Wednesday, October 31, 2007


By Alan Carlin, US Environmental Protection Agency


Proponents of greenhouse gas emissions reductions have long assumed that such reductions are the best approach to global climate change control and sometimes argued that they are the least risky approach. It is now generally understood that to be effective such reductions would have to involve most of the world and be very extensive and rapidly implemented. This paper examines the question of whether it is feasible to use only this approach to control dangerous global climate changes, the most critical of the climate change control objectives. I show that in one of two critical cases analyzed recent papers provide evidence that such an approach is not a feasible single approach to avoiding the dangerous climate changes predicted by a very prominent group of US climate change researchers. In the other case using a widely accepted international standard I show that such an approach appears to be very risky and much more expensive than previously thought. These conclusions further reinforce previous research that emissions reductions alone do not appear to be an effective and efficient single strategy for climate change control. So although emissions reductions can play a useful role in climate change control, other approaches would appear to be needed if dangerous climate changes are to be avoided. This conclusion suggests that the current proposals in a number of Western European countries and the United States to use emissions reductions as the sole means to control global warming may be doomed to failure in terms of avoiding such dangerous changes. An alternative approach is briefly discussed that would be more effective and efficient, and could avoid the perilous risks and high costs inherent in an emissions reduction only approach.

Fundamental to a rational decision as to what to do about global climate change is what the problems are that need to be solved and what and how much needs to be done how soon to solve them (1). It is sometimes forgotten that the objective of global climate change control should not be to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) but rather to reduce specified risks resulting from climate change. Previous research has shown that the very widely proposed approach of reducing emissions of GHGs is not likely to be either effective or efficient in reducing the risk of dangerous climate changes or some of the other goals of climate change control (1). Of four such risks previously identified (1), the most critical one is dangerous climate changes.

In order to investigate the feasibility of using an emissions reduction approach in reducing the risk of dangerous climate changes, it is necessary to define either the threats that we are trying to avoid or the goals that if achieved would avoid the threats since different threats may require different solutions. For this purpose I have defined two such threats/goals, representing two of the most prominent ones discussed in the literature. Obviously there may be other threats/goals, but a useful approach should at least control the most prominent ones unless we know for certain that another threat is the only one that will occur. [...]

One of the threats, which I will call the Greenland/West Antarctica ice sheet melt, has been proposed by a prominent group of American climate scientists, usually with James Hansen as the lead author. Two new papers on the subject are by Hansen et al; both concern the risks from additional global warming as a result of sea level rise due to melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica. The first paper (2) argues that there are dangerous risks if global temperatures rise more than another 1oC from current levels.

The second (3) uses data from the last 400,000 years of Earth history to predict how and why they believe that sea levels may rise significantly over this century and to quantify key parameters including much higher climate sensitivity to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

A third paper with Hansen as the sole author (4) summarizes other research showing that the Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are eroding, including speculation that the resulting sea level rise could be as much as 5 meters by 2100. New Scientist describes the consequences as follows (5):

Without mega-engineering projects to protect them, a 5 meter rise would inundate large parts of many coastal cities--including New York, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Mumbai, and Tokyo--and leave surrounding areas vulnerable to storm surges. In Florida, Louisiana, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and elsewhere, whole regions and cities would vanish. China's economic powerhouse, Shanghai, has an average elevation of just 4 meters.

The long standing concern about dangerous climate changes is that there may be a "tipping point" where a continued rise in global temperatures will trigger non-linear, selfreinforcing further warming or other dangerous environmental effects beyond those resulting immediately from the temperature rise itself. Numerous scenarios have been proposed (1), but Hansen et al. believe that the most likely and most critical of these dangerous effects is the possibility of substantial sea level rise due to the breakup of parts or all of the ice sheets covering Greenland and West Antarctica. Taken together, Hansen et al (2, 3, and 4) paint a rather alarming forecast of what they view as the dangerous effect of global warming is as they see it. Their words could not be more much more graphic or stark in their description of the risk they believe we face:

"Our concern," Hansen et al. (3) write, that business as usual greenhouse gas scenarios "would cause large sea-level rise this century...differs from estimates of the IPCC (2001, 2007), which foresees little or no contribution to twenty-first century sea level raise from Greenland and Antarctica.

However, the IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the nonlinear physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice shelves, nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we have presented for the absence of discernable lag between ice sheet forcing and sea-level rise." "Civilization developed," Hansen et al. say ominously "and constructed extensive infrastructure, during a period of unusual climate stability, the Holocene, now almost 12000 years in duration. That period is about to end."

Hansen et al., however, believe that their concerns can still be met through reductions in emissions of both CO2 and the other GHGs, but they do state that they believe we are now at the outer limits of what can still be done to prevent the catastrophe that they predict will otherwise occur.

In the second case, the threat/goal is derived from the conventional United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the announced policy by the European Union (EU) as to how it should be implemented. The ultimate goal of climate change control, the UNFCCC has declared, is to avoid dangerous climate changes. This has generally been interpreted as a temperature ceiling that if observed would accomplish this. The EU has explicitly adopted a limit of 2oC above pre-industrial levels (6) and Germany, Britain, and Sweden have implicitly accepted it (7). These four Western European jurisdictions have all proposed implementing it, however, in ways that are unlikely to achieve the 2oC limit (7), possibly because they appreciate the difficulty of meeting it. California, however, has used the limit as the basis for its climate change control legislation, as have some of the bills that have been proposed in Congress. The history and scientific basis for the 2oC limit is briefly summarized in Hansen, et al. (2) and more extensively in Rive et al (8). Others have also suggested that a 2oC warming is not likely to be safe (9) (10) (11).

A recent paper by Rive et al. (8) analyzes a range of possible limits on the rise in global temperatures to determine the near-term emission reductions needed to realize them using a variety of climate change parameters. This paper primarily uses their methodology as a framework by which to assess the feasibility of an emissions control approach to global climate change control in terms of limiting temperature increases to the levels specified in each of the two threat/goal scenarios just outlined. More specifically, the two cases are:

(A) Greenland/West Antarctica ice sheet melt: Hansen et al are assumed to be correct that climate sensitivity to increased levels of CO2 is approximately 6oC for a doubling of CO2 (3) as well as their belief that there is substantial risk of a dramatic sea level rise if global temperatures increase more than another 1oC (2).

(B) EU 2oC Temperature Limit: There is assumed to be a substantial risk of dangerous climatic changes if global temperatures exceed 2oC above preindustrial levels. This is a little less strict than the second half of (A) since a further increase of global temperatures of 1oC would be roughly consistent with a 1.8oC increase from pre-industrial levels. [...]

Although nature long ago demonstrated that there are atmospheric geoengineering options that could be effective in controlling global temperatures (1) (23) and meeting the 2oC limit or any other desired temperature limit, no real effort has been made to optimize these options, carefully determine their non-climate change environmental effects, nor build an international mechanism for decision-making to implement them (24) despite the much lower costs (3 to 5 orders of magnitude) compared to de-carbonization and the fact that one country with the required technological and financial resources could if necessary implement such a solution directly without involving other countries or people once a decision had been made to proceed (1).

Numerous arguments both for and against using atmospheric geoengineering have been debated for years, but often hinge on a metaphysical issue of whether humans should alter emissions to alter climate or alter global temperatures directly (1) (25). One possibility is a combination of early geoengineering to avoid any danger of dangerous climate changes with cost-effective ERD involving increasing energy efficiency but not decreasing energy services. Lack of preparation and support for using geoengineering approaches may prove to be unfortunate since the result is likely to be expensive but ineffective ERD and extensive adaptation. And if Hansen et al. and Caldeira are correct, the resulting adaptation currently appears likely to include adaptation to "dangerous" climate changes and the loss of the world's coral reefs.

The first step towards an effective and efficient response to global climate change would appear to be to carefully examine each of the problems posed by global climate change and to determine the best solutions to each problem (see 1) rather than offering a single panecea (ERD) that appears to have critical limitations as an overall solution. The second step appears to be to carry out the needed development and also to develop a decision-making process for better using atmospheric geoengineering, and the third is to carefully research and attempt to find workable solutions to ocean acidification, including consideration of the use of ocean geoengineering. Continuing down a path towards ERD, if Hansen et al. are correct, will apparently not avoid dangerous climate changes, or if he is not, would still be very risky, very expensive, and probably disastrous in the end.


Reducing emissions could speed global warming (??)

There's no such thing as a happy Greenie and Prof. Lovelock is unhappy about EVERYTHING

A rapid cutback in greenhouse gas emissions could speed up global warming, the veteran environmental maverick James Lovelock will warn in a lecture today. Prof Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory that the planet behaves like a single organism, says this is because current global warming is offset by global dimming - the 2-3§C of cooling cause by industrial pollution, known to scientists as aerosol particles, in the atmosphere.

His lecture will be delivered as Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, launches the results of a public consultation on the Government's proposed Climate Change Bill which is intended to cut Britain's greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Prof Lovelock will say in a lecture to the Royal Society: "Any economic downturn or planned cutback in fossil fuel use, which lessened aerosol density, would intensify the heating. "If there were a 100 per cent cut in fossil fuel combustion it might get hotter not cooler. We live in a fool's climate. We are damned if we continue to burn fuel and damned if we stop too suddenly."

Prof Lovelock believes that even the gloomiest predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are underestimating the current severity of climate change because they do not go into the consequences of the current burden pollution in the atmosphere which will last for centuries. He argues that though the scientific language of the IPCC, which reported earlier this year, is "properly cautious" it gives the impression that the worst consequences of climate change are avoidable if we take action now....

According to Professor Lovelock's gloomy analysis, the IPCC's climate models fail to take account of the Earth as a living system where life in the oceans and land takes an active part in regulating the climate. He will argue that when a model includes the whole Earth system it shows that: "When the carbon dioxide in the air exceeds 500 parts per million the global temperature suddenly rises 6§C and becomes stable again despite further increases or decreases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. "This contrasts with the IPCC models that predict that temperature rises and falls smoothly with increasing or decreasing carbon dioxide."

He argues that we should cut greenhouse gas emissions, nonetheless, because it might help slow the pace of global heating. We also have to do our best to lessen our destruction of natural forests but this is unlikely to be enough and we will have to learn to adapt to the inevitable changes we will soon experience.

The pro-nuclear Prof Lovelock will say that we should think of the Earth as a live self-regulating system and devise ways to harness the natural processes that regulate the climate in the fight against global warming. This could involve paying indigenous peoples to protect their forests and develop ways to make the ocean absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere more efficiently.

Prof Lovelock intends to add: "We are not merely a disease; we are through our intelligence and communication the planetary equivalent of a nervous system. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth not its malady." ...


Ethanol Conspiracy Theories Ignore Fuel's Legitimate Shortcomings

Yesterday, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dineen issued a statement urging Congress to pump billions of subsidies into ethanol. Dineen's rhetoric begs lawmakers to create an artificial market for ethanol, build the extra infrastructure needed for transport, and condemns anyone who speaks about its shortcomings as part of a "coordinated offensive of mistruths".

These statements undermine the effort to have a serious debate about the right way to diversify our energy sources and increase America's energy security. The ethanol industry has been getting super-sized subsidies for more than two decades. Throughout that time, cellulosic ethanol has always been "right around the corner."

We should be looking to innovators and entrepreneurs to develop the next great technological breakthroughs in energy -- not to lobbyists seeking more handouts in Washington. Despite Dineen's accusation of an "insidious campaign" by the fossil fuels industry against biofuels, there are a myriad of legitimate concerns about ethanol. Those concerns include, but are not limited to, ethanol's effect on food prices, its huge water demands, and its overall financial cost. (For more on this see the recent Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ethanol's Water Shortage".)

The Institute for Energy Research supports energy diversity, tapping into the most efficient traditional, alternative, and renewable sources capable of sustaining themselves in a free market, including using ethanol as a gasoline blend. However, propping up less efficient producers with endless subsidies and mandating production of biofuels will not increase our energy security, and will likely produce a host of negative unintended consequences.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes that the practical limit for domestic ethanol production is about 13.8 billion gallons by 2030, or about 7 percent of the transportation fuels market (Annual Energy Outlook 2007). Mandating the production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 will require a fleet of flex-fuel vehicles, but currently, less than one percent of retail stations sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

According to IER Adjunct Scholar Jerry Taylor, virtually all studies show that greenhouse gases associated with ethanol are about the same as those associated with conventional gasoline once the entire life cycle of the two fuels are compared. Further, as more land is harnessed for corn production, less fertile soils will be brought into production, requiring more energy intensive inputs into the corn production process, primarily in the form of increased use of fertilizers and irrigation. "As we re-open previously dormant land to produce corn for ethanol -- we may be unwittingly emitting tons of carbon dioxide with simple land-use changes," warned Amy Kaleita, assistant professor of agriculture and bioengineering at Iowa State University.

Such a massive increase in corn production for ethanol poses other serious environmental risks emerging in the so-called "Dead Zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay.

Dineen claims that we are close to making cellulosic ethanol a reality, but Robert Bryce, a fellow with the Institute for Energy Research, wrote, "cellulosic ethanol is akin to the tooth fairy: it's an entity that many believe in, but no one ever actually sees. There are plenty of believers in cellulosic ethanol, but there's no reason to expect that the industry will be able to grow fast enough." ("The Senate's Ethanol Delusion," Energy Tribune).

These are legitimate concerns that require serious thought before Congress mandates the use of billions of gallons of renewable fuels. The breakthroughs in technology necessary to produce new energy sources will come from entrepreneurs and innovators. Academic energy experts are researching and evaluating the best options to secure a robust supply of energy well into America's future. The free market should pick the next great technology, not the lawmakers and lobbyists on Capitol Hill.


Australian Labor Party gets real about Kyoto

They have finally seen that dragging down the economy for Greenie tokenism is not a good deal

KEVIN Rudd has said it is "absolutely fundamental" that developing nations sign up to Kyoto emissions targets as he tries to limit the fallout after forcing Peter Garrett into an embarrassing backflip on Labor's policy. Mr Garrett said yesterday that the inclusion of developing nations China and India - major greenhouse gas emitters - was "not a deal-breaker" to Labor signing on to a post-Kyoto climate accord if the party wins the federal election. By the evening he said it was a pre-requisite.

Mr Rudd has said on ABC radio this morning that any deal would be sent back to the drawing board if developing nations refused to sign. He had said yesterday that developed nations should show leadership by signing on first. "It's absolutely fundamental that such commitments are contained, and that for us is a pre-condition," he said. He said Labor's policy was "clear-cut" and Mr Garrett had been totally consistent. He said Mr Garrett had originally been speaking about the four years between now and 2012, when Kyoto expires. From then on, Mr Rudd said, developing nations had to be on board.

Mr Garrett's backdown came after a Labor crisis meeting, which followed a day of sustained assault by John Howard and senior ministers on Mr Garrett's comments. The Coalition seized on the Labor position. Mr Howard said it was a policy to "reduce Australian jobs", not to reduce Australian emissions.

Last night, Mr Garrett issued a statement, attempting to clarify his position. "Appropriate developing country commitments for the post-2012 commitment period ... would be an essential pre-requisite for Australian support." The blunder enabled the Coalition to shift the heat on climate change away from Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It was revealed on the weekend that Mr Turnbull had asked Cabinet six weeks ago to sign up to Kyoto because Australia would meet its targets anyway. Mr Rudd had attacked Mr Turnbull, highlighting his difference with Mr Howard - who rebuffed Mr Turnbull's suggestion - and the rest of Cabinet.

A Newspoll released this morning has found a four-point swing back to the Coalition, but Labor still had an election-winning lead with 54 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote. But in worse news for Labor, Peter Costello - who would take over from Mr Howard at some point if the Coalition wins - has almost double to support of Wayne Swan as preferred Treasurer. Mr Costello and Mr Swan will debate each other this afternoon.

Mr Howard had said Mr Garrett's original commitment, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review and on ABC radio, was against Australia's interests and would put Australian jobs at risk. "We can't have a situation where Australian industry is bound to take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but competitive countries like China are not bound," Mr Howard said. He said that would effectively export Australian emissions - and Australian jobs - to China.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said committing to any new deal without the explicit support of developing countries was "absurd". "You cannot be the government of Australia and go into negotiations saying 'developing countries don't have to make a contribution, we'll sign the agreement anyway' and think you are going to do something to solve this problem of greenhouse gas emissions," he said.....

Only after Mr Howard and other Coalition ministers began to publicly question the policy, and the media began asking questions, did Mr Rudd, Mr Garrett and a team of advisers hold a crisis meeting at lunch-time in Cairns. It was decided that Mr Garrett, who had made the initial commitment, should release a statement that "clarified" Labor's position and recognised the need to lock developing nations into targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts.....


Kids do what a negligent Green-influenced government refused to do

Having a 6' croc living behind your house is no problem?

Two boys have admitted taking revenge on a crocodile lurking near their Cairns home, hooking it and bashing it to death with a rock. Police and wildlife officials are investigating the attack on the 1.8m croc in a drain at Dillon St, Westcourt, and have warned the boys may face hefty fines. But residents last night defended the boys' actions, saying they were fed up with the number of croc sightings in suburban creeks and drains and had been forced to take matters into their own hands.

David Stallwood, 12, last night told how they caught the animal and killed it because of safety fears. "We got a torch, a big hook and some meat and went down and got it," he said. Added his mate Henry Tabuar, 14: "We just wanted to get it out for the safety of the people."

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service conservation services manager Dr Mark Read said the croc was the same animal spotted in the Dillon St drain on Sunday. He said he would work with police today to further investigate the attack and possibly lay charges. Dr Read warned anyone caught harming a croc could face a $16,000 fine.

The incident comes after a spate of sightings of crocs in Cairns in the past week. Also yesterday, a Miriwinni woman told how her horse was mauled by a croc at a popular fishing spot and two northern beaches were closed following another sighting. Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne said people had probably had enough of finding crocs in urban areas. But he said there was not a crocodile problem in the city. "It's a fact of life, they (crocodiles) get in, they get out," Cr Byrne said. "It's unfortunate that an animal has been killed, but it's probably an indication that people have had enough." ....

Lifeguards closed both Yorkeys Knob and Trinity beaches again yesterday morning after a croc sighting at Trinity Beach. The beaches were closed all day Friday when a crocodile was spotted swimming north, close to the shore.



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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The complete media sellout to sensationalism -- truth regardless

Al Gore hasn't secretly bought every mainstream media news outlet, has he? Then why do so few journalists even pretend anymore to play fair, straight and skeptical on global warming?

This swing to subjective journalism on environmental issues began decades ago. But it reached a tipping point in 2001, when both U.S. News & World Report and Time jettisoned all pretense of objectivity and cranked out sensationalized cover stories about the various apocalypses that anthropogenic global warming was certain to bring to our tender planet. Since then, most mainstream journalists effectively have decreed that the global warming debate is over, that man's fossil-fuel burning is the primary culprit and that anyone who doesn't parrot the James Hansen-Laurie David party line is in bed with ExxonMobil or is the moral and intellectual equivalent of a Holocaust denier.

Today you rarely see or hear a skeptical peep on catastrophic global warming from CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek or the already-know-it-alls at The New Yorker. Scientific American has devolved into a huckster for Al Gore. The senile tough guys at "60 Minutes" have gone soft. Only John Stossel of ABC's "20/20" can be counted on to regularly challenge the media's alarmist consensus on climate change.

Compare skeptic Stossel to Anderson Cooper. For his laughably one-sided "Planet in Peril" special last week, Cooper jetted to Greenland's treacherous ice sheets to demonstrate, ad nauseam, that global warming is causing glaciers there to melt at a faster rate than 10 years ago. In their journalism snow job, Cooper and his producers made sure to include the media's pet climate alarmist, NASA's James Hansen, but they left out the elements invariably left out when global warming issues are reported: balance and perspective.

No ice chip of skepticism threatened CNN's scary story line. Cooper -- who made a major gaffe when he said 40 percent of Greenland's ice sheet had gone away in the last 40 years [Recent scientific report showing overall GROWTH in the Greenland ice-sheet here] -- did manage to admit it was not likely the island's 630,000 cubic miles of ice were going to melt anytime soon.

But for perspective's sake, he might have noted how Greenland got its name -- because it was hotter -- and greener -- 900 years ago than it is today. So couldn't its current warming be part of a natural long-term cycle? Sorry, doesn't fit the standard story line.

Cooper's up-close-and-personal encounter with polar bears was just as journalistically sloppy. He rode along with a scientist who used a helicopter to chase down and dart a mother bear and her two cubs, who then were weighed and had who knows what else in the name of science done to them to see how they are coping with the shrinking polar ice cap that has liberaldom's top journalists in such a panic. Polar bears -- the official charismatic poster mammals of catastrophic global warming -- are under stress, underweight, acting strange and in danger of becoming extinct by 2050, Cooper said somberly. How many polar bears are there in the Arctic? How many separate bear populations? Are they all losing bears? Are they maybe under stress because they are being terrorized by helicopters, shot full of drugs and manhandled by mad scientists?

Don't ask Anderson. He was too busy playing Nanook of the North and exploiting polar bears the same way most of his fellow journalists in the unfair and unbalanced news media do -- as cliched props in a propaganda war.


A climate hysteria ripoff

Imagine you are an advocacy group and want to sway a government's policy development, but really want to keep your activism a secret. You could learn a lot by observing and then avoiding the practices of the Center for Climate Strategies, a group of global warming worrywarts. CCS in recent years has approached many states, including Washington, with an inexpensive, tantalizing offer: to establish and manage a process for climate change policy development. The results are a study legitimized by government that promotes onerous regulations, property rights infringement through smart growth initiatives, and new taxes and fees on fuels and utilities.

CCS operates in Washington in nearly the same way it's worked in every other state where it's been hired. First a governor (such as Gov. Chris Gregoire) issues an executive order declaring global warming a problem that must be confronted through state policy. Then a so-called stakeholder (political appointees and special interests, really) panel considers dozens of CCS-created policy options -- most of which impinge upon individual rights, increase energy costs, or add to the cost of government -- that ostensibly reduce CO2 emissions in the state. CCS holds the hand of the group through several meetings and its decision-making, until the threats to personal liberty and financial well-being are established as official government philosophy. Ideally (to CCS), legislatures will adopt them and add to everyone's cost of living. Nanny-staters celebrate.

But believe it or don't, CCS says it does not take a position on climate change solutions or push states into their greenhouse gas emissions decisions. Executive director Tom Peterson told me in an interview months ago, "(CCS) does not have an advocacy mission, and it doesn't have an advocacy history." But CCS' concealment of its activism is like the fat kid standing behind a flagpole in a game of hide and seek.

Start with its funding. CCS comes to states promising to bring money with them to pay for their greenhouse-gas reduction development. Who foots the bill? Several foundations on the global warming panic train: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The (Ted) Turner Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, the Energy Foundation, and many others. For example, the state of Washington is paying only $200,000 for CCS' services -- half of what their cheap process has cost in other states.

Then CCS controls the entire policy development: the agenda, scheduling and oversight of their meetings; the CO2 reduction options that stakeholders consider; analysis (which is not an examination of cost/benefit or climate impact) of those options; the voting process; the changing and/or elimination of options; and the writing of all meeting minutes, presentations and reports.

Virtually every one of CCS's greenhouse gas-reducing options, which stakeholders find almost impossible to eliminate or alter (as if they wanted to) because the voting procedures are stacked against it, will curtail individual freedom or further burden taxpayers and consumers. Rather than surveying stakeholders in an up-or-down vote, options are instead considered already approved unless enough members (who are political appointees, with almost no scientists or economists) are bold and knowledgeable enough to object to them.

CCS has conducted this cookie-cutter process in more than a dozen states, and more are in its sights. The motives, tactics and plans are not hard to see, but they are a threat. State government watchdogs and free-market believers need to tag that kid behind the flagpole. He is only getting fatter.



Last July I was privileged to be in Aspen, Colo., where 10,000-square-foot luxury log cabins aspire to the soaring Rockies, billionaires tool Priuses to private jets and the world's powerful gather for cold salmon and big truths. And they were feeling bad.

About 20 of us--including venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and Washington strategists--were asked to imagine the year 2050. With few exceptions, our predictions were a grim amplification of all of today's worst headlines: global warming, famine, unending terrorism. Not much different, I'd guess, from what gets forecast at most salons and dinner parties when the talk turns this way: The future as a Mad Max movie, only without the style and thrills.

What's going on here? We were, by almost any measure of space or time, a group others would kill to become--affluent Americans in 2007. We are longer-lived and with access to more knowledge and experiences than any king or pope who has come before, never mind the lives of the countless billions whose ordinary tragedies are collectively called "history." This much luck should make us hug ourselves with delight.

Having slipped catastrophes like the 1914-1945 worldwide conflicts (with 100 million dead), or the nuclear threat of the 44 cold years that followed, there are also reasonable grounds to believe we can work out our problems. The daily advances in science and technology lend hope that on balance things can be even better. Except that we do not feel that way.

The opposite inclination, projecting a future of paradise on Earth, is the province of millennial movements like Communism, Nazism, the Crusades and much of today's Islamic fundamentalism. Usually someone has to die in those totalitarian scenarios, and in reality things works out bad for everyone. A decent future is going to have to have some chaos in it too--but that does not demand that we forecast despair.

Another nasty positive comes from the fact that we have gained a lot of power over nature, from fertilizers and antibiotics to nerve gas and nukes. We will have more. With so much good fortune on the upside, the downsides are higher, too. It worries some of the world's top scientists, who forecast exotic extinction scenarios (see "Our Final Hour"). Even they disagree about the actual risks, though, and most of us do not worry about runaway atomic colliders.

An apocalypse is sadly attractive. If we cause catastrophe--by our rape of the planet, our failure to address a social problem or we anger a deity--then our generation becomes the most important to ever have lived. Like the stolid bourgeois that the bohemians have always attacked, we are more likely to simply muddle through, trying to make things better where we can. Bo-ring.

Something else underlies all these reasons why we are so dark about the future, I believe. I call it "The Paramaribo Problem."

I began in journalism on a business newswire. I stayed up all night reading Associated Press dispatches from around the globe, and sending readers the stories that might matter to their markets. Mideast conflicts went on the wire, naturally, but so did earthquakes in Paramaribo, Surinam, since that mattered to shipping or oil pipelines. A bus heading off a cliff in rural India might not. The point is that I read them all--about every crisis, mass death and refugee exodus.

Pretty soon the work showed up in my life. Like almost all the other novices, I started washing my hands more, checking in with my wife several times during work and making small talk about scary-looking people whom I'd seen on the street, or the prospects of war. I was a walking case of the heebie-jeebies. It was normal, the seasoned vets told me: Before, I could not have found Paramaribo on a map; now I was in on its tragic loss of life. I knew about bus crashes in the abstract, but now I saw them scroll over a computer screen, soon replaced by a cholera outbreak in Sumatra or gunshots in Kinshasa. The awareness of so much chaos bore a terrible cost.

That was 20 years ago, and now thanks to cable television and the Internet we are all in a much bigger and incessant newsroom. There's a Paramaribo every minute, compounded by a digital fight for our attention. Even the advertisements and technology breakthroughs play a role, creating expectations of how things might be that can never match our mortal realities. The alarming news of the present, raised to a level of continual urgency, has taught us to think of the future in terms of continual catastrophe. It affects some more than others--my friends in Aspen are very well-informed people.

In my newsroom days, the Paramaribo Problem took care of itself over time. You read a lot of the stories, and maybe your heart broke enough to scar over, but you gained the perspective to resume some kind of normality. Experience taught that our close world of work and loved ones continued on pretty well.

Perhaps we can learn to do that again in our thoughts about the future of the planet. I suspect that it will be harder to gain the necessary experience, though. You only get to play out the next 50 years once.



I'm old enough to recall the days in the late 1960s when people wore those trendy buttons that read: "Stop the Planet I Want to Get Off." And I will never forget that era's "educational" films of what life would be like in the year 2000. Played on clanky 16-millimeter projectors, they showed images of people walking down the streets of Manhattan with masks on, so they could avoid breathing the poison gases our industrial society was spewing.

The future seemed mighty bleak back then, and you merely had to open the newspapers for the latest story confirming how the human species was speeding down a congested highway to extinction. A group of scientists calling themselves the Club of Rome issued a report called "Limits to Growth." It explained that lifeboat Earth had become so weighed down with humans that we were running out of food, minerals, forests, water, energy and just about everything else that we need for survival. Paul Ehrlich's best-selling book "The Population Bomb" (1968) gave England a 50-50 chance of surviving into the 21st century. In 1980, Jimmy Carter released the "Global 2000 Report," which declared that life on Earth was getting worse in every measurable way.

So imagine how shocked I was to learn, officially, that we're not doomed after all. A new United Nations report called "State of the Future" concludes: "People around the world are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, more peaceful, more connected, and they are living longer."

Yes, of course, there was the obligatory bad news: Global warming is said to be getting worse and income disparities are widening. But the joyous trends in health and wealth documented in the report indicate a gigantic leap forward for humanity. This is probably the first time you've heard any of this because--while the grim "Global 2000" and "Limits to Growth" reports were deemed worthy of headlines across the country--the media mostly ignored the good news and the upbeat predictions of "State of the Future."

But here they are: World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%. More people live in free countries than ever before. The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955.

To what do we owe this improvement? Capitalism, according to the U.N. Free trade is rightly recognized as the engine of global prosperity in recent years. In 1981, 40% of the world's population lived on less than $1 a day. Now that percentage is only 25%, adjusted for inflation. And at current rates of growth, "world poverty will be cut in half between 2000 and 2015"--which is arguably one of the greatest triumphs in human history. Trade and technology are closing the global "digital divide," and the report notes hopefully that soon laptop computers will cost $100 and almost every schoolchild will be a mouse click away from the Internet (and, regrettably, those interminable computer games).

It also turns out that the Malthusians (who worried that we would overpopulate the planet) got the story wrong. Human beings aren't reproducing like Norwegian field mice. Demographers now say that in the second half of this century, the human population will stabilize and then fall. If we use the same absurd extrapolation techniques demographers used in the 1970s, Japan, with its current low birth rate, will have only a few thousand citizens left in 300 years.

I take special pleasure in reciting all of this global betterment because my first professional job was working with the "doom-slaying" economist Julian Simon. Starting 30 years ago, Simon (who died in 1998) told anyone who would listen--which wasn't many people--that the faddish declinism of that era was bunk. He called the "Global 2000" report "globaloney." Armed with an arsenal of factual missiles, he showed that life on Earth was getting better, and that the combination of free markets and human ingenuity was the recipe for solving environmental and economic problems. Mr. Ehrlich, in response, said Simon proved that the one thing the world isn't running out of "is lunatics."

Mr. Ehrlich, whose every prediction turned out wrong, won a MacArthur Foundation "genius award"; Simon, who got the story right, never won so much as a McDonald's hamburger. But now who looks like the lunatic? This latest survey of the planet is certainly sweet vindication of Simon and others, like Herman Kahn, who in the 1970s dared challenge the "settled science." (Are you listening, global-warming alarmists?)

The media's collective yawn over "State of the Future" is typical of the reaction to just about any good news. When 2006 was declared the hottest year on record, there were thousands of news stories. But last month's revised data, indicating that 1934 was actually warmer, barely warranted a paragraph-long correction in most papers.

So I'm happy to report that the world's six billion people are living longer, healthier and more comfortably than ever before. If only it were easy to fit that on a button.



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


Monday, October 29, 2007

Unstoppable skeptic

In the great, never-cooling debate over the causes and consequences of global warming, it's always clear whose side Fred Singer is on: not Al Gore's. Singer, who was born in Vienna in 1924, was a pioneer in the development of rocket and satellite technology and holds a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton.

Now president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project research group (, his latest book (with Dennis Avery) is "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years." I talked with Singer -- who will debate global warming issues with climate scientist Charles Keller Thursday at a sold-out event at Duquesne University -- by phone from his offices in Arlington, Va.:

Q: What did you think upon hearing of Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize?

A: First of all, I was really not surprised. The peace prize is a political exercise. Remember that Yasser Arafat got the peace prize for, ha, contributing to lasting peace in the Middle East. It's very interesting, the peace prize selection committee comes from the Norwegian Parliament, so they're all politicians. The government is a very left-wing government right now. I spoke about it this morning, in fact, and said that if the government changes -- if the Progress Party, which is an anti-immigration party. gains majority control -- it might give a peace prize to Pat Buchanan. It's purely political, unlike the other prizes, which are awarded by the Swedish academies and which are based on committees that know something about the subject.

Q: Have you seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"?

A: Yes. I saw a slide show at a presentation, which he made in Washington. I saw the movie and I read the book. They're all the same amount of bunk. They're all very, very well presented -- very skillfully presented from a technical point of view. But the science is really shoddy.

Q: A lot of people have seen the movie but they don't really keep up on this global-warming debate, which is very complex and very nasty sometimes about which science is true and which isn't.

A: It is nasty, but it shouldn't be complex. The issue is very simple. The only really important issue is, is the warming we are experiencing now natural or is it man-made? That's really the only issue. Everything else is commentary.

Q: Now the Gore camp will say global warming is man-made and they'll point to all kinds of things to prove that.

A: And they're all wrong.

Q: Is there anything that they point to where you say, "Yes, that's true but ...?"

A: Yes. There are a lot of things they point to where I say, "Yes, but... ." For example, they say glaciers are melting. Yes, but. It doesn't tell you what the cause is. You see, any kind of warming, from whatever cause, will melt ice. Whether it's natural or man-made warming, the ice doesn't care. It will melt when it gets warmer. This is a trick that they do.

They play this trick many times over -- showing the consequences of global warming, which really don't tell you what the cause is. And the only important question is, remember, "What is the cause? Is it natural or man-made?" If it's natural, then there is nothing we can do about it. It's unstoppable. We can't change the sun or influence volcanism or anything of that sort. We're not at that stage yet. It also means that all these schemes for controlling CO2 are useless, completely useless. It's all bunk.

Q: When you say global warming is natural, what is your chief culprit?

A: The sun. The sun. Definitely. The evidence we have shows an extremely strong correlation with solar activity. The (Earth's) temperature follows the solar activity and the correlation is very strong. The mechanism itself is still under some dispute, but we think in some way the sun influences cosmic rays, which in turn influences cloudiness.

Q: That doesn't even count the heat output of the sun, which changes over time, doesn't it?

A: Those are very small and are not enough to account for all the climate changes that we see. What is causing it is not just the heat of the sun, but emissions from the sun that we don't see -- except with satellites and spacecraft -- the so-called solar winds and magnetic fields.

Q: What about the things like the wobble of the Earth on its axis and the Earth's eccentric orbit around the Sun?

A: That's also important, but on a different time scale. For each time scale there is a particular cause. The time scale I'm talking about when I talk about direct solar influences are of the order of decades. The time scales that involve wobbles and orbits of the Earth around the sun involve times scales of 10,000 or 100,000 years.

Q: Can you give a synopsis of "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years"?

A: Yes. Our book -- I co-authored it with Dennis Avery -- basically looks at published papers in the peer-reviewed literature by geologists and other paleo-scientists, oceanographers and so on, who have studied the climate records of the past. Every one of them shows this (roughly 1,500-year) cycle. It was first discovered in ice cores in Greenland. Then it was seen in ocean sediments in the Atlantic. And now it's been found everywhere, including in stalagmites in caves. In all kinds of climate records that you wouldn't think of that have been studied, you see this cycle. It shows warming and cooling -- that's an oscillation -- a slight warming and a slight cooling. It's not a big effect. But it could well account for the current warming. It can well account for the warming that occurred 1,000 years ago. It can well account also for what we call "The Little Ice Age," which occurred roughly 500 years ago.

Q: When people talk about the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica growing or shrinking or melting completely, what should we know about that?

A: Well, the ice sheets of Greenland have not melted in historic time at all, even though it was much warmer 1,000 years ago and very much warmer 5,000 years ago. The ice sheets on Antarctica haven't melted for millions of years, because it's really quite cold there. There is always some melting that takes place during the summer, of course, when the sun shines directly on the ice. But in the precipitation that falls -- the rain and snow that falls -- soon turns to ice and grows the ice sheet back again.

Q: Is the quote-unquote "scientific consensus" that Al Gore and his acolytes are always speaking of growing stronger or weaker?

A: Let me put it this way: Many scientists, unfortunately, support the idea that the human influence on climate is very strong compared to natural influences. We don't. We see the evidence differently. But most scientists disagree with Gore on specifics. For instance, on sea level rise: The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control), which is the U.N.'s climate advisory body, has come out with its report and predicts a sea level rise on the order of a foot and a half per century. Al Gore has a 20-foot rise. So he's way out of line compared to the mainstream science.

Q: People like you, who think that global warming is not a crisis that demands instant or dramatic government action, are regularly accused of being tools of the oil, gas and coal industries. How do you defend yourself from that charge?

A: Ha, ha. Well, there are various ways. In the first place, I've held these views for a very long time. And secondly, I'm not a tool of the oil industry. In fact, when you think about oil -- let's take Exxon for an example -- what the global warmists are trying to do is to demonize coal. Why? Because coal emits more carbon dioxide than oil or gas. Well, if they do that -- if they prevent the use of coal -- it figures that it makes oil and gas more valuable. It drives up the price. Exxon has huge reserves of oil and gas. So, in a sense, Exxon should benefit from global-warming alarmism. I don't know if people have thought about that. It's not been commonly discussed that all these holders of oil and gas reserves benefit financially any time the global warmists prevent the use of coal.

Q: The global warming community thinks we're going to turn to wind and solar and ocean-wave energy to replace fossil fuels.

A: None of that is economic. It will produce some energy at a great cost. Put it this way: If it were economic, it would have been done by now. The only way you can do wind and solar is with large government subsidies. And you ask yourself, "Why should we all subsidize with our tax dollars something which is basically uneconomic?"

Q: Here's my McCarthy Era question: Do you now or did you ever get money or grants or whatever from energy companies?

A: Sure. I'd love to get more, but they only did it once, I think. It was unsolicited, unannounced, and I cashed the check immediately. I've been wishing for more, ha, ha, but they haven't given me any more. Now, don't forget that what they've given me amounts to a tiny fraction of 1 percent of our total cumulative budget (at ). And don't forget that the energy companies give hundreds of millions of dollars -- which is at least 10,000 times as much as we're getting -- to researchers everywhere who are working to show that global warming exists and is human-caused.

Q: Do you have any explanation why the Al Gore camp has won the global warming argument in the mainstream media?

A: That's not really my field. I'm not sure they've won the argument in the media. I'm sure there are still many people in the media who are skeptical of Al Gore's arguments -- and they should be.

Q: Should they be skeptical of your arguments as well?

A: Some are skeptical of my arguments, yes, of course. That's because they haven't looked into it. In other words, I'm very convinced that when I talk to somebody one-on-one and show them the evidence, they will agree with me.

Q: You plan to debate Dr. Charles Keller in Pittsburgh next week --

A: Right. I will show the evidence, and if he's honest, he'll agree with me.

Q: What in general is your chief argument going to be with him?

A: My chief argument will be that the actual data show that the climate models don't work, and the actual data show that the cause of the global warming can not be a greenhouse effect.

Q: Have you debated him before?

A: Yeah, we had a debate about 10 years ago.

Q: What have you learned since then?

A: A great deal.

