities to the worst actors in our international system." The Princeton study suggests that it's cap-and-trade that poses the national security threat.


Lisa Heinzerling: An attack-dog Greenie

Are their cases of environmental pollution that are so egregious that the polluters should be punished as murderers? Absolutely, says Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Heinzerling. And she is willing to wipe out half of the world's population to prove her point. Given her way, she would turn into murderers every manufacturer in America who had any inkling of an idea ahead of time that their actions had even the remotest statistical chance of causing a pollution-related death. And she is determined to give her view the force of law.

For example, she strongly opposes allowing any cost-benefit analyses into the evaluation of environmental risk because, for her, doing so amounts to "a pre-killing weighing of the choice to kill." In such analyses, "economic costs of pollution-reducing strategies are balanced against the value" in dollars of those whom they will kill. Such deliberation for her, "makes the killing worse, not better, from a legal and moral perspective."

To make her point, she uses an example of an imaginary reality TV show where, every week, some unlucky contestant is not only voted off the show but is executed. She claims that we would not allow this killing even if the show were a huge monetary success. And neither should we allow companies, on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis, to "set themselves on a course of conduct that they know will result in human death."

Her analogy is flawed for a number of reasons. On the show, we know that someone will be killed by our actions. In the real world, what is actually known by a company when it decides not to install the expensive new scrubbers is simply that it may result in the death of one extra person per million. Or, of course, it may not.

Any time I put the key in the ignition and drive away I realize that there is some real statistical probability greater than zero that my actions will result in the death of an innocent person. Even if I am obeying all laws, a child who is not paying attention to traffic may rush out in front of my car. In these types of cases, motorists are often absolved both legally and morally of any wrongdoing.

But, wait a minute, I did know when I left the house that morning that there was some remote statistical chance that my actions might result in someone else's death, and yet I drove away in spite of this. By Lisa Heinzerling's unorthodox reasoning, I would instead be guilty of murder.

Another disingenuous feature of her reality show analogy is that while, in the show, we specifically set out to kill someone, in the real world corporations are normally not out to harm, much less kill. Her response to this is that unintentionally causing a death in pursuit of some other end — like profit — is still a "knowing killing." And she full well acknowledges that this extreme view "makes killers out of the people who produce the things—electricity, oil, chemicals—that bring good things to life."

And so, if, in the final analysis, we end up destroying the very commodities that "bring good things to life" – and, in fact, save millions of lives a year – well, to Ms Heinzerling's way of thinking, that's just too bad. In short, she is absolutely determined to save individual lives – even if she has to wipe out mankind to do it.

But to the medieval philosophers who first formulated views of just conduct in war, it was all-important that a good end was aimed at—this was what morally justified any killings of non-combatants that came about as the result of collateral damage. One was not targeting them. One was aiming at the good end of targeting combatants in a just war. Heinzerling seems utterly unable to appreciate this crucial distinction.


Australia: National Party at war with wishy-washy conservatives over Warmist laws

Australia's rural-based National Party is one of the few in the world to reject outright the global warming theory

Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce says he is frustrated by personal criticism from within the Liberal Party and has threatened to quit the Coalition. Senator Joyce's strong stance against an emission trading scheme has angered some Liberal Party MPs.

Senator Joyce told Channel Seven his critics should have the courage to state their views in public. "If after about four years you continually deal with unnamed sources in the paper and those unnamed sources say that the source of all their problems in life is you, then you say if you want to make yourself public and you are at the appropriate level, I'll leave," he said.

The Coalition is in negotiations on an emissions trading scheme with the Federal Government. However, talks have been stalling over Government claims the Coalition is not negotiating in good faith. Several Coalition members have made comments about the emissions trading scheme that seem to be at odds with Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's stance.

On Friday, Senate Leader Nick Minchin said the Coalition would not necessarily vote for an emissions trading scheme even if the Federal Government accepted the Coalition's amendments. Senator Minchin's comments came amid a report in The Australian newspaper that Liberal frontbenchers were getting cold feet about supporting a scheme because the party's research shows voters are becoming hesitant about the idea.

Mr Turnbull has said he will recommend supporting an emissions trading scheme if the Opposition's amendments are accepted. Senator Joyce has been outspoken in his opposition to an emissions trading scheme and has said he would vote such a scheme down.



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


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