Q: As you've watched this global-warming debate evolve, are you optimistic that good science, honest science, will trump politics?

A: Yes, I'm optimistic because eventually it must do that. The problem is the word "eventually." In the meantime, a great deal of damage can be done to our economy as various schemes are being put forward to control CO2 emissions -- essentially to control the use of energy.


Apocalypse Now?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

The scaremongers are not always wrong. The Trojans should have listened to Cassandra. But history shows that the scaremongers are usually wrong. Parson Malthus predicted mass starvation 250 years ago, as the population was growing geometrically, doubling each generation, while agricultural production was going arithmetically, by 2 percent or so a year. But today, with perhaps 1 percent of our population in full-time food production, we are the best-fed and fattest 300 million people on Earth. Karl Marx was proven dead wrong about the immiseration of the masses under capitalism and the coming revolution in the industrial West, though they still have hopes at Harvard.

Neville Shute's "On the Beach" proved as fictional as "Dr. Strangelove" and "Seven Days in May." Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb" never exploded. It fizzled, when the Birth Dearth followed the Baby Boom. "The Crash of '79" never happened. Instead, we got Ronald Reagan and record prosperity. The Club of Rome notwithstanding, we did not run out of oil. The world did not end in Y2K, when we crossed the millennium, as some had prophesied. "Nuclear winter," where we were all going to freeze to death after the soot from Reagan's nuclear war blotted out the sun, didn't quite happen. Rather, the Soviet Empire gave up the ghost.

Is then global warming -- a steady rise in the temperature of the Earth to where the polar ice caps melt, oceans rise 23 feet, cities sink into the sea and horrendous hurricanes devastate the land -- an imminent and mortal danger? Put me down as a disbeliever.

Like the panics of bygone eras, this one has the aspect of yet another re-enactment of the Big Con. The huckster arrives in town, tells all the rubes that disaster impends for them and their families, but says there may be one last chance they can be saved. But it will take a lot of money. And the folks should go about collecting it, right now.

This, it seems to me, is what the global-warming scare and scam are all about -- frightening Americans into transferring sovereignty, power and wealth to a global political elite that claims it alone understands the crisis and it alone can save us from impending disaster.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, from which China and India were exempt, the United States was to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels, which could not be done without inducing a new Depression and reducing the standard of living of the American people. So, we ignored Kyoto -- and how have we suffered? The Europeans who signed on also largely ignored it. How have they suffered?

We are told global warming was responsible for the hurricane summer of Katrina and Rita that devastated Texas, Mississippi and New Orleans. Yet Dr. William Gray, perhaps the nation's foremost expert on hurricanes, says he and his most experienced colleagues believe humans have little impact on global warming and global warming cannot explain the frequency or ferocity of hurricanes. After all, we had more hurricanes in the first half of the 20th century than in the last 50 years, as global warming was taking place.

"We're brainwashing our children," says Gray. "They're going to the Gore movie ("An Inconvenient Truth") and being fed all this. It's ridiculous. ... We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was." Gray does concede that for a scholar to question global warming can put his next federal grant in mortal peril.

While modest warming has taken place, there is no conclusive evidence human beings are responsible, no conclusive evidence Earth's temperature is rising dangerously or will reach intolerable levels and no conclusive evidence that warming will do more harm than good.

The glaciers may be receding, but the polar bear population is growing, alarmingly in some Canadian Indian villages. Though more people on our planet of 6 billion may die of heat, estimates are that many more may be spared death from the cold. The Arctic ice cap may be shrinking, but that may mean year-round passage through northern Canadian waters from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the immense resources of the Arctic made more accessible to man. Why else did Vladimir Putin's boys make their dash to claim the pole?

The mammoth government we have today is a result of politicians rushing to solve "crises" by creating and empowering new federal agencies. Whether it's hunger, poverty or homelessness, in the end, the poor are always with us, but now we have something else always with us: scores of thousands of federal bureaucrats, and armies of academics to study the problem and assess the progress, with all their pay and benefits provided by our tax dollars.

Cal Coolidge said that when you see 10 troubles coming up the road toward you, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, because nine of them will fall into the ditch before they get to you. And so it will be with global warming, if we don't sell out America to the hucksters who would save us.


Not "Peak Oil", But Lots More Oil

In his new book The Battle for Barrels, Duncan Clarke dissects the Peak Oil myth and its advocates with surgical skill and patience

There was an interesting news item out of Moscow in late September to which most people probably paid little heed. "Russia is one of several countries that have rushed to lay claims to the area where a U.S. Study suggests as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden." Earlier the Russians sent two small submarines to plant a tiny national flag under the North Pole. In response, Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic and Denmark sent a team of scientists to seek evidence that the ridge in question was attached to its territory of Greenland.

When it comes to oil and natural gas, nations have no sense of humor, even if in the case of the United States they often display an astonishing lack of good sense. You are no doubt familiar with the long fight over permitting drilling in Alaska's Natural Wildlife Reserve where it's estimated there are billions of barrels of untapped oil; but you are surely going to be surprised to learn that the oil industry is excluded from exploring 85 percent of all American territorial waters.

President Bush is fond of saying that America is "addicted" to oil, but he might as well say that Americans are addicted to water or food. It's not an addiction. It is a perfectly rational requirement of not only our own, but every other nation's need for energy to power its industry, its homes, and its transportation needs. Before Bush, former President Jimmy Carter became convinced in the 1970s that all the proven reserves of oil would shortly be used up.

As Duncan Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Global Pacific & Partners and author of a new book, The Battle for Barrels, points out regarding America's continental shelf, "The undiscovered oil potential in the areas demarcated for possible offshore (exploration) in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico could allow the tapping of up to 85 billion barrels of oil that technically could be recoverable awaits the political passage of bills through the legislature," i.e., Congress.

With the price of oil hitting more than $80 per barrel, one would think that Congress would be inclined to opening access to those billions of barrels, but the current Democrat-controlled Congress is more concerned about a bogus global warming than it is about insuring Americans can drive their cars and trucks, heat their homes, and process oil for the countless products it produces. And this doesn't even include the vast reserves of natural gas that are estimated to exist.

The fact is that there are billions more barrels to be found in the world, whether it's in the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Venezuela, and much of the yet to be geologically researched map of the world. That bit of knowledge, however, rarely makes it into the mainstream media, which can be depended upon to give lots of coverage to the "Peak Oil" crowd that has been predicting we will run out of oil any day now. A former chairman of Shell made news in late September when he warned the price of oil could hit $150 a barrel "with oil production peaking within the next 20 years." You had to read further on in the article, published in London's The Independent on September 16, to learn that he also said, "I don't know whether there is going to be a peak in world production . . .."

That's why Clarke's book is subtitled Peak Oil Myths & World Oil Reserves. The notion of Peak Oil, a point at which the world's oil reserves begin to fall off and chaos follows, is based on the belief that there is a finite amount of oil, no new oil will be discovered and extracted, and, well, we're doomed. This is fine for pessimists, but there is a real world out there and the indications are there's plenty of oil. The Russians obviously think there's some under the Arctic and are taking steps to lay claim to it. "Thanks to vivid media coverage," writes Clarke, "and prodigious output of publications, Peak Oil has begun to capture the public imagination . . . It has only rarely been subjected to rigorous analysis, although much evidence to contradict its thesis is found." And just how often is the media wrong about events and trends? Every day.

I doubt that Clarke's book will leap onto the bestseller lists. It will be read by anyone who is in the energy industry and those of us who keep an eye on energy events and trends. It is not easy reading because Clarke is an economist by trade, an advisor on corporate strategy and geopolitical issues in the oil industry, and much in demand on six continents for his expertise. Fact by fact, Clarke's analysis requires one to bring a great deal of concentration and effort to read his book, but it is well worth the effort because he dissects the Peak Oil myth and its advocates with surgical skill and patience.

Anyone who has followed the trajectory of the environmental movement for the last three or four decades knows that much of it is based on ludicrous claims that the Earth is doomed and mankind is to blame. Peak Oil and its "end of civilization" message got its impetus from a study by M. King Hubbert, an American geoscientist with a long career in the oil industry who, in 1956, predicted that the world would begin to run out of oil within a few decades.

Hubbert's prediction was picked up and amplified by others to the point where there is now an Association for the Study of Peak Oil that has had to revise its estimates of when the world runs out of oil several times. The reason for the revisions is simple. New reserves of oil, new technology to revive existing fields, find new ones, and to drill in the ocean's depths keeps pushing the date further and further off. To put it another way, Peak Oil predictions exist mostly to maintain the waning credibility of those who keep making the predictions.

Yet another way of looking at Peak Oil is that it is now sustained, not by facts, but by public relations in the form of new books, new studies, international symposia and conferences, websites devoted to the subject, and all the ways the idea is maintained despite its questionable merit. Like environmentalism, it is less a science and more a new form of religion in which one takes its "facts" on faith. Selective computer models keep producing these "facts," but events like the September 2006 discovery by Chevron of a huge deep water new field in the Gulf of Mexico keeps contradicting them. "Overall," writes Clarke, "it is clear that conventional proven oil reserves estimates considerably exceed those used by Peak Oil in Africa, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and elsewhere."

Why has the price of oil hit a new high? Well, there's a war going on in Iraq to insure Osama bin Laden - who wants to take over all the nations in that region - doesn't get his wish. Add to that the ambitions of the Persian mullahs running Iran. There's a communist dictator in Venezuela who has nationalized its oil industry. There's Russia's ambitions in the Arctic. There are hurricanes that impact oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico. Et cetera!

These are geopolitical forces at work that have absolutely nothing to do with how much oil exists or is yet to be found. If the world did not have to contend with these dictators and wannabes, oil would be flowing to meet all our needs for a very long time to come. The world is not running out of oil, but neither is it running out of religious fanatics, dictators, and communist thugs who want to line their own pockets, while holding us hostage and enslaving vast portions of the world's population.


Global warming

by Tom McClintock

An excerpt below from an excellent speech given at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference, October 12, 2007

You have extended to me a very dangerous invitation tonight - to speak to a gathering of political conservatives on the day that Al Gore has received the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering that the earth's climate is changing. I've heard that he's going to contribute half of his prize money to environmental causes and use the other half to pay his electricity bill. And anything left over will come in handy to help pay for the fleet of private jets that allow him to travel around the world to tell us that you and I need to ride our bikes to work. You have to admit, there is a certain Helmslyesque quality to it all - "We don't conserve - only the little people conserve."

Of course, for those in the liberal elite who jet to environmental conferences in Gulfstream Fives and drive around in Hummers singing the praises of hybrids and bicycles, the Left now sells indulgences - you can actually calculate your sins on-line and they'll gladly tell you how much money to send them (all major credit cards accepted) to assuage your conscience. These indulgences will be used for such activities as planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide. After all, young trees absorb an enormous amount of this "greenhouse gas" - far more than old trees. But isn't replacing old-growth timber with young-growth timber what lumber companies used to do until the radical environmentalists shut them down?

They've also forbidden the clearance of flammable brush from around your home in areas like Lake Tahoe - that's an affront to Mother Nature. You're supposed to either let it burn - and your home along with it - or just let it sit and rot because those are the two best ways for Nature to release lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Apparently natural carbon dioxide is a good thing and man-made carbon dioxide is a bad thing. That's also why we're supposed to do away with chemical fertilizer and replace it with natural compost, because replacing man-made greenhouse gases with natural greenhouse gases is the wave of the future.

So are electric cars and trains. But this also gets a little complicated, because there are only two ways of generating vast amounts of clean electricity: hydroelectricity and nuclear power. But there's no faster way to send one of these Luddites into hysterics than to mention that inconvenient truth.

The politically correct replacement is solar energy - roughly 17 times more expensive than either nuclear power or hydroelectricity - meaning, of course around 17 times LESS electricity to run electric cars and trains. Energy conservation, then, is the answer, which is why we're being told only to use energy efficient fluorescent lights rather than the warm and fuzzy incandescent bulbs. But wait - didn't we just ban the disposal of fluorescent lights with your trash because of the extreme environmental hazard they pose in our landfills? So I approach the subject tonight with an admitted level of confusion as to what these people are thinking.

And I also approach it with a certain degree of trepidation. After all, at Al Gore's rally to save the planet in New York in July, no less an authority than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that those of us who still have some questions over their theories of man-made global warming are "liars," "crooks," "corporate toadies," "flat-earthers" and then he made this remarkable statement: "This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors." Ah, the dispassionate language of science and reason.

In a speech in New York several months ago, our own governor called those who question the religion of global warming "fanatics" and vowed our political extinction. I certainly don't want to die a traitor's death or be run out of town on a rail. So I want the record to be very clear: I believe that the earth's climate IS changing and that our planet IS warming. I actually figured that out in grade school in the 1960's when our third grade class took a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and saw the panorama of dinosaurs tromping around the steamy swamps that are now part of Wyoming. They were right next to the exhibit of the Woolly Mammoths foraging on the glaciers that were also once the same part of Wyoming. And I never got a Nobel Prize for that discovery. In fact, I later found out that my third grade teacher never even nominated me! Then I got to high school in the 1970's and learned from the Al Gores of the time that we foolish mortals were plunging ourselves into another ice age. All the scientists agreed.

By the way, you may have seen the Washington Times story a few weeks ago about the researcher who recently stumbled upon a lurid story in the Washington Post dated July 9, 1971. It included the scary headline: "U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming." The scientist based this on a scientific climate model developed by a young research associate named James Hansen. They warned that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger an unstoppable ice age. This is the same James Hansen who is one of the gurus of the current global warming movement. And it is the same James Hansen who, just three months ago, published a paper claiming that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger a run-away greenhouse effect.

Let me begin by asking three inconvenient questions:

First, if global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that we're seeing global warming on every other body in the solar system? For the last six years, the Martian south polar ice cap has conspicuously receded. Pluto is warming - about two degrees Celsius over the past 14 years. Jupiter is showing dramatic climate change by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even Neptune's moon, Triton, has warmed five percent on the absolute temperature scale - the equivalent of a 22 degrees Fahrenheit increase on Earth - from 1989 to 1998. If you have any doubt, just Google "Pluto Warming" or "Mars Warming" or whatever your favorite planet might be.

Meanwhile, solar radiation has increased a measurable .05 percent since the 1970's. Is it possible that as the sun gets slightly warmer, the planets do too? This would be a little scary in its own right, except for the second inconvenient question:

If global warming is being caused by your SUV, why is it that we have ample historical records of periods in our recent history when the planet's temperature was warmer than it is today? During the Medieval Warm Period, from about 900 to 1300 AD, we know that wine grapes were thriving in northern Britain and Newfoundland and that the temperature in Greenland was hot enough to support a prosperous agricultural economy for nearly 500 years. That period was brought to an end by the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1300 until 1850. We know that during colonial times, Boston and New York Harbors routinely froze over in winter and during Elizabethan times, an annual Winter Festival was held ON TOP OF the Thames River, which froze solid every year.

And finally the third inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by YOUR SUV, why is it that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide always follow increases in global temperatures by several hundred years, indicating that CO2 is a byproduct of increasing temperatures - not a cause.

Is it possible that this is the reason Al Gore won't debate the subject? You've seen the "Inconvenient Truth." In it, he portrays himself as an indefatigable, lonely sentinel (who should have been President of course) wandering the planet trying desperately to awaken the world to the danger it faces. "I've given this speech a thousand times," he says about a thousand times.

But according to the Chicago Sun Times this pious paragon of truth - who assures us he's willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody to save us from our mortal folly - is strangely UNwilling to take up the Heartland Institute's publicized offer to organize an international debate on the subject. The Institute has challenged our new Nobel Peace Prize laureate of the left to debate any one of three internationally recognized authorities who dispute his claims, and it's willing to front all costs - at Oxford University, no less, and in a format of Gore's own choosing. After all, Gore's new book extols the importance of science and reason in the public policy debate, so what better way to deliver the coup de grace to the "skeptics" than to expose their fallacies in front of an international audience? And yet, Al Gore, who has given his speech "a thousand times," won't give it just once more in a forum where it might be questioned by a knowledgeable authority.

Much more here


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


Sunday, October 28, 2007

California Fire Smokescreen

By Steven Milloy

Are climate alarmists using the Southern California wildfires to fan the flames of global warming? Are environmentalists and government bureaucrats using global warming to cover up their share of responsibility for the wildfires that have displaced more than 500,000 people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes?

The CBS news show "60 Minutes" - which has a history of promoting climate alarmism - kicked off the blame-global-warming campaign last Sunday with a segment entitled "The Age of Mega-Fires." Reporter Scott Pelley prompted chief federal firefighter Tom Boatner with the statement, "You know, there are a lot of people who don't believe in climate change." Boatner responded: "You won't find them on the fire line in the American West anymore, because we've had climate change beat into us over the last 10 or 15 years. We know what we're seeing, and we're dealing with a period of climate, in terms of temperature and humidity and drought, that's different than anything people have seen in our lifetimes."

CNN's Anderson Cooper incorporated the fires into his plug for the cable channel's alarmist program "Planet in Peril." "At the top of the next hour, as I said, the big picture," said Cooper. "These fires are really a piece of it. Fire, drought, global warming, climate change, deforestation, it is all connected. Tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern - 'Planet in Peril' starts in just 30 minutes."

It came as no surprise, then, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters this week, "One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming." Is this true?

The alarmists' line of reasoning appears to be that: one, man-made carbon-dioxide emissions increase global temperature; two, increased global temperature alters atmospheric conditions to prevent rainfall; and three, ensuing drought conditions are exacerbated by warmer temperatures that increase drying on the ground.

This line of thinking falls apart at the very beginning, of course, since it's not at all clear that global temperatures are driven by atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. But for the sake of argument, we will continue down the path of the alarmists' thinking. So does rising global temperature cause drought? In the context of what appears to have been a one-degree Fahrenheit rise in mean global temperature since 1900, the observed relationship between temperature and precipitation in North America does not favor the hypothesis. During the period 1900-2005, precipitation seems to have actually increased in areas above 30 degrees north latitude - including California and the rest of the U.S. - according to the most recent assessment from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This does not mean, of course, that droughts haven't occurred in North America over the last 100 years, but it doesn't support a link between rising global temperature and increased drought. Examining the occurrence of drought in southern California since 1900 is also illuminating. According to data maintained by the federal National Climatic Data Center, drought conditions are no stranger to southern California. During the period 1900 to 2005, moderate-to-severe drought conditions occurred in Southern California during 34 of those 106 years - that is, about one-third of the time. Comparing the southern California drought record against the global temperature record reveals the following:

- During the period 1900-1940, when most of the 20th century's one-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase occurred, there were 7 years of moderate-to-severe drought.

- During the period 1941-1975, when global temperatures cooled, giving rise to concerns of a looming ice age, there were 11 years of moderate-to-severe drought.

- During the period 1976 to 1990, when global temperatures rose back to the 1940 level, there were 8 years of moderate-to-severe drought.

- Since 1991, when global temperatures rose slightly past the 1940 levels, there have been 7 years of drought.

It's a record that would seems to largely prevent any simple conclusions from being drawn - that is, rising temperatures with few drought years, followed by falling temperatures and increasing drought frequency, followed by temperatures rising back to the original levels with increased drought frequency, followed by a leveling off of drought occurrence despite higher temperatures.

Though there is no obvious relationship between global temperature and drought in southern California, the alarmists nevertheless advocate the quixotic task of preventing drought and wildfires by controlling greenhouse-gas emissions. Global warming, it seems, also makes a good excuse for federal and state bureaucrats and politicians who have failed to properly manage high-risk areas, at least in part because of pressure from anti-logging and anti-development environmental groups.

We can be better prepared for drought and wildfires by improving forest management - as this column previously suggested in the aftermath of the deadly California wildfires of 2003. Drought and forest fires happen. We have no reason to think that we can do anything to prevent the former, but we know that can do a lot about preventing and controlling the latter - if only the environmentalists will let us.


A REAL debate at an American university: Wow!

Two internationally respected scientists with widely differing views on the controversial issue of global warming sparred with studies and charts in a debate Thursday night at Duquesne University.

The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Castle Shannon think tank, and Duquesne's Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy brought together skeptic S. Fred Singer and believer Charles Keller, and posed the question: "Is human activity causing global warming?" "It is an important question to many companies in our region," said Allegheny Institute President Jake Haulk. "There is a huge local impact because coal and hauling coal on the rivers, and burning it to make power are very important to this region."

Keller, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist whose research led to the formation of the laboratory's program on Global Climate Change, began the debate, moderated by former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey. "I don't consider there to be any debate anymore," Keller said. "Most of the global warming -- at a 95 percent confidence level -- in the last 20 years has been caused by human beings putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Keller presented weather station recordings dating back to the 1880s showing annual temperatures increasing dramatically since the 1980s, measurements of glacial ice melting rapidly in the last 20 years and ice core samples indicating that levels of carbon dioxide and methane echo rising and falling temperatures. He discussed the reliability of scientific models to study climate change, concluding with a chart showing concurrence among several models that show human-produced greenhouse gases increasing global temperatures.

Singer, a retired professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia and president of The Science and Environmental Policy Project, a nonprofit research group that he founded in 1990, began his presentation by saying he does not believe in models. To debunk models, he pointed to a report he said was commissioned by former Vice President Al Gore to predict precipitation patterns through 2090. Two models were created, and they showed dramatically different amounts of precipitation.

Singer then argued that weather station temperature readings are unreliable because those located in urban areas are skewed by the heat generated by cities. He also presented research linking historic temperature changes to fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field that would have allowed varying amounts of solar radiation to reach the planet.

"The cause (of global warming) is primarily natural and not human," Singer said. "The effect from greenhouse gases is minor, negligible, insignificant and, therefore, all of our efforts ... to control in some way the emissions of greenhouse gases is completely misplaced."


Gore's weak answers to criticism

KALEE KREIDER, Environmental adviser to Al Gore:
"The judge himself never used the term "errors." That was an allegation made by the plaintiff--whose motives are quite suspect. Stewart Dimmock, who brought this case, appears to have been funded by the very same fossil fuel interests who have sought to undermine the scientific consensus behind global warming in the past."

--Response to The Fact Checker, October 18, 2007.

MR JUSTICE BURTON, British High Court judge:
"There are errors and omissions in the film [An Inconvenient Truth], to which I shall refer, and respects in which the film, while purporting to set out the mainstream view (and to belittle opposing views), does in fact itself depart from that mainstream."

--Legal decision permitting the Gore movie to be shown in British schools, together with teacher guidance pointing out alleged "errors." October 10, 2007.

The Facts

Earlier this month, on the day former Vice President Gore won the Nobel peace prize, we ran an item reporting that a British judge had found various "errors" in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. We invited readers to debate the question whether Gore may have exaggerated some points in the movie to draw attention to global warming. Readers responded with more than 700 comments, many of them vituperative. The Fact Checker was accused of everything from "Nobel Prize envy" to being part of a right-wing "propaganda machine" worthy of Joseph Goebbels.

At the time, I (it's probably time to abandon the royal "we") did not take a position on the accuracy or inaccuracy of either the Gore movie or the judge's critique. Now that the smoke has cleared away a bit, I feel more confident about reaching some conclusions. I do so with no pretense of scientific expertise, merely as a detached and hopefully fair-minded non-expert who has listened to both sides make their case.

The first point to make is that I am unimpressed by ad hominem attacks of the kind that Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider engaged in above. So what if the plaintiff in the British case was "funded by...fossil fuel interests" or Gore has "ties" to the environmental lobby? What has that got to do with a factual debate about the accuracy of specific statements in a movie? In this case, it is doubly irrelevant--unless you believe that the judge is also the tool of "fossil fuel interests."

Our mission statement (the plural is appropriate here because it was endorsed by Washington Post muckety-mucks) included the following promise to readers: "We will stick to the facts of the issue under examination and pay no attention to ad hominem attacks. The identity or political ties of the person or organization making a charge is irrelevant: all that matters is whether their facts are accurate or inaccurate." If I ever break that vow, I hope that readers will call me on it.

Onto the matter at hand. Contrary to Kreider's assertion, the judge did talk about "errors" in the Gore movie, and did not always put quotation marks around the word error, as some readers maintained. See points 18 and 19 in his judgment available in full here. In deciding that the movie could be shown in British schools, he agreed that Gore's presentation was "broadly accurate." At the same time, he insisted on new teacher guidance, including the following points:

* [The movie] promotes partisan political views (that is to say, one-sided views about political issues);

* Teaching staff must be careful to ensure that they do not themselves promote those views;

* In order to make sure of that, they should take care to help pupils examine the scientific evidence critically (rather than simply accepting what is said at face value) and to point out where Gore's view may be inaccurate or departs from that of mainstream scientific opinion;

For full teacher guidance on the movie, see here.

There is little to be gained re-examining each and every disputed point in An Inconvenient Truth. By the Gore camp's own admission, some scenes in the movie have been over-simplified. As Kreider points out, science does not transfer easily to the big screen. Scientists sympathetic to Gore have effectively conceded several errors or omissions in the movie:

* The "evacuation" of Pacific atolls. Kreider acknowledges that the wording of the movie, implying the wholesale evacuation of some communities to New Zealand, was "unfortunate." As supporting evidence, she cited a 2005 report by the United Nations Environment Program of a "small community" on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. The only report that we have been able to find from this date states that the islanders were relocated "higher into the interior" after their coastal homes were repeatedly swamped by storm surges and aggressive waves linked with climate change." A later news report spoke of some Tuvalans moving to New Zealand "for many reasons - better jobs, college, overcrowding on the islands - and to escape what many see as a threat of sea level rise, caused by global warming."

* The melting of snow on Kilimanjaro and the drying up of Lake Chad. Gore supporters concede that neither of these phenomena have been conclusively linked to global warming. Jonathan Foley, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin who has studied Lake Chad extensively and admires Gore's work on climate change, said the primary explanation for the disappearance of the lake appeared to be regional climate cycles exacerbated by local irrigation practices. He said that the cycles of drought and heavy rain had been going on for "hundreds of years," and appeared unrelated to global warming. See his 2001 report here.

* Drowning polar bears. Gore cited a scientific study showing that polar bears had drowned by "swimming long distances--up to 60 miles--to find the ice." According to Andrew Derocher, chair of the polar bear group at the World Conservation Union, studies show that there is a good chance that the polar bears died by drowning but no definitive proof. Storms and hypothermia are other major concerns.


Since Kalee Kreider mentioned that Gore had relied on the research of Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University for his Kilimanjaro/global warming conclusions, I asked the professor to weigh in on the debate. His argument seems to revolve around the phrases "attributed to" and "consistent with." Here is his e-mailed reply, received this morning:
One would have to ask what in the world a judge in England would know about Climate Change or the ice fields of Kilimanjaro. It is like saying the California fires can not be attributed to human-induced climate change, while certainly they are consistent with human-induced climate change...What is clear is glaciers are being loss on Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, the Ruwenzori's all in Africa, the tropical glaciers throughout the Andes of South America, the Himalayas and even the one remaining glacier in New Guinea. [A balance of evidence] points to human-induced climate change. What is certain on Kilimanjaro as of last week is those ice fields continue to retreat and will in fact disappear going forward. The problem with climate change research is every Tom, Dick and Harry and now apparently a judge in England has an opinion, while most have never lifted a finger toward doing the hard work to get the necessary data nor studying the science to even warrant an opinion.


Senator Inhofe Exposes Costly Global Warming 'Solutions'

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, delivered a more than two-hour floor speech on October 26, debunking fears of man-made global warming. Below is an excerpt of his remarks about the economics of so-called global warming "solutions."


First, going on a carbon diet would do nothing to avert climate change. After the U.S. signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Al Gore's own scientist, Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, calculated that Kyoto would reduce emissions by only 0.07 degrees Celsius by the year 2050. That's all. 0.07 degrees. And that's if the United States had ratified Kyoto and the other signatories met their targets.

But we didn't and they won't. Of the 15 original EU countries, only two are on track to meet their targets. And even one of those, Britain, has started increasing its emissions again, not decreasing.

Similar calculations have been done to estimate other climate bills. The Climate Change Stewardship Act that was defeated 38-60 last year would have only reduced temperatures by 0.029 degrees Celsius, and another bill modeled on the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) report would have only reduced temperatures by 0.008 degrees Celsius. That's right - 0.008 degrees Celsius, or less than one percent of one degree......

The advances over the last Century are not simply interesting historical facts. They show us not only why we are a prosperous nation, but a roadmap to a prosperous future. Threats to prosperity have real consequences for how well and how long Americans will live. Whatever actions we take today, we must also safeguard the well-being of America's families now and into the future.

The United States Senate has acknowledged this when it passed two similar resolutions establishing a standard for passing global warming legislation. In 1997, the Byrd-Hagel Sense of the Senate, which passed 95 - 0, resolved that the U.S. should not be a signatory to any international agreement that would result in serious harm to the U.S. economy or did not mandate reductions from the developing world. Similarly, the Bingaman Sense of the Senate, passed in 2005, resolved that the U.S. should address global warming as long as it will not significantly harm the United States economy and encourages comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.

Neither the Kyoto Protocol nor a single bill before Congress meets these criteria - not one. They range from costly to ruinous. But they all fail to meet the requirements of Byrd-Hagel or Bingaman.

Both the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates analyzed the costs of Kyoto when it was signed, and the costs were staggering. For instance, EIA found the annual cost would be up to $283 billion a year, and that's in 1992 constant dollars. Wharton put the cost even higher, at more than $300 billion annually, or more than $2,700 per family of four each year.

The estimated costs to comply with carbon legislative proposals in the U.S. would also be unreasonable. The NCEP approach would do nothing to lessen global warming even according to the alarmists, but according to EIA, it would still cost more than 118,000 American jobs simply to make a symbolic gesture.

And according to an MIT study, the Sanders-Boxer bill would cost energy sector consumers an amount equal to $4,500 per American family of four. The same study found the Lieberman-McCain bill would cost consumers $3,500 per family of four. Similarly, EIA found that it would have cost 1.3 million jobs. A new EPA analysis shows the Lieberman - McCain bill would cost up to half a trillion dollars by 2030 and $1.3 trillion by 2050.

Now environmentalists will tell you that's okay. Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council says that EPA's analysis of the Lieberman-McCain bill show "it is affordable." Although EPA finds that fuel will increase by 22 percent, he calls fuel impacts "pretty modest" - Now activists inside the Beltway may think big jumps in gas prices are no big deal, but I doubt the people living in the real America would agree.


What few Americans realize is that the impact of these policies would not be evenly distributed. The Congressional Budget Office recently looked at the approach taken by most global warming proposals in Congress - known as cap and trade - that would place a cap on carbon emissions, allocate how much everyone could emit, and then let them trade those emissions. Let me quote from the CBO report:

"Regardless of how the allowances were distributed, most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would."

Think about that. Even relatively modest bills would put enormous burdens on the poor. The poor already face energy costs much higher as a percentage of their income than wealthier Americans. While most Americans spend about 4 percent of their monthly budget on heating their homes or other energy needs, the poorest fifth of Americans spend 19 percent of their budget on energy. Why would we adopt policies which disproportionately force the poor and working class to shoulder the heaviest burdens through even higher energy costs?


Inhofe on burgeoning scientific skepticism about global warming

Excerpt. See the original for links:

Let me repeat a key point [Ivy League Geologist Dr. Robert] Giegengack makes: "If we reduced the rate at which we put carbon into the atmosphere, it won't reduce the concentration in the atmosphere; CO2 is just going to come back out of these reservoirs." (reservoirs such as the oceans, soil and permafrost)

Giegengack is explaining the heart of the scientific skepticism about CO2's role in the Earth's climate system. But Giegengack is not finished. "In terms of [global warming's] capacity to cause the human species harm, I don't think it makes it into the top 10," Giegengack said in an interview in the May/June 2007 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. (LINK)

It is entirely appropriate that a man who supports Gore politically may be putting the final nail in the coffin of the man-made global warming fears.

`Unverified, remote, and abstract dangers'

The global warming scare machine is now so tenuous, that other liberal environmental scientists and activists are now joining Giegengack and refuting the entire basis for man-made global warming concerns.

Denis G. Rancourt professor of physics and an environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa, believes the global warming campaign does a disservice to the environmental movement. Rancourt wrote on February 27, 2007: "Promoting the global warming myth trains people to accept unverified, remote, and abstract dangers in the place of true problems that they can discover for themselves by becoming directly engaged in their workplace and by doing their own research and observations. It trains people to think lifestyle choices (in relation to CO2 emission) rather than to think activism in the sense of exerting an influence to change societal structures." (LINK)

Rancourt believes that global warming "will not become humankind's greatest threat until the sun has its next hiccup in a billion years or more in the very unlikely scenario that we are still around." He also noted that even if C02 emissions were a grave threat "government action and political will cannot measurably or significantly ameliorate global climate in the present world."

Most significantly, however, Rancourt -- a committed left-wing activist and scientist -- believes environmentalists have been duped into promoting global warming as a crisis.

Rancourt wrote: "I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized."

"Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middleclass," Rancourt added. Finally, Rancourt asserted that in a warm world, life prospers. "There is no known case of a sustained warming alone having negatively impacted an entire population," he said, "As a general rule, all life on Earth does better when it's hotter: Compare ecological diversity and biotic density (or biomass) at the poles and at the equator," he added.

Indeed, 2007 has turned into the "tipping point" for the unsubstantiated fears and gross distortion of science by activists who have committed decades trying to convince the world it faced a man-made climate crisis. Rancourt so eloquently summed up the movement as one featuring "Unverified, remote, and abstract dangers."

Renowned Scientists Convert to Skeptics

Perhaps the biggest shock to the global warming debate was the recent conversion of renowned French geophysicist Dr. Claude Allegre from a believer in dangerous man-made warming fears to a skeptic.

Allegre, a former French Socialist Party leader and a member of both the French and U.S. Academies of Science, was one of the first scientists to sound global warming fears 20 years ago, but he now says the cause of climate change is "unknown." He ridiculed what he termed the "prophets of doom of global warming" in a September 2006 article. (LINK)

Allegre has authored more than 100 scientific articles and written 11 books and received numerous scientific awards including the Goldschmidt Medal from the Geochemical Society of the United States. He now believes the global warming hysteria is motivated by money. "The ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!" he explained.

I find it ironic that a free market conservative capitalist in the U.S. Senate and a French Socialist scientist both apparently agree that sound science is not what is driving this debate, but greed by those who would use this issue to line their own pockets.

Bravo for the growing scientific dissent. You don't have to believe me. In October, Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking."

The Washington Post's Eilperin wrote: "In late May, Michael Griffin, administrator of NASA, which conducts considerable amounts of climate research, told National Public Radio that he was not sure climate change was `a problem we must wrestle with" and that it was `rather arrogant' to suggest that the climate we have now represents the best possible set of conditions. Alexander Cockburn, a maverick journalist who leans left on most topics, lambasted the global-warming consensus last spring on the political Web site, arguing that there's no evidence yet that humans are causing the rise in global temperature."

Left-wing Professor David Noble of Canada's York University has joined the growing chorus of disenchanted liberal activists. Noble now believes that the movement has "hyped the global climate issue into an obsession." Noble wrote a May 8 essay entitled "The Corporate Climate Coup" which details how global warming has "hijacked" the environmental left and created a "corporate climate campaign" which has "diverted attention from the radical challenges of the global justice movement." (LINK)

Geologist Peter Sciaky echoes this growing backlash of left-wing activists about global warming. Sciaky, who describes himself as a "liberal and a leftist" wrote on June 9: "I do not know a single geologist who believes that [global warming] is a man-made phenomenon." And finally, world leaders like Czech President Vaclav Klaus and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt have been outspoken in their climate skepticism.

Schmidt said on June 4 that fears of global warming were "hysterical" and "overheated" and called efforts to control the Earth's temperature "idiotic." (LINK) Another EU leader -- Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy - spoke out against climate orthodoxy on October 23. Rajoy said, "No scientist has guaranteed to me what the weather will be like tomorrow" and he then asked "How can anyone know what will happen in the world within 300 years?" (LINK)

Former Vice President Gore's biggest worry is now coming true; previously committed believers in man-made global warming are now converting to skeptics after reviewing the new science.

New scientific findings changing minds

The 60 prominent scientists, many of whom advised the Canadian Prime Minister in the 1990's to ratify Kyoto, became the first to foresee 2007 as the "tipping point" for climate alarm. "Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary," the 60 scientists wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on April 6, 2006. (LINK)

The climate skeptics have welcomed many scientists from around the world into the fold recently. They include the previously noted Claude Allegre, top Israeli astrophysicist Nir Shaviv, Australian mathematician David Evans, Canadian climate expert Tad Murty, Paleoclimatologist Tim Patterson, Geologist Bruno Wiskel, Paleoclimatologist Ian D. Clark, Environmental geochemist Jan Veizer, and Climate scientist Chris de Freitas of New Zealand. (LINK)

And that is just to name a few. Again, please go to EPW.Senate.Gov for the full report and stay tuned for the upcoming blockbuster report detailing the hundreds of scientists who have spoken out recently to denounce man-made global warming fears.



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


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Climate is too complex for accurate predictions

From "New Scientist" -- usually a reliably "Green" source

Climate change models, no matter how powerful, can never give a precise prediction of how greenhouse gases will warm the Earth, according to a new study. The result will provide ammunition to those who argue not enough is known about global warming to warrant taking action.

The analysis focuses on the temperature increase that would occur if levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubled from pre-Industrial Revolution levels. The current best guess for this number - which is a useful way to gauge how sensitive the climate is to rising carbon levels - is that it lies between 2.0 C and 4.5 C. And there is a small chance that the temperature rise could be up to 8C or higher.

To the frustration of policy makers, it is an estimate that has not become much more precise over the last 20 years. During that period, scientists have established that the world is warming and human activity is very likely to blame, but are no closer to putting a figure on exactly much temperatures are likely to rise.

It now appears that the estimates will never get much better. The reason lies with feedbacks in the climate system. For example, as the temperature increases, less snow will be present at the poles. Less snow means less sunlight reflected back into space, which means more warming. These positive feedbacks accelerate global warming and also introduce uncertainty into estimates of climate sensitivity, say Gerard Roe and Marcia Baker of the University of Washington in Seattle. What is more, they found that better computer models or observational data will not do much to reduce that uncertainty. A better estimate of sensitivity is the holy grail of climate research, but it is time to "call off the quest", according to a commentary published alongside the paper.

That is likely to fuel attacks by critics in the oil industry and elsewhere who argue against investing in measures like clean energy until more is known about climate change. Others say that we need to act even if climate sensitivity lies at the low end of the scale, since coastal areas would still be threatened by rising seas, for example.

Ultimately, the papers also illustrate the limits to which models, even those produced by powerful supercomputers, can help politicians make decisions. "This finding reinforces not only that climate policies will necessarily be made in the face of deep, irreducible uncertainties," says Roger Pielke, a climate policy expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US. "But also the uncomfortable reality - for climate modellers - that finite research dollars invested in ever more sophisticated climate models offer very little marginal benefit to decision makers."


Comment on droughts by a meteorologist

The most recent rain year in Southern California that ran from July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007 was the driest on record (about 125 years) for many areas. At John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, less than 2 inches of rain has fallen since January 1, 2007. The other exceptionally dry areas this year were around western Lake Superior and in the southeastern US from Tennessee and North Carolina, across north Georgia into Alabama and Mississippi. This is a map of the current drought situation across the country. Recent rains have greatly alleviated the dry conditions from the Upper Peninsula into the northern Plains.

Of course, the global warming alarmists would have us believe there have never been droughts like this before. They seem to forget that in October 2003, the California fires claimed more lives and burned more acres than this year. According to this article by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Drought during the Dust Bowl years covered up to 70% of the United States. During the 1950s, the Great Plains and the southwestern US withstood a 5-year drought, and in three of these years, drought conditions stretched coast to coast. In the last half of the 16th century, there was a drought " that appears to have been more severe in some areas of central North America than anything we have experienced in the 20th century, including the 1930s drought." A particularly severe drought between 1500 and 1600 in the southwestern US apparently lasted nearly 100 years. The same article goes on to say:
When records of drought for the last two millennia are examined, the major 20th century droughts appear to be relatively mild in comparison with other droughts that occurred within this time frame.

All of the above statements would seem to apply to the 21st century too. There have been far worse droughts in the past that could not have been the result of increasing CO2.

I have written before about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). These are changes in sea-surface temperatures that last for several decades and have huge impacts on the climate. The University of Arizona Desert Laboratory has published a paper on how the phases of the PDO and AMO work together to create tendencies for drought. The result of the study is that over half (52%) of the drought frequency in the United States can be attributed to the AMO and PDO with another 22% POSSIBLY attributed to warming temperatures or some other UNKNOWN (emphasis mine) climate trend.

More here

Cal Thomas on Warming

The Church of Global Warming (CGW) is a cult. A cult has a number of definitions, among them this one from "A religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader."

Cults wish to control others. Global warming fundamentalists wish to do the same through the power of government. CGW members would reject cult status - which all cult members do - and Gore has never been accused of displaying charisma. But the CGW confers charismatic status on him because he tells them what they want to hear: Salvation is available through the reduction of one's carbon footprint. Gore regularly violates his own doctrines by flying on big polluting jets, leaving tracks the size of Bigfoot.

Cultists never allow contrary evidence to challenge their beliefs. Last week, a British judge found nine scientific errors in Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" and ordered British schools to mention them and to teach the other side of global warming.

Like the Pulitzer Prize, which mostly goes to liberals or to economic conservatives who are OK with abortion and same-sex marriage, the Nobel Peace Prize has become a victim of political correctness and a tool for message-sending. In this case (as when the award went to President Carter), the Nobel committee wanted to send a message to President Bush. What will they do when he leaves office? Give it to Bill Clinton?

People who genuinely labor for peace (read a partial list in the Oct. 13 Wall Street Journal lead editorial) are often ignored by the Nobel committee. Despite evidence from NASA and other scientific sources, which rebut Gore's claims of pending climate disaster, CGW members have the kind of blind faith displayed at a Benny Hinn healing service. The leader of the CGW even has a faux "trinity." Instead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Gore has an Oscar, an Emmy and a Nobel Peace Prize.

Having said that (and far more could be said and is being said), conservatives miss an opportunity when they only ridicule Gore and dismiss his ideas. They should be asking themselves whether it might be possible to find common ground with Gore on at least one of his doctrinal issues that would serve nearly everyone's interests. This is where part two begins.

Republicans and Democrats repeatedly tell us we rely too much on foreign oil, especially oil from a current trouble spot, the Middle East, and from a potential trouble spot, Venezuela. Might it be possible for the CGW crowd and the Church of Free Enterprise (CFE) to come together for the common purpose of reducing our reliance on foreign oil? CGW fundamentalists would get what they want - a reduced carbon footprint and supposedly lower global temperatures (go ahead and let them believe it) - while CFE parishioners would rejoice that Saudi Arabia's hold on us (not to mention its use of our money to underwrite terrorism) could be broken.

If we would launch an energy independence program with the intensity of a Marshall Plan for Europe, or a man-on-the-moon project, to liberate ourselves from the petroleum despots by developing synthetic fuels and finding new energy sources closer to home - especially nuclear power - we could strike a blow against the Islamofascists more damaging than bombs and bullets. This will require leadership at the highest level, and it will require a conservative of sufficient stature not to be labeled a compromiser or a fool. Anyone out there who meets the test? And would Al Gore bring his legions with him to the table?


In praise of Carbon

Children are having nightmares about their carbon footprint. What a pretty pass modern man has brought himself to!

Frightening children with scary stories about hell fire is the way our ancestors drilled society into conformity. It might have been hoped that the age of science would bring all that to an end, but now we have entered the post-scientific age, in which a new class of high priest returns to the traditional methods of enforcement. In order to establish the essential fear-provoking scenario they have nominated in the role of original sin one particular element, one atom out of the whole gamut. It is a choice that is bizarre to the rational mind, yet one that conforms to the long established principles of the founding of authoritative religions. Why is it bizarre? If you are of a mind to seek out magic and miracles look no further than the sixth member of the periodic table of elements.

The primal seed

Shortly after the discontinuity that launched the universe (if, indeed, that is the way it happened) the elementary particles came together to form the first atoms - hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron - and then something quite unique, an element of such startling properties that the ultimate outcome was the profound and mysterious development to which we designate the abstraction of "life". Furthermore that development reached such a state of advancement that it could understand the nature of that which gave it being and then the perversity to vilify it as the root of all evil.

Shape shifter

Even as a pure chemical, carbon exhibits a multiple personality that is quite exceptional in its variety. The soft powder that is lamp black, the amorphous stick of charcoal with which Leonardo first sketched the outline of a mysterious woman, the hardest of sparkling crystals nestling between the soft breasts of other women who changed history, yet which has been crucial to high technology, the smooth flaky centre of the draughtsman's pencil that also lubricated the workings of his mechanical designs and the new nanostructures of unimaginable possibilities (fullerines, buckyballs, nanotubes etc.) are all chemically identical.

The promiscuous bonder

But the diversity of the pure element is as nothing compared with the infinite variety of its combination with others: for the structure of the carbon atom lends itself to a mechanism of unconstrained potential known as the covalent bond. The atom has four electrons in its incomplete outer shell and exhibits a remarkable tendency to share these with other atoms. It forms chains, both straight and branched, and rings that yield combinations of unlimited length and complexity. Compounds of the same chemical formula can have quite different structures and properties (isomers). Onto the basic carbon skeletons many other atoms can be attached by covalent bonding to create an infinite variety of compounds with an awesome range of properties.

Jekyll and Hyde

Apart from some curiosities there are two prominent oxides of carbon. One is the silent killer, while the other is the giver of life. Carbon monoxide is preferentially taken up by haemoglobin, so poisons the body and brain by depriving them of oxygen, and is the most common cause of human death by poisoning.

Carbon dioxide, in contrast is the sole source of the food chain. Every item of nutrition you consume started out as atmospheric carbon dioxide. Through the intermediary of the photoreceptor chlorophyll (a carbon compound rather like haemoglobin, but centred on magnesium rather than iron) plants trap light energy from the sun and use it to manufacture sugars from carbon dioxide and water. These sugars are then used to create the higher compounds that plants and animals need for structure and function, while also making energy available where and when it is needed.

The only experimentally proven effect of increased carbon dioxide in the air is an increase in the growth rate of plants and, in particular, crops. The gas also makes a modest contribution to making the planet habitable by the so-called greenhouse effect, though water vapour is by far the dominant factor in this life maintaining mechanism.

Much more here

Did Greenie bans on lead cut crime?

Post below lifted from Josh Trevino. See the original for links

Has environmental regulation led to lower crime? That's the thesis advanced by Jessica Wolpaw Reyes of Amherst College, and featured in today's NYT. (You can find Dr Reyes's original scholarly piece here.) The argument is that leaded gasoline systematically poisoned the minds (and hence the moral capacity) of America's youth: when regulatory action took the lead out of gasoline, average intelligence went up, and crime went down.

It's an interesting idea, bolstered mostly by the early-1990s drop in crime, which correlates with the early-1970s elimination of leaded gasoline -- but its flaws go far beyond its inherent unprovability. Just for one example, this spreadsheet (warning: Excel file) from the DOJ on federal and state incarceration from 1982 through 2003 shows major proportional jumps in the incarceration percentages in 1986-1987, and in 1994. Those outliers aside, the year-to-year proportional increases are much higher in the 1990s than in the 1980s. This in turn implies one of two things: that the stricter laws on imprisonment and release in the 1990s had something to do with the drop in crime; or that things in the 1980s (when a "fully-leaded" generation was coming of age) weren't so bad after all. The latter is not, as a comparative condition, true. It shouldn't be denied that life, and urban life in particular, did in fact improve in the 1990s. The point here is to show that an identified correlation may have nothing whatsoever to do with causation, that data sets can be interpreted in massively different ways -- and moreover, that there are many data sets that may be relevant here. It's a good guess that the ones directly related to crime (imprisonment, court records, familial integrity, et al.) are more relevant than the ones not (i.e., lead levels in gasoline).

Why is this important? Dr Reyes's work buttresses the case that economic regulation and restriction is a proven net good for society at large. Indeed, the abstract for her research declares that "the social value of the reductions in violent crime far exceeds the cost of the removal of lead from gasoline." It is only in taking refuge in unquantifiable "social value" and unprovable correlations that these assertions may be made: when dealing with quantification and demonstrable causality, we know that costs imposed by state intervention in market mechanisms are almost never offset by any purported gain. Hypothesizing on a connection between leaded gasoline and societal violence is an interesting academic exercise -- but as a guide for policy formulation, it is not merely worthless, but malign.


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


Friday, October 26, 2007

A major Greenie fortress crumbles

"Nature" magazine is the house-journal of the Warmists so their publication of the article below is a big deal -- particularly since they are now parroting the line of -- no, no, it can't be true -- GEORGE BUSH!

TWO British experts have backed the Australian and US governments' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying emissions caps are the wrong tool for tackling the problem. "Time to ditch Kyoto," British social scientist Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and leading climate change researcher Steve Rayner of Oxford University, who holds dual US-British citizenship, wrote in the journal Nature. "The Kyoto Protocol is a symbolically important expression of governments' concern about climate change. But as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, it has failed," they wrote. They said the world should instead raise spending on clean energy research to tens of billions of dollars a year as part of a broader plan "on a wartime footing".

Governments should view global warming as a strategic challenge, like the US drive to put a man on the moon in 1969 or to help Europe recover after World War Two, and move away from Kyoto-style caps on greenhouse gas emissions, they said.

The 1997 Kyoto pact obliges 36 industrial nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Australia and the US have refused to sign up to the agreement. But many nations are over target in a sign that Kyoto is no "silver bullet" for slowing climate change, Mr Rayner told Reuters.

The two urged governments to consider carrying out more research instead of tightening Kyoto-style caps. The world's environment ministers will meet in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3-14 to launch negotiations on a successor to Kyoto. "Investment in energy research and development should be placed on a wartime footing," the experts wrote of efforts to create clean energy such as wind and solar power. "It seems reasonable to expect the world's leading economies and emitters to devote as much money to this challenge as they currently spend on military research - in the case of the United States, about $80 billion a year," they said.

They said Kyoto had been modelled on treaties for protecting the ozone layer and curbing acid rain that focused on cuts in a few pollutants. But climate change affected the entire economy and solutions had to be more complex than caps on a few gases.

As part of the answer, they said the world should focus on curbs by top emitters rather than seeking agreement among 176 states that have ratified Kyoto. The top 20, led by the US and China, account for 80 per cent of all emissions.

Mr Prins and Mr Rayner noted that many Kyoto backers had criticised President George W. Bush for bringing major emitters together for talks in Washington last month. But such talks may be a necessary first step to a broader deal, they said. Mr Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, saying its emissions caps would be too costly and that Kyoto wrongly omitted goals for poor nations. Kyoto backers see it as a tiny first step to slow the effects of climate change such as more floods, heatwaves and rising seas.

But Ben McNeill from the Climate Change Centre at the University Of New South Wales defended Kyoto today, saying the clean development mechanism and targets were important keys to slowing global warming. "Emissions targets dictate for example how effective a carbon emissions trading scheme is. In other words a carbon trading price, and that's a very important part of our strategy in the next decade or so to reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming," Dr McNeill told Radio Australia.

The two experts said the world should create markets in greenhouse gases but efforts so far had failed to produce stable prices high enough to spur a major shift away from the fossil fuels widely blamed for causing global warming. They said that, instead of ordering deeper Kyoto-style cuts in emissions beyond 2012, countries should develop policies only after experimenting with various ideas. "Although a bottom-up approach may seem painfully slow and sprawling, it may be the only way to build credible institutions that markets endorse," they wrote.


Duluth weather anchor calls Gore a "left-wing nut"

TV meteorologist Karl Spring's characterization of former Vice President Al Gore as a "left-wing nut" has taken on a life of its own in the blogosphere. Spring, chief meteorologist at KBJR-TV, Channel 6 - the Northland's News Center - made the comment on a local radio show the day Gore's co-selection for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was announced.

Once a year, KUWS News Director Mike Simonson invites a panel of meteorologists on his weekly show "Final Edition" to talk about what the year's weather might bring. This year's conversation, on Oct. 12, grew unusually spirited when the topic turned to the Nobel Committee's announcement about Al Gore and the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Simonson's guests began debating not so much whether global warming is real but about the science portrayed in Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." "This debate is being driven a lot by politicians," not by scientists, said Kyle Underwood, meteorologist with WDIO/WIRT, Channels 10/13.

Spring then dropped the "left-wing nut" comment and said that, although he hadn't seen the movie, he believes Gore "takes facts and extrapolates them to such extremes" that they don't make any sense, and project "a doomsday scenario." "He used this movie for a political agenda," Spring said.

After Simonson sent a segment of the program to the Wisconsin Public Radio station in Madison, from which it was broadcast across the state, he started getting complaints. Simonson said his station has received about a dozen calls and e-mails about the conversation, "and that's a lot, for us," he said.

Blogged discussions about the radio show have blossomed on the Minnesota Monitor Web site, a left-leaning political blog, and on the local Web site Reactions mostly center on Spring's "left-wing nut" comment.

Spring said on Simonson's show that Gore exaggerates the impact of global warming. Later in the program, Carol Christenson of the National Weather Service and KQDS FOX-21 forecaster Todd Nelson added their views. The News Tribune and Fox-21 have a news-sharing partnership.

"Whether you like Al Gore and his politics or not, he probably has skewed a lot of the statistics quite a bit, but maybe that's a good thing to get people to act," Christenson said.

Nelson said Gore's movie is important. "Before the movie, people were kind of talking about it, but now that the movie is out there in the mainstream media, people are talking about it every single day."

"It was a little sharp," Simonson said of Spring's comments. "But to me, he has a right to say it. It represents what part of the population has to say about Al Gore."

On Thursday, Spring declined comment, saying he was too busy monitoring active weather systems. Station manager Dave Jensch could not be reached for comment. Spring joined KBJR-TV as chief meteorologist in March 2006. He graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and earned his American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association television seals of approval.

But perhaps the influence of "An Inconvenient Truth" and the conversations it's spurred about global warming have had an impact already, Simonson said. "Two years ago when I did this show, not everyone agreed that global warming existed," he said.


Spanish Opposition leader says climate change 'no problem'

Spain's conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, who wants to be the country's next prime minister, has sparked controversy by saying that climate change was not "a big global problem." Spanish media Tuesday gave ample coverage to the comments of the former interior minister, the leader of the main opposition People's Party (PP), who spoke at a congress in Palma de Majorca on Monday.

"No scientist has guaranteed to me what the weather will be like tomorrow in (the southern Spanish city of) Seville," Rajoy said at the event, which was also attended by former US Vice President, Nobel peace laureate and environmental campaigner Al Gore. "How can anyone know what will happen in the world within 300 years? We have to pay a lot of attention to this matter, but we cannot turn it into a big global problem," Rajoy said.

Gore later warned against "right-wing ideologists" who tried to block government attempts to fight global warming, according to the daily El Pais.

Socialist Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said Rajoy's opinions were "eccentric and incredible," while Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba described them as "provincial" on Tuesday.


The often-predicted peak that never happens

These prophecies have been going on for around a century. But the predicted date always passes without the predicted crisis

The world has reached the point of maximum oil output and production levels will halve by 2030 -- a situation that will eventually lead to war and disaster, a report claims. The German-based Energy Watch Group released a report Tuesday saying the world's oil production peaked in 2006 and from now on will drop by around 3 percent a year. It says that by as early as 2030, the global availability of oil will be half of what it was at its peak. "It's a very serious result," said Hans-Josef Fell, a German lawmaker from the environmentalist Green Party who commissioned the report. "I fear the world will come into a big economic crisis in the coming years."

The report warns that coal, uranium, and other key fossil fuels are also in declining supply. It predicts the fall in fossil fuel production will bring with it the threat of war, humanitarian disaster, and general social unrest.

But Leo Drollas, who leads oil and gas market analysis and forecasting at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, said there are plenty of supplies and no looming crisis. He said the report sounds like "scaremongering." Drollas says production could still slow one day, but only because new reserves will be considered too difficult or expensive to extract. "Oil could be left in the ground and we could move on to another fuel in the future, not because we're running out of oil but because, economically speaking, it is not worth extracting the oil," Drollas said.


Bishop of the C of E (Church of the Environment) attacks Catholic cardinal

Having abandoned the Bible, the Church of England has turned to Environmentalism instead. Who wants to save those silly old souls when you can save the planet?

AUSTRALIA'S most prominent religious sceptic of climate change, the Catholic Archbishop George Pell, was out of step within his church and the global Christian community on global warming, a leading Anglican environmentalist says. The head of the Anglican Church's international body on the environment, George Browning, said Dr Pell's position on global warming defied scientific consensus and theological imperatives to protect the Earth and its future generations. It also made no sense and would be proven a mistake. Bishop Browning's stance came as the Australian Anglican church prepared to adopt its strongest position yet on climate change, committing 23 dioceses to initiatives reducing their carbon footprint.

But Dr Pell said last night he had every right to be sceptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. "There are many measures which are good for the environment, which we should pursue," he said. "We need to be able talk freely about this and about the uncertainties around climate change. Invoking the authority of some scientific experts to shut down debate is not good for science, the environment, for people here and in the developing world or for the people of tomorrow. "My task as a Christian leader is to engage with reality, to contribute to debate on important issues, to open people's minds, and to point out when the emperor is wearing few or no clothes. "Radical environmentalists are more than up to the task of moralising their own agenda and imposing it on people through fear. They don't need church leaders to help them with this, although it is a very effective way of further muting Christian witness. Church leaders in particular should be allergic to nonsense."

Bishop Browning supported warnings that climate change refugees would, in the future, pose a bigger threat to world security than terrorism by triggering massive population shifts. He also warned Australia had to dump the "language of drought" because it offered false hope to farmers by implying that after drought would come flood and a return to normal farming life. The warming of the planet had triggered irreversible climate changes that warranted fundamental changes in farming and investment practices. Bishop Browning took issue with Dr Pell's Easter message this year at which the cardinal said Jesus had nothing to say on global warming. He told the Anglican synod meeting in Canberra yesterday he had written to Dr Pell after the Easter message because he found his statement "almost unbelievable". [I wonder could the good bishop point out the chapter and verse of the Gospels where global warming is mentioned? I rather foolishly thought that Jesus said "my kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36)]



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


Thursday, October 25, 2007

The California fires are OF COURSE being blamed on global warming

Newsbusters has a good record of the media coverage. We do however get a brief glimpse of what is really going on in the following segnent of the interview they record:

PELLEY: It was 20 years ago that firefighters got their first glimpse of what was to come. This is Yellowstone in 1988, when a third of the national park burned. Since then, fires have broken records in nine states. Several mega-fires, like this one in Arizona, have burned over half a million acres each. Why are there more of these fires? It turns out that the Forest Service is partly to blame, with a policy that it started 100 years ago.

UNKNOWN MAN E: The forest fire firefighter service stops fires, forest, bush and grass fires.

PELLEY: The policy was to try to putout all fires immediately.

BOATNER: Because we so successfully fought fire and eliminated fire from this ecosystem for 100 years, because we thought that was the right thing to do, we've allowed a huge buildup of fuel in these woods. So now, when the fires get going, there's a lot more to burn than historically you would've seen in a forest like this.

What is not mentioned is that Greenie pressure has largely halted the Forest Service practice of controlled winter burnoffs. These burnoffs safely reduce the amount of combustible materials and prevent fires at later times from becoming as big. The present unusually severe fires are a direct result of Greenie meddling with forest management

More on the AP Story on "Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Increasing"

Post below lifted from Icecap. See the original for links

As reported by the AP, “Carbon dioxide emissions were 35 percent higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The changes “characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing,” the researchers report." Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, added: “What is really shocking is the reduction of the oceanic CO2 sink,” meaning the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere. The researchers blamed that reduction on changes in wind circulation, but Robock said he also thinks rising ocean temperatures reduce the ability to take in the gas.”

As we showed in an earlier blog, though estimates of man's output of carbon dioxide have increased in the last two decades, the rate of increase in the atmosphere has not increased, implying the opposite, a "missing sink" or underestimated ability of nature, primarily the oceans, to remove the excess carbon dioxide, the exact opposite of what Robock at Rutgers and the alarmists at CSIRO are implying.  Never mind they are ignoring the fact that there has been no warming globally in the last 9 years.

See in this blog the real story about carbon dioxide increases, how they relate to El Nino and La Nina and volcanic activity, that the oceans are cooling not warming and why with a moderate La Nina underway, the rate of increase this year will drop dramatically.


The joint award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US vice-president Al Gore has been greeted positively by commentators internationally. Where there has been criticism, it has been directed at the decision to give Gore a share of the award. But what about the IPCC? .....

I would argue that the way in which the IPCC is being turned into a body beyond criticism, whose pronouncements cannot be challenged without critics facing accusations of `global warming denial', is a far greater threat to democratic debate and good decision-making than Gore's self-evident alarmism. The IPCC is treated as a priestly body that rises above what is seen as the petty squabbling of politicians and individuals too selfish to reduce their carbon footprint; as the sole repository of truth, given by the `scientific consensus'. It is time to start asking some tough questions of the IPCC and the role it plays before we continue along these lines.

The emphasis that the IPCC places upon consensus would be one good place to start. For example, John Zillman, president of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) from 1995 to 2003 (one of the IPCC's two sponsoring bodies), and someone very much involved in the establishment of the IPCC, wrote a candid article in August 1997 titled `The IPCC: a view from the inside' (3). In the article, Zillman notes that `although there were already mechanisms in place' for taking stock of the state of knowledge of greenhouse gases, `the WMO Congress decided that a more broadly representative mechanism was needed to prepare the authoritative advice needed by governments'. As is now well known, this mechanism involves scientists and government officials from participating countries agreeing, line by line, the wording of key summary documents for policymakers of periodic Assessment Reports authored by scientists. Whilst pointing out his overall support for the scientific integrity of the work of the IPCC, Zillman's paper drew particular attention to the problems and pressures of this consensus approach:

`[T]here has been unusually intense pressure for consensus to be achieved even when many individual participants clearly felt extremely uncomfortable with signing on to the "consensus" language. These pressures became extreme in some of the late night meetings when the time for achievement of consensus was running out, delegations were exhausted and dissenting individuals were subject to considerable peer pressure to agree in order to avoid the stigma of being seen to have prevented the IPCC from achieving a consensus report.' (4)

The pressure to achieve consensus remains very much a part of the IPCC today - a fact made obvious by the press reports of the late night meetings proceeding the publication of the three summary reports of the IPCC's work this year. And in the run-up to the publication of its final report - Fourth Assessment: The Synthesis Report - to be finalised at a conference in mid-November, the IPCC is pushing the significance of this consensus strongly. For example, take the following advert for the forthcoming Synthesis Report on the IPCC's website home page:

Who could possibly argue with such an array of international expertise all in agreement with one another? But in many ways, these figures are misleading. The expertise of those contributing to IPCC processes is unsurprisingly hugely varied, necessarily covering a vast array of disciplines and fields of research. So in reality, the `one report' brings together distinct and discrete areas of expertise addressing often related but distinct questions - the experts on cloud formation, for example, will have little expert opinion to input into the discussion of the impact of global warming on biodiversity.

The contrast between the impression of thousands of scientists acting as one and the reality of the IPCC process was highlighted in an analysis recently conducted by John McLean, titled Peer Review, What Peer Review? and published by the Science and Public Policy Institute. Analysing information secured from the IPCC under a US Freedom of Information request, McLean examines the level of review activity associated with the IPCC's key Working Group 1 (WG1) report that assesses `The Physical Science Basis' of climate change.

Looking at the comments made by the scientific reviewers for the Second Revision of the Draft WG1 report, McLean found that a total of 308 reviewers commented on the Second Revision, which was the penultimate draft. According to McLean `only 32 reviewers commented on more than three chapters and just five reviewers commented on all 11 chapters'. There were 143 reviewers (46 per cent) who commented on just one chapter and 71 reviewers (23 per cent) who commented on two chapters.

Such a tally does not itself demonstrate a faulty peer review process. However, McLean certainly seems to have a point when he draws attention to the gap between the perception the IPCC wishes to create of thousands of scientists in unity in one report, and the reality of a report comprised of many distinct parts, each contributed to and commented on by a far smaller number of scientists with knowledge of a specific field. For example, McLean finds that for chapter nine, a chapter that he describes as `the key science chapter' where `the IPCC concludes that "it is very highly likely that greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the last 50 years"', only 62 reviewers provided any comments on the chapter at all.

McLean argues that `simple corrections, requests for clarifications or refinements to the text which did not challenge the IPCC's conclusions are generally treated favourably, but comments which dispute the IPCC's claims or their certainty are treated with far less indulgence'. He concludes that `the notion of hundreds of experts diligently poring over all chapters of the report and providing extensive feedback by way of peer review to the editing teams is here demonstrated to be an illusion'.

It may turn out to be the case that most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years has been man-made. This may, in turn, imply the need for some action on the part of society. However, there is much to be debated - both in terms of the complexities of what is and is not known scientifically about climate change, and in terms of political discussion about how we wish to respond to this knowledge. Yet increasingly, the IPCC is not a positive mechanism for throwing light on the situation and allowing perspectives to be worked through. Instead, those who wish to conduct such debates - unless on the extremely narrow terms laid down by the IPCC - are being portrayed as beyond the pale. Democratic debate is being stifled rather than encouraged for fear that people will come to the wrong opinions and make the wrong choices.

The IPCC, with its hyping of the `scientific consensus', is an important expression of the way in which `expertise' is being used to supplant full and open debate. As such it needs to be critiqued, not placed on a pedestal, if we are to have any chance of making good decisions and benefiting from democratic debate in the future.


All Climatologists Aren't Scientists

Real scientists don't expect to have their explanations automatically accepted. They expect to have to prove what they say is valid by conducting experiments and providing evidence. They accept the existence of physcial "laws" which control and limit physical phenomena. They accept concepts like those in quantum physics even if they don't seem to make sense if there is evidence that they do. Niels Bohr "And anyone who thinks they can talk about quantum theory without feeling dizzy hasn't yet understood the first thing about it."

Some climatologists aren't acting like empirical scientists. For example, they claim the existence of things like greenhouse gases that are not consistent with established physics such as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (see the previous post). Religious figures sometimes claim that physical laws can be ignored, but they typicallly suggest that a diety can perform supernatural feats.

Scientists recognize that concepts come and go. Physicists have been debating whether light is a wave or a particle for two centuries. Each side has dominated at one time or another. They may think that those who disagree with them are misguided, but they don't call the members of the other side names like "denier" or "contrarian" like the believers in greenhouse gases do. These people who use such terms use them in the same manner religious figures use the terms 'heretic" and "infidel".

The greenhouse gas believers believe that consensus is more important than evidence. Real scientists recognize that everyone can be wrong as 19th Century scientists were when they believed that atoms were the smallest particles of matter . Scientists don't vote on which explanation is the best. They develop evidence through experimentation and observation. Real scientists recognize that mathematical explanations are often complex and that throwing a bunch of numbers together and averaging them isn't likely to produce any meaningful result. Greenhouse gas believers think they can average global temperatures and get an exact explanation of the climate of every place on earth.

The climatologists who claim to believe in greenhouse gases do not behave like scientists and thus are not scientists. A real scientist wouldn't provide vague explanations like "global warming is going to cause this or that". A real scientist would give specific explanations for climate in each area of the globe. The greenhouse gas believers use the term "global warming" as if it were some type of deity. If the weather is colder or warmer than usual the answer is the same "global warming did it."


Brits beginning to face facts

Ministers are planning a U-turn on Britain's pledges to combat climate change that "effectively abolishes" its targets to rapidly expand the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Gordon Brown will be advised today that the target Tony Blair signed up to this year for 20% of all European energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 is expensive and faces "severe practical difficulties".

According to the papers, John Hutton, the secretary of state for business, will tell Mr Brown that Britain should work with Poland and other governments sceptical about climate change to "help persuade" German chancellor Angela Merkel and others to set lower renewable targets, before binding commitments are framed in December. It admits that allowing member states to fall short of their renewable targets will be "very hard to negotiate ... and will be very controversial". "The commission, some member states and the European parliament will not want the target to be diluted, though others may be allies for a change," says a draft copy of Mr Hutton's Energy Policy Presentation to the Prime Minister, marked "restricted - policy".

The revelations came as scientists announced that carbon emissions were accumulating in the atmosphere far more quickly than predicted. The sharp increase found by the Global Carbon Project is attributed mainly to Chinese coal-burning and a weakening of the ability of oceans and forests to soak up carbon dioxide.

The leaked papers admit to "a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership" if Mr Brown is seen to be driving a plan to let European member states fall short of their renewables targets. They also reveal different priorities across government departments about how to get renewables to 20% of the electricity mix. Although Germany has increased its renewable energy share to 9% in six years, Britain's share is only 2%, with its greenhouse gas emissions rising.

Last night campaigners expressed alarm at the new direction of government policy. "Gordon Brown is now in danger of surrendering any claim to international leadership on climate change and would rather support nuclear power and scupper the European renewable energy target," said John Sauven, director of Greenpeace.

Mr Hutton will tell Mr Brown that there are severe practical difficulties about meeting the 20% target. These include persuading the Ministry of Defence and the shipping industry to accept more offshore wind power, as well as increased research and development costs for marine and tidal power. One of the main objections of government to meeting the renewables target set by Mr Blair is that it will undermine the role of the European emission trading scheme. This scheme was devised by the Treasury under Mr Brown and allows wealthy governments to pay others to reduce emissions. "[Meeting the 20% renewables target] crucially undermines the scheme's credibility ... and reduces the incentives to invest in other carbon technologies like nuclear power", say the papers.

The government is clearly worried about its ambition to introduce more nuclear power as soon as possible. Mr Hutton will tell Mr Brown that he expects a second legal challenge by Greenpeace. "[It is] most likely to be on the basis of pre-judgement, concerns about waste, a flawed consultation process or inaccuracies."

Analysis by Mr Hutton's department suggests it could cost the UK 4bn pounds a year to achieve a 9% share of renewable energy by 2020. The shift in stance is due to be discussed at full cabinet next week. Last night a spokesman for the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said: "We don't comment on ministerial meetings with the PM.



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


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What fun! CO2 levels rocketing up but temperature stable

This sure detonates the cause-effect relationship the Warmists believe in. Even on the Greenie data, global surface temperatures have not risen since 1998. It does however conform with the paleoclimate findings that CO2 levels are a lagged EFFECT of warming

Carbon dioxide emissions were 35 percent higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Increased industrial use of fossil fuels coupled with a decline in the gas absorbed by the oceans and land were listed as causes of the increase. "In addition to the growth of global population and wealth, we now know that significant contributions to the growth of atmospheric CO2 arise from the slowdown" of nature's ability to take the chemical out of the air, said Canadell, director of the Global Carbon Project at the research organization. The changes "characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing," the researchers report.

Kevin Trenberth of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. said the "paper raises some very important issues that the public should be aware of: Namely that concentrations of CO2 are increasing at much higher rates than previously expected and this is in spite of the Kyoto Protocol that is designed to hold them down in western countries,"

Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, added: "What is really shocking is the reduction of the oceanic CO2 sink," meaning the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere. The researchers blamed that reduction on changes in wind circulation, but Robock said he also thinks rising ocean temperatures reduce the ability to take in the gas. "Think that a warm Coke has less fizz than a cold Coke," he said.

Neither Robock nor Trenberth was part of Canadell's research team.... "It turns out that global warming critics were right when they said that global climate models did not do a good job at predicting climate change," Robock commented. "But what has been wrong recently is that the climate is changing even faster than the models said. In fact, Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than any models predicted, and sea level is rising much faster than IPCC previously predicted."

According to the new study, carbon released from burning fossil fuel and making cement rose from 7.0 billion metric tons per year in 2000 to 8.4 billion metric tons in 2006. A metric tons is 2,205 pounds. The growth rate increased from 1.3 percent per year in 1990-1999 to 3.3 percent per year in 2000-2006, the researchers added.

Trenberth noted that carbon dioxide is not the whole story - methane emissions have declined, so total greenhouse gases are not increasing as much as carbon dioxide alone. Also, he added, other pollution plays a role by cooling. There are changes from year to year in the fraction of the atmosphere made up of carbon dioxide and the question is whether this increase is transient or will be sustained, he said. "The theory suggests increases in (the atmospheric fraction), as is claimed here, but the evidence is not strong," Trenberth said.

The paper looks at a rather short time to measure a trend, Robock added, "but the results they get certainly look reasonable, and much of the paper is looking at much longer trends."


Climate scares are nonsense -- says top forecaster

Interesting that this article was not known to Google at the time of this post being put up

"There is no scientific data evidence that Carbon Dioxide has been the driver of world temperatures or climate over the last 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 years, and I challenge those politicians - such as Hilary Benn and Condoleeza Rice - who act as if that is the case, to produce the evidence" said Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and climate scientist of Weather Action Long Range Forecasters, recently.

Mr Corbyn, whose Weather Action long range forecasts for the British Isles rain and floods through the summer, the cold later part of September and new trial forecasts for West North Pacific Typhoons and Atlantic/Gulf/Carrib Tropical storms have all been 'astoundingly well confirmed' said it was tragic to hear Hilary Benn MP at the Labour conference blindly repeating known falsities of Al Gore's movie ('An Inconvenient Truth).

Hilary Benn said 'Al Gore has taught us 'we have to examine the truth however inconvenient'. "However the real truth is that Al Gore's film made false claims such as that CO2 drives world temperatures and climate when close examination of data shows it does not - and indeed the situation is often the other way around", said Piers. "Where does Hilary Benn get advice? Cannot he think for himself? Is this what Gordon Brown means by a sound and honest 'no-spin' approach to issues?

"Climate has always been changing and it is not driven by CO2. There is nothing special happening now that hasn't happened before. The best way to tackle weather and climate events is to first forecast them a long time ahead - and this we can now do using solar activity, whereas the theories of CO2 driven weather and climate can forecast nothing. "The global warming and climate crisis industry is not science fact but science fiction and the 'actions' they propose will not change weather events or climate one jot. It is a self-serving political operation boosted by Western powers and interests in an attempt to further control world energy supply. I support the electrification of Africa, not the holding back the developing world.

There are many pollutants which must be tackled but CO2 is not a pollutant", said Piers. Weather Action long range summer forecasts - based on solar-magnetic activity - for floods in the Britain have been confirmed in a 10/11 success rate of forecasted 'Flooding very likely' time windows (one period, 5-9th, gave floods - and mudslides - in Scotland rather than England as well) .

Commenting on the Plane Stupid actions at Heathrow in August Piers Corbyn said: "The misinformation put out by this group is beyond belief. However, let us be clear they are products of the hysterical 'climate crisis' misinformation pouring out of media, especially state run-media, in Britain and around the world. They would do well to actually read the IPCC report they keep talking about. It is very circumspect about evidence for climate changes induced by supposed extra warming and specifically says `There is insufficient evidence to determine whether trends exist ..(in)..phenomena such as tornadoes, hail, lighting ...' (see letter to Gordon Brown available on request).

Piers continued: "Since global warming has not been taking place for the last 5 years it makes no sense to blame it for recent events like the British floods which themselves were the opposite of the warm or hot summer forecast by the Met Office using global warming theory. It is to the lasting shame of the 51 (note 51 not 2,500) advisors named on the front of the IPCC Summary for Policy makers that they do nothing to stop the misinformation being trumpeted around in their name. Or was it their intention that their report would be so misused?"

The role of CO2 "There is no evidence that CO2 changes have ever driven world temperature or climate change and new advances show that other factors negate its effect" said Piers. "If weather extremes are driven or enhanced by CO2 now, we must ask what caused all those other floods in history? 1875 was a worse year than so far for floods. In that year the River Trent reached its highest recorded level and unprecedentedly flooded twice. The Thames also flooded at Windsor and there were above average monsoon rains. 1875 was 6 magnetic cycles of the Sun ago and about 7 main long lunar cycles so these events coming back now is not a surprise and nothing to do with CO2.

Then as now there were particular solar activity driven shifts in the jet-stream which led to various weather changes in Britain, Europe and Asia . There is nothing new happening now except media hype and unprecedentedly increased rain run-off rates due to irresponsible land management which has reduced the water holding capacity of uplands in England, Wales, India, Bangladesh, Korea and China. Those land mismanagement policies are what needs tackling not the CO2 bogey."

Weather Action's long Range forecasts are 90% confident and have been correct through the summer while the Met Office long range forecast for a warm or very summer which could possibly reach 100F and 'no indications of (a) particularly wet summer' have spectacularly failed (see letter to Gordon Brown for links).

Floods in history. The history of the rivers of England is a history of flooding and Terry Scholey of Nottingham recently phoned me the flood levels recorded on Trent Bridge. The largest was in 1875 and that was also the only year when two floods are recorded (July and October). There were also floods at Windsor on the Lower Thames that year. In announcing aspects of our August forecast when speaking at the Imperial College Union President 's centenary dinner on 27 July - where there was great interest in the subject - I drew to people's attention that 1875 is 132 years ago which is 6x22 and also just one less than 7x19. This means that now we are in a very similar combined Hale (solar magnetic, 22yr) cycle and lunar (eg eclipse timing) modulation (19yr) cycle as then, so all these floods this year come as no surprise. [NB. The connections are not clockwork so although this fact indicates general similarities the details are much more complicated ]

It's the sun what does it ! We have had a number of enquiries about recent claims in the media that 'it has been proved' that solar activity is not important in causing climate change and global warming'. Users of our forecasts are amused because Weather Action uses predictable aspects of solar particle activity to predict the weather whereas CO2 based theories can predict nothing. Some of these arguments are dealt with in the letter to Gordon Brown (available) but further information is available (eg re the above claim made by Professor Lockwood ) - Email for copies (


The High Cost of Climate Lies

According to Dr. Vincent Gray, the data collection and scientific methods employed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were unsound, undermining the two main `scientific' claims that `the globe is warming' and `increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible.'

An energy-rationing bill has been introduced to address "global warming." The "Climate Security Act" would impose caps on how much carbon dioxide (CO2) emission can be allowed and would institute an elaborate program to "trade" allowances among the industries and businesses affected. Americans better hope that some members of Congress will ask if there truly is a threat of global warming and why a similar program in Europe has proven to be a resounding failure. If you really wanted to undermine the nation's economy, you could not devise a better way. It is the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol on steroids.

Little noted during all the headlines concerning Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize was the fact that it was shared with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Among skeptical scientists I know, the emails were flying. Several had served as part of the vast array of scientists whose opinions on the various IPCC draft reports were requested and then ignored. A lot of these expert reviewers are among the 2,000 scientists that the IPCC and Al Gore are always citing as being part of the "consensus" on global warming. The problem for both is that many really, really, really disagree that any planet-threatening global warming is occurring.

One of them is Dr. Vincent Gray, a New Zealand-based climate scientist who has been a part of the reviewing process since the IPCC came into being. He is one of those scientists who will not and cannot be shut up despite the din of the IPCC propaganda. Briefly, Dr. Gray has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Cambridge University, England, and his long career has included stints in France, Canada, China, and New Zealand. He has published more than a hundred scientific papers on energy and materials, plus a dozen in climate science.

So, following the announcement of the Nobel, Dr. Gray wrote to Professor David Henderson, who has called for a "review" of the IPCC and its procedures. This is a nice way of saying that the Panel is so widely viewed as just one more corrupt United Nations instrumentality, a lot of scientists think it should be tossed into a garbage can behind the UN building. Permit me to share some of Dr. Gray's thoughts with you. Commenting on his initial belief that the IPCC would proceed on the basis of "scientific ethics" and that its conclusions would result from "facts, logic and established scientific and mathematical principles," Dr. Gray's experience revealed that,
Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely. I have been forced to the conclusion that, for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound . . . normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt.

Dr. Gray concluded that the only reform "I could envisage, would be its abolition." Okay, okay, I hear all the environmentalists saying, "but he's just one crazy, old New Zealand climate scientist. Boo! Hiss!" Character assassination is just one form of the corruption that is endemic to the entire environmental movement. Undaunted, Dr. Gray continued, "The two main `scientific' claims of the IPCC are the claim that `the globe is warming' and `increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible.' Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed."

Aw, gee, I'm not a scientist, you're saying. What do I know? Well, if you know enough to be reading this, you know enough to wrap your brain around Dr. Gray's assertion that, "No average temperature of any part of the earth's surface, over any period, has ever been made." If the earth's "average temperature" cannot be determined, how can you know that it's dramatically heating? How can you predict anything about an unknown?

As for the IPCC claims about CO2, Dr. Gray points out that "they have suppressed no less than 90,000 measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide made in the last 150 years. Some of these were made by Nobel Prize-winners and all were published in the best scientific journals."

The IPCC has depended on computer climate models for its claims and there is now a volume of papers demonstrating how they have repeatedly been proven to be inaccurate. As Dr. Gray points out, if you cannot validate these models as actually capable of making predictions, "no self-respecting computer engineer would dare to make use of a model for prediction." Anyway, "No computer climate model has ever been tested in this way, so none should be used for prediction."

"The most elaborate of all their `evaluation' techniques is far more dubious," said Dr. Gray. "Since they have failed to show that any models are actually capable of prediction, they have decided to `evaluate' them by asking the opinions of those who originate them, people with a financial interest in their success." "Sooner or later all of us will come to realize," Dr. Gray concluded, "that this organization, and the thinking behind it, is phony. Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens." But that's the point of the IPCC!

If you can require that ethanol be substituted or just added to gasoline, you drive up the cost of corn to where the cost of everything else - like food - dependent on it costs more. Moreover, requiring the addition of ethanol increases refinery costs that are, in turn, passed on to consumers. If you mandate that wind and solar energy be substituted to provide electricity for that provided by coal (over 50% in the USA) and other sources, then you assure that these two totally inadequate energy producers will drive up the cost to consumers. If every kind of industry contributes to CO2, then you can create an elaborate "cap-and-trade" scam to sell "credits" for the permission to continue in business. The consumers will pick up the costs involved.

On the chance that Dr. Gray is not some crazy, old New Zealander, maybe we should all be in the streets calling for the abolition of the IPCC? And, while we're out there, let's get rid of the United Nations too


The "consensus" is a myth

A new survey of over 500 peer reviewed scientific research papers on climate change, written between 2004 and 2007, has concluded that less than half endorse what has been dubbed the "consensus view," that human activity is contributing to considerable global climate change.

In direct conflict with assertions by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a scientific consensus agrees it is 90% likely that man is responsible for warming, Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte's survey contends that only 45% support the theory and that is only if you include papers that merely lean towards endorsement.

Though the survey has not yet been released, the results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, and science blog DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy which states: Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

Man made warming proponents have often pointed to a similar survey that was conducted by history professor Naomi Oreskes on peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003 which found that a majority of scientists supported the theory. Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte sought to update the research and according to DailyTech, used the same database and search terms as Oreskes but reached a radically different conclusion.

The introduction and the summary of the IPCC's report was written entirely by politicians under the mandate of the UN, the input of actual scientists was minimal. In addition, all sections that were written by selected scientists were edited to comply with the report summary. Some of the scientists involved even admitted that the IPCC models failed to accurately predict climate change and that "none of the climate states in the models corresponds even remotely to the current observed climate".

By contrast, the ISI Web of Science database covers 8,700 journals and publications, including every leading scientific journal in the world and is not directly influenced by any governmental body. Schulte's survey confirms the claim that the climate change momentum has shifted among prominent scientists who are now benefiting from a greater depth of research. A spate of new research papers has significantly chilled fears of global warming.

The new survey provides undeniable proof that the world is being sold a lie on climate change by a group of politicians and elite lobbyists who wish to seize on the opportunity to hype the global warming threat and use it as a means of social manipulation for political and corporate gain. As we have extensively reported, it is the elites, the establishment and big business interests that are pushing these fears, not the scientific community.

People who still trust the platitudes of politicians and elitists who implore us to change our way of life, cough up more tax money, and get on board with the global warming religion save being linked with Holocaust denial, are as deluded and enslaved as the tribes of Mesoamerica who, unaware of the natural phenomenon of a solar eclipse, thought their high priests could make the sky snake eat the Sun, and therefore obeyed their every demand.

Politicians are professional liars, they make careers out of deceiving people and twisting reality to fit pre-conceived agendas, yet a cascade of otherwise rationally minded people are eager to blindly trust everything they have to say about climate change, no matter how delusional it sounds. They are also willing to comply with the ridiculous overbearing "solutions" to climate change that will just coincidentally restrict mobility and freedom of travel, regulate personal behavior, empower and expand global government and reinvigorate the surveillance state - everything Big Brother ever wanted - but surely they wouldn't lie to us about global warming to achieve it, would they?



Michael Schrage's comment on politics and science (September 26) struck a raw nerve: and provoked an extended response from the president of the UK's Royal Society. Lord Rees advocates that we should base policy on something called "the scientific consensus", while acknowledging that such consensus may be provisional. But this proposal blurs the distinction between politics and science that Lord Rees wants to emphasise. Novelist Michael Crichton may have exaggerated when he wrote that "if it's consensus, it's not science, if it's science, it's not consensus", but only a bit. Consensus is a political concept, not a scientific one.

Consensus finds a way through conflicting opinions and interests. Consensus is achieved when the outcome of discussion leaves everyone feeling they have been given enough of what they want. The processes of proper science could hardly be more different. The accomplished politician is a negotiator, a conciliator, finding agreement where none seemed to exist. The accomplished scientist is an original, an extremist, disrupting established patterns of thought. Good science involves perpetual, open debate, in which every objection is aired and dissents are sharpened and clarified, not smoothed over.

Often the argument will continue for ever, and should, because the objective of science is not agreement on a course of action, but the pursuit of truth. Occasionally that pursuit seems to have been successful and the matter is resolved, not by consensus, but by the exhaustion of opposition. We do not say that there is a consensus over the second law of thermodynamics, a consensus that Paris is south of London or that two and two are four. We say that these are the way things are. Nor is there a consensus on evolution since creationists will never be reconciled to that theory. There is no possibility of a compromise, in which Darwinians agree that a few animals went into the ark with Noah and their opponents acknowledge that most species evolved.

Numbers are critical to democracy, but science is not a democracy. If an evangelical Christian converted all members of the Royal Society to creationism, that neither would nor should affect my belief in evolution. Most scientists know no more about climate change, HIV/Aids or the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine than do most lawyers, philosophers or economists, and it is not obvious who is better equipped to assess conflicting claims on these issues. Science is a matter of evidence, not what a majority of scientists think.

It is easy to see why the president of the Royal Society might want to elide that distinction, but in doing so he turns the organisation from a learned society into a trade union. Peer review is a valuable part of the apparatus of scholarship, but carries a danger of establishing self-referential clubs that promote each other's work.

Statements about the world derive their value from the facts and arguments that support them, not from the status and qualifications of the people who assert them. Evidence versus authority was the issue on which Galileo challenged the church. The modern world exists because Galileo won.

But to use the achievements of science to assert the authority of scientists undermines that very process of science. When consumers believe that genetically modified foods are unsafe, mothers intuit that their children's autism is caused by the MMR vaccine and politicians assert that HIV/Aids is a first world conspiracy, the answer that the scientific consensus is otherwise does not convince - nor should it. Such claims are mistaken because there is no evidence for them, not because scientists take a different view: scientists should influence policy by explaining facts and arguments, not by parading their doctorates.

The notion of a monolithic "science", meaning what scientists say, is pernicious and the notion of "scientific consensus" actively so. The route to knowledge is transparency in disagreement and openness in debate. The route to truth is the pluralist expression of conflicting views in which, often not as quickly as we might like, good ideas drive out bad. There is no room in this process for any notion of "scientific consensus".



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


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Famous British Greenie rejects global warming

David Bellamy:

Am I worried about man-made global warming? The answer is "no" and "yes". No, because the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction has come up against an "inconvenient truth". Its research shows that since 1998 the average temperature of the planet has not risen, even though the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has continued to increase.

Yes, because the self-proclaimed consensus among scientists has detached itself from the questioning rigours of hard science and become a political cause. Those of us who dare to question the dogma of the global-warming doomsters who claim that C not only stands for carbon but also for climate catastrophe are vilified as heretics or worse as deniers.

I am happy to be branded a heretic because throughout history heretics have stood up against dogma based on the bigotry of vested interests. But I don't like being smeared as a denier because deniers don't believe in facts. The truth is that there are no facts that link the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide with imminent catastrophic global warming. Instead of facts, the advocates of man-made climate change trade in future scenarios based on complex and often unreliable computer models.

Name-calling may be acceptable in politics but it should have no place in science; indeed, what is happening smacks of McCarthyism, witch-hunts and all. Scientific understanding, however, is advanced by robust, reasoned argument based on well-researched data. So I turn to simple sets of data that are already in the public domain.

The last peak global temperatures were in 1998 and 1934 and the troughs of low temperature were around 1910 and 1970. The second dip caused pop science and the media to cry wolf about an impending, devastating Ice Age. Our end was nigh! Then, when temperatures took an upward swing in the 1980s, the scaremongers changed their tune. Global warming was the new imminent catastrophe. But the computer model - called "hockey stick" - that predicted the catastrophe of a frying planet proved to be so bent that it "disappeared" from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's armoury of argument in 2007. It was bent because the historical data it used to predict the future dated from only the 1850s, when the world was emerging from the Little Ice Age. Little wonder that temperatures showed an upward trend.

In the Sixties I used to discuss climate change with my undergraduates at Durham University. I would point to the plethora of published scientific evidence that showed the cyclical nature of change - and how, for instance, the latest of a string of ice ages had affected the climate, sea levels and tree lines around the world. Thank goodness the latest crop of glaciers and ice sheets began to wane in earnest about 12,000 years ago; this gave Britain a window of opportunity to lead the industrial revolution.

The Romans grew grapes in York and during the worldwide medieval warm period - when civilizations blossomed across the world - Nordic settlers farmed lowland Greenland (hence its name) and then got wiped out by the Little Ice Age that lasted roughly from the 16th century until about 1850.

There is no escaping the fact that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been rising for 150 years - and very uniformly since the 1950s. Yet the temperature has not increased in step with CO2. Not only have there been long periods of little change in temperature, but also the year-to-year oscillations are totally unrelated to CO2 change. What is more, the trend lines of glacial shortening and rise in sea level have shown no marked change since the big increase in the use of fossil fuels since 1950.

How can this be explained unless there are other factors at work overriding the greenhouse effect of CO2? There are, of course, many to be found in the peer-reviewed literature: solar cycles, cosmic rays, cloud control and those little rascals, such as El Nino and La Nina, all of which are played down or even ignored by the global-warming brigade.

Let's turn to Al Gore's doom-laden Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. First, what is the point of scaring the families of the world with tales that polar bears are heading for extinction? Last year Mitchell Taylor, of the US National Biological Service, stated that "of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

Why create alarm about a potential increase in the spread of malaria thanks to rising temperatures when this mosquito-borne disease was a major killer of people in Britain and northern Russia throughout the Little Ice Age?

Despite the $50 billion spent on greenwashing propaganda, the sceptics and their inconvenient questions are beginning to make their presence felt. A recent survey of Klaus-Martin Schulte, of Kings College Hospital, of all papers on the subject of climate change that were published between 2004 and February of 2007 found that only 7 per cent explicitly endorsed a "so-called consensus" position that man-made carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming. What is more, James Lovelock, the author and green guru, has changed his mind: he recently stated that neither Earth nor the human race is doomed.

Yes, melting sea ice around Greenland has recently opened up the fabled North West passage. And, yes, the years 2006 and 2007 have seen massive flooding in Europe. However, a quick dip into the records of the Royal Society - which ranked alongside Dr Lovelock as arch doomsters, before his change of mind - shows that dramatic fluctuations happened long before the infernal combustion engine began spewing out carbon dioxide.

The year 1816 went down in history as the "year without a summer", thanks to the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia that veiled much of the world with dust, screening out the Sun. Yet in 1817, while still in the grip of the Little Ice Age, the Royal Society was so worried that 2,000 square leagues of sea ice around Greenland had disappeared within two years, and massive flooding was taking place in Germany, that its president wrote to the Admiralty advising of the necessity of an expedition to find out what was the source of this new heat. Perhaps, when similar things are happening 190 years later, the Royal Society should accept that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is unlikely to be the main - or only - driver of "global warming".


CNN give some coverage to global warming atheists

Still biased but improving

On Friday night, CNN viewers were treated to the special "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming," which took time to examine nine "alleged inconsistencies or exaggerations" in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," as enumerated in a ruling by a British judge. Host Miles O'Brien also interviewed a member of the IPCC, the group which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Gore, in the form of a scientist who has challenged Gore's views on global warming. O'Brien, who a week earlier had tagged dissenters with such labels as "dead-enders" and "a very small fringe," this time suggested that people who are "skeptical" about global warming are "in the dark," and presented what he called "surprising" polling data showing a substantial number of Americans have doubts about global warming theory.

Notably, beginning at 1:00 p.m. earlier in the day, CNN started displaying its logo in green, and, for a while, used a clock counting down how long it will be until the upcoming series "Planet in Peril" begins on Tuesday October 23. This special two-part series, which is part of CNN's regular "Anderson Cooper 360" series, will examine environmental issues.

On Friday's special, Gore's claim that global warming has had effects on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and tornadoes was the first of the nine points examined, as O'Brien brought aboard CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano to discuss the subject. A few weeks ago, on CNN's "American Morning," Marciano had notably exclaimed that he was happy to hear about the judge's skeptical view of "An Inconvenient Truth," as he commented about the movie's inaccuracies, prompting email complaints from CNN viewers.

On Friday's special, Marciano relayed that there are no studies that show "an increase in tornadoes due to global warming," and contended that there is still debate about hurricanes. He related the theory that hurricane intensity has increased because of a multi-decade cycle, and pointed to difficulties in accurately measuring hurricane intensities worldwide. He also suggested that any effects on hurricanes by global warming would likely be small. But Marciano ended his discussion by suggested that if you "go green," that "everybody wins." Marciano: "As for who's right and who's wrong, we may not know the answer until it's actually happening. Until then, I think most would agree that, if you do your part and you go green, well, everybody wins."

O'Brien soon brought aboard Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama, a member of the ICPP who was also featured on "20/20" the same night on ABC. Christy took exception with Gore's willingness to "speak with certainty" about an issue as unpredictable as climate change, and suggested the Nobel committee was trying to "influence American elections." He also pointed out the absence of media coverage when a recent study showed that "Antarctic sea ice extent reached its all-time maximum." Christy: "I suppose CNN did not announce two weeks ago when the Antarctic sea ice extent reached its all-time maximum, even though, in the Arctic in the North Pole, it reached its all-time minimum." Christy also contended that even if the world constructed nuclear plants to replace carbon-producing energy sources, that global temperature would only be affected by "one-hundredth of a degree per decade."

About halfway through the show, O'Brien brought aboard political analyst Bill Schneider to discuss poll numbers on the public's views of global warming. O'Brien had earlier plugged the segment by suggesting that those who do not agree with the more liberal view of global warming are "in the dark." O'Brien: "And what do you believe about global warming? See whether Americans are getting greener or whether they're still in the dark. That's coming up."

More here

ABC's Stossel Takes on Gore Movie, Talks to Dissenting Scientists

On Friday's "20/20," ABC's John Stossel presented the views of scientists who dissent from the Al Gore view of global warming, including two former members of the IPCC - the committee which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Gore. These scientists disagreed with the selection process of the committee's members and some of its conclusions. The ABC host disputed some of the claims in "An Inconvenient Truth," and even presented the view that increased carbon dioxide levels are the result of global warming, rather than the cause, as he took on Gore's famous graph from the movie. Stossel: "But the real inconvenient truth is that carbon increases came after temperature rose -- usually hundreds of years later. Temperature went up first. I wanted to ask Mr. Gore about that and other things, but he wouldn't agree to talk about this." Video of the segment can be seen here. (Transcript follows)

The ABC host introduced his regular "Give Me a Break" segment: "You've heard the reports. The globe is warming. And it's our fault. And the consequences will be terrible. But you should know there is another side to this story. And scientists who've tried to tell it are often threatened. Which makes me say, 'Give Me a Break.'"

Then came a number of clips of journalists relaying the purported danger of global warming, and clips of children expressing their fears of the future. After arguing that "An Inconvenient Truth" was incorrect or misleading in the way it presented the dangers of rising sea levels and the plight of polar bears in the Arctic, the ABC host then got to the movie's famous graph that the former Vice President used to argue that higher carbon dioxide levels cause temperatures to increase. Stossel: "I knew that carbon dioxide's thought to amplify temperature increases, but this shows a clear cause an effect. For 600,000 years, when carbon rose, so did temperature. It suggests that carbon levels control temperature. But the real inconvenient truth is that carbon increases came after temperature rose -- usually hundreds of years later. Temperature went up first. I wanted to ask Mr. Gore about that and other things, but he wouldn't agree to talk about this."

Stossel presented several scientists who dispute contentions by Gore and others that "the debate is over" on global warming. These scientists included Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute, Tim Ball of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama. Stossel relayed their contentions that global warming and cooling trends have happened in the past, and related that the media had "fretted about that then, too."

Stossel: "Climate changes, they point out. It always has -- with or without man. Early last century, even without today's big output of carbon dioxide, the Arctic went through a warm period. The media fretted about that then, too. And Greenland's temperatures rose 50 percent faster in the 1920s than they're rising now. Some scientists say the warming may be caused by changes in the sun or ocean currents or changes in cloud cover. Or other things we don't understand. The debate is not over."

More on the media's history of reporting on warming and cooling trends over the last century can be found in a May 2005 report by the MRC's Business and Media Institute.

Reiter and Christy had notably been members of the IPCC, and they were critical of the way governments chose the members of the committee, some of whom were merely activists instead of scientists, suggesting that politics had played too great a role.

More here

35 Inconvenient Truths: The errors in Al Gore's movie

A spokesman for Al Gore has issued a questionable response to the news that in October 2007 the High Court in London had identified nine "errors" in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on these nine "errors", he would have made a finding that the Government's distribution of the film and the first draft of the guidance note earlier in 2007 to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.

Al Gore's spokesman and "environment advisor," Ms. Kalee Kreider, begins by saying that the film presented "thousands and thousands of facts." It did not: just 2,000 "facts" in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider then states, incorrectly, that the judge himself had never used the term "errors." In fact, the judge used the term "errors," in inverted commas, throughout his judgment.

Next, Ms. Kreider makes some unjustifiable ad hominem attacks on Mr. Stewart Dimmock, the lorry driver, school governor and father of two school-age children who was the plaintiff in the case. This memorandum, however, will eschew any ad hominem response, and will concentrate exclusively on the 35 scientific inaccuracies and exaggerations in Gore's movie.

Ms. Kreider then says, "The process of creating a 90-minute documentary from the original peer-reviewed science for an audience of moviegoers in the U.S. and around the world is complex." However, the single web-page entitled "The Science" on the movie's official website contains only two references to articles in the peer-reviewed scientific journals. There is also a reference to a document of the IPCC, but its documents are not independently peer-reviewed in the usual understanding of the term.

Ms. Kreider then says, "The judge stated clearly that he was not attempting to perform an analysis of the scientific questions in his ruling." He did not need to. Each of the nine "errors" which he identified had been admitted by the UK Government to be inconsistent with the mainstream of scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC's results are sometimes "conservative," and continues: "Vice President Gore tried to convey in good faith those threats that he views as the most serious." Readers of the long list of errors described in this memorandum will decide for themselves whether Mr. Gore was acting in good faith. However, in this connection it is significant that each of the 35 errors listed below misstates the conclusions of the scientific literature or states that there is a threat where there is none or exaggerates the threat where there may be one. All of the errors point in one direction - towards undue alarmism. Not one of the errors falls in the direction of underestimating the degree of concern in the scientific community. The likelihood that all 35 of the errors listed below could have fallen in one direction purely by inadvertence is less than 1 in 34 billion.

We now itemize 35 of the scientific errors and exaggerations in Al Gore's movie. The first nine were listed by the judge in the High Court in London in October 2007 as being "errors." The remaining 26 errors are just as inaccurate or exaggerated as the nine spelt out by the judge, who made it plain during the proceedings that the Court had not had time to consider more than these few errors. The judge found these errors serious enough to require the UK Government to pay substantial costs to the plaintiff.

Much more here

Britain: Carbon health warnings for all new cars

All advertising for new cars will have to carry cigarette-style "health warnings" about their environmental impact, under a European plan to force manufacturers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Companies that produce the most polluting cars will also have to pay penalties of up to œ5,000 per vehicle, with the proceeds used to reduce the cost of the most efficient cars.Advertisements in newspapers and magazines, will have to devote at least 20 per cent of the space to details about fuel economy and CO2 emissions. At the moment manufacturers have to include only basic mpg and CO2 figures in the small print. They do not have to explain what the numbers mean or provide any comparison.

Car advertisements will have to carry colour-coded emissions labels such as those already displayed on new fridges and washing machines, with bands ranging from dark green to red. The plan, expected to be approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, has been drawn up in response to the car industry's failure to meet its own voluntary target on reducing CO2 emissions.

The industry agreed in 1998 that the 18 million new cars expected to be sold in Europe in 2008 should emit an average of no more than 140g of CO2 per kilometre. The average last year was 160g/km and emissions fell only 0.2 per cent on the previous year, the lowest reduction on record. Privately manufacturers admit that they have no hope of meeting the target.

A fifth of the European Union's CO2 emissions come from cars and road transport accounts for 60 per cent of all the oil used by member states.

Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West of England, who was appointed by the European Parliament to draw up the plan, said that the car industry had grossly exaggerated the cost of making cars more efficient to avoid taking action.

He said that the German car industry had been particularly obstructive because it was dominated by manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW, which specialised in larger, more polluting cars. Mr Davies has agreed a compromise, which he expects to be supported by the majority of MEPs, under which manufacturers would be given until 2015 to achieve an average of 125g/km for new cars. He said: "I accept it takes seven years from the design stage to vehicles rolling off the production line. But the new target would be made wiggle-proof and manufacturers who failed to achieve it would pay penalties."

He predicted that some companies would prefer to pay the penalty rather than reduce emissions because they would not want to reduce the power or weight of their cars.He said that the proceeds would be used to reward companies that beat their emissions targets and a grant system to encourage people to trade in their cars for more efficient new ones.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders opposes the idea of giving more space to environmental information. A spokesman said the basic details were already in advertisements: "There's no point in giving this sop to the environmental lobby because most people will ignore it."



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


Monday, October 22, 2007

Fraudulent misrepresentation of urban/rural differences

This is a crucial issue. If rural stations show no warming, it very strongly indicates that any overall warming is an artifact of the urban heat island effect -- cities being warmer because of all the energy used within them -- nothing to do with greenhouse effects. Below we once again see Steve McIntyre doing the detective work towards unmasking yet another Greenie fraud

Peterson 2003 stated: "Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures"

Last week, Peterson sent me a list of the 289 sites used in this study, together with the classification into urban and rural. As I noted previously, there are many puzzles in the allocation of sites to urban and rural with many “urban” sites seemingly being at best very small towns and, in some cases, rural themselves. So, in that sense, it would seem unsurprising if Peterson didn’t observe any difference between the two networks.

Assuming nothing, I downloaded raw daily data for 282 out of 289 sites. (The other 7 sites either had id number discrepancies or were not online at GHCND.) From this, I calculated average monthly TMAX and TMIN temperatures for all the sites and then calculated 1961-1990 anomalies. I then calculated simple averages of the “raw” anomalies for the two networks BEFORE any jiggery-pokery. Even if all the subsequent adjustments are terrific, from a statistical point of view, it’s always a good idea to see what your data looks like at the start. Here is a plot (with a 24 month smooth.)

As you see in the bottom panel, there is an observable trend in the difference between Peterson-urban and Peterson-rural sites. The delta over 100 years is just under 0.7 deg C.


Figure 1. Peterson 2003 Network Averages. Top -”urban”; middle - “rural” ; bottom - difference.

You would think that this would have been one of the first tests that Peterson would have carried out and his failure to either carry out this test or report such results if the procedure were carried out is noticeable.

Peterson’s articles describes a series of adjustments: for elevation, latitude, time-of-observation, MMTS. Not all of these adjustments are relevant to an anomaly-based comparison. For example, the adjustment for elevation and latitude is relevant to a direct comparison of urban and rural absolute temperatures, but not for a comparison of anomaly trends. Peterson cites literature (Quayle et al 1991) which states that MMTS introduction has minimal effect on averages (although it increases the TMIN and reduces the TMAX). So this would not account for the difference.

Peterson reported on TOB as follows:
The percentage of stations reading in the afternoon is about the same for rural (33%) as urban (35%). However, rural stations have a higher percentage of a.m. readers (53% versus 37%) and a lower percentage of midnight readers (14% versus 27%) than urban stations.

Again for trends, the salient point is the change in proportions, rather than the specific mechanism. The implication of Peterson’s analysis would seem to be that the 0.7 deg C delta in Peterson urban-Peterson rural differential is not due to the effect of urbanization on the urban sites but related somehow to the higher present proportion of morning to midnight readers in the rural network.

Readers should note that Peterson does not carry out TOB adjustments based on documented changes in observation time (which USHCN users might assume). Instead Peterson has used a procedure attributed to DeGaetano BAMS 2000, which purports to estimate observation time based on the properties of the data itself. The DeGaetano procedure, as with so many of these recipes, is not a statistical procedure known to statistical civilization off the island. You can’t go to a statistics textbook and learn its properties. There is no systematic presentation of DeGaetano-adjusted TOBS series against USHCN adjusted series.

However, regardless of the merits of the DeGaetano adjustment, I think that it’s incorrect for Peterson to say that there is no observable difference in urban and rural trends in his network. There is a substantial difference in trends in the “raw” data, which should have been reported. He believes that this difference is due to TOBS changes based on De Gaetano adjustments, but it’s possible that there is some other explanation for the difference, including the obvious candidate - Urban Heat Islands.


This comparison actually gets a little worse. In the figure below, I’ve calculated the average unadjusted temperature for actual cities, rather than places like Snoqualmie Falls. My criterion for inclusion in this calculation is whether the city has a major league sports franchise and includes a variety of mostly small market cities: Milwaukee, Sacramento, Orlando, San Antonio, Cincinnati, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, plus a couple of larger places: Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas. To my knowledge, no sports franchises are considering re-location or expansion to Snoqualmie Falls, Hankinson, Pine Bluff or the various other supposedly “urban” sites that dilute the Peterson network.

In this data set that supposedly shows the following:
Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures.

actual cities have a very substantial trend of over 2 deg C per century relative to the rural network - and this assumes that there are no problems with rural network - something that is obviously not true since there are undoubtedly microsite and other problems. At the very end of the graphic, the change levels off - I wonder if that might indicate increased settlement effects at rural sites.


Figure 2. Comparison of Peterson Sites with Major League Sports Franchises to Rural Network

Now this doesn’t prove anything one way or the other about other networks - other than there is a need to be wary. However, the notion that Peterson 2003 is a sustainable authority for the IPCC proposition that “rural station trends were almost indistinguishable from series including urban sites” seems increasingly difficult to accept.


Hey Al Gore, We Want a Refund!

By Steven Milloy

A British judge ruled on the eve of Al Gore co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize that students forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" must be warned of the film's factual errors. But would there be any science at all left in Gore's "truth" if these errors and their progeny were excised? Minutes of non-science filler dominate the opening sequence - images of the Gore farm, Earth from space, Gore giving his slideshow and the 2000 election controversy. Gore then links Hurricane Katrina with global warming. But the judge ruled that was erroneous, so the Katrina scenes would wind up on the cutting-room floor. Another 12 minutes of filler go by - images of Gore in his limo, more Earth photos, a Mark Twain quote, and Gore memories - until about the 16:30 minute mark, when, according to the judge, Al Gore erroneously links receding glaciers - specifically Mt. Kilimanjaro - with global warming.

The Mt. Kilimanjaro error commences an almost 10-minute stretch of problematic footage, the bulk of which contains Gore's presentation of the crucial issue in the global warming controversy - whether increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide drive global temperatures higher. As the judge ruled that the Antarctic ice core data presented in the film "do not establish what Mr. Gore asserts," this inconvenient untruth also needs to go. [Note to readers: A video debate between Al Gore and climatologists on this point produced by me can be viewed by clicking here.] After still more filler footage about Winston Churchill, the 2000 election, and rising insurance claims from natural disasters, Gore spends about 35 seconds on how the drying of Lake Chad is due to global warming. The judge ruled that this claim wasn't supported by the scientific evidence.

More filler leads to a 30-second clip about how global warming is causing polar bears to drown because they have to swim greater distances to find sea ice on which to rest. The judge ruled however, that the polar bears in question had actually drowned because of a particularly violent storm. On the heels of that error, Gore launches into a 3-minute "explanation" of how global warming will shut down the Gulf Stream and send Europe into an ice age. The judge ruled that this was an impossibility. Two minutes of ominous footage - casting Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in a creepy light and expressing Gore's frustration with getting his alarmist message out - precede a more-than-9-minute stretch that would need to be cut.

In this lengthy footage, Gore again tries to link global warming with discrete events including coral reef bleaching, the melting of Greenland, catastrophic sea level rise, Antarctic melting and more. But like Hurricane Katrina, these events also shouldn't be linked with global warming. Based on the judge's ruling, the footage that ought to be excised adds up to about 25 minutes or so out of the 98-minute film. What's left is largely Gore personal drama and cinematic fluff that has nothing to do with the science of climate change.

It should also be pointed out that Gore makes other notable factual misstatements in the film that don't help his or his film's credibility. He says in the film that polio has been "cured," implying that we can cure "global warming." While a preventative polio vaccine does exist, there is no "cure" for polio. Gore attempts to smear his critics by likening them to the tobacco industry. In spotlighting a magazine advertisement proclaiming that "more doctors smoke Camel than any other brand," he states that the ad was published after the Surgeon General's 1964 report on smoking and lung cancer. But the ad is actually from 1947 - 17 years before the report. Gore also says in the film that 2005 is the hottest year on record. But NASA data actually show that 1934 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. - 2005 is not even in the top 10.

Perhaps worse than the film's errors is their origin. The BBC reported that Gore knew the film presented incorrect information but took no corrective steps because he didn't want to spotlight any uncertainties in the scientific data that may fuel opponents of global warming alarmism. "An Inconvenient Truth" grossed about $50 million at the box office and millions more in DVD and book sales. Gore charges as much as $175,000 for an in-person presentation of his slide show that forms the basis for the film. Considering that a key 25 percent of "An Inconvenient Truth" is not true - and perhaps intentionally so - it seems only fair that Gore offer a refund to moviegoers, DVD/book purchasers and speaking sponsors. Where are the class action lawyers when you need them?


How to Create and Protect a Consensus

We are all aware of a claimed consensus on climate science, although what the consensus actually is and how far it goes has yet to be defined, in my view. That is not the issue raised here. A book authored by Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977) Decision-making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment (New York Free Press), explores the concept of `Group Think,' which shows a remarkable parallel with the way the climate science consensus is operated and protected. Eight symptoms of Group Think are listed below:

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.

2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.

3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.

4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.

5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.

6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.

7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.

8. Mind guards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.

I can certainly see how ignoring the dangers of concentrating all of our efforts on futile CO2 reduction, ad hominem attacks, personal smears, US State Climatologists losing their jobs, and the likes of RealClimate plus some media outlets as `Mind guards' fits into this framework. No doubt some blog readers will agree and can think of other examples.


Amazon tribe hits back at green 'colonialism'


It's one of the most fashionable ideas to save the planet from global warming: buying up tropical rainforest to save it from destruction. Gordon Brown has even appointed the millionaire founder of one such charity, Johan Eliasch, as his special adviser on deforestation.

But like all big ideas it is controversial, and this week a leading Amazonian campaigner will visit Britain to protest that this latest trend is linked to a health and social crisis among indigenous people, including sickness, depression, suicide, obesity and drug addiction.

Davi Kopenawa, a shaman of the Yanomami tribe, will help launch a report that, says Survival International, the charity behind it, claims separation from the land is directly linked to the 'physical and mental breakdown' of indigenous communities, whose lifestyle and culture is already under threat from mining, logging and resettlement away from traditional lands.


Australian Labor Party's committment to Kyoto would be costly

Labor's goal is to reduce Australia's CO2 emissions to 60 per cent of 2000 emissions by 2050. This sounds fine in the abstract - but what might it mean in reality? In 2000 Australia's total emissions were about 550 megatonnes in CO2-equivalent terms. So Labor's policy translates into a target of 330 megatonnes of emissions by 2050. In the absence of any policy interventions, business-as-usual greenhouse emissions are projected to grow strongly. Indeed, the Australian Greenhouse Office's best-case scenario projects that even with abatement measures in place, total emissions will be about 700 megatonnes by 2020 -- which is more than double Labor's 2050 target.

By 2050, Australia's emissions will probably exceed 1000 megatonnes. In other words, achieving Labor's target could easily be equivalent to eliminating more than 100 per cent of current activities that use fossil fuels. All of this in order to reduce global temperatures by exactly nothing.

The other part of Labor's climate change policy is to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This is a strange objective, given Kyoto is basically dead in the water. The Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to percentage changes from a 1990 baseline. The biggest problem is not with the targets themselves, but the process by which emissions cuts are supposed to be achieved. The ratifying countries were forced to agree to their Kyoto targets without knowing what the costs of meeting those targets would be. This is like agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone you have only just met during a one night stand. It is simply not a credible or sustainable commitment.

As a result, most Kyoto-ratifying countries have failed to significantly abate their greenhouse emissions and reach their targets. And why should they? There is nothing unreasonable about exceeding emissions targets by significant amounts when you are unsure of the costs of meeting those targets. Any other course of action would be sheer folly.

But Kyoto has very little to do with reasonableness. Just ask the New Zealanders. Our friends across the ditch signed up to Kyoto in December 2002, even though a 2001 National Interest Analysis on the case for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol could not decide whether moderate global warming would be detrimental or beneficial for New Zealanders. Helen Clark's Government ignored this information and committed her country to a program of reducing emissions over the 2008-12 period to 1990 levels or to take responsibility for the difference. In practice, that means hundreds of millions of Kiwi tax dollars will be paid to former Soviet Union countries, which have been lucky to accumulate carbon credits.

Actually, luck has had little to do with it. The surest way for a country to reduce greenhouse emissions and accumulate carbon credits is to implement policies which wreck the economy - something at which many former Soviet Union countries excel.

The New Zealand Treasury estimates New Zealand's Kyoto liability currently stands at NZ$708 million. This doesn't sound like very much, but this guess is more than double what it was two years ago. At that rate of increase, at the end of the first Kyoto commitment period in 2012, New Zealanders will owe about NZ$4.2 billion - or about NZ$1000 per person. So, in a nutshell, the main effect of Kyoto will be for New Zealand taxpayers to subsidise bad economic policies by politicians in the former Soviet Union. Does Kevin Rudd have similar plans for Australia?

On the one hand, ratifying Kyoto and committing to a process which has unknown costs seems to be a very strange policy, particularly for someone who constantly bombards us with claims that he is an economic conservative. On the other hand, history suggests Labor has a strong record of reducing greenhouse emissions. The only prime minister who has managed to do it was Paul Keating in the early 1990s, when he engineered "the recession we had to have" and our emissions levels plummeted. Perhaps this is exactly what Rudd has in mind.



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


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Excerpts from a recent academic paper by Theodore Modis below: A new visit to an old topic. That more benign (warmer) weather might spur economic activity seems reasonable so some relationship between solar activity and economic activity also seems reasonable. So the warmer weather of recent years may have been a factor in economic growth over those years. So we see once again evidence that global warming is GOOD for us. No other explanation for the findings is apparent:


A correlation has been observed between the US GDP and the number of sunspots as well as between the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the number of sunspots. The data cover 80 years of history. The observed correlations permit forecasts for the GDP and for the stock market in America with a future horizon of 10 years. Both being above their long-term trend they are forecasted to go over a peak around Jun-2008.

1. Introduction

There have been many claims and counterclaims for the existence of a correlation between sunspot activity (as measured by the number of sunspots) and the economy or stock-market movements. Interestingly, opponents of this notion, like astronomers J. V. Wall and C. R. Jenkins, claim that this correlation is well-known but mainly as folklore because trying to substantiate it is very difficult - and trying to find an underlying physical cause even more so. But they admit that this correlation may after all exist because global temperature is now known to correlate with sunspot number and long-term weather trends may have physical, social and economic effects [1].

At the same time, proponents of this notion, like "guru" Michael Wells Mandeville, claim, "it is easy to see that both political and economic affairs are profoundly caught up and influenced by the 'waves' of sunspot energy." But he also admits that there is zero correlation between daily price movements and average daily sunspot numbers and there is only a weak connection between long-term historical trends in the prices and average monthly or annual trends in the numbers of the sunspots [2].

The work reported here presents hard-to-dispute evidence for the existence of a correlation between stock-market movements as measured by the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) and sunspot activity, as well as between GDP growth and sunspot activity. No causality arguments are made and there is no attempt to understand the mechanisms behind the observed correlation. The author would be satisfied with as little explanation as the possibility that sunspot activity may influence the climate on earth, which in turn may influence the economy.

Still, given the correlation and the rather reliable forecasts for sunspot activity provided by NASA, the author ventures long-range forecasts for GDP growth and the stock market in the United States. [...]

5. Forecasts

The correlations observed can be combined with the trends to produce long-range forecasts for the DJIA and the GDP. The present upward excursions of the DJIA and GDP should continue until Jun-2008. Considering the regularity of past upward excursions we can assume that the recent upward slopes will persist until the time of the climactic point indicated by the right-most arrow on Fig. 2 and Fig. 4. At that time - around Jun-2008 - the excursions will have reached 12.6% and 1.1% with respect to present levels for the DJIA and GDP respectively. But these excursions take place on top of the trends, established as 1.2% and 2.6% respectively. Therefore, the level forecasted for the DJIA in Jun-2008 is 13908, and that for the GDP is 11976.5 billion dollars of 2000.

From mid-2008 onward both the stock market and the GDP should move downward toward their long-range trends. Invoking again the regularity of past fluctuations it is assumed that the downward movements will follow slopes equal to the negative of the upward ones and for the same duration. The calculations yield a rock-bottom level of 7919 for the DJIA in early 2014, and 12900 billion 2000$ for the GDP in late 2012.

6. Conclusions

Science-based decision-making tools enjoy objectivity and are particularly useful in situations where human bias can play an important role. But defending the idea that stock-market growth correlates to GDP growth does not need scientific support; after all, they both reflect fundamental aspects of the same economy. On the contrary, one is surprised that the correlation between DJIA and GDP turns out to be scientifically insignificant. Are our scientific criteria too stringent in this case?

If one accepts that there must be some correlation between GDP growth and stock-market growth as displayed in Fig. 5, then one cannot use the lack of scientific proof as an argument against the existence of correlation between the stock market and sunspots (Fig. 2), or between GDP and sunspots (Fig. 4). On the other hand, if these correlations are real, then we can venture long-range forecasts for the DJIA and the GDP.

The forecasts thus obtained carry a considerable uncertainty stemming not only from the limited correlation with the sunspots. The NASA-issued forecast for the future cycle of sunspots also carries uncertainty, and more importantly, there is a significant uncertainty due to the assumption that the present upward excursions of the DJIA and the GDP will turn out to be symmetric.

But long-range stock-market forecasts, as much as they are sought after, remain scarce and speculative. The levels forecasted here for the DJIA of 13908 in mid 2008 and 7919 in early 2014, may be daring but they have been obtained with minimal speculation. As for the GDP forecasts, obtained in exactly the same manner, it is unlikely that they will provoke any vehement objections from economists.

Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Volume 74, Issue 8, October 2007, Pages 1508-1514


In Correspondence in this week's Nature, John Shepherd from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and colleagues challenge the scheme proposed by James Lovelock and Chris Rapley to help the planet cure itself from the disease of global warming.

For those of you who missed it, a couple of weeks ago, Lovelock and Rapley put forward a geo-engineering solution to climate change in Nature, which involves the installation of large vertical pipes in the ocean that would pump nutrient-rich water from depth to the surface. This, they said, would enhance the growth of algae in the upper ocean, which in turn would transport more carbon to the deep sea.

Now, Shepherd and colleagues claim that the proposed scheme is based on false assumptions. They say the scheme would not lead to enhanced storage of carbon in the deep ocean below 1,000m and in deep ocean sediments, which is necessary for effective long term removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Instead, they maintain the scheme could actually worsen global warming by bringing high levels of particulate carbon back to the surface, where it could be released to the atmosphere. The authors also argue that such large scale engineering solutions could harm fragile ecosystems.

Peter Williams from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University raised some of these same issues on the blog here last week, and also challenged the feasibility of the scheme from an engineering perspective.



With large frauds found in global warming claims

Douglas Keenan, a London-based Canadian mathematician, has made it his mission to lead the battle against the sloppy or malicious use of mathematics. You might think there isn't much scope for different opinions in mathematics, but when you're dealing with the interpretation of data, it's entirely possible for divergences of views to arise. The wrong interpretation can be made at times, and even consciously made. In particular, in the field of climate studies, opposing points of view are often backed up by scientific research that is based on the mathematical analysis of data. Because mathematics gives such pieces of work a stamp of credibility, politicians often rely on them. It is therefore all the more important for them to be carried out with care.

After studying mathematics at the University of Waterloo, Keenan worked on Wall Street for a few years, but in 1995 devoted himself completely to the forensic study of mathematics. Since then he has been leading -completely independently- a real crusade against shady mathematical machinations. The targets for his often vigorously worded attacks are numerous, and range from the misuse of statistical methods in determining the origin of volcanic ashes to the questionable use of tree-rings in evaluating the date of a shipwreck.

Three years ago, the scientific journal Nature published a study that used the ripening process of Pinot Noir grapes as an indicator for the warmth of the climate. The official start of the harvest in August is determined by the ripeness of the grapes, which in turn is determined by the temperature of the summer that has just ended. Since the dates for the beginning of the harvest in Burgundy have been recorded in city archives since 1370, they could conceivably be used as indicators for the way temperatures have developed over the past six centuries. A French research team came up with a model based on this data. It showed that the summer of 2003 was the hottest in 600 years. The conclusion was clear: Burgundy is warming up.

The work aroused Keenan's suspicion, and he wanted to test its mathematical foundations. In order to do this however, he needed the raw data-but the authors were not prepared to hand it out. It was only after two requests to Nature that they finally handed their documents over. Keenan immediately made a find.

The authors had smoothed the data for their study, confused standard errors with standard deviations, used incorrect parameters, and confused daily temperatures with average temperatures. Once all these sources of error are taken into account, the year 2003 does indeed display high temperatures, but not unexpectedly high ones. It's no surprise that the Nature editors hadn't noticed anything, since the data was never put at their disposal, and they never asked for it either. Had they done so, they would easily have seen through the authors' game. The mere fact that the grape harvest model gave a temperature for 2003 that was 2.4 degrees Celsius above the temperature actually measured by Meteo France should have made the editors suspicious.

Keenan's most recent targets are two pieces of work that examine the influence of urbanization on climate change between 1954 and 1983. In order to be able to compare measurements made over different periods, it is absolutely crucial that the location of the station where the measurements are carried out not change throughout the observation period. For example, because a city generates warmth, a measuring station that is moved from the center of the city to its periphery would record lower measurements. On the other hand, the measurements would be more likely to rise if a measuring station was moved from a position upwind from the city to a position downwind. Even small changes of location, like for example from a field to the asphalt road next to it, lead to deviations. Keenan was above all doubtful about the measurements made in China. He didn't believe that during Mao's Cultural Revolution, when scientists were thought very little of, a scientific study would have been carried out with much care.

When he asked which stations had been used to make the measurements, Keenan once again found himself running into a brick wall. "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" asked one of the authors. But the professor had not reckoned with Keenan's obstinacy. Since the professor was working at a university in England, he was subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which obliges employees of public institutions to release data. He was thus forced to hand over the list of the Chinese measuring stations to Keenan. And lo and behold: out of 35 measuring stations, 25 had been subjected to a change of location, sometimes even several changes, which often covered dozens of kilometers. For a further 49 measuring stations, documentation did not even exist.....

Article above by George Szpiro from Neue Zuercher Zeitung of 14 October 2007. Not apparently online until now. Translation provided by Benny Peiser. More on Doug Keenan's research can be found on his web site here

Mad ideas crack me up

Andrew Bolt comments from Australia on the latest Greenie commandments

NOT a month goes by without even more crackpot schemes to save a planet that shows no sign of sickness - and we are the ones to suffer. It's official: global warming zealots really do want humans to go rot to "save" the planet. Barrister Robert Larkins, founder of the Victorian Environment Defenders' Office, this week confirmed what I always suspected. No more cremations, he demanded. Hell is hot enough without us cremating our globe as well. As he puts it: "Cremation produces carbon dioxide and pollutants that go directly into the atmosphere."

And what does all our wicked carbon dioxide do, children? Repeat what you've been taught, please: That's right: it is killing your world. It is causing blistering heat. It is causing seas to drown whole islands. So, plop the dear departed in a cardboard box and offer his body to the species of life that best symbolises sacred Gaia: feed him to . . . a tree.

Oh, yes. Heed the sermon of "natural burial advocate" Roger Short, a Melbourne University professor: "Being buried at the base of a tree is such a simple way to go . . . it's the best sequester of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that's ever been invented, powered by sunlight and giving off oxygen as a waste product."

Such a comfort to the grieving. Feed humans to the trees to save the world. Says it all. After all, what is there left that we must not give up to "save the planet"? We're told by the Greens to "use alternatives to air conditioner", by Greenpeace co-founder Paul Watson to fly not in jets but "solar power blimps", by Greens leader Bob Brown to scrap coal-fired power, by Rough Guides founder Mark Ellingham to "travel less", by the Brumby Government to shower shorter, and by the Howard Government to use only stark-light low-energy globes.

You'll be sweaty, smelly and stuck at home lit like a toilet block with only a dole cheque to cover your soaring power bills. But that's OK -- it's to save the world, a cause so great that we must even sacrifice our children.

Absolutely true. Britain's Optimum Population Trust this year said having a large family should be regarded as an "environmental misdemeanor". Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery has called for our population to be cut by up to a third, and ABC radio even ran a lecture by a green zealot suggesting we "put something in the water, a virus that would be specific to the human reproductive system and would make a substantial proportion of the population infertile."

Not a month goes by without even more crackpot schemes to make us suffer to save a planet that shows no sign of sickness, or gratitude. Here's some newspaper reports from the last two weeks alone.

Item: More kangaroos should be slaughtered and eaten to help save the world from global warming . . . Greenpeace . . . urged Aussies to substitute some red meat for roo (or vice versa, actually) to help reduce land clearing and the release of methane gas. Now, even Skippy must die to save the planet from gassy cows?

Item: Plans to switch 90 per cent of milk supplies to long-life UHT have been put forward by (British) Government officials. They claim the move would help curb carbon emissions. Drink foul coffee after eating your roo -- for the planet's sake!

Item: Flat screen television manufacturers will have to become greener after the release of a (Howard Government) discussion paper suggested many plasma and some LCD TVs could be banned for being energy hungry.

Remember how Mao Zedong once demanded the Chinese peasants melt their cooking woks for scrap iron to feed the revolution? How we laughed at such a brainless gesture, which just left people even worse off. Now, the laugh is on us. And, again like Mao, we force even children to do useless work to show their faithful hearts. Here's a news report on an Adelaide child care centre which has just been given an certificate for forcing children to work for the planet:

"They help their carers by planting seedlings in the yard, recycling plastic containers and hanging out the washing on the line, rather than using the power-hungry clothes dryer." Work, children, work! It won't alter Adelaide's weather by a zephyr, but the planet demands your sacrifice, even though it hasn't actually heated since 1998 and may soon cool.

Of course, you'll console yourself with the thought that nobody could ever force such schemes on you. Not in a democracy. But the faithful have thought of that problem, as Professor David Shearman, an assessor with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained this week on ABC radio.

"Do you believe that climate change can be arrested under our own sacrosanct system of liberal democracy?", he sneered. We voters would never agree to the "solution" to global warming, and "this condemns democracy".

Shearman, a medico, had a better idea: "If you were a patient in the intensive care unit, would you wish each decision made authoritatively by a medical expert or by a democratic committee?" So, feed democracy to the trees, too! To save the planet! And I can only ask: save the planet for what? It sure isn't being saved for humans, or even Skippy. So for whom?



An email from S. Fred Singer [] -- one of the 2007 joint winners -- as an IPCC reviewer

"The Nobel Peace Prize is worse than a joke. It's a fraud." [Manchester (NH) Union-Leader]. Unlike the Nobel science prizes, which are awarded by the competent Swedish academies, the Peace award is a purely political process determined by the composition of the Norwegian Parliament. In 1994 the five Norwegian politicians who award the prize gave it to "peace-loving" Yasser Arafat. Two years before that they gave it to literary fraud Rigoberta Menchu, whose autobiography was largely fabricated. Were Norway's anti-immigrant Progress Party to gain a majority, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize might well be Pat Buchanan.


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


Saturday, October 20, 2007


An email from John McLean []

Many of the collection of news reports today, 17 Oct, had one thing in common - they assumed that carbon dioxide had been the cause of recent warming and that steps should be taken to reduce anthropogenic emissions.

Look closely at chapter 9 of the IPCC report and the evidence for that claim collapses, as I explain in the ICECAP article here or on my own website here (PDF). Let me summarise:

1 - The IPCC accepts the unverified near surface temperature data as accurate when most of us accept that it is likely contaminated by the proximity of recording instruments to human settlements or man-made alterations to the environment.

2- The IPCC claims that the heat energy has not transferred from some other part of the terrestrial climate system, but that assumes perfect knowledge of the terrestrial climate system and ignores possible extra-terrestrial influences, some of which are poorly understood.

3 - The IPCC relies on models that, according to its own reports, cannot be correct because many climate factors are poorly understood. One application of models produces a "natural" heat distribution which does not accord with observations so the IPCC claims the mismatch must be due to a human influence. The other application of models produces temperatures that do not match the historical record unless a "human influence" is included. This second application assumes that the historical temperature data is accurate and assumes the models to be precise, but both are wishful thinking.

Demand that renewable energy sources supply 20% of Europe's power by 200, modify the earth's albedo or build space-based power generation systems on this weak evidence? Someone must be joking.


Once again, warming PRECEDED the CO2 rise and "insolation" (the sun) caused the warming

The details of how the different parts of the climate system act and interact during changes from glacial to interglacial states are still being resolved. Stott et al. (p. 435; published online 27 September; see the 28 September news story by Kerr) construct a chronology of high- and low-latitude climate change at the last glacial termination, in order to help answer the questions of where warming originated, and why. Their data, derived from both benthic and planktonic foraminifera recovered from the same marine sediment core, indicate that deep-sea temperatures in the western tropical Pacific warmed about 1500 years before the surface waters did, a result of the earlier warming of the high-latitude surface water from where the deep water originated. The deep-sea warming also preceded the rise in atmospheric CO2, which suggests that increasing insolation at high southern latitudes caused a retreat of sea ice that led to warming there and further a field.


Journal abstract below

Southern Hemisphere and Deep-Sea Warming Led Deglacial Atmospheric CO2 Rise and Tropical Warming

By Lowell Stott et al.

Establishing what caused Earth's largest climatic changes in the past requires a precise knowledge of both the forcing and the regional responses. We determined the chronology of high- and low-latitude climate change at the last glacial termination by radiocarbon dating benthic and planktonic foraminiferal stable isotope and magnesium/calcium records from a marine core collected in the western tropical Pacific. Deep-sea temperatures warmed by ~ 1000 years. The cause of this deglacial deep-water warming does not lie within the tropics, nor can its early onset between 19 and 17 ky B.P. be attributed to CO2 forcing. Increasing austral-spring insolation combined with sea-ice albedo feedbacks appear to be the key factors responsible for this warming.

Science 19 October 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5849, pp. 435 - 438

Gore projection: It is OTHER people who are sensation-mongers

The findings by the UK judge announced last week that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth failed to tell the whole truth on more than a few occasions received a fair degree of press coverage and, of course, a great deal of outcry from Gore defenders worldwide. Now, "the Gore Team" has come to its own defense on a Washington Post blog site. In running down the list of supposed "errors" in An Inconvenient Truth, it is the basic contention of the Gore team that the scientific issues that Gore was trying to get a cross to a lay audience were far more complex than he had the time (or desire?) to adequately explain in a 90-minute feature film (or in the accompanying 328 page book; hint, use a smaller, albeit less dramatic, typeface next time).

For instance, concerning Gore's use of the glacier recession on Africa's Mt Kilimanjaro (through a series of historic photographs and flowery language) to illustrate the effects of global warming, despite the fact that the majority of scientific evidence is that factors other than temperature (such as exposure, humidity, and precipitation) are primarily responsible to the loss of ice atop the mountain, the Gore Team justifies that, well, global warming is undoubtedly making things worse there.

This sentiment, that, well, even though it may not be the primary cause, anthropogenic global warming is making things worse, is used in their justification of the Gorey pictures of the damage from Hurricane Katrina (even though we showed picture after picture of the damage from Katrina we never "ascribe any single weather event to climate change"), destruction of coral reefs, drowning polar bears, the drying of Lake Chad, and the flooding of low-lying Pacific islands.

Ultimately, the Gore Team has the following to say, acting dismayed at the state of media coverage these days, "To conclude, it's unfortunate that news coverage of the UK decision was so sensational and, once again, directed conversation away from a broader and much-needed discussion and debate about solutions to the climate crisis."

So sensational?! Apparently showing photo after photo of current and potential future environmental catastrophe (carefully ignoring instances of similar catastrophes in the past) while talking and writing in grave tones about climate change and mankind's role in it, but never admitting that many other factors are also at play and in many cases are the dominant ones, is a perfectly acceptable way of conveying issues to the public. But, pointing out that this is what is going on is "sensational."


More dissent from Russia

A Russian scientist claims global warming can be just a temporary inconvenience, since climatic changes show their natural fluctuating patterns and depend on our Sun's activity level

A research fellow of the Arctic and Antarctic research and science centre suggests the phenomenon, widely known as global warming, is no more than a natural variation. Recent 40 or 50 years showed that Arctic climate was getting warmer and now temperatures continue rising. Majority of scientists explains such behaviour with growing concentration of main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and is sure that temperatures would definitely grow till the end of 21st century. If the tendency and growing speed remain the same, the Arctic would enter the year 2100 with air temperature 4-7 degrees higher than it has now, and with ice areas twice as little as the current ice cover of the North.

However, another point of view exists, suggesting long-term temperature rising to be just an episode of global history, a consequence of natural fluctuations, which depend on changes in solar activity and surface air pressure. The scientist has analyzed data of monthly average values of surface air pressure between November and April 1923-2005 in cellular mesh points, located northwards from 40th parallel of the northern hemisphere. Mesh step is 10 degrees in latitude and 30 degrees in longitude. Then the geographer compared air pressure fluctuations with changes of solar activity in the same time period. 1927 was the year, when 16th solar cycle ended, and now we live in the 23rd cycle, which is far from its end.

Every 11-year preiod contains three years of high solar activity and eight years, during whuich our Sun is not quite active. Intensification of solar activity in every cycle is accompanied with abnormal changes of surface air pressure in high and moderate latitudes. There exist two regions, in which mentioned abnormalities are detected most often. First one is located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean and Near-Atlantic Arctic, including waters around Greenland and Iceland, the North Sea, the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea and Canadian Arctic Islands. The second region includes the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and Near-Pacific Arctic together with waters around the Aleutian Islands, the Bering Sea and the Chukchee Sea, as well as north-eastern coast of Asia.

Pressure changes in these two regions always happen in antiphase. In case when solar activity rises and pressure increases in the Atlantic region, then in the Pacific one the pressure drops and vice versa. These pressure fluctuations are like scale balance with centre located in the Arctic. Pressure discrepancy in these centres changes from 4.5 to 7 millibar. Changes in surface air pressure can cause long-term natural anomalies, for instance, if pressure over Atlantic keeps growing, then warm waters from moderate latitudes travel to the Arctic through the strait between the Greenland and Europe slower.

Such situation was detected during 21st and 22nd solar cycles in the sixties and eighties of the previous century and coincided with cooling in the Arctic. If pressure over Atlantic drops, then speed of warm water transfer grows, like in 1920-1940s, when warming was detected in the Arctic. During the 22nd solar cycle, which started in 1986, the pressure over vast territories of the northern hemisphere, including Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Western Siberia, dropped significantly. This stage of natural fluctuations concurs with current climate state, which is usually called the global warming. However, in the next solar cycle the pressure over the Northern Atlantic may change, causing the end of global warming.


Brit fined for putting rubbish in rubbish bin

The outcome of the Greenie policy to stop weekly rubbish collections in Britain -- on reasoning that is purely Greenie

A Lincolnshire pensioner was fined 75 pounds for putting a bag of rubbish - in a bin. John Richards, 84, left a neatly parcelled carrier bag in a lamp-post bin rather than wait ten days for his fortnightly waste collection.

But council officials tracked him down and accused him of fly-tipping, reports The Sun. They said he faced a fine of up to 2,500 if he went to court so Mr Richards, of Boston, handed over nearly three-quarters of his weekly pension to pay the 75 pound penalty. He said: "It's just ludicrous. I've never thrown litter in my life. It's only a small house and it would be intolerable to keep rotting food waste indoors until the next collection."

A council spokesman said: "Public bins are there for everyone to use. If one is repeatedly filled by an individual it creates a problem."



A senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official has said that China and India will outpace other countries in the next two decades with the help of nuclear power. "In China, in India, you have very definite plans for increasing the nuclear capacity six to 10 times for 20 years, this is really fast growth.The growth of the world is not so fast," said Yury Sokolov, IAEA's Deputy Director-General and the Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. "Now, nuclear power exists in 30 countries, and 30 to 40 other countries have expressed their willingness to explore nuclear power," Sokolov added

He made the remarks on the sidelines of an IAEA symposium on nuclear power plant management, which opened here on Monday.

According to The China Daily, China started nuclear power operations in 1991, when Qinshan-I, a 300-megawatt (MW) presurized-water reactor unit, independently developed by China, plugged into the grid. China has since fast-tracked development of nuclear power in recent years with a target to take its nuclear power capacity from about 9,000 MW in 2007 to 40,000 MW by 2020, according to China's long-term development plan for the nuclear power industry.

The Indian Department of Atomic Energy also had plans to increase the country's installed nuclear power capacity, expected to reach 20,000 MW by 2020.

Sun Libin, a scholar with the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology of Tsinghua University, was quoted as saying that: "Other forms of new energy, such as wind power and solar power, carry energy density much lower than nuclear power, and are unable to meet the tremendous power demand in China". (ANI)



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


Friday, October 19, 2007


Some "Realpolitik"

Hu Jintao wants to make every Chinese twice as rich by 2020. He has done it once - in just five years, income per capita doubled to $2,000 (983 pounds) - and the only obstacle in the Chinese President's path is the fuel needed to stoke the boiler in China's locomotive.

The president needs more copper, iron ore, zinc and natural gas. Above all, he needs more coal to keep the power stations humming nicely and more oil for Chinese cars and lorries. China accounts for more than a third of world demand for coal and the price in Australia soared this year as the People's Republic switched from being an exporter to being an importer. If Mr Hu had a message for the world in his address to the Communist Party National Congress, it was this: we will burn our coal and, if we have to, we will burn yours, too.

What does this mean? Put bluntly, it means that the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions is dead and so is any prospect of persuading Beijing to bind itself to other curbs on carbon emissions. We can stop kidding ourselves that China will sign up to any green thingy that hinders his party's ten-year plan to get rich quick. Instead, the ravenous demand for minerals and metals will continue and the desperate land grab by Chinese state companies in their pursuit of resources in Central Asia, Africa and Canada will become more politically embarrassing.

Until now, we in the West have been able to sit back and watch the global energy game passively on our Chinese-made flatscreen television sets. We could pretend that wind farms and wave machines could really make substantial contributions, that carbon trading could somehow make the cost of green energy disappear. We did not understand that the real cost of our affluent, energy-intensive lifestyles was being defrayed by sweated labour in a Chinese factory. While the price of clothes, fridges, TVs and toys was plummeting, we could ignore that petrol, transport and even bread and milk were in the grip of an inflationary spiral.

That is about to change because China's rate of consumption is beginning to have internal consequences for the People's Republic. Skilled labour is becoming a more scarce commodity for Chinese businesses and the cost of living is bearing down on Chinese consumers with increases in fuel and food prices. Inexorably, Chinese inflation will feed through into the cost of goods that China sells to the world.

That means that competition for resources will ratchet up in intensity. In Europe, we have not even begun to consider the consequences for our half-hearted strategy of pursuing a low-carbon economy. In an effort to rein in the cost of electricity, British power generators have been switching from natural gas to coal, traditionally a cheaper fuel. However, it is rapidly losing its lower-cost allure, the European price having doubled to $100 per tonne. Even so, analysts at Societe Generale calculate that the cost of carbon permits is still so low that, on the basis of current gas and coal prices, it remains cheaper to burn coal than to switch to cleaner natural gas.

For Mr Hu, this is a race for prosperity. Of course, he said a lot of other things about "the excessively high cost in resources and the environment" and about a restructuring of the economy away from heavy industry to services and high technology. That may be a sensible objective in Shanghai, where inflation in manufacturing wages is already causing problems, but a doubling of the incomes of peasants in western China will not be achieved by turning them into estate agents. Industrialisation will move west and that has been the Communist Party's objective for more than a decade. Mr Hu knows that disparities in wealth between east and west are a huge political risk. The party needs growth if it is to survive for another decade and that means it must build homes, factories, hospitals and sewage plants.

Removing huge disparities in wealth means a massive acceleration in the burning of hydrocarbons. The four great energy companies of the West - ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Total - have quietly turned their backs on the low-carbon option. Alternative technologies simply do not deliver the power required to achieve the economic growth targets of China and India. These companies are investing tiny sums in alternative energy. They know full well that the nations of the West depend heavily on the profits, taxes and dividends that accrue from an efficient hydrocarbon economy. A failure to invest in oil and gas extraction will leave Europe and America poor, technologically disabled and unequipped financially to cope with climate change.

The feeble intellectual response of Europe and America to this energy challenge is becoming a matter not of concern but alarm. The use of food crops for biofuels, the hobbling of energy companies with the obligation to use unreliable and expensive alternatives and the lack of investment in nuclear power is frightening. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. It is not in our power to stop the Chinese locomotive; we should leave our fantasies behind, acknowledge that carbon emissions will continue to grow and plan accordingly.



For the bulbs to be accepted they have to be cheap -- but that's not allowed!

The European Union approved a one-year extension of anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese energy-saving light bulbs on Monday, despite protests from environmentalists, leading companies and several EU capitals. The continuation of the duties of up to 66.1 percent on the bulbs from producers in China -- plus smaller exporters in Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines -- was rubber-stamped by foreign ministers, the EU's Portuguese presidency said. Environmental groups such as WWF have said the plan flies in the face of the bloc's attempts to save energy and undermines its claims to be a leader in the fight against climate change.

Dutch electronics group Philips which imports large amounts of the bulbs, and Swedish retailer Ikea, supplier of about a fifth of EU demand, opposed any extension. But Germany's Osram, which is part of the Siemens group and imports less from China than Philips, had sought to have the duties extended for a further five years.

The European Commission's compromise one-year extension faces a court challenge from Italian lighting company Targetti which is also seeking reimbursement for duties paid since 2001. EU governments were also split on the issue, underscoring the bloc's divide on how to respond to globalisation.

Trade lawyers say Osram may still attempt to keep the duties in place for longer than one year by asking for a review during 2008. A review, if granted, could last for more than a year.



The United Kingdom is planning to claim sovereign rights over a vast area of the remote seabed off Antarctica, the Guardian has learned. The submission to the United Nations covers more than 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) of seabed, and is likely to signal a quickening of the race for territory around the south pole in the world's least explored continent.

The claim would be in defiance of the spirit of the 1959 Antarctic treaty, to which the UK is a signatory. It specifically states that no new claims shall be asserted on the continent. The treaty was drawn up to prevent territorial disputes.

The Foreign Office, however, has told the Guardian that data is being gathered and processed for a submission to the UN which could extend British oil, gas and mineral exploitation rights up to 350 miles offshore into the Southern Ocean.

Much of the seabed there is at such a depth that extraction of gas, oil or minerals is not yet technically feasible, but the claim may still anger neighbouring South American countries who believe they have more entitlement to the potentially valuable territory. The Antarctic submission reflects the UK's efforts to secure resources for the future as oil and natural gas reserves dwindle over the coming decades.


Despicable Norwegian academics

Post below lifted from Newsbusters. See the original for links

As media do a victory lap over Friday's Nobel Peace Prize announcement, it seems a metaphysical certitude that few Americans are aware of the other 180 nominees for the award besides the Global Warmingist-in-Chief Al Gore. For instance, meet Irena Sendler, a 97-year-old Polish woman who saved 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.

Hadn't heard of her? Well, don't feel bad, for since the Nobel Committee announced the nominees in February, there have only been 107 reports about Mrs. Sendler being one of them. By contrast, Al Gore and "Nobel" have been mentioned in 2,912.

To put an even finer point on the astounding difference in media coverage, since the nominees were announced, Mrs. Sendler has been referred to in only six newscasts on television and radio, one by conservative Glenn Beck. Gore's Nobel nomination was discussed in 249!

With that in mind, here is Sendler's story - as presented by the Irena Sendler Project, the fabulous brainchild of some students in rural Kansas - which media have deplorably chosen to boycott in favor of championing a wealthy American liberal who made a movie containing egregious scientific falsehoods

Inconvenient truths about the UN's global warming panel

Excerpt from Professor David Henderson

Governments have formally laid down, in the "principles governing IPCC work," that Panel reports "should be neutral with respect to policy." But this instruction can apply only to the expert reporting process. As officials, the Panel members and those who appoint them are of course identified with the policies of their governments. And virtually all governments are formally committed, within the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to the "stabilization of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Since 1992, the risks arising from human-induced global warming have been officially taken as proven. Policies have been framed accordingly.

These committed Panel members, and their equally committed parent departments, provide the lists of persons from which the expert network is largely chosen. They also review, amend and approve the draft Assessment Reports. Hence departments and agencies which are not-and cannot be-neutral in relation to climate-change issues are deeply involved, from start to finish, in the reporting process.

Policy commitment often shades into bias. From the outset, leading figures within the IPCC process have shared the conviction that anthropogenic global warming presents a threat which demands prompt and far-reaching action. Indeed, had they not held this belief, they would not have been appointed to their positions of influence. Both they and their ministers are apt to make confident, alarmist statements which go well beyond the more guarded language of the Assessment Reports. A notable instance was the October 2006 joint statement by two European prime ministers that "We have a window of only 10-15 years to take the steps we need to avoid a catastrophic tipping point."

The expert reporting process itself is flawed, in ways that reflect this built-in high-level official bias. Despite the numbers of persons involved, and the lengthy formal review procedures, the preparation of the IPCC Assessment Reports is far from being a model of rigor, inclusiveness and impartiality. A specific weakness in some IPCC documents is the treatment of economic issues, which is not professionally up to the mark. One aspect of this has been the use of invalid cross-country comparisons of real GDP, based on exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity estimates.

A basic general weakness is the uncritical reliance on peer review as a qualifying criterion for published work to be taken into account in the assessments. Peer review is no safeguard against dubious assumptions, arguments and conclusions if the peers are largely drawn from the same restricted professional milieu. What is more, the peer-review process as such is insufficiently rigorous, since it does not guarantee due disclosure of sources, methods and procedures..

Failures of disclosure, such as many journals would not tolerate, have characterized published work that the IPCC has drawn on. The Panel has failed to acknowledge this problem and take appropriate action to deal with it. The issue is simply evaded in the relevant sections of AR4.

So far, despite the prospective high costs of what could be mistaken policies, governments have paid little attention to telling outside criticisms of the IPCC process. As a former Treasury official, with later close dealings with economics and finance ministries in OECD member countries, I have been surprised by the way in which these ministries have accepted uncritically the results of a process of inquiry which is so obviously biased and flawed.



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


Thursday, October 18, 2007

BBC bombs again

Yesterday, I put up an article by Roger Harrabin, BBC "Environment Analyst", in which he claimed that Al Gore was "an environmental science graduate". I raised my eyebrows when I saw that but did not have time to follow it up. The Devil's Kitchen has however done so and it appears that the claim is totally false. Gore graduated in Government, in fact.

I have found the following summary of Gore's science education:

Mr. Gore's high school performance on the college board achievement tests in physics (488 out of 800 "terrible," St. Albans retired teacher and assistant headmaster John Davis told The Post) and chemistry (519 out of 800 "He didn't do too well in chemistry," Mr. Davis observed) suggests that Mr. Gore would have trouble with science for the rest of his life. At Harvard and Vanderbilt, Mr. Gore continued bumbling along.

As a Harvard sophomore, scholar Al "earned" a D in Natural Sciences 6 in a course presciently named "Man's Place in Nature." That was the year he evidently spent more time smoking cannabis than studying its place among other plants within the ecosystem. His senior year, Mr. Gore received a C+ in Natural Sciences 118.

Who'd Buy a Property by the Sea?

Post below lifted from Jennifer Marohasy. See the original for links

It was claimed in 'An Inconvenient Truth' that sea levels could rise by up to 20 feet in the 'near future' due to melting ice sheets. Anyone who believed such a claim wouldn't really be expected to buy a property near San Francisco Bay, would they?

Well, in 2005, Al Gore purchased a multi-million dollar Condominium in the St. Regis Hotel, a 480 foot tower at Third and Mission.

Still, very handy for Apple board meetings, and at 480 feet high there's little chance of getting your feet wet by the Pacific Ocean!

We also read:

Just a few days ago, a condo with the same floor plan as the Gores went on the market a few floors down from them. The three-bedroom, 2027 square foot residence, is listed at $3.75 million, with a monthly HOA fee of $2356.07. It's expected to sell quickly.

"Studies" of humidity a crock

Post below lifted from Climate Skeptic. See the original for links

Today the USA Today announced in a headline: "Studies Link Man-Made Causes to Rise in Humidity". From the article:
One study, published in today's edition of the journal Nature, found that the overall increase in worldwide surface humidity from 1973-99 was 2.2%, which is due "primarily to human-caused global warming," according to study co-author Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, U.K.

Here is what makes me immediately suspicious, even at this point in the article: No one can acurately come up with an empirical proof of how much of the warming from 1973-99 was due to man's activities and how much was due to natural effects (the best you can find are studies that say "most" or "a lot of" or "some". Therefore, it is impossible that anyone was able to attribute a humidity rise just to the man-made portion of the warming, since we don't know how much that was.

Second, there are been a number of good studies that have shown that man can have a substantial effect on air humidity, but that these effects tend to be due to land use (e.g. agriculture, irrigation, urbanization, and even swimming pools) rather than CO2 caused warming. To throw all of the humidity rise only on CO2, and not these other anthropogenic effects, seems facile.

So how did the study author's get to their conclusions? It turns out the only empirical work anyone did was measure humidity. And yes, humidity did seem to go up over the these decades. But this is the end of the empirical work in the studies.
Both studies relied primarily on computer models of the Earth's climate system to reach their conclusions.

Great. For years I have called these computer models scientific money-laundering. They take unproven assumptions, plug them into something they call a model, and then get results they claim to be proven. They are washing garbage unproven assumptions through these black boxes and then calling them clean results on the back end. Garbage In - Scientific Proof Out. It is crazy. The models are built on the assumption that anthropogenic effects drive the climate, and so they therefore spit out the results that... anthropogenic effects drive the climate.
Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, says, "The main thing they're trying to show is that the recent warming and moistening in the last 30 years is outside the range of natural variability, and that man is causing the warming. The use of climate models to do this is not convincing. . The idea that you can use climate models as a surrogate for reality is circular reasoning."

I often tell my friends that when you really flay away all the bullshit, the main argument by climate catastrophists for anthropogenic origens of climate change is that scientists "can't think of anything else it can be." In other words, having exhausted all the natural causes the current state of the science knows about, they assume the cause must be man. My friends never believe me when I say this, but here is a climate scientist in his own words:
"Natural variability in climate just can't explain this moisture change. The most plausible explanation is that it's due to the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases," Santer says. His study also discounted influences from solar activity and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

This is the heart of the "link" trumpeted in the article's headline -- that scientists can't imagine that the cause is natural varaiblity and that it is plausible man is the cause. Wow, that's good science. And by the way, can you imagine if, say, astrophysics took the same approach? "We don't know of any natural phenomenon that would cause pulsars so they must be man-made." This is science Percival Lowell would have loved.

Coming Cooling?

Frigid Southern Hemisphere Winter A Preview Of A Cold Winter Coming In The Northern Hemisphere? Excerpt:

It was an outstanding winter for us in part of South America. Buenos Aires in Argentina had its first snow since 1918. Southern Brazil experienced 4 consecutive months of cold and below average temperature with daily and all-time records." "Our winter here in the southern hemisphere raised serious questions among people concerned on global warming. Scientists were predicting warmer winters. So, what happened, people asked.

I believe questions will be raised in the next months also in the US. The climate behavior here is this part of the Southern Hemisphere is somewhat connected to the trend in the Midwest and Northeast United States year after year and may anticipate the trend from season to season. So, first of all, NOAA released this week its winter outlook, but I don't' buy it. No way !! I strongly suspect this marked cooling trend in the Pacific will result in below average temperature months in larger areas of the US."

By the way, much of Australia, too had a cold winter, with a record cold June.


Colorado gets blasted with foot of snow


DENVER - A rambling storm delivered up to a foot of snow in the mountains and rain at lower elevations Sunday, threatening to swipe at the Colorado Rockies playoff series as it headed out of the state. The snow caused some fender-bender vehicle mishaps but no injuries along Interstate 70 at the Eisenhower Tunnel because motorists were unfamiliar with driving in winter-like weather conditions, Colorado State Patrol Master Trooper Ron Watkins said. Chain laws were in effect on a number of mountain passes. The storm brought the first notable snowcover of the season to Boulder County's higher-elevation communities. Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, said communities like Allenspark and Nederland ended up with accumulations of around 3 to 6 inches. "It's on," he said of the snow season. Below 8,000 feet, Fredin said, it mostly rained, with around an inch falling in Boulder over the weekend.


Pesky Mont Blanc

Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, is taller than ever due to snow piled atop its summit, in what experts meeting in France have described as a climate change-related phenomenon. The Alps' tallest peak was measured at 4810.9 metres on September 15 and 16 - a 2.15-metre increase in two years, surveyors from France's Haute-Savoie region said on Saturday. "The height as well as the volume of Mont Blanc has increased considerably, because the snow has massed on the summit over the last two years," Philippe Borel said at a meeting in the Alpine town Chamonix.

The volume of ice on Mont Blanc's slopes over 4800 metres high was first calculated at 14,600 cubic metres in 2003. It dropped to 14,300 cubic metres two years later, but then almost doubled to 24,100 cubic metres in 2007. "There is generally no increase in the amount of precipitation in the Alps, but the climate changes," said a meteorologist, Yan Giezendanner. "We're registering a greater frequency of winds from the west which bring rain and higher temperatures."

In summer precipitation translates into snow in regions over 4000 metres that increases Mont Blanc's volume and height, Mr Giezendanner said. In the winter, however, the icy snow is swept around by the winds and has no influence on the mountain's height or volume. Warmer alpine weather has also caused glaciers in higher altitudes to swell even as those in medium altitudes melt, recede and threaten to disappear, Mr Giezendanner said. Surveyors have topographic missions every two years to study Mont Blanc's evolution.


Be wary of climate process Osama endorses, doctor argues

Osama bin Laden's recent endorsement of the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change is proof that government policies to slash greenhouse gas emissions could be more dangerous for industrialized countries than terrorism itself, says a well-known Canadian global warming skeptic. "What's going on with the whole global warming issue, and particularly the focus on CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions) is that it's undermining the economies of the western world in particular, but the world in general, and ultimately could do far more damage than what Osama bin Laden is doing," Dr. Tim Ball said in an interview.

In a recent online article, Dr. Ball and his colleague, Tom Harris, argued against government policies to restrict human activity from causing excessive greenhouse gas emissions, noting that bin Laden had recently endorsed cutting pollution in a September video message in which he accused the United States of ignoring the Kyoto Protocol to protect the profits of corporate America. "The next round of UN negotiations starting in December in Bali, Indonesia will undoubtedly formalize new emission restrictions only for the one fifth of the world's population who live in the developed world," wrote Dr. Ball in an article that was co-authored with engineer and communications specialist Tom Harris, and published on the Canada Free Press website. "Is it any wonder Osama bin Laden promotes a UN climate process that threatens to cripple the West, but no one else?"

The references to bin Laden have left some critics speechless. "I think this is so effective for them," said Richard Littlemore, a lead writer on the website. "How can you react to that? It is so over the top. It's so outrageous. It takes you so far away from a sane or rational discussion about climate change, that it leaves you dumbstruck." Leading scientists, who have assessed the latest peer-reviewed research in a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that there was "unequivocal" evidence that the earth was getting hotter. They also concluded that it was "very likely" human activity was causing potentially dangerous changes to the climate that would lead to an increase in extreme weather events, droughts, rising sea levels, the spread of infectious diseases and the disappearance of many species.

But while writers at say that skeptics are using political arguments to undermine the science, Ball argued that the opposite was true, noting that many environmentalists often accuse him of being on the payroll of the oil patch. "I've said to audiences (in speeches that) Osama bin Laden's right. We've lost our moral and ethical direction. The problem is I don't want his morality or his ethics either," Ball said. "We're in a world where basically you need to know, unfortunately the motives of anyone saying anything... People immediately ask me, 'Who's paying you? What's your agenda?' No one ever asks Al Gore that."


Australia: "Green" water supply is filthy and unhealthy

Tank water is often so contaminated with bird and possum poo that it does not pass minimally acceptable standards for consumption, a new study has revealed. Research presented in Queensland suggests about 40 per cent of rainwater tanks contained "heavy amounts" of animal faeces contamination that could lead to gastrointestinal disease. The findings, from a study of 560 homes tracked over five years, originated from New Zealand but Australian experts say the data, the first of its kind, would be an accurate reflection of contamination rates here. It comes as authorities encourage more Australian households to take advantage of tank subsidies to cope with drought and be more environmentally sustainable.

Microbiologist Stan Abbott, director of the Roof Water Research Centre at Massey University in New Zealand, analysed samples of roof-collected rainwater and found 41 per cent were heavily contaminated with faeces. "This contamination can lead to gastrointestinal diseases such as salmonella, campylobacter, giardia and cryptosporidium," Mr Abbott said. At least half the rainwater samples would not have passed the minimally acceptable standards for drinking water, he said. "The likely sources of the faecal contamination were faecal material deposited by birds, rodents, possums and frogs either on the roof, in the gutters or in the water tank," Mr Abbott said.

Relatively few disease outbreaks linked to contaminated roof-collected rainwater have been reported, but specialists in the field believe there is massive under-reporting of such illnesses. Professor Ted Gardner, an expert in water-wise strategies at Queensland Institute of Technology where the research was presented, said more than two million Australians depended on roof-collected rainwater for their drinking water. Most lived rurally with the exception of Adelaide, where well over a third of residents had opted to use rain water. "People love rain water because it's soft and apparently pure, but clearly it comes with more risks than many people realise," Prof Gardner said.

He said authorities nationwide were actively encouraging more Australians to use rainwater, with the Queensland government offering up subsidies for 147,000 tanks in the past 18 months. While these tanks were designed for garden irrigation only, there was a risk that people will decide to drink it too, he said. Experts recommended householders use downpipe debris screens, a first-flush diverter and regularly disinfect their tank to reduce the risk of contracting waterborne diseases. "The risk of disease from roof-collected rainwater can be low if the water is visibly clear, has little taste or smell, and the collection of the rainwater is via a properly maintained tank and roof catchment system," Mr Abbott said.



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


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Below is the introduction to a recent talk given by Prof. Richard S. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU]. It explains what is wrong with the BBC spin (See following below). Full talk not yet available online. Excerpt received from Prof. Lindzen via Benny Peiser

Confusion is at the heart of global warming alarm. That intrinsically complicates any serious analysis of the issue. The following illustrates what I mean. Recently, a court in the UK required that mandatory presentations of Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" be accompanied by critiques of its inaccuracies and exaggerations. Here is an example:

Al Gore: A sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future".

The judge's finding: "This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore's "wake-up call". It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia."

Gore's response is revealing.

Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made "the most important and salient points" about climate change, if not "some nuances and distinctions" scientists might want. "The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger," he said, adding, "I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand."

"Of course," he said, "there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions." He said "not every single adviser" agreed with him on every point, "but we do agree on the fundamentals - that warming is real and caused by humans."

As I will show, the point of agreement, as concerns attribution, is dubious at best. However, the point of agreement also has no discernible connection to the alarm (which Gore presumably considers a "nuance").

While it is interesting to debunk the attribution, it also serves to suggest to the listener that the point implies the alarmism. It most certainly does not. In many respects, communicating this profound disconnect may be more important than explaining the underlying science. However, science is essential for understanding this disconnect.

Although it is true that the validity of various claims does not imply alarm, if these claims are false, it does imply that the association of alarm with greenhouse gas emissions is baseless.

Alarm may, in fact, be warranted, since disasters do occur. Only the connection with greenhouse warming is being challenged. However, in the absence of greenhouse concerns, the response to any alarm is almost certainly going to be different. Hopefully, this introduction will sensitize you to the plethora of non sequiturs that characterize the discourse on this issue. The preceding barely scratches the surface. Several more examples will be noted in this talk.

Harrabin of the BBC replies

On 14th., I reproduced an internal BBC memo from Roger Harrabin, which put the best possible "spin" on the verdict against Al Gore's movie by the British High Court. The memo was originally circulated by Benny Peiser and Harrabin has now replied to Benny in defence of his memo by drawing attention to the article by him below. He seems to think that the article shows him as a man of balance, despite outright lies such as "the ever-dwindling band of sceptics" and his typically Leftist attack on the motivations and funding of Stuart Dimmock. Leftist are absolute devotees of "ad hominem" arguments, despite their logical irrelevance

The heat and light in global warming

By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst

I have spent much of the last two decades of my journalistic life warning about the potential dangers of climate change, but when I first watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth I felt a flutter of unease. Not because the central message - that climate change is happening and almost certainly caused by mankind - is untrue; but because in several points of the film, Mr Gore simply goes too far by asserting or implying facts that are contentious. This leaves the film open to attack by the ever-dwindling band of sceptics who do not want to accept that climate change is anything to do with humans, and indeed a successful attack is exactly what has happened in the UK.

Because although Mr Justice Burton agreed in Wednesday's High Court ruling that An Inconvenient Truth is mainly based on consensus science, his judgement will be trumpeted more for finding that the film was studded with green "errors". The judge listed nine areas where Mr Gore had swayed from the scientific consensus position, and it was the "errors" that made the headlines in the media.

The man who brought the complaint, Stuart Dimmock, expressed his delight that this "shockumentary" had been exposed. Mr Dimmock is a member of the "New Party", apparently funded by a businessman with a strong dislike of environmentalists and drink-drive laws. When asked on the BBC's World Tonight programme who had under-written his court costs, he paused long and loud before saying that "someone on the internet" had offered him support.

It always looked likely that Mr Dimmock would make some headway with his court case because, as the judge observed, when the film was first circulated it did not supply teachers with the material needed to help pupils distinguish which of Mr Gore's factoids were still subject to serious mainstream debate.

The film was made as a polemic, not an educational tool for children. The government would have been on safer ground if it had chosen Sir David Attenborough's climate change programme which passed the BBC's own anguished impartiality test.

In the event, ministers seized on the slick, powerful and informative Gore movie as a tool to persuade children, and presumably by extension their parents, to worry about the climate. And this points to the essentially political nature of the film, and the decision to show it in schools.

There is now a strong political consensus throughout Europe that climate change is a dangerous problem needing urgent solutions; but politicians consistently tremble when they tentatively advance any of those solutions towards a public confused by the noisy media debate about climate change. A recent poll by Ipsos Mori showed that 82% of people were personally concerned about climate change, but a majority (56%) believed that many leading experts still question if human activity is contributing to climate change. This latter conclusion is simply wrong - all the world's major scientific institutions believe the man-made climate change theory - but the Gore court judgment will confuse people even more.

So why did the vice-president, who reveals himself in the movie to be a master of factual recall and presentation skill, produce a film in which assumptions became assertions and worst-case scenarios became the norm? The answer lies in the conflicted politics of climate in the US.

Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate, has been trying to alert the public to climate change for a quarter of a century. Along with that other failed Democratic candidate John Kerry, he launched Senate hearings on climate in the 1980s. Then he signed the Kyoto Protocol nine years ago on behalf of the US, only to see President Clinton refuse to back it. He then spent impotent frustrating years in the White House, and later outside it, watching climate sceptics - some well-meaning scientists, but many in the pay of the oil industry - discredit the global warming theory. The sceptics knew that they did not need to win the battle of climate facts, they just needed to keep doubt alive.

An Inconvenient Truth is a response to that often cynical campaign, attempting to put climate change beyond doubt and remove ambiguity from presentation of the scientific facts. The problem is that climate science is a massive and messy field; and although even the White House now accepts that the climate is changing and humankind is more than 90% likely to blame, there are still wrinkles in the science, signposts that point in the opposite direction to the one we expect.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with these wrinkles by expressing its prognoses in bands of uncertainty: the climate is likely to warm by between 1.8C and 4.0C by the end of the century. But movies are not made of piffling equivocations like this, so Mr Gore dispenses with many of them.

Mr Justice Burton takes exception with nine such simplifications, or "errors". He notes that Mr Gore attributes to climate change the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro, the demise of polar bears, the drying of Lake Chad and bleaching of coral reefs. Correctly identifying the scientific consensus, the judge says debate is still open on these issues, as it is over hurricane frequency, also instanced by Mr Gore. The judge says (again taking the IPCC as gospel) that there is little support for Mr Gore's implication that the Gulf Stream will shut down soon, and that the great ice sheets will cause catastrophic sea level rise soon.

Here the judge is on slightly more contentious ground, because the IPCC science is itself out of date on Arctic melting, which is advancing at a pace that many worst-case scenarios had failed to predict.

On the remaining point - Mr Gore's implication that ice core records prove that CO2 rises drove shifts in Ice Ages - the judge is spot on. The vice-president cleverly lures the viewer into making the calculation that CO2 drove historical climate change by presenting graphs and asking the audience if they fit. Well, the graphs do fit - but what Mr Gore fails to mention in the film is that mainstream scientists believe that historically the temperature shifted due to our changing relationship with the Sun, with warmer climes unlocking CO2 from the oceans, which amplified global temperature rise.

I challenged Mr Gore about this in an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme in March. He responded, accurately, that scientists believe that CO2 is now driving climate change - but that was not what his misleading historical graph showed. And after the interview he and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.

It is miserable when such a vastly important debate is reduced to this. The film and the High Court row are, though, products of their time. If the conservative IPPC forecasts are accurate our children may rue the years we spent squabbling over climate change rather than tackling it.


Fresh milk to be banned in Britain

BRITONS may be banned from drinking "traditional milk" in favour of the long-life variety in order to save the environment, according to a government strategy. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London has recommended the use of long-life UHT milk to limit commercial refrigeration, The Times has reported.

The newspaper said officials have developed a long term goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions caused by refrigerated milk. They aim to have long-life milk make up 90 per cent of the market by 2020. It has been reported that 93 per cent of milk sold in Britain was the "traditional" fresh type.

According to The Times, a strategy paper has already been sent to dairy industry officials suggesting the changes. "Retail and domestic refrigeration is an area with the potential for significant impact reduction," the paper reportedly said. "The milk chain should enhance the development, marketing and placement of UHT milk products."

The move could see less refrigeration by outlets, but consumers will still have to cool the milk in fridges once the carton has been opened.



Renowned French Scientist & Socialist Slams Gore's Nobel


In France, a sour note was sounded by a leading French climate sceptic, former Socialist education minister and award-winning geochemist Claude Allegre. He brushed off Friday's announcement as "a political gimmick", saying: "The amount of nonsense in Al Gore's film! It's all politics, it's designed to intervene in American politics. It's scandalous. There's a presidential election upcoming in the United States, and it's well known that Gore wants to run."


Greenspan has 'grave doubts' that international cap-and-trade is 'feasible'


But even the highly-respected former Federal Reserve chairman and economist Alan Greenspan questioned in his book, "The Age of Turbulence," the validity of a cap and trade system's impact as an effective means to fight global warming. "Yet as an economist, I have grave doubts that international agreements imposing a globalized so-called cap-and-trade system on CO2 emissions will prove feasible," Greenspan wrote. "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy," Greenspan wrote. "Net, it is a tax. If the cap is low enough to make a meaningful inroad into CO2 emissions, permits will become expensive and large numbers of companies will experience cost increases that make them less competitive. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained."


UN Scientist calls for abolition of IPCC


The whole process is a swindle, The IPCC from the beginning was given the licence to use whatever methods would be necessary to provide "evidence" that carbon dioxide increases are harming the climate, even if this involves manipulation of dubious data and using peoples' opinions instead of science to "prove" their case. The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable. The reason is, that the world will slowly realise that the "predictions" emanating from the IPCC will not happen. The absence of any "global warming" for the past eight years is just the beginning. Sooner or later all of us will come to realise that this organisation, and the thinking behind it, is phony. Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens.....

I have been an "Expert Reviewer" for the IPCC right from the start and I have submitted a very large number of comments on their drafts. It has recently been revealed that I submitted 1,898 comments on the Final Draft of the current Report. Over the period I have made an intensive study of the data and procedures used by IPCC contributors throughout their whole study range. I have a large library of reprints, books and comments and have published many comments of my own in published papers, a book, and in my occasional newsletter, the current number being 157. I began with a belief in scientific ethics, that scientists would answer queries honestly, that scientific argument would take place purely on the basis of facts, logic and established scientific and mathematical principles. Right from the beginning I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely.

Over the years, as I have learned more about the data and procedures of the IPCC I have found increasing opposition by them to providing explanations, until I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only "reform" I could envisage, would be its abolition....

The two main "scientific" claims of the IPCC are the claim that "the globe is warming" and "Increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible". Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed.



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


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A test for British schools

THE tormentors of Al Gore, who last week won a legal victory against his film, An Inconvenient Truth, are to step up their battle by sending British secondary schools a documentary attacking the science of global warming. Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle has become one of the most notorious documentaries of the year, attracting complaints from dozens of scientists and viewers. This weekend, however, the campaigners behind the High Court case said they planned to send copies to 3,400 secondary schools "to counter Gore's flagrant propaganda". Gore is a joint winner of the Nobel peace prize for his efforts to educate the world about climate change. An Inconvenient Truth has also won two Oscars.

The distribution of The Great Global Warming Swindle is being funded by Viscount Monckton, who is part of a counter-campaign to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. Monckton was one of the backers of Stewart Dimmock, the Kent lorry driver and school governor who took the government to court for sending copies of Gore's film to schools. The two are connected through the New party, a right-wing group whose manifesto was written by Monckton and of which Dimmock is a member.

Last week Mr Justice Burton ruled that, although it was broadly correct, An Inconvenient Truth contained at least nine scientific errors and said ministers must send new guidance to teachers before it was screened. The judge said, for example, that Gore was wrong to suggest polar bears were already drowning due to ice melting when this was just a prediction. "That ruling was a fantastic victory," said Monckton, a former Downing Street adviser to Baroness Thatcher. "What we want to do now is send schools material reflecting an alternative point of view so that pupils can make their own minds up."

Dimmock was awarded only two-thirds of his costs and is understood to have a bill of more than œ60,000. Monckton confirmed that he was among his "backers" but refused to confirm if he had financed the case. Monckton has obtained funding from a right-wing Washington think tank, the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), to create a second film that will also be sent to schools. Entitled Apocalypse No, it parodies Gore, showing Monckton presenting a slide show in a vitriolic attack on climate change science.

Bob Ferguson, president of the SPPI, said: "We have filmed Christopher [Monckton] making a presentation to the Cambridge University Union . . . It could be sent out quite soon. We want to inform the public and policy makers that there are different views on climate change." Monckton has also won support from the maker of The Great Global Warming Swindle. Martin Durkin, managing director of WAG TV, said he would be delighted for his film to go to schools. "I have become a proselytiser against the so-called consensus on climate change . . . people can decide for themselves," he said.

Environmentalists say many questions remain about Durkin's film. Channel 4 said that two of the scientists who took part have complained that the editing gave a misleading impression of critical data and their own viewpoints. Ofcom, which regulates broadcast media, is examining other complaints from scientists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the Nobel prize with Gore, is preparing a Synthesis Report. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said the report would show that the earth faced a catastrophic temperature rise within the next century.

George Monbiot, an environmentalist and critic of Monckton, said: "He is trying to take on the global scientific establishment on the strength of a classics degree from Cambridge."


A down to earth British naturalist

This sort of thing never used to happen on Gardeners' World. There was Alan Titchmarsh, strolling though the Shetland Islands while chatting to camera about the Arctic Skua, when whoosh - one of those very birds shot down out of the sky, smacked him across the top of the head then shot off again. Then another did it. And another. Titchmarsh was filming an episode of his new eight-part series for BBC1, The Nature of Britain - and it was turning out to be less cosy than that title suggests ....

One subject gets Titchmarsh more worked up than accusations of blandness, though. Perhaps, coming from a man who loves nature, it's a slightly surprising one: our obsession with global warming.

`I wish we could grow up about it,' he says. `I'm sure we are contributing to global warming, and we must do all we can to reduce that, but our climate has always changed. The Romans had vineyards in Yorkshire. We're all on this bandwagon of `Ban the 4x4 in Fulham'. Why didn't we have global warming during the Industrial Revolution? In those days you couldn't have seen across the street for all the carbon emissions and the crap coming out of the chimneys.' He pauses for breath, then smiles. `Sorry, bit of a tirade there.'

Surely he worries that global warming may threaten some of the species in his series. But this doesn't seem to bother him too much. `We'll lose some, we'll gain others,' he says. `Wildlife is remarkably tenacious. Nature always copes.'

He gives the example of otters, whose numbers in Britain are on the rise. `When I was a lad, you had to go to the Otter Trust in Suffolk to see them. For the series, I went to the river near where I grew up, where I used to fish for tiddlers. And on the banks were otter footprints. If I'd seen those when I was a lad, I'd have died and gone to heaven.'


Malaria Atonement and Forgiveness

Environmentalists and foundations that support them have much to atone for

During the Days of Repentance, Jews ponder their sins of the past year. Yom Kippur is their final opportunity to make amends and alter the judgment that God will enter in his books, as the sun sets. However, this Day of Atonement (observed September 22 this year) can assure forgiveness only for sins between people and God. To atone for sins against other persons, we must first seek reconciliation with those we have wronged, demonstrate repentance, and right the wrongs or make restitution.

In this politicized age, many people have their own lists of folks who "ought to be seeking forgiveness." I'm on several - including Greenpeace's roster of "climate criminals" (for not believing that people are causing a climate Armageddon).

At the top of my own list are the radical environmentalists - and foundations and others who give them the money and political clout to perpetrate mischief worldwide.

Back when I helped organize the very first Earth Day on my college campus, the nascent environmental movement offered hope for a cleaner, better future. Indeed, thanks to the awareness we helped generate, the river I grew up on was revitalized, air pollution was reduced, and our overall quality of life improved. But over the years, the movement became a huge, multi-national, multi-billion-dollar crisis creation and perpetuation industry. Using junk science, over-hyped fears and unrelenting campaigns against companies, technology and development, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club, Natural Resource Defense Council and other groups thwart progress and help prolong poverty, misery and premature death.

Its leaders and government, corporate and foundation mother lodes have much to atone for, if they are to escape harsh judgment in the eyes of God and history. By opposing fossil-fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear power, radical greens help keep a third of the world reliant on wood and animal dung - or if they're lucky, little solar panels on their huts. Deprived of energy for lights, refrigeration, hospitals, schools, offices, factories and safe water, they remain impoverished, plagued by disease and despondent about their future.

Intense environmentalist opposition to biotechnology prevents Third World farmers from planting crops that resist disease and drought, require fewer pesticides, and yield bumper harvests that would reduce malnutrition and put cash in the pockets of destitute families.

The worst cabal of pressure groups remains virulently opposed to spraying tiny amounts of DDT on walls to keep mosquitoes out of houses, and using other insecticides to kill blood-sucking insects that carry malaria, dengue and yellow fever, and a host of other killer diseases.

A year ago, the World Health Organization, U.S. Agency for International Development, President's Malaria Initiative and other agencies again recognized the vital role of these chemicals - and reintroduced them in their comprehensive, integrated disease control programs. But Pesticide Action Network, Beyond Pesticides and Physicians for Social Responsibility demand that the agencies return to the disastrous policies of recent years, when disease and death rates were rising every year.

The activists and foundations had watched the tolls mount, but did nothing. They knew the approach they advocated didn't work, but did nothing. They could have supported research into alternatives to DDT, or even bought bednets to protect children, but didn't spend a dime on that. They spend millions to attack insecticides, and truly comprehensive solutions, but nothing to protect parents and children.

Pesticides, they shout, are "poisonous bandaids." Some researchers, they assert, have found "possible links" between high levels of DDT and low birth weights in babies, reduced breastmilk production in mothers, and slightly impaired mental abilities in children. One day, they insist, we will have a vaccine. It's all pure speculation, but they have the money and PR savvy to garner extensive press - hyping minor hypothetical risks of using pesticides, and ignoring the real, life-threatening dangers that those pesticides would prevent.

Meanwhile, an African child dies from malaria every 30 seconds - a million a year. Countless more perish from other insect-borne diseases. Two billion people are at risk, and 500 million get malaria every year, notes Fiona Kobusingye-Boynes, coordinator of Congress of Racial Equality Uganda.

Malaria victims are wracked by fevers, chills, convulsions and vomiting. They can't work, cultivate crops, or attend school. Families must stay home to care for the sick, and spend up to a fourth of their meager incomes on drugs and medical care. Many who don't die suffer severe brain damage.

Fiona knows this all too well. She has endured repeated bouts with malaria, lost many family members to the disease, and almost died again last month from malaria complicated by pneumonia and intestinal illness that are also prevalent across Africa.

Chloroquine and other treatments are potent drugs that have adverse side effects and don't always help. Bednets are themselves impregnated with insecticides, and are only a partial solution. (Rich countries fight cancer with chemotherapy drugs that have nasty, proven side effects. Should we ban them, too - along with the insecticides that keep mosquitoes and West Nile virus at bay?)

And yet, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, Cedar Tree Foundation, California Endowment and other callous, shortsighted donors continue to lavish hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on these radical groups - enabling them to continue their lethal lies, tirades, pressure tactics and mayhem. Goldman is headed by a wealthy San Francisco insurance magnate. Cedar Tree was begun by a Boston pediatrician. The California Endowment is headed by an African-American physician. All support good causes. But the millions they have given Pesticide Action, Beyond Pesticides and Physicians for Social Responsibility have exacted an unconscionable toll across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Good deeds simply don't offset this carnage. And while for-profit corporations are prosecuted and penalized for every accident - these toxic groups and their bankrollers are not held liable or accountable even for this horrendous disease and death toll. Their actions violate basic medical, humanitarian and human rights principles. They violate the ethical and social responsibility standards that "progressive" activists say for-profit companies must follow. They ignore the Hippocratic Oath, and the need to help families insure their children against killer diseases, with comprehensive strategies that include DDT and other insecticides - and actually work.

Goldman, Cedar Tree, the California Endowment and their compatriots must atone for their sins. How? Stop funding these heartless pressure groups. Donate to organizations like CORE and Africa Fighting Malaria that are working with the WHO, USAID and PMI to end this needless slaughter, get electricity and other modern technologies to people in the Third World - and enable them to stay healthy, work more productively, and build strong family and national economies that can afford modern homes with window screens. Buy some bed nets, and help train Africans in how to use DDT and other insecticides safely, responsibly and with minimal environmental impact, to reduce disease and save lives - now! Then they can seek forgiveness from families who have lost loved ones - and atonement would be made.



During a recent seminar organised by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, I heard EU commission expert for biofuels Paul Hodson express his growing frustration with all the negative news about the agro-fuels in the last twelve months. "Once I was proud of what I was doing", Paul said, "but now I feel more and more like I am being looked upon as a pornographer". Knowing Paul personally I really understand his predicament.

With very ambitious EU targets (5.75% biofuels to be used for transport by 2010 and 10% by 2020), Hodson and his colleagues are trying hard to keep up the credibility of the EU's biofuels action by defining sustainability certification criteria for the use of the alternative fuels. But maybe, in view of some recent reports, they should have the courage to question the policy alltogether and propose a moratorium on further promotion of biofuels until more research has been done into its environmental and economic impacts.

Two recent reports questioned the global political fever on biofuels.

First of all, a study by Doornbosch and Steenblik ("Biofuels: is the cure worse than the disease?") for the OECD Roundtable on Sustainable Development looked at the impacts of biofuels production on the food market, the environment and biodiversity and concluded:

"The rush to energy crops threatens to cause food shortages and damage to biodiversity with limited benefits";

"Second-generation technologies hold promise but depend on technological breakthroughs";

"The economic outlook for biofuels seems fragile";

"Government policies supporting and protecting domestic production of biofuels are inefficient...(...) and not cost-effective";

"Liberalising trade in biofuels is difficult but essential for global objectives"

"Certification of biofuels is useful for promoting good practices but cannot be trusted as a safeguard".

The media reporting on this study (most media talked about "the OECD report" although this was not an officially endorsed OECD document) led to a lobbying storm with renewable energy and biofuels organisations calling on the OECD to disavow the study (see Bioenergy Pact).

The second report came from Nobel-prize winner Paul Crutzen who challenged the positive climate effects of the use of biofuels in a study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions. According to Crutzen and his team, the emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from agro-crop production could negate the positive climate impacts of switching to biofuels and, as N2O has a bigger impact than CO2 on climate change, could even lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions overall



Melting icecaps and 'climate chaos' have put climate change at the top of the agenda for the UN General Assembly's meeting this week. The meeting is a precursor to the November meeting in Bali where leaders will try to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

A new Institute of Physics' (IOP) report, Climate change prediction: A robust or flawed process?, published today reveals that while there is general consensus on the underlying causes of the changes in our atmosphere, there is not unanimity.

World leaders have been influenced by one very important document that drew its conclusions after wide consultation in the international science community, the IPCC Summary for Policymakers of the Scientific Assessment. Much of the IPCC report was compiled from extensive use of computer modelling systems which, governed by the laws of physics, have produced some very compelling theories on how and why the climate is changing.

Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, who spoke at a seminar debating the efficacy of climate change models on which the IOP's report is based, said: "The computer models used to predict climate change take account of the range of factors that play a role in modulating the climate, such as solar activity, atmospheric particles, and feedback factors. We have, for example, been able to measure the input of greenhouse gases against the cooling effect that aerosols have on the atmosphere in order to predict the future rate of change and, by locating the main causes, suggest ways of reducing the damage."

However, scientific understanding is constantly on the move and for every theory there is inevitably a counter argument. Professor Richard Lindzen, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argued that a poor understanding of 'feedback factors', such as clouds and water vapour in our atmosphere, is undermining the credibility of models.

Lindzen argued that simple physical arguments led to much smaller sensitivity to increased greenhouse gases than found in current models implying that feedbacks in these models were excessively positive. He also noted that it was unlikely that current models adequately dealt with natural internal variability of climate.

Tajinder Panesor, Manager, Science Policy at the Institute of Physics, who organised the seminar, said: "The laws of physics underpin the advances we have made so far in our understanding of climate change. Even though there is evidence around us of climate change, and we need to continue to take action now; greater computing power and further debate is needed in order to make the modelling processes more robust to remove current uncertainties."



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


Monday, October 15, 2007

Gore's climate theory savaged

ONE of the world's leading meteorologists has described the theory that helped Al Gore win a share of the Nobel prize "ridiculous". Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, spoke to a packed lecture hall at UNC Charlotte and said humans are not responsible for the warming of the earth. His visit, arranged through the meteorology program at UNCC, came on the same day that Gore was honoured for his work in support of the link between humans and global warming. "We're brainwashing our children," said Gray, 78, a longtime professor at Colorado State University. "They're going to the Gore movie (An Inconvenient Truth) and being fed all this. It's ridiculous."

Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said instead that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - is responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place. However, he said, that same cycle means a period of global cooling will begin soon and last for several years. "We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Gray said.

During his speech to a crowd of about 300 that included meteorology students from several Carolinas universities and a host of professional meteorologists, Gray also said those who have linked global warming to the increased number of hurricanes in recent years are in error. He cited statistics, showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900-1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957-2006, when the earth warmed. "The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures," Gray said.

He said his beliefs have made him an outsider in popular science. "It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

Source. There is a good coverage of how anti-scientific Gore is here

NASA and the Warmest Year

NASA has made available a website which displays temperature records from weather stations around the world. The site produces graphs of the surface temperature over time at any station you choose, some with data going back to 1880's. It can also produce world maps color-coded to indicate temperature change over different years and datasets. An article here tries to understand the issues around the recent revision of the data, which changed the "warmest year" of the 20th century USA from 1998 to 1934. In addition, the author notes interesting issues in the data and graphs available on the NASA site.

The particular point illustrated in the article is that temperature changes over time vary greatly from place to place -- with any overall trends detectable only by making many assumptions and allowances. Whatever warming there is, it is certainly not global.

State-based climate panic

While the media and environmentalists regularly hammer the Bush administration for its alleged lethargy in addressing global warming, an activist group is working through individual states and substantially influencing how they will reduce their output of greenhouse gases. Taxpayers and energy consumers will take a hit to their household budgets because of it.

What's amazing is that the states - including Maryland - are using the Center for Climate Strategies to de facto create their plans to address climate change, despite CCS's predisposition to alarmism and the fact that the policy development process is mostly paid for by extreme environmentalist foundations.

The course of action taken by Maryland is similar to those in other states. Gov. Martin O'Malley, as have other executives (both Democrat and Republican), issued an executive order in April declaring global warming a threat to the state and creating the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.

The panel consists entirely of political appointees with no expertise in climate science, which is essential to determine whether or not the decisions made will accomplish any reduction in temperature (even if implemented nationwide or globally). Nor were any economists chosen for the commission, so the significant cost to Marylanders will remain a mystery.

The reason why none of this expertise was enlisted is because CCS tells states that they provide all they need to make informed decisions. After all, CCS designed all the policy options - smart growth, renewable energy portfolio subsidies and utility surcharges among them - to theoretically trim greenhouse gas emissions within the state. But if you're looking for how its various ideas will impact temperature or affect the economy of Maryland, forget it. CCS provides no such analysis.

With a series of several dozen options under consideration that could cost consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars, you might think at least the commission members could judge each choice on a straight up-or-down vote. You'd be wrong. The CCS procedure is to establish each option as already approved; to change or remove one would require a mostly uninformed panelist to oppose it. Even if someone does, he or she is often a single voice crying in the wilderness, and if enough members believe strongly enough that an option is unacceptable, it is simply made less objectionable. Maryland is even more unlikely than other states to see options removed because its panel consists almost entirely of government bureaucrats.

Should you still think that the process is not stacked against taxpayers, consider who is paying for the sham. CCS is so appealing to governors because states pay almost nothing to develop their policy. Instead CCS looks attractive by toting along funds it has raised from environmentalist foundations, all of which are squarely on the panic-stricken side of the global-warming argument.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the (Ted) Turner Foundation and the Heinz Endowments are among their patrons. Those names are hardly recognized for their support of individual rights and small government. What do they pay for? Nothing that requires a lot of intellectual heft. CCS, which has none of its own employees, pays six figures annually to several contractors who jet around the country to host climate planning meetings in various states.

Little new is introduced in the way of ideas, procedures or science, as the CCS template is used almost identically everywhere. All its consultants have to do is show up and direct the meetings. With such a controlled process and outcome, it would be laughable for CCS officials to claim they have no bias about climate science or no interest in the policy outcomes of their process, yet that is what they say. "CCS provides a model facilitation service and does not advance an agenda in terms of final policy decisions in respective states," said Brian Hill, president of CCS's parent nonprofit.

Whether you think global warming is throwing the planet into a death spiral or a tropical paradise, CCS's tactics and solutions ought to concern everyone. Marylanders stand to suffer a sock to their economy should the state's climate commission succeed with the draft legislation it produces. It's not too late to start questioning the process.



Excerpt from Ivy League geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack, a professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania

Giegengack noted that the history the last one billion years on the planet reveals "only about 5% of that time has been characterized by conditions on Earth that were so cold that the poles could support masses of permanent ice." Giegengack also noted "for most of Earth's history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has rarely been cooler."


NASA Study: Arctic Winds Blew Out `Older thicker' Ice leaving Ice region smaller


A paper being published online today by Geophysical Research Letters, says perennial sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean decreased by 23 percent during the past two winters as strong winds swept more Arctic ice than usual out Fram Strait near Greenland.....

International Arctic Buoy Program, currently directed by Ignatius Rigor of the UW's Applied Physics Laboratory, and eight years of data from NASA's QuikScat satellite: Rigor, a research scientist and co-author on the paper explained: "While the total area of ice cover in recent winters has remained about the same, during the past two years an increased amount of older, thicker perennial sea ice was swept by winds out of the Arctic Ocean into the Greenland Sea. What grew in its place in the winters between 2005 and 2007 was a thin veneer of first-year sea ice, which simply has less mass to survive the summer melt."



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


Sunday, October 14, 2007


A leaked internal BBC memo below. Note the "high" level of literacy: "principle" instead of "principal". Sometimes spellcheckers cannot rescue ignorance -- or is it just that the BBC would not know a principle if it fell over one?

From: Roger Harrabin - Internet
Sent: 12 October 2007 08:12
Subject: Guidance on Gore and Nobel Prize - please publish.

In any future reporting of Gore we should be careful not to suggest that the High Court says Gore was wrong on climate

The judge didn't say that. He said Gore's principle message on climate change was mainstream and uncontroversial. But he asked the government to make it plain in guidance notes to kids that nine points in the film were controversial.

He used the word "errors" but put it in inverted commas because the issues were not factual errors but issues of scientific debate.

We might say something like: "Al Gore whose film was judged by the High Court to have used some debatable science" or "Al Gore whose film was judged in the High Court to be controversial in parts".

The key is to avoid suggesting that the judge disagreed with the main climate change thesis.

Please pass to presenters because this issue about Gore will arise again.

Picayune "peace" prize

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links. Note that Fat Al's prize was a POLITICAL one, not a science one

On Tuesday the Nobel Foundation announced that Albert Fert of France and Peter Gruenberg of Germany had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance. This morning Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his global warmist propagandizing. But despite Gore's scientific pretensions, his prize was not in physics, or in any other scientific discipline. The best he could do was the Peace Prize.

Gore became only the second former U.S. vice president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first was Theodore Roosevelt, 101 years ago. (A sitting veep, Charles Dawes, also won in 1926.) A comparison between Roosevelt's prize and Gore's shows how far the Nobel Peace Prize has strayed from its original purpose: Roosevelt won the prize for negotiating a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Gore won it for something that has nothing to do with peace.zlist of Nobel Peace Prizes, you'll see that in recent years it has often gone to people or organizations whose work, while often worthy, has little to do with the promotion of peace per se. Last year the prize went to a Bangladeshi banker and a bank for their efforts to make credit available to the very poor. In 2004, it went to Wangari Maathai for planting trees in Kenya.

One reason for this may be that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has had reason to be disappointed in the results when it has given awards to more traditional peacemakers.

* In 1994, the Nobel Peace Prize notoriously went to Yasser Arafat (along with Israel's prime and foreign ministers) for signing the Oslo accords--which, far from establishing peace, enabled Arafat to set up a terror statelet in the West Bank and Gaza.

* In 1973, the Nobel went to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam's Lu Duc Tho for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord--which, far from establishing peace, led to conquest, repression and mass murder in Indochina.

* In 1926, 1930 and 1931 the Nobel Peace Prize went to men involved in the Briand-Kellogg Pact, which "outlawed war." By 1939 it was clear how well that was working out.

When the Nobel Peace Prize was established more than a century ago, wars were largely fought between traditional nation-states over material interests. But the 20th century saw the rise of a series of aggressive ideologies--communism, Nazism, radial Islam--that render old-fashioned notions of war and peace quaint. Determined ideologues cannot be appeased; peace through strength is the only alternative to war.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee rejects strength as well as war--hence its failure to award a Nobel to Ronald Reagan for winning the Cold War (Mikhail Gorbachev got one for losing, in 1990), or, say, to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for averting armed international conflict in Europe for half a century after World War II.

But why Al Gore? Here's one explanation: Global warmism is an all-encompassing ideology, but one that, unlike communism, Nazism and radical Islam, has yet to inspire anyone to take up arms. Maybe in defining "peace" the Norwegians have simply decided not to set their sights too high.

When the wind doesn't blow, power doesn't flow, even in Denmark

Comment from Australia: Wind power is nothing more than an expensive vanity, writes Terry McCrann

"IN the early hours of Saturday morning, two weeks ago, Denmark achieved something that makes John Howard's goals for lifting the use of renewable energy in Australia look pretty modest. "At 12.17am, as steady winds swept in from the North Sea and most Danes were in their beds, the nation's wind farms churned out 70 per cent of the electricity being consumed across the country."

That's how The Australian's European correspondent Peter Wilson began a glowing piece on wind energy last week. Where do I sign? Hallelujah! The world is saved. Just roll out the turbines. A future of clean, green, carbon-free electricity beckons. Well, actually no. Wilson didn't manage to get around to detailing how barely 48 hours later, those wind farms were supplying all of 2 per cent of the electricity being consumed across Denmark. From a bracing 2300MWh/h or so -- the output of two largish conventional power plants -- to less than 100 MWh/h, barely enough to keep the night lights burning. When the wind don't blow, the power don't flow.

So when that happened, where did the electricity come from? From Norway, from Sweden and from Germany. All up, around 1500MWh/h for some hours. In effect, the three neighbours jointly running a very large conventional power station just to keep the lights on in Denmark.

There, in a nutshell, is the twin problem with wind. On average, across a year, you might get 30 per cent of its theoretical capacity, but often you get zero or so close to zero as not to matter. It happens frequently and at any time; and when the wind chooses, not you. "Somebody", therefore, has to keep unused surplus capacity in some other form of generation equivalent to all the wind generation capacity. And keep it either operating, or able to at the flick of a switch.

Now, no, I didn't have those figures fed to me by the "competing power industries like coal and nuclear power", as Wilson's piece asserted, attacking an earlier critique I had written on wind power. I have spoken to no one from the coal or nuclear industry, or indeed any other lobbyist, or indeed had any communication, before writing.

In contrast, Wilson quoted no fewer than four spinmeisters for wind and the huge taxpayer and consumer dollars that flow so evenly and strongly to the industry around the world, unlike the electricity flowing from it. They were Anders Dalegaard, a project manager at the Danish Wind Industry Association; Isabelle Valentiny, communications director of the European Wind Energy Association; Stefan Gsaenger, secretary general of the World Wind Energy Association; and "(wind) industry association spokesman" Peter Rae. Surprisingly, all of them thought wind was the absolute bee's knees.

Analyse the data on the Danish power network's website -- -- and you should be able to see clearly the two problems with wind power. The first is its low capacity factor. As I had earlier noted, Germany's biggest power grid operator, E.ON Netz, over the year got an average of just 18 per cent of the rated capacity of its wind network. This produced an interesting response from one of the windmeisters: the German windmills weren't in the right places. In contrast, other networks were over 30 per cent, with Denmark claiming 45 per cent for its offshore turbines.

The much bigger problem, which the wind-meisters neatly sidestepped, is that at times you get almost zero power out of the entire network. As noted, 2500MWh/h one minute, less than 100MWh/h two days later. Another example, less than 10MWh/h -- effectively zero -- across all of Denmark for four hours straight. Back in February, less than 100MWh/h for 36 hours straight. If you were relying on wind, a day and a half with no power.

The obvious point about this is that power has to come from somewhere else to make up the difference. The less obvious but far more crucial point is that you need permanent surplus power-generating capacity somewhere for the full wind capacity. In your own grid or one to which you are hooked up. So if, say, in Australia we opted for the next 10,000MWh/h from wind, we wouldn't just have to build 7000MWh/h of coal or nuclear or gas to "cover" for the 70 per cent on average that wind doesn't provide relative to its sticker capacity. We would have to build the full 10,000 MWh/h of conventional power generation anyway, for when the wind doesn't blow at all! You can't rely on the wind blowing "somewhere"' to cover for the wind not blowing somewhere else.

Alternative gas power could be turned on when needed, but if you went for coal and nuclear they would essentially have to be ticking over all the time anyway. You can't just fire up the boilers the moment the wind stops blowing. Now, obviously, some games could be played at the margin. We mightn't need the full 10,000 MWh/h of conventional, we could probably get by with, say, 7000MWh/h -- another three Loy Yangs. We'd still essentially be getting one power station for the price of at least two.

Denmark has the biggest wind component in its power generation in the world. The reason it sort of works in Denmark, price aside, but can work only in Denmark, is that the country is small and connected to Norway, Sweden and Germany. Indeed, Denmark's wind works rather well joined to Norway's hydro, because the hydro can be turned on and off. But if the wind don't blow, it's still drawing power from Sweden's hydro and nuclear and Germany's coal and nuclear.

The key point is that extra power Denmark might need at points in time could be huge in its own terms -- 40 or even 50 per cent of total consumption. But it will be tiny when spread around Norway, Sweden and Germany. They can accommodate a small neighbour hooked on wind. But there's no way they could accommodate a Germany with the same wind intensity. Without someone building surplus conventional power stations.

Indeed, when the wind doesn't blow in Germany -- which now gets high single digits of its total power from wind -- it goes to nuclear France. And none of this touches on the grid challenges from having 2000MWh/h suddenly dropping to, say, 10MWh/h. Nor does it explain how it would "work" in Australia. Yes, you can connect all the state grids; but if you had a huge investment in wind in, say, Victoria, you would still need equivalent coal/nuclear/gas somewhere -- as essentially idle surplus capacity.

Unless you were prepared to literally turn off the lights, and everything else, when the wind didn't blow. Yes, Denmark's wind story has a huge lesson for Australia. That there is no way wind can make a sensible major contribution to mainstream power generation in Australia. Or even to the very objective it is purportedly directed at, greenhouse gas abatement. It is just an expensive, feel-good vanity.


Antarctic Ice Once Again GROWS to Record Levels

Excerpt from the website of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois Polar Research Group.

UPDATE: Monday, October 1, 2007 - Record SH sea ice maximum and NH sea ice minimum - Just when you thought this season's cryosphere couldn't be more strange .... The Southern Hemisphere sea ice area narrowly surpassed the previous historic maximum of 16.03 million sq. km to 16.17 million sq. km. The observed sea ice record in the Southern Hemisphere (1979-present) is not as long as the Northern Hemisphere.


Antarctic has cooled about 1 degree F since 1957


While the news focus has been on the lowest ice extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979 for the Arctic, the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) has quietly set a new record for most ice extent since 1979. This can be seen on this graphic from this University of Illinois site The Cryosphere Today, which updated snow and ice extent for both hemispheres daily. The Southern Hemispheric areal coverage is the highest in the satellite record, just beating out 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Since 1979, the trend has been up for the total Antarctic ice extent.

While the Antarctic Peninsula area has warmed in recent years and ice near it diminished during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the interior of Antarctica has been colder and ice elsewhere has been more extensive and longer lasting, which explains the increase in total extent.

This dichotomy was shown in this World Climate Report blog posted recently with a similar tale told in this paper by Ohio State Researcher David Bromwich, who agreed "It's hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now". Indeed, according the NASA GISS data, the South Pole winter (June/July/August) has cooled about 1 degree F since 1957 and the coldest year was 2004. This winter has been an especially harsh one in the Southern Hemisphere with cold and snow records set in Australia, South America and Africa. We will have recap on this hard winter shortly.

See full story here


A look at peer-reviewed literature thoroughly debunks fears of Greenland and the Arctic melting and predictions of a frightening sea level rise. An introductory excerpt:

The July 27-29 2007 U.S. Senate trip to Greenland to investigate fears of a glacier meltdown revealed an Arctic land where current climatic conditions are neither alarming nor linked to a rise in man-made carbon dioxide emissions, according to many of the latest peer-reviewed scientific findings. Research in 2006 found that Greenland has been warming since the 1880’s, but since 1955, temperature averages at Greenland stations have been colder than the period between 1881-1955.

A 2006 study found Greenland has cooled since the 1930's and 1940's, with 1941 being the warmest year on record. Another 2006 study concluded Greenland was as warm or warmer in the 1930’s and 40’s and the rate of warming from 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than the warming from 1995-2005. One 2005 study found Greenland gaining ice in the interior higher elevations and thinning ice at the lower elevations. In addition, the often media promoted fears of Greenland’s ice completely melting and a subsequent catastrophic sea level rise are directly at odds with the latest scientific studies. These studies suggest that the biggest perceived threat to Greenland’s glaciers may be contained in unproven computer models predicting a future catastrophic melt.



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


Saturday, October 13, 2007


An email from Oliver Manuel []

In case the evidence that NASA's James Hansen has presented for anthropologic global warming [AGW] is proven wrong or misleading, NASA's David H. Hathaway will be right on target in showing how cyclic changes in the Sun have caused global warming.

See solar cycles graph by David H. Hathaway [Note the greatly reduced sunspot activity after 1650, which is also when the little ice age began]

Slide 12 of the paper Dr. Hathaway presented at the SPD/AAS [Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society] Meeting on 30 May 2007 shows how solar surface activity has gradually increased since the time of the Maunder solar minimum in 1650-1710 and the Little Ice Age that paralyzed large sections of Europe and North America.

NASA even has a global map that illustrates the chilly temperatures during the Maunder solar minimum:

Seriously Inconvenient Truth: Producers of Gore’s Film Asked to return Oscars

Post below lifted from Newsbusters. See the original for links

As media in America fall all over themselves with glee at the thought of the Global Warmingist-in-Chief winning a Nobel Peace Prize, Wednesday's findings by a British judge that Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" contained nine material falsehoods has prompted a request to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to strip the movie's producers of the Oscars they received in February for "Best Documentary." How delicious. As reported by The West Australian Friday:
A conservative think-tank in New Zealand has written to the president of the America's Academy Awards asking that the Oscar awarded to the director of an Inconvenient Truth be taken back.

Former New Zealand MP Dr Muriel Newman, director of web-based think-tank the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, said she had taken the measure in response to a British High Court ruling Thursday.

This is her actual press release:
"With the release of the British High Court judgement overnight that found that ‘An Inconvenient Truth' was littered with nine inconvenient untruths, it is clear that Al Gore embellished the truth to create dramatic effect (see

"Given that the Oscar Award was presented in the documentary category and not the drama category, the only appropriate action now is for the Academy to rescind the Award as it was clearly inappropriately classed as a documentary. "The truth, as inconvenient as it is to Al Gore, is that his so-called documentary contained critical distortions that are quite contrary to the principles of good documentary journalism. Good documentaries should be factually correct. Clearly this documentary is not.

"This situation is not unlike that confronting sports bodies, when their sports "stars" are found to be drug cheats. In such cases, the sportsmen and women are stripped of their medals and titles, with the next-place getter elevated. While this is an extremely unpleasant duty, it is necessary if the integrity of competitive sport is to be protected. "Just this week Olympic gold medal winner Marion Jones has been stripped of her titles and medals.

"If the integrity of the Academy Awards is to remain intact, is wholly appropriate that Al Gore be stripped of his ‘Best Documentary' film Oscar. "If the Academy wishes to acknowledge the work of people like Al Gore they should form a new category of film called ‘Political Drama'. That's how ‘An Inconvenient Truth' should be categorised", Dr Newman said.

Obviously, I couldn't agree more. As a sidebar, since the British court announcement Wednesday, only Investor's Business Daily and the Washington Times reported the errors in Gore's film to American print readers.

Shockingly, the Associated Press published a piece on this judge's ruling at 4:07PM EST Thursday. It will be interesting to see how many newspapers cover it in their print editions Friday. As for television news outlets, only Fox News found this judge's decision newsworthy. Not one word from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC. Color me unsurprised.


Environmentalists are cagey about techno-fixes to climate change because berating mankind for its impact on nature is their raison d'etre

Environmental activists and commentators frequently argue that climate change is the most pressing problem facing humanity, and that if we don't do something about it the planet will burn up. Yet when planet-sized technological solutions to global warming - also known as `geo-engineering solutions' - are put forward, environmentalists are the first to balk. `It will never work', they say. Why are those who are most concerned about climate change also the most hostile to doing something serious to tackle it?

It isn't just because such solutions would be ambitious, costly and distant in time; nor is it only because these solutions would carry risks. Rather, environmentalists tend to dismiss geo-engineering because, at root, they are not interested in halting climate change. For many today, both green activists and leading politicians, climate change is a moral and political issue rather than simply a practical problem. They see the `issue of climate change' as a means to changing people's behaviour and expectations, rather than simply as a byproduct of industrialisation that ought to be tackled by technological know-how. They are resistant to geo-engineering solutions because putting an end to climate change would rob them of their raison d'ˆtre.

On Sunday, the UK Observer reported that a forthcoming issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society will be devoted to geo-engineering, and that the Science Museum in London is opening an exhibition titled `Can Algae Save The World?' (1). The Observer summarised six geo-engineering solutions that have been mooted, rating the chances of each succeeding from 1 to 5:

Ocean pipes and pumps, bringing life forms from the depths to the surface, where they could absorb CO2. Chance of success: 3/5.

Rocketing enough sulphur into the stratosphere for it to cool the planet by blocking the sun's rays. Chance of success: 1/5.

Doing much the same with giant mirrors, orbiting in space. Chance of success: 1/5.

Seeding clouds to increase overall cloud cover from the sun by four per cent. Chance of success: 2/5.

Building thousands of synthetic trees coated with materials that would absorb CO2. Chance of success: 4/5.

Increasing the production of plankton and algae in the sea, which again would absorb more CO2. Chance of success: 2/5.

For all environmentalists' enthusiasm for peer-reviewed climate science, they are enormously sceptical about human-created technology. The arbitrarily low ratings assigned to approaches 1 to 6 above are based on one-liner dismissals: the impact of ocean pumps on marine life, for example, could `count against' them, and mirrors would be `incredibly expensive'. For sulphur and scheme 6, low ratings emerge, respectively, because the associated risks of acid rain and ozone depletion `will provoke opposition', and because scheme 6 `faces considerable opposition' over `potential' damage to marine life. So, the existence, imagined or real, of opponents to geo-engineering is enough for its chances of success to be derided.

Yet it is not particular technologies that environmentalists hate, so much as the whole idea of human ingenuity - the conscious, designing, problem-solving capabilities that distinguish mankind from naturally occurring species. If, as environmentalists claim, mankind means waste and the reckless destruction of finite natural resources, then artificial constructions can only deserve varying degrees of ridicule - partly for the damage they will bring in tow, but mainly for their creators' outrageous arrogance.

The Observer report began with the idea that geo-engineering technologies `are the ultimate technological fixes'. The phrase `technological fix' has now replaced the earlier one, `technical fix'. `Technical fix' was used to mean work-arounds, or engineering versions of a band-aid, which were used to solve problems but only temporarily. (In the world of software, such work-arounds are still called `patches'.) Today, `technological fix' is uttered with a sneer: it is used to suggest that man-made technology can only `fix' things for a short period of time and will fail to address the underlying problems facing the planet, which apparently are overproduction, overconsumption and too much development. The term `technological fix' is used to denounce geo-engineering as flimsy and also to remind us of the real problem: mankind's arrogance.

Some environmentalists argue that mankind is addicted to technology. As Nature pointed out in an excellent overview of recent debates: `Geo-engineering, many say, is a way to feed society's addiction to fossil fuels. "It's like a junkie figuring out new ways of stealing from his children", says Meinrat Andreae, an atmospheric scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.' (2) Environmentalists love the addiction metaphor for a reason: it portrays human beings in general, and especially male engineers, as unthinking automatons, or zombies. Indeed, as the Observer notes: `Opponents to such schemes [of geo-engineering] point out that it is technology that got mankind in its current fix. An even bigger dose of technology is therefore the last thing the planet needs.' Note the use of the word `dose'.

In recent years, environmentalists have found fault with just about every technology devised or conjectured in the battle against global warming. Carbon-free nuclear fission? Radioactive waste makes it a non-starter. Carbon-free nuclear fusion? Its success has always been, and will forever remain, 30 years away. Biofuels? Growing them will increase food prices, and stomachs must come before cars (3). A tidal barrage for the Severn estuary in the UK or large hydroelectric dams in the Third World? The first will kill wildlife, the second will displace local inhabitants on a shocking scale (4). Wind power done at scale? It has `non-negligible' impacts on climate and destroys the visual appearance of the countryside (5). Clean coal-fired power plants through carbon capture and storage? Clean coal is an oxymoron.

Even green supporters of geo-engineering only go out on a limb because of how badly mankind is supposed to have behaved towards nature in the past. Thus the Observer paraphrases the ecologist James Lovelock by saying that, with geo-engineering, `there are dangers in intervening but the risks posed by doing nothing are worse'. Indeed, some researchers support geo-engineering on the basis that it is now mankind's `only hope' of saving itself from the impact of climate change.

It is worth recalling that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for what that body is worth, believes that the world faces a rise of sea levels of between 18 and 59 centimetres by the year 2100 - and that if the Greenland ice sheet should ever melt, it will be in hundreds of years' time (6). So is global warming really so bad, and the world doing so little about it already, that geo-engineering is our `only hope'? On both sides of the geo-engineering divide, green sentiment begins and ends with the idea that mankind is a risky disaster waiting to happen.

To its credit, the Observer did recognise that carbon capture and storage is likely to play a major role in the world's battle against climate change, `though perhaps not in the form of synthetic trees'. But the argument it cited against such trees is technically very poor. Critics of synthetic trees, the Observer tells us, suggest that `engineers could end up expending more energy in capturing carbon dioxide than they would save'. In the same way, environmentalists always point out how much energy is needed to build a carbon-free nuclear power station, distribute biofuels around a country, or put up a carbon-free hydroelectric dam.

This argument - that trying to prevent climate change through technology will lead to more energy use - is skewed. The Earth's unlimited supply of energy in a chaotic form contrasts strongly with human beings' desire, need and ability to order energy to pursue tasks that are more and more intricate - tasks that include cutting pollutants such as CO2 (7). The main use of energy is to extract, refine, process and purify energy itself. In the same way, mankind will most probably need to expend a lot of energy, and even generate a lot of carbon, to build the low- or zero-carbon power sources, and also the carbon traps, of tomorrow.

For environmentalists, however, all technological initiatives against global warming that are large in scale - geo-engineering schemes and big-league renewable energy apparatus emphatically included - can only add to our problems: they use up energy, generate carbon, and, above all, speak of our refusal to bow down to nature in the humility that is required. As Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Nobel Prize-winner, points out in a seminal issue of the journal Climatic Change devoted to geo-engineering: `A commonly held view is that commitment to geo-engineering would undercut human resolve to deal with the cause of the original problem, greenhouse gases in the case of climate change.' (8) But why must geo-engineering necessarily add to the sum-total of human laziness? And why does Cicerone go on not just to advocate more research into it, which is fair enough, but also to recommend that scientists meet to call a moratorium on large scale experiments in it - a moratorium that, `in the minds of many', could only end if `humans had done enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions'? The implication is that humans must first suffer, by cutting back on consumption and energy-use, before we can at least try to fix the problems of pollution. This gets to the nub of environmentalists' hostility towards geo-engineering.

Environmentalists instinctively reject or ignore technological solutions to global warming because they are bent on making people atone for their sins. Their ridicule of geo-engineering reveals that, for them, climate change is a moral tale about humanity's greed and arrogance, where the happy ending is a much-reduced human population where everyone lives simply and meekly. As one contributor to Climatic Change puts it: `I feel we would be taking on the ultimate state of hubris to believe we can control Earth.' (9) However, even without inadvertent, man-made climate change, and even without complete knowledge of how the Earth's climate works, the aspiration to control the weather consciously, for the betterment of humanity, is a noble one. Moreover though technological experiments - of any sort - can always be dangerous, they will be required if climate control is ever to get anywhere.

Geo-engineering should not be a last-ditch bid for survival, but rather an expression of humanising the Earth. And tests of geo-engineering technologies will be essential, one day, if the potential of these technologies is ever to move from the world of research to the world of practical benefits. Those of us who see pollution as a problem to be solved, rather than as a stick with which to beat down people's horizons, should call for more grand experimentation in the area of climate control.



By Meteorologist Anthony Watts. Excerpt:

A science blogger named Tamino, in a post he made here, challenged me to "explain it or shut up" related to the loss of northern hemisphere Arctic ice this season which he claimed was ." undeniable, that it's not natural variation" in contrast to the southern hemisphere Antarctic setting a new record for ice extent.....

In simpler terms, polar wind patterns changed and blew sea ice further south to warmer waters than it normally would. Sea ice can easily be wind driven. I wonder if that's the same mechanism that caused loss of Arctic sea ice in the 1920-30's? The Arctic is almost as warm now as it was seventy years ago. Unsurprisingly, Arctic ice has diminished. But, as Polyakov et, the long-term changes are "generally statistically insignificant". But there's more ice in Antarctica now. It seems that points more to a natural, cyclical variation on a global scale when one pole diminishes while another gains.

Then there's area to consider, as commenter Aaron wells writes: On the other hand, the South Pole normal area is about 15 million km^2, with current amounts amounting to a positive anomaly of 1 million km^2, for a current total of about 16 million km^2.

Now, it is easy to get alarmed about the North Pole numbers, because they have gotten so close to zero. But the truth is about 2/3rd of total North Pole ice always melts by the end of the northern summer. This summer it got down to about 1/4 of the winter amount. It is much less alarming if you consider the total between the 2 poles. Using the Cryosphere Today normals and current ice areas, there is normally about 20 million km^2, and currently there is only 19 million km^2. When you realize that the total taken together only represents about a 5% reduction from normal, then it does not seem nearly as alarming.

It appears that there is precedent for what we are observing today, and a strong suggestion of a cyclical nature that points to a natural variability mechanism. Plus, the most important thing to note is that we only have satellite measured sea ice data from about 1979. A 30 year trend isn't enough to conclude much upon, especially when there is clear evidence of a larger period cycle. Of course, I don't expect Tamino will pay any attention to any of this, since he's made it clear that he's no longer going to listen to anything "deniers" (as he's labeled those with contrasting views) have to say. That's OK, I enjoyed the research.


Arctic Ice reduction blamed on Artic Oscillation


But another factor was probably involved, one with roots going back to about 1989. At that time, a periodic flip in winds and pressure patterns over the Arctic Ocean, called the Arctic Oscillation, settled into a phase that tended to stop ice from drifting in a gyre for years, so it could thicken, and instead carried it out to the North Atlantic. The new NASA study of expelled old ice builds on previous measurements showing that the proportion of thick, durable floes that were at least 10 years old dropped to 2 percent this spring from 80 percent in the spring of 1987, said Ignatius G. Rigor, an ice expert at the University of Washington and an author of the new NASA-led study.


Greenpeace urges kangaroo consumption to fight global warming

Kangaroos are a huge pest in Australia so this is a good idea but the animal rights people will go bananas

MORE kangaroos should be slaughtered and eaten to help save the world from global warming, environmental activists say. The controversial call to cut down on beef and serve more of the national symbol on our dinner plates follows a report on curbing greenhouse gas emissions damaging the planet.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Mark Wakeham urged Aussies to substitute some red meat for roo to help reduce land clearing and the release of methane gas. "It is one of the lifestyle changes we can make," Mr Wakeham said. "Changing our meat consumption habits is a small way to make an impact." The eat roo recommendation is contained in a report, Paths to a Low-Carbon Future, commissioned by Greenpeace and released today.

It also coincides with recent calls from climate change experts for people in rich countries to reduce red meat and switch to chicken and fish because land-clearing and burping and farting cattle and sheep were damaging the environment. They said nearly a quarter of the planet's greenhouse gases came from agriculture, which releases the potent heat-trapping gas methane.

Roughly three million kangaroos are killed and harvested for meat each year. They are shot with high-powered guns between the eyes at night. Australians eat about a third of the 30 million kilograms of roo meat produced annually. The delicacy is exported to dozens of countries and is most popular in Germany, France and Belgium.

The Greenpeace report has renewed calls for Victoria to lift a ban on harvesting roos for food. Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia spokesman John Kelly said roos invading farmers' crops were already being illegally shot. "They are being culled and left to rot," Mr Kelly said. Kangaroo meat sold in Victoria is imported from interstate.

Australia's kangaroo population has halved to 25 million in the past five years as the drought has taken a toll on breeding and the animals' food sources, Mr Kelly said. Under a quota system, 10 to 12 per cent can be killed for the meat and leather industry. Aerial surveys estimate their numbers.



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


Friday, October 12, 2007

Judicial wisdom from Britain

Following are the inaccuracies in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" as found by a British High Court judge:

The decision by the government to distribute Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth has been the subject of a legal action by New Party member Stewart Dimmock. Although a full ruling has yet to be given, the Court found that the film was misleading in 11 respects and that the Guidance Notes drafted by the Education Secretary's advisors served only to exacerbate the political propaganda in the film.

In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children. The inaccuracies are:

The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government's expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.

The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that this was not the case.

The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant's evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.

The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.

The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.

The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.


Arctic passage highly variable

By Gary Sharp, Scientific Director, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study. Excerpt:

I was fortunate enough to have been given a long in-depth introduction to the subject over several years by Joseph Fletcher - whose Team that set up the first Ice Island Observation system - known as T-3 - or Fletcher's Ice Station - He also gave me a VHS tape of the black/white movies that his 'camera-man' (and 3rd member) of the Team. He and his crews had been flying back and forth over the Arctic and North Pacific/Aleutians for a long while - war causes lots of odd opportunities. - Joe turned 87 this year - and is alive and living in Sequim Washington and his family are well aware of his roles - many - such as this story, or this or this -

After leaving the Air Force in 1963 after 20 years- he went on to become Rand Corporation's Polar Science Wizard, then Director of NSF Polar Programs - where he became immersed in Internationalization of these studies -and then he moved on to become Director of the US Ocean and Atmosphere Laboratory System, out of Boulder Colorado - where he initiated the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data set (COADS) - as a follow-on to Mathew Fontaine Maury's initial 1850s efforts - and on it went until he retired in 1993. We had met during my own efforts to get System science applied in the NOAA Fisheries Monitoring/Management process - and Joe and I were in total agreement about this startup statement in his COADS History - `We all learn at an early age that the first and most essential step in answering a question is to understand what the question is-and then, all too often we see that obvious principle violated." ....

Joe pointed out several times to me in his B/W movies that there were seasons of nearshore ice-free situations - and others when skis or overflights were the only way in or out. Unfortunately - not enough years of observations - or guys with the right questions out there. Between 1956 and 1989 there were 33 passages. They are listed in the book Northwest Passage by Edward Struzik published in 1991. One was by K. Horie aboard the Japanese sloop Mermaid, who made an east to west passage in 1981-83. Another was by W. De Roos in a 42 foot ketch named Williwaw, who made the first single handed Passage in 1977 when the Northern Hemisphere was rather cold....


Meteorologist Craig James Debunks Myths about Northwest Passage


The headline in this press release from the European Space Agency reads "Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history". In history! That sounds like a long time. However, when you read the article you find "history" only goes back to 28 years, to 1979. That is when satellites began monitoring Arctic Sea ice. The article also says "the Northwest Passage - a long-sought short cut between Europe and Asia that has been historically impassable."

I guess these people flunked history class. It has been open several times in history, without ice breakers. The first known successful navigation by ship was in 1905. This is all very similar to the story on the NBC Nightly News Friday, 14 Sep 07 where the story on water levels in Lake Superior never mentioned that the lowest recorded water level on the lake occurred in March and April 1926, when the lake was about 5 inches lower than it is now. Instead, NBC interviewed several people who could never remember seeing it this low and blamed most of the problem on global warming. Never mind that the area has seen below normal precipitation for several years and for most of this year has been classified as being in an extreme to exceptional drought.




Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, noted in a June 18, 2007 essay that global warming has stopped. "The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998.

Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2. Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 %)," In August 2007, the UK Met Office was finally forced to concede the obvious: global warming has stopped.

The UK Met Office acknowledged the flat lining of global temperatures, but in an apparent attempt to keep stoking man-made climate alarm, the Met Office is now promoting more unproven dire computer model projections of the future. They now claim climate computer models predict "global warming will begin in earnest in 2009" because greenhouse emissions will then overtake natural climate variability.


Prominent Environmentalists Turn on Movement - Slam Greens as `doomsayers and scolds'


For angry heretics on the run, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger sure know how to enjoy themselves. Sitting in a cozy Berkeley restaurant just a few blocks from San Francisco Bay, exchanging tasting notes on the vermentino ("cold white wine is so good with fatty, fried food," Shellenberger says), they recount with perverse pleasure, in tones almost as dry as the wine, how they've been branded as infidels by fellow environmentalists.

It started in 2004, when they published their first Tom Paine-style essay accusing the movement's leaders of failing to deal effectively with the global warming crisis. "We thought that someone was going to take a swing at us," Shellenberger says. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope published withering counterattacks, and the two men were dubbed "the bad boys of American environmentalism" by author Bill McKibben.

Nordhaus, 41, and Shellenberger, 36, didn't set out to infuriate their former colleagues. On the contrary, they were good Berkeley citizens - partial to black clothing, into biking (Nordhaus) and yoga (Shellenberger), fluent in pinot noir. Above all, they were passionate about the environment. For the better part of a decade, they toiled in the green movement as consultants and political strategists, each hoping to change the world. Instead, the climate crisis changed the rules: It demanded a new way of framing the debate, and the pair became disillusioned when the environmental establishment stubbornly refused to adapt. That led to their fateful essay, with the not-so-subtle title The Death of Environmentalism.

Overnight, the two became pariahs. And now, with the October publication of their first book, Break Through: From "The Death of Environmentalism" to the Politics of Possibility, they are going to face the full fury of enraged environmentalists. Pope, who has read the book, predicts that the reception from the movement "will be harshly negative." .....

Environmentalists, therefore, have missed a huge opportunity. Rather than being leaders in solving the global climate crisis, they are content to be doomsayers and scolds. What Nordhaus and Shellenberger advocate is what might be called post-environmentalism, an ambitious new philosophy that isn't afraid to put people ahead of nature and to dream big about creating economic growth - neither of which environmentalists have been very good at.

Their vision cuts across traditional political divides: It's pro-growth, pro-technology, and pro-environment. They have specific proposals about Brazilian rain forests, the auto industry, and global warming preparedness. But the heart of the book is its unabashed desire to create a new way to think about our problems. Just as computer technology fueled the economic boom that started in the mid '90s, greentech can drive the first boom of the new millennium. "Global warming," they write, "demands unleashing human power, creating a new economy, and remaking nature as we prepare for the future." .....

The two authors respond with their usual feisty aplomb. "No environmentalist will say investment isn't important," Nordhaus says, "but look at what they are actually putting their resources into." He and Shellenberger are certain that the public will support massive government spending on greentech - bigger than anything the Sierra Club or Silicon Valley VCs are proposing - only if it is presented not as an attempt to rein in prosperity and economic growth but as a quantum leap for the global economy and climate. If they're wrong, Shellenberger and Nordhaus may be best remembered for tilting at windmills - when windmills were what they were fighting for all along.



The paper below is from 2005 but is still rather startling

Ice Age Epochs and the Sun's Path through the Galaxy

By D. R. Gies and J. W. Helsel


We present a calculation of the Sun's motion through the Milky Way over the last 500 million yr. The integration is based on estimates of the Sun's current position and speed from measurements with Hipparcos and on a realistic model for the Galactic gravitational potential. We estimate the times of the Sun's past spiral arm crossings for a range of assumed values of the spiral pattern angular speed. We find that for a difference between the mean solar and pattern speed of Omega 0 - Omega p = 11.9 ~ 0.7 km s-1 kpc-1, the Sun has traversed four spiral arms at times that appear to correspond well with long-duration cold periods on Earth. This supports the idea that extended exposure to the higher cosmic-ray flux associated with spiral arms can lead to increased cloud cover and long ice age epochs on Earth.

The Astrophysical Journal, 626:844-848, 2005 June 20

Pesky glaciers: "All eyes are on Greenland's melting glaciers as alarm about global warming spreads. This year, delegations of U.S. and European politicians have made pilgrimages to the fastest-moving glacier at Ilulissat, where they declare that they see climate change unfolding before their eyes. Curiously, something that's rarely mentioned is that temperatures in Greenland were higher in 1941 than they are today. Or that melt rates around Ilulissat were faster in the early part of the past century, according to a new study. And while the delegations first fly into Kangerlussuaq, about 100 miles to the south, they all change planes to go straight to Ilulissat -- perhaps because the Kangerlussuaq glacier is inconveniently growing".


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


Thursday, October 11, 2007


An email from Don Vandervelde []:

Temperature "engineering" by manipulating a reduction in CO2 level is bound to be ineffectual to that purpose, because the known actual trivial effect on temperature of CO2 changes; even while reducing the highly beneficial ability of high CO2 levels to produce both more land and sea greening by plants that increase the earth's life-carrying capacity, while requiring less water to do so.

It may have very beneficial unintended results, though, in a couple of cases. 1) Iron fertilization of the sea not only sequesters CO2, but enhances the amount of food available at the bottom of the food chain, which will inevitably increase the quantity of other sea life at the top, including that part that is harvested for human consumption. 2) The coming boom in nuclear power generation, intended to avoid CO2 generation, will advance the human condition by providing us all cheap, reliable energy. So, let's encourage right actions for wrong reasons.


Compare with the much less dramatic North/South differences in the late 20th century

Nearly 12,900 years ago, as the last ice age was fading away, the world was suddenly plunged back into the freezer for another 1400 years. Temperatures dropped by as much as 12 degrees Celsius, and ice sheets advanced from the polar regions toward the equator. The sudden changes were thought to be global in scale, but new research suggests that the Southern Hemisphere remained relatively balmy as the Northern Hemisphere froze. The results could shed light on what might happen if deep-sea currents change because of global warming.

The cooling episode, known as the Younger Dryas event, was likely linked to currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Today, cold water sinks near the Arctic and flows deep below the surface of the Atlantic toward the southern oceans, where it rises up. It then flows back along the surface northward. Eventually, the water approaches the Arctic again, where it cools and sinks.

This "global conveyor belt" transports heat from the tropics into the Northern Hemisphere, which would otherwise be much colder. If this cycle were disrupted, as some say it might be if the Greenland ice sheet were to slide into the ocean, it could have big implications for the climate. But how big?

The geological history of the Younger Dryas might help answer that question, as a breakdown of the Atlantic conveyor may have triggered the cooling. The chill definitely hit the Northern Hemisphere, but researchers debate whether it was global in extent. In New Zealand, wood has been found under glacial debris dating to the Younger Dryas, suggesting that glaciers responded to the event by growing.

But Timothy Barrows, a paleoclimatologist at the Australian National University near Canberra, and colleagues have found evidence that the Younger Dryas had little chilling effect down under. First, Barrows and colleagues severed the connection between the glacier data and the cooling event. They studied boulders from the New Zealand site where the glacial wood had been found, measuring the concentrations in the rocks of radioactive isotopes beryllium-10 and chlorine-36, which are produced by nuclear reactions between minerals and cosmic rays. This reveals how long it's been since the rocks were last exposed to cosmic rays. The boulders, they report in the 5 October issue of Science, were deposited by glaciers 1000 years after the end of the Younger Dryas. That means that the Southern Hemisphere glaciers kept flowing after the end of the cold snap, implying that the Younger Dryas did not hold sway there.

The researchers found other hints that the Southern Hemisphere didn't cool by examining a deep-sea core drilled off the coast of New Zealand. They analyzed compounds in the rock produced by algae to track ancient ocean temperatures. The data suggested that temperatures in the region warmed during the Younger Dryas, which Barrows says makes sense: "Heat accumulating in the Southern Hemisphere as the north cooled is what we expected to see if the conveyor belt were shut down."

The results undermine previous theories that temperatures in the two hemispheres changed in synchrony, says Derek Fabel, a geomorphologist at the University of Glasgow in the U.K. The next step, Fabel says, is to use climate models to see whether the events would replay themselves if global warming shuts down the Atlantic conveyor once again.



Siberian warming predates the industrial era; does the trend apply to the entire world?

Siberia's Lake Baikal is the world's deepest lake. By water volume, its also the largest freshwater lake, containing more water than all five of the North America's Great Lakes combined. Fed by over 300 rivers, Baikal is a barometer for the entire Siberian region. Due to the lake's depth (over a mile deep in many places), it contains the northern hemisphere's most pristine, uninterrupted sedimentary record, allowing highly accurate reconstructions of past temperatures. Baikal's great distance from the moderating effects of any ocean also makes it an ideal site for detecting global warming.

Researcher Anson Mackay, of the Environmental Change Research Centre, University College, London, has done just that -- reconstructed the climate history of Lake Baikal over the past 800,000 years. The result is the most accurate high-resolution temperature record of Siberia ever constructed. And it contains several surprises. The record clearly demonstrates the region has often been considerably warmer than it is at present. More stunning is the most recent data, which shows Siberia first began warming around 250 years ago -- long before the industrial revolution, and its resultant greenhouse gas emissions.

Mackay concludes, "[Changes] started as early as c. 1750 AD, with a shift from taxa that bloom during autumn overturn to assemblages that exhibit net growth in spring (after ice break-up) ...Warming in the Lake Baikal region commenced before rapid increases in greenhouse gases, and at least initially, is therefore a response to other forcing factors such as insolation changes."

Siberia is, of course, not the entire world. However, the global warming signal is, even today, strongest there. Also, Mackay's paper is not the only research to demonstrate the current warming trend predates the industrial era -- for instance, Braeuning's research in Turkey, Hallert in Canada, or Vollweiler, et al, in Austria/Germany.

Source. Journal abstract here

The Dangers of Those Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Energy-saving device advocated by Al Gore to 'reduce your carbon impact at home' poses mercury dangers and health risks -- so the Greenies, great mercury-haters though they are, are trying to cover the problem up! It shows you that controlling people is primarily what the Greenies are on about -- not the environment

It's listed as the top thing you can do by Al Gore's Web site on climate change to reduce your carbon impact at home - replacing a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). But Gore doesn't warn you about what could happen if you improperly dispose of them or even accidentally break one. The Washington Post's Eco Wise columnist Eviana Hartman reminded readers, "they contain a small amount of mercury, a potent neurotoxin." "If you toss the bulbs in the trash, they're likely to break, potentially exposing workers to mercury or releasing it into groundwater and soil from landfills," Hartman wrote in the October 7 Washington Post.

Hartman reported each CFL contains 5 mg of mercury. That doesn't sound like a lot, but consider what happened to Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine when a CFL broke in her daughter's bedroom. "One broke," Joseph Farah wrote in an April 16 WorldNetDaily story. "A month later, her daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb."

Hartman encouraged readers to recycle their dead CFLs or call for a "hazardous waste pickup." She also gave tips for cleaning up CFLs if they break. However, the April 2 Waste News, a trade publication that focuses on issues pertaining to waste products and the environment, reported there has been little discussion about the environmental hazards because of the hype surrounding global warming hysteria: "But warning consumers that they have to dispose of compact fluorescents with care may not be in the best interest of those trying to sell them, she [Ann Moore, recycling coordinator for Burlington County, NJ] said. Along with the additional expense and performance concerns, having to deal with disposing of the bulbs could give consumers another excuse not to buy them, she said. `You probably don't want to do that because you'd hate to wreck the momentum,' Moore said. `And that could kill the movement.'"

Another story about the dangers of CFLs and the lack of warning provided by the manufacturers was reported in the April 14 issue of The (Nashville) Tennessean. "Everybody is throwing all this mercury into the garbage. No one knows this. This should be in bold print on the packaging," Elizabeth Doermann said to The Tennessean after she broke a CFL and vacuumed it up, spreading the mercury contaminants throughout her home. "She held a new package of the lights from which she had learned about the mercury, only after putting on glasses to read the little print. This was after the vacuuming incident," Anne Paine of The Tennessean wrote. "A square, dwarfed by the bar code, contained the phrases `Mercury' and `Manage in accordance with Disposal Laws,' a phone number and a Web address. It did not say that used bulbs should be treated as household hazardous waste."


Greenies are now aiming to control space exploration!

They never let up and they are never happy

It may be a century or two, or even three, before humankind calls another planet home, but researchers say lessons learnt from the settlement of Australia will prove useful for the future colonisation of other planets. NASA plans to send human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars within the next two decades, with scientists hoping this will eventually lead to the building of a lasting civilisations beyond the Earth.

But a University of Queensland research team shows extraterrestrial colonies could end up resembling the worst aspects of outback mining towns. While the images from popular movies, television shows and books tend to shape most people's concept of space travel, the research team has now boldly gone where no researchers have gone before. In an attempt to come up with scenarios for what they say is the inevitable colonisation of other worlds, they have analysed attitudes toward space exploration.

Dr Toni Johnson-Woods says she and her colleagues found there is a prevailing belief that other planets and their natural resources are there simply to be exploited. "The focus is on exploitation of the minerals. Basically, it's just Australia all over again," she said. "You go out like the British did to Australia, you take everything you bloody can out of a place, and then you ping off." [What a totally false depiction of Australian history!]

She says the "spirit of exploration" that has marked the space age appears to have given way to thinking that is closer to that of pre-20th century colonialism. "There's also an idea that there's nothing already on Mars, which I presume there isn't, in the same way that Australia had that terra nullius, like there's nothing in Australia, so, 'we're just going to go there, take what we need and leave'," she said.

The researchers concluded that the digging up and processing of minerals is likely to be a factor driving future planetary colonisation and Dr John Cokley says that is where Australia's experiences could provide valuable lessons. "In fact, some of the space research people, they build little practice colonies, they call them biospheres," he said. "They're actually practising in the desert, in the middle of Australia, because it looks and feels like the surface of Mars."

Sustainability in space

Dr Cokley says the social and environmental mistakes made during the opening up of Australia - and in particular its rugged mining regions - could serve as examples of how not to establish communities in space. "We know that our mining towns have come a long way in the last 30 years," he said. "They used to be pretty challenging places to live and those mining towns - we've all been to pretty rough towns, they're not really sustainable and we talk about sustainability now, when people never did 50 or 100 years ago.

"The other thing is that space is not an infinite resource. If we go to the Moon and litter the Moon and wreck it, there's not another one just down the road. "It costs a lot of money to go there and if it's worth going there, then it's worth looking after."

It may be long into future before people are living and working on the Moon or on Mars or other more distant planets, but Dr Johnson-Woods believes it is not too early to consider the impact a human presence will have on these new and pristine worlds. "You put a footprint somewhere, it's never the same again," she said. "I can just see bubblegum on the undercarriage of a space station... it doesn't take long, and if we do destroy a planet that's uninhabitable, is that a problem? It's an ethical issue."



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


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Inconvenient Meteorologist


Global warming certainly generated a lot of heat - for CNN. Meteorologist Rob Marciano told the October 4 "American Morning" audience: "There are definitely some inaccuracies" in the Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth."

After the previous report ended up "stirring a new storm" and generating "a lot of e-mails to our show," Marciano followed up with even more things Gore got wrong the next day. "He does talk about tornados, implying that there's an increase in tornados from global warming, that's not necessary true," said Marciano.

In the earlier report, Marciano had said, "There are definitely some inaccuracies" in the film. "The biggest thing I have a problem with is this implication that Katrina was caused by global warming," he concluded. This time, he followed up with quotes from two scientists with conflicting views about hurricanes. "First up is the science and operations officer of the National Hurricane Center, a big time researcher named Chris Landsea."

Landsea explained why he didn't think warming was causing current hurricane problems. "He told me," Marciano said of Landsea, "the best computer models suggest global warming will cause changes in hurricanes. We should see slightly stronger hurricanes, 5 percent stronger 100 years from now. But the concern that we're seeing drastic increase today due to global warming I think is wrong."

Marciano explained that there are good reasons for Landsea's skepticism because the global data "is not as reliable" as the information used by the United States. "We're the only country that routinely flies into hurricanes and that's the only way to truly see how strong a storm is." He added that Atlantic hurricanes count for just 15 percent of the global total, so the results could easily be skewed by bad data.


Former CDC Malaria Expert Debunks Malaria global warming fears


So the globalization of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases is nothing new and we can expect further surprises in the future. There is also nothing new about mosquito-borne disease in Europe....

Despite all this, a WHO official has claimed that warming allowed this cold-weather mosquito to settle in Italy. Whether this is ignorance or deliberate misinformation, it diverts attention from the real cause: the increasing globalization of disease as a result of modern transportation. World leaders have just been discussing far-reaching policies at the U.N.'s High Level Event and at President Bush's Meeting of Major Economies on Climate Change and Energy Security, where they were bombarded with this kind of distortion. The public will surely soon get fed up with constant hype about global warming.

Sadly, when they realize that the alarmists were crying wolf, it is confidence in science and scientists that will suffer: we have to stick to the science and nothing but the science.


Climatologist warns: Prepare for Cooling, not Warming


The world is cooling. Global temperatures have declined since 1998 and a growing number of climate experts expect this trend to continue until at least 2030. This, happening while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to rise, is in complete contradiction to the theory of human-induced (anthropogenic) global warming (AGW).

The CBC and other die-hard AGW proponents respond by publicizing selected glacial melts and the impact of dramatic but improbable sea level rises, the only warming issues that seem to grab public attention. Canadian politicians simply follow along, parroting scientifically unjustified AGW rhetoric while lamenting that "climate change is real!" They either don't know, or hope the public don't know, that climate changes all the time no matter what we do.

For most of the world's plants and animals, humanity included, cooling is a far greater threat than warming. This is especially true for Canada where energy usage, and consequently pollution levels, will rise as temperatures drop. More importantly, if we prepare for warming and it cools, Canada's food supply is seriously at risk since we are already at the northern limit to agriculture. Even a small amount of cooling would necessitate increased genetic engineering of crops and animals to sustain ourselves and further cooling still would end much of today's farming in Canada.

Yet, if we prepare for cooling and it warms, we simply adopt farming practices used to the south of us. It is the case in most parts of the world that adaptation to warming is far easier than adapting to cooling. Canada's situation is just that much worse due to our latitude. Despite this very real threat of continued cooling, our leaders still press for developed nations to dramatically curb CO2 emissions to counter possible warming.....

It is time to finally lift the lid off the Pandora's Box of modern day climate science and let the public hear what scientists are really concluding about this complex and immature discipline. With billions of taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, not to mention the future of our food supply, there is no other ethical choice.


Corals May Have Defense Against Warming


Ancient corals may have been more adaptable to changing ocean chemistry than previously thought, a new study shows. The findings may offer hope that modern corals can adapt as global warming causes seas to become more acidic. These fossil corals in diverse reef communities adjusted to an acidic environment by altering the way they built their chalky skeletons. Modern hard corals-known as scleractinians-form reefs of thousands of tiny skeletons made from a calcium carbonate called aragonite. Aragonite is susceptible to the corrosive effects of acidic oceans, which today has become a byproduct of a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "We now have many different arguments to prove that these corals were actually made originally out of calcite-and not just aragonite that was transformed after the coral died and become fossilized," said study co-author Jaroslaw Stolarski, a paleontologist from the Institute of Paleobiology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.


Journalists, Global Warming & the Truth


Being skeptical used to be a badge of honor for journalists, but if one reads any newspaper these days, most reporters casually refer to "global warming" without any hint that it is anything other than a done deal. Too many reporters have completely bought into the notion that humans and their use of fossil fuels are destroying the atmosphere and "causing" global warming. Neither assumption is true. Of course, what makes this easier is the constant stream of environmental propaganda that attributes everything to "global warming." The list is vast and generally idiotic. Humans must now take responsibility for both droughts and severe storms. Winter blizzards are said to be the result of "global warming."...

There is no consensus-science operates on the basis of reproducible fact, not general agreement-and the critics are, in fact, a growing number of scientists and others who have come to regard "global warming" as a hoax.


Nutty concept of "endangered"

These native Australian trees are found in thousands of Brisbane backyards -- as well as being a major crop in Hawaii

THERE are so few macadamia trees left in the wild that growers believe they should be given the same recognition as the wollemi pine. At least 80 per cent of macadamia rainforest trees have been destroyed for agricultural and residential development - sparking fears that wild varieties are at risk of extinction, especially with climate change impacts.

Lismore grower Ian McConachie has set up the Macadamia Conservation Trust, aimed at protecting the tree that is the only Australian native produce to have become a major international food. The trust's primary aim is to ensure wild macadamia numbers do not decrease any further. Mr McConachie, a commercial macadamia grower for more than 30 years, started the trust after searching rainforests and finding hardly any of the trees that are also known as Queensland or bauple nuts.

Queensland nuts are found along a 600km coastal strip between Grafton, NSW, and Maryborough, about 300km north of Brisbane.



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


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


To statisticians and political scientists - Lomborg is both - what people say is trivial compared with what they do. Lomborg is, unquestionably, one of the most important living thinkers. Time magazine listed him in the world's 100 most influential people; he was named as the 14th most influential academic in the world and a "young global leader".

He doesn't look like any of these things; he looks more like a tennis player or possibly a designer for Bang & Olufsen. In the lobby of a fashionable London hotel, he is wearing jeans, a polo shirt and black trainers. His hair is blond and the fixed gaze of his blue eyes is downright disturbing. His voice is deep and he is very talkative.

He is seen by the deep greens as the most appalling apostate - he was once a member of Greenpeace - and by the hard deniers he is seen as a secular saint: the man who pulled the rug out from under the whole climate change conspiracy. The latter will take particular delight in his latest book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming.

He says that polar bears - the poster beasts for the greens - are not dying off as the ice pack melts; in fact, they are increasing in numbers. He accepts that rising temperatures will result in more heat deaths, but there will be far fewer deaths from cold. And Al Gore's vision of a flooded Florida as sea levels rise by 20ft within the next century is treated with derision. The Kyoto accord on limiting emissions, meanwhile, will achieve almost nothing and cost billions.

But Lomborg is neither saint nor apostate. He believes global warming is happening and humans are causing it. He just doesn't think it's that serious. Moreover, he thinks - as does the US government - technology is the answer. Attempting to cut emissions is as futile as expecting the Tories to charge for supermarket parking.

"There's a huge difference between what people say and what they do," observes Lomborg. "Look at all the websites where you can take a flight and offset your carbon. Only about 1% do it. Likewise this goes for most politicians who say they will cut emissions dramatically. Blair said in 1997 that he'd reduce carbon emissions by 15%; we've seen an increase of 3% since then."

This all began in February 1997. Lomborg was in Los Angeles and he read an article in Wired magazine by the late Julian Simon, an American right-wing thinker, trashing the eco-catastrophists. He went back to Denmark and with his statistics students set about the task of proving Simon wrong. Except for a few details, they failed. By the end of the year, he had concluded that Simon was right and the green case was a wild exaggeration. In right-on, PC, left-wing, green Denmark this was heresy. But Lomborg had been trained in heresy.

He was born in Copenhagen in 1965, the only child of a school-teacher mother and a father who was a musician and a priest in the liberal Catholic church. This is a strange blend of Christianity and theosophy. "From a fairly early age I was used to being a little unusual. Denmark is a fiercely nonreligious country. In any questionnaire people tend to put religion under "hobbies". But I would actually be a mass boy every Sunday, that kind of thing. I was brought up slightly weird, but I got used to the idea that just because you're different doesn't necessarily break you." He's also gay, but he's reluctant to include this as an aspect of his outsider status. "Well, I guess it taught me to be different in one more aspect and still be okay."

He retains many vestiges of his upbringing and of PC Denmark. He is a vegetarian like his parents. He doesn't drive a car, preferring to cycle round cities, and he retains a religious conviction. "I have this deep sense that there probably is a meaning to life and there probably is a God. But it's not a big thing. It's not as important as being a good person and a humanist."

In 1998 he went into print in Denmark with his view on greenery, and in 2001 The Skeptical Environmentalist appeared in English. Next came Global Crises, Global Solutions. This was a collection of ideas from distinguished economists on the best ways to spend $50 billion on improving the human condition. Fighting global warming came low on all the lists.

The environmentalists were incandescent. His findings were assaulted on all sides. Scientific American magazine ran a feature in which scientists queued up to list ways in which he was wrong. The big accusation was that he was not an earth scientist. His defence was that he wasn't doing earth science, he was simply analysing the figures on which the greens built their case. A Danish government committee found him guilty of scientific dishonesty, a charge that was later withdrawn. "You were supposed to have good reasons for saying that, and they didn't even provide a reason."

Lomborg was further accused of being a shill for the Bush administration. After all, Bush and latterly Condoleezza Rice insist that technology, not emissions controls, are the solution. Lomborg could have been writing the script. He acknowledges this but insists he retains his fundamental left-wing beliefs. He may tell the American government it is right about green technology, but he also tells it to divert resources to Aids and malaria in Africa. Does this really make him left wing? "The way I see it, to be left wing is to care about people and making sure there are fewer inequalities and saying that what the market comes out with is not necessarily the right outcome. I actually thought I have always been historically left wing. This comes from the French revolution. These were the guys who believed in progress but also believed in facts against old-fashioned thinking. That's what we are supposed to be about."

His first two books put global warming in the context of other big problems, Cool It focuses solely on the environmental issue. His conclusion is that the best way to deal with warming is to set up an international research fund of $25 billion annually to seek solutions. This is, he calculates, about what the problem is worth. If the signs get worse, the sum could be increased. But the vast sums involved in cutting emissions are wasted because they are disproportionate to the problem, they will not work and they are politically futile.

I happen to think, on the basis of many other conversations, that he's wrong about the seriousness of global warming. But I don't doubt he's right about the futility of emissions controls and the deep gulf that divides what people say and what they do.

Lomborg is plausible, persuasive and intellectually passionate. He regards most of the criticisms as pitiably weak on logic. There is, however, one criticism that cuts deeper. "The clear implication," says the philosopher John Gray of Lomborg's thought, "is that there is no need to restrain human ambitions in order to protect the environment; it can look after itself. In effect, this is a recycled version of the technological utopianism that's always been popular in the US, and explains why it is so feted by big business."

Lomborg looks startled when I put the charge of utopianism to him. He sees himself as a pragmatist. He believes in progress, but sees where it can go wrong. But the deep green and antihumanist intuition - most beautifully expressed by the American biologist EO Wilson - that we are utterly dependent on the earth and must, therefore, approach nature with reverence and humility, means nothing to him. He cycles only in the city, not in the forests. And if, in spite of your own hypocrisy, you feel uneasy about that then you are right to do so.


Inconvenient Youths: Eco-warrior kids go after parents for 'environmental offenses'


In households across the country, kids are going after their parents for environmental offenses, from using plastic cups to serving non-grass-fed beef at the dinner table. Many of these kids are getting more explicit messages about becoming eco-warriors at school and from popular books and movies. This year's global-warming documentary "Arctic Tale," for instance, closes with a child actor telling kids, "If your mom and dad buy a hybrid car, you'll make it easier for polar bears to get around." Kids on field trips to the Garbage Museum in Stratford, Conn., are sent home with instructions to recycle cans, bottles, newspaper and junk mail. The museum hosted 388 schools visits last year, 42 more than the year before. At one California elementary school, kids are given environmental activities to do with their families -- including one where parents have to yank out the refrigerator and clean the coils to make it more energy efficient. "Kids are putting pressure on their parents, and this is a very good thing," says Laurie David, a producer of the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Ms. David is the co-author of a new children's book, "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," which urges kids, among other things, to petition mom and dad for recycled-fiber toilet paper. "I know how powerful my kids are," she says. "When they want something, forget it -- all the resistance in the world isn't going to help you."

..... The 7-year-old recently decided he should try to help the cause by turning off his night-light. But when his older sister, Rowan, unplugged it at bedtime, he was soon screaming, "Help!" from his bunk bed. "I'm scared of the dark, so it's a real problem," says Benjamin. His father, Jay Adelson, founder of the social Web site, says Benjamin's conservation concerns border on the obsessive: "He sees the cutting down of a tree as a sacrilegious and awful event."

Fiona Henderson, a first-grader in Denver, got her environmental calling at church. One of the ministers had been talking about global warming and the Environmental Protection Agency's children's climate-change Web site, where kids can click on a drawing of an Earth with a bandage on it to learn about greenhouse gases. Fiona, 6, started pestering her parents, John and Margit, to use the lights less often. She walked around shutting off lights, told her father not to drive to work and now gives 25 cents from her $1.50 weekly allowance to various environmental causes. "She's not so much upset as strident -- 'Turn off that light! Turn off that light!' " says Mr. Henderson. "We ended up having conversations with her that it's OK to use energy."


Students Thrown Climate Life Preserver with New book


Two new books on global warming for kids are out. One is designed to reduce anxiety among children; the other is designed to heighten it. So which is better? That depends on how you like your facts - right or wrong. Sept. 1 saw the release of "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," co-authored by Al Gore acolyte and "Inconvenient Truth" co-producer Laurie David and former advertising copywriter and environmental activist Cambria Gordon. Two weeks later, "The Sky's Not Falling! Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming" was published. It was authored by resource economist Holly Fretwell, an adjunct professor at Montana State University and a senior research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). Judging from the authors' credentials alone, you may already suspect where this comparison of the two books might be headed - and you really don't have to go too far into either book to confirm that suspicion.



ICAO delegates supported a resolution at the organization's 36th Assembly last week stating that "emissions trading schemes should not be applied [by states and governing bodies such as the European Union] to aircraft of foreign countries without mutual consent," effectively rejecting non-EU airlines' participation in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

The EU expressed disappointment in the resolution and indicated it will move forward with attempting to impose the scheme, setting up a near-certain legal challenge by the US and other countries. EU transport ministers have said that any airline operating flights to or within the EU must participate in emissions trading (ATWOnline, June 11).

ICAO Assembly President Jeffrey Shane, US Dept. of Transportation under secretary for policy, said members do not object to the concept of emissions trading schemes as a tool to combat climate change. But he emphasized that ICAO members other than EU nations object to unilateral imposition of schemes.

Shane said the Assembly produced a "sea change" regarding the environment by establishing a "high-level group on emissions and climate change" that has been mandated to pursue an "aggressive program of action" to develop a framework "to inform states on reducing the carbon footprint of aviation." He explained that the framework will be "a cookbook" that will guide ICAO members and that the organization has "dramatically accelerated" the pace with which it will address climate change.

He conceded that the resolution on emissions trading schemes has "no binding force" and that "Europe has said it does not intend to be bound by the resolution."

Portuguese DG-Civil Aviation Luis Fonseca de Almeida, speaking on behalf of EU nations, said, "We are disappointed by the outcome and believe ICAO has abdicated the leadership role given to it in the Kyoto Protocol." European Commission VP-Transport Jacques Barrot added that ICAO's "record on aircraft emissions is simply not good enough."

IATA DG Giovanni Bisignani said ICAO delegates affirmed the principle that global consensus is necessary on environmental issues. "Europe's unilateral approach to emissions trading confuses taking leadership with taking cash," he said. "It is disappointing and irresponsible. Regional schemes will have, at best, limited impact on the environment. And their unilateral application to foreign airlines is a clear breach of the Chicago Convention."


In search of eco-salvation

Many religions are now more likely to preach about saving the planet than saving souls.

These days, moralisers find it easier to make people feel guilty about their impact on the environment than about committing one of the seven deadly sins. Not surprisingly, many religious institutions are busy reinventing themselves by promoting ecological virtues and preaching against the eco-sins of polluters. On occasions, the attempt to recycle traditional theological concerns in a green form becomes a caricature of itself. In August, Dom Anthony Sutch, a Benedictine monk, announced that he would hear eco-confessions of sins against the environment at the Waveney Greenpeace festival, in a confessional booth carefully constructed from recycled materials. The good monk clearly practices what he preaches. He tries ‘very hard’ to live a green lifestyle and is proud of his principal achievement – reducing his electricity bill by 30 per cent. This mock ritual is unlikely to offer penitents’ salvation or redemption, but their ‘awareness’ will be raised. And these days being ‘aware’ is recognised as akin to being virtuous.

Sometime back in the 1980s, Western societies gave up on the project of rescuing ‘traditional values’ and morality. From time to time, conservative politicians and moral entrepreneurs have attempted to launch back-to-basics crusades promoting ‘family values’. However, their lack of popular appeal has only exposed society’s estrangement from these traditions. Indeed by the Eighties, even religious institutions found it difficult to uphold their own authority with conviction. Instead of influencing society many churches began to internalise the attitudes associated with the lifestyles of their increasingly individualised consumerist flock. The last quarter century has seen a steady diminishing of religious authority in Western societies. Debates about the role of women priests, homosexuality and marriage indicated that religious institutions have become confused about their own relationship to traditional values.

One consequence of the erosion of religious authority was that the church became exposed to the critical scrutiny of the public. A dramatic manifestation of the loss of religious authority is the spate of child abuse scandals that have incriminated church leaders. In many places Catholic officials were forced to respond to the public’s mistrust of their conduct by banning priests from any private contact with children. For example, Australian guidelines, drawn up with the approval of the Vatican, insisted that confessionals had to be fitted with glass viewing panels. Priests are also banned from seeing any child alone with the door closed (1). The readiness with which the clergy is prepared to modify the ritual of confession is testimony to its ambiguity and defensiveness about its own tradition.

Forced on to the defensive and sensitive to the charge of being out of touch with public concerns, Western religions have looked for new ways of rebuilding their authority. As I have argued elsewhere, some church officials attempted to associate themselves with the authority enjoyed by psychology and therapy and reinvented themselves as counsellors and therapists (2). As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey noted, ‘Christ the Saviour is becoming Christ the counsellor’ (3).

In recent years, some in the church have sought to gain the public’s ear through the greening of traditional doctrines, and Christ the Saviour is fast becoming Christ the environmental activist. Western society is continually in search of rituals and symbols through which moral probity can be affirmed. It appears that, for many church leaders, the project of saving the planet offers more opportunities for reconstituting rituals and symbols than the saving of souls.

It is not just the odd priest offering absolution through the ritual of eco-confession. Church leaders have embraced the rituals of eco-morality to demonstrate their commitment to a higher good. Absolution through carbon offsets appears to be the way forward.

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the upholding of ‘green culture’, and the Vatican has announced that it will soon become the world’s first carbon neutral state. A Hungarian entrepreneur plans to plant trees on a denuded island in the Tisza River to offset the Papal carbon emissions. The newly planted 37 acres of holy land, to be renamed the Vatican Climate Forest, is supposed to absorb as much carbon dioxide as the Vatican emits. At a ceremony publicising the initiative, Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, noted that ‘the book of Genesis tells us of a beginning in which God placed man as guardian over the earth to make it fruitful’ (4). As far as some Vatican leaders are concerned, offsetting carbon emissions plays a role analogous to that of fasting or self-mortification in previous times. Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, an official at the Council for Culture, argues that ‘one can emit less CO2 by not using heating and not driving a car, or one can do penance by intervening to offset emissions, in this case by planting trees’.

The Catholic Church appears to take the view that it can revitalise its relationship with people through preaching the virtues of environmental responsibility. According to press reports, the Pope will use his first address to the United Nations to warn the world against global warming and promote saving the planet as a moral duty for Catholics (5). In recent months, the Pope has actively sought to associate himself with green issues. ‘Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the earth’, he told a rally of young people.

The assimilation of eco-morality into the idiom of theology and liturgy is not confined to Catholicism. In the USA, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment unites the US Catholic Conference, the National Council of Churches, the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life and the Evangelical Environmental Network in a crusade to save the earth. Through an implicit reinterpretation of classical dogma, the sanctity of nature and all creation displaces the traditional focus on the sanctity of human beings. The Eco-Kosher network celebrates food that is ‘ecologically benign’ and ‘promotes values that appeal to a wide variety of people, including Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, vegetarians, and health conscious individuals’. There are many attempts to rebrand Judaism as an environmentalist religion. ‘You cannot be a conscious Jew without being conscious of the environment’ argues Jonathan Helfand, a professor in the Jewish Studies Department at City University of New York (6).

In 2006, the Church of England launched an eco-crusade entitled ‘Shrinking the Footprint’. The Archbishop of Canterbury complained that ‘early modern religion contributed to the idea that the fate of nature is for it to be bossed around by a detached sovereign will, whether divine or human’. It seems possible that those misguided early modern religionists received that idea from the Book of Genesis, where God gives Man dominion ‘over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth’. Now the head of the Anglican church protests about nature being ‘bossed around’ not only by Man, but by God. This year, the Church of England launched a booklet of green tips for the faithful entitled How Many Christians Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? Its eco-commandments include: share cars on the road to church, use virtuous low-energy lightbulbs but cast out junk mail, and do not flush the loo at night.

Eco-Congregation Scotland has produced a ‘Church Check-Up’ to see whether a local church’s environmental practices are up to scratch. Its check-up is designed to help churches ‘identify and affirm their existing environmental ministry’. It asks questions like ‘How regularly during the year are environmental concerns included in worship?’, ‘In your Church’s prayer do you “Say sorry for the harm done to the environment”?’, ‘Does your Church sing hymns or songs that celebrate the wonder of creation and express the calling to care for the environment?’ The aim of the ‘check-up’ is to encourage churches to embrace environmental concerns as the focus for worship.

Eco-spirituality is also seen as a moral resource that can transcend cultural and religious differences. This summer, the 9th Islamic Fayre in Bristol promoted an eco theme. ‘Islam is a religion of peace but is also known as a religion of nature’, stated Rizwan Ahmed, the event’s organiser. And Farooq Siddique, community development officer of the British Muslim Cultural Society noted that the ‘event is also about bringing communities together’. The hope that the appeal of eco-spirituality could counteract the influence of radical jihadist sentiments has encouraged British officialdom to support such initiatives.

The appeal of eco-spirituality to so many different religions is a testimony to the powerful influence that environmentalism exercises over contemporary culture. At a time when traditional institutions find it difficult to connect with popular concerns, environmentalism is still able to transmit ideas about human responsibility through appealing to a sense of right and wrong. That is why the authors of children’s books and school officials also use environmentalism as a vehicle for socialising youngsters.

However, eco-spirituality cannot really compensate for the loss of traditional moral authority. Indeed the very embrace of the environmentalist agenda can only accelerate the decline of institutions that cannot give meaning to the religious doctrines on which they were founded. The shift away from God towards nature inevitably leads to a world where the pronouncements of environmentalist experts trump those of the priesthood. It will be interesting to see what will remain of traditional religion as prophecy and revelation is displaced by computerised climate models.



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


Monday, October 08, 2007

Gore to join Arafat as a Norwegian "peace" nominee

FORMER US vice-president Al Gore is a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced in Norway on Friday. Key Nobel watcher Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute, predicts the climate change campaigner will win the coveted prize.

This year, with world attention fixed on global warming, Mr Toennesson said giving a joint prize to Mr Gore and Canadian Inuit environmental activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier might be an appealing choice for the prize committee. "It would have to do with climate change and it would be a prize that included both a man and a woman," he said.

Another possibility would be to give the prize to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, he said. Others mentioned include Finnish peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari, and activists Lida Yusupova from Russia and Rebiya Kadeer from China.

The peace award is announced in Oslo. The other prizes - medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics - are announced in Stockholm. [Not just announced: Awarded. The Norwegian awards were NOT instituted by Alfed Nobel]


An Inconvenient Expert

MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen is pushing a controversial idea: that mankind isn't to blame for global warming and that Al Gore's apocalypic warnings are mostly hot air. Right or wrong, why do so many people think he should be silenced?

WITH HIS BEARD and tweedy jacket, Richard Lindzen looks like a cheerful physics professor from the fifties, inspiring nostalgia for the age of space exploration and other grand, forward-looking American endeavors. On a cold March evening in New London, Connecticut, the 67-year-old atmospheric scientist from MIT is trying to serve up a little optimism about the gloomiest topic of our time: global warming.

Optimism? Yeah, as in: Don't worry about a thing. Just now, Lindzen is scoffing at the widely accepted view that CO2 buildup is to blame for the heat waves, prolonged droughts, and intense hurricanes that the U.S. and other countries have experienced in recent years. At a time when much of the nation's political, intellectual, and business leadership accepts the idea that people are the cause of global warming, Lindzen loudly disagrees. "All scientific issues-and this is no different-are difficult to understand," he tells a group of cadets and locals assembled in an auditorium at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. "Extreme weather events are always present. There's no evidence it's getting better, or worse, or changing."

Lindzen's relaxed delivery gives the audience a comfortable sense that they, like him, are smart enough to question the pronouncements of nervous scientists and high-octane advocates like Al Gore. Skepticism is a good idea, he says, since so many people who sound off about global warming don't bother to read the documents that supposedly forecast climate apocalypse. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, if you read it-and no one does ..." he says, and that phrase alone prompts laughter.

This ability to put people at ease helps explain why, after nearly two decades of effort, Lindzen has achieved exalted status among the current crop of global-warming doubters. He has personally briefed President Bush's top science adviser on climate change and is very popular with senior GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He publishes opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal and speaks publicly several times a month, both in the U.S. and abroad. With so many Americans searching for answers on climate change, an endowed MIT professor with pithy quotes offers a level of assurance that few can rival.

In doing so, however, Lindzen is challenging the scientific establishment, which tends to sing in scary harmony about this issue. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international scientific body, 2,500 researchers strong, that weighs in on the planet's climate health every five years or so. Earlier this year, the IPCC rolled out a series of three massive documents asserting that global warming is an established fact and outlining where it all will lead.

The reports maintain that there's more than a 90 percent chance that human activity-primarily the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in increased levels of atmospheric CO2-is responsible for the earth's recent warming, which amounts to a 1.2-degree-Fahrenheit rise in global mean temperature over the past 100 years. Noting that the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is higher than it's been in the past 650,000 years, the IPCC predicts that human-induced climate change could spell extinction for 20 to 30 percent of the world's species by the end of this century, cause increasingly destructive weather patterns, and flood coastal cities.

Lindzen doesn't dispute that the planet has warmed up in the past three decades, but he argues that human-generated CO2 accounts for no more than 30 percent of this temperature rise. Much of the warming, he says, stems from fluctuations in temperature that have occurred for millions of years-explained by complicated natural changes in equilibrium between the oceans and the atmosphere-and the latest period of warming will not result in catastrophe.

Whether such arguments are true, false, or nuts, they seem to make an impression on the Coast Guard crowd. Edward Hug, a Massachusetts retiree who came to hear Lindzen speak, is exactly the kind of person the professor wants to sway. Hug, who used to work in underwater acoustics for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, says he's been diligently trying to educate himself about global warming.

"I've seen Al Gore's film twice, but I've also read Michael Crichton's State of Fear, which makes a compelling case on the other side," says Hug, referring to the controversial 2004 novel in which Crichton-using scientific arguments that were hotly challenged by critics-ridiculed the global-warming consensus as the work of conspiratorial alarmists.

Hug sees the IPCC as "the closest thing to a gold standard when it comes to science," but he still wants to know whether Americans have to change their lifestyles radically in order to save the planet. "The question is," he said earlier as he settled in to hear Lindzen, "is it worth making the sacrifice?"

By evening's end, he decides to join the skeptical camp. "I find him very convincing," Hug says of Lindzen, recalling how he invoked scientific data and theories to buttress his points. "He's just as good as Michael Crichton."

Much more here


Rachel Carson opened Silent Spring, her 1962 polemic against chemical pesticides, with a terrible prophecy: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." She proceeded to narrate a "Fable for Tomorrow," describing a bucolic American town "where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." The nearby farms flourished, the foxes barked, and the birds sang in a kind of pastoral Eden. "Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community." Cattle died. Children died. And the birds stopped singing. It was a silent spring.

The moral of the story was obvious: Apocalypse was imminent unless humankind stopped violating nature. And so it came to pass that the environmental movement's highest priority would be to limit our contamination of the world around us. This "pollution paradigm" worked well enough--for a time. Regulatory legislation of the 1960s and '70s cleaned up our lakes and rivers and greatly reduced smog in our cities. In the 1990s, it dealt with acid rain and phased out ozone-depleting chemicals. Given these successes, it's not surprising that environmental leaders have seen global warming, which is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, as, essentially, a very big pollution problem.

In the summer of 2006, Carson was resurrected in the form of Al Gore, whose documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, began with images of power plants belching pollution and ended with scenes from the apocalypse: hurricanes, floods, and droughts. In case viewers missed the point, Gore observed, "It was almost like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation." And he warned, "It's human nature to take time. But there will also be a day of reckoning." This narrative had dominated environmental thought for so long that few of us who grew up hearing it ever thought much about it. Nor have many of us questioned what appears to be the obvious solution to global warming: limits on pollution, especially carbon emissions.

The problem is that global warming is as different from smog in Los Angeles as nuclear war is from gang violence. The quantitative accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has created something qualitatively different from the pollution problems of old: changing temperatures, which may lead to acute droughts, new disease epidemics, and even wars over resources like water. While dealing with smog and acid rain required relatively simple and inexpensive technical fixes--such as catalytic converters on cars and scrubbers on power plants--oil and coal are central to the functioning of the economy, and their replacements remain far more expensive.

Nor should we want to dramatically curtail energy consumption. Increasing energy use is the primary cause of global warming, but it is also a primary cause of rising prosperity, longer life spans, better medical treatment, and greater personal and political freedom. Environmentalists can rail against consumption and counsel sacrifice all they want, but neither poor countries like China nor rich countries like the United States are going to dramatically reduce their emissions if doing so slows economic growth. Given this, the challenge we face as a species is to roughly double global energy production by mid-century while simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half worldwide (and about 80 percent in the United States), so that we can avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

How could such a massive undertaking be achieved? Not, as environmental leaders insist, by limiting human power but rather by unleashing it. In terms of birthing a new energy economy, regulation is important--it's just not the most important thing. The highest objective of anyone concerned about global warming must be to bring down the real price of clean energy below the price of dirty energy as quickly as possible--most importantly, in places like China. And, for that to happen, we'll need a new paradigm centered on technological innovation and economic opportunity, not on nature preservation and ecological limits. [...]

To be sure, the effort to reduce and stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions will require a major regulatory effort to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules, provide a stable investment environment for nations and businesses, and increase the cost of fossil fuels relative to cleaner energy sources. But the conventional wisdom today about global warming is backwards. Environmentalism is not the solution to the crisis of global warming. Instead, global warming is driving environmentalism to evolve into something else.


Fallacies about Global Warming

By Climate researcher John McLean. Excerpt:

It is utterly bizarre that, in face of this reality, public funding of many billions of dollars is still being provided for climate change research. It is even more bizarre that most governments, urged on by environmental NGSs and other self-interested parties, have either already introduced carbon taxation or trading systems (Europe; some groups of US States), or have indicated a firm intention to do so (Australia).

At its most basic, if scientists cannot be sure that temperatures are today rising, nor establish that the gentle late 20th century warming was caused by CO2 emissions, then it is nonsense to propose that expensive controls are needed on human carbon dioxide emissions.

Even more alarming still is the self-sustaining nature of the IPCC and its alarmist claims. The IPCC reports determine the direction of climate research and its funding, which ultimately leads to the number of scientific papers which take a particular line, and the dominance of that line of thinking is expressed in the subsequent IPCC report. The process is one of strong positive feedback for alarmist science advice.


Astrophysicist Dr. Howard Greyber calls warming fears `unwarranted hysteria'

Smacks down International Herald Tribune for warming hysteria (in published Letter to Editor). Excerpt:

Science and global warming: When Thomas Friedman touts carbon dioxide as the cause of global warming in his column "Doha and Dalian" (Sept. 20), I respond as a physicist that he cannot comprehend that it is still not proven that carbon dioxide emissions actually are causing global warming.

Correlation does not prove Causation. The Earth's climate changes all the time. Did carbon dioxide emissions cause the Medieval Warm Period, when Vikings raised crops on Greenland's coast? What caused the cold climate from 1700 to 1850? In 1975, articles were published predicting we were entering a New Ice Age.

Reputable scientists oppose this unwarranted alarmist hysteria. If fanatic leftists who hate America's progressive capitalistic system had not opposed the building of nuclear power plants by wild allegations and interminable lawsuits, the United States could have built dozens of safe, modern reactors. These provide plentiful, reliable energy and, incidentally, emit zero carbon dioxide.

Understanding climate change is an extremely difficult scientific problem. Giant computers generating climate models cannot be trusted so far. As any computer person knows, garbage in means garbage out. If research suggests subtle variations in our Sun's radiation reaching Earth are causing global climate change, what would Friedman recommend?



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


Sunday, October 07, 2007


A skeptical email from Otto Wildgruber [] below regarding this report about potential environmental problems with China's huge new dam

I do have problems understanding why a dam increases pollution. So far, I thought that increased releases of pollutants increase pollution.

I do also have problems to understand the remark: "...but its fast flow, now that it is free of silt, is causing erosion". So far, I thought the slope controls the velocity of the water.

Additionally, I have problems to grasp the logic of relating the "Three Gorges Dam" to Chernobyl.

And, finally, I thought moisture penetration and slope are the controlling factors regarding landslides.

Some precedents for a tyranny that is justified by claims of "scientific truth"

Somewhere on the Internet, a t-shirt being sold that shows a picture of Che and, underneath, "Communism killed 100 million people and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." Supporters of space exploration have to accept that the two greatest historic steps towards the stars were made by two of the bloodiest regimes in human history. Why was it that Nazi Germany and the USSR both turned towards rockets? Was it because they wanted to expand humanity's presence in the solar system? If not, then why did they do it?

In both cases it was partly because they lacked the ability to bomb targets in their enemies' homeland. Germany's V-2 program never really got going until after the Luftwaffe had lost the Battle of Britain in 1940. Their inability to dominate the skies over England led Hitler to give von Braun's rocket team a major funding boost. A few years later, Stalin's lack of any effective way to fly atomic bombs across the Atlantic or over the Arctic pushed him, and later Khrushchev, to back Korolev's efforts to build the R-7 ICBM that, fifty years ago, launched the space age.

On a more basic level, what was it about these totalitarian states that made their leaders more open to the idea of rocketry than the leaders of the democracies? The US, for example, could have supported Robert Goddard's endeavors in 1942 and 1943 with far greater enthusiasm than was the case. After all, at that time the allied bomber offensive over Germany was losing aircraft and men at what seemed to be an unsustainable rate.

What distinguished the Nazis and Communists from previous tyrannies was that they did not base their rule on divine right or on tribal loyalty-though these played a role-but on their own interpretation of "scientific truth". The Nazis claimed that racial science, derived from a perverted reading of Darwin, gave them, as the master race, the right to rule or wipe out those they considered inferior. The Communists, basing themselves on Marx as well as on Darwin, claimed that "scientific socialism" gave them the right, as the vanguard of the proletariat, to impose their rule on an unwilling world. The Russian answer to this was to joke that, "Our socialist system cannot really be scientific, since real scientists would have tested it on rats first." ....



Some "Realpolitik" which comes to the reasonable conclusion that adaptation is the only reasonable response to any global warming

Environmental advocates have finally managed to put the issue of global warming at the top of the world's agenda. But the scientific, economic, and political realities may mean that their efforts are too little, too late.

As the world's leaders gather in New York this week to discuss climate change, you're going to hear a lot of well-intentioned talk about how to stop global warming. From the United Nations, Bill Clinton, and even the Bush administration, you'll hear about how certain mechanisms-cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions, carbon taxes, and research and development plans for new energy technologies-can fit into some sort of global emissions reduction agreement to stop climate change. Many of these ideas will be innovative and necessary; some of them will be poorly thought out. But one thing binds them together: They all come much too late.

For understandable reasons, environmental advocates don't like to concede this point. Eager to force deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, many of them hype the consequences of climate change-in some cases, well beyond what is supported by the facts-to build political support. Their expensive policy preferences are attractive if they are able to convince voters that if they make economic sacrifices for the environment, they have a reasonable chance of halting, or at least considerably slowing, climate change. But this case is becoming harder, if not impossible, to make.

To be sure, scientific studies and news reports make it clear that climate change is already happening, with greenhouse gas emissions as a significant driver of this change. Arctic ice has now melted sufficiently to open up the fabled Northwest Passage, provoking public jockeying between Russian and Canadian officials over potential oil and gas deposits. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Interior is considering placing polar bears on the endangered species list as a result of global warming. Extreme weather events have become more common, such as flooding in Africa and forest fires in the western United States.

New emissions limits in the United States and other major emitters such as Europe's key economies and Japan may slow the processes driving these events. But the mounting scientific evidence, coupled along with economic and political realities, increasingly suggests that humanity's opportunity to prevent, stop, or reverse the long-term impacts of climate change has slipped away. In fact, while greenhouse gas intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product) of both developed and developing economies has decreased significantly over the past decade as a result of greater efficiency measures, overall greenhouse gas emissions have nevertheless continued to rise. That's because as economies grow, they consume more energy and produce more carbon dioxide. And, obviously, each country wants its own economy to grow.

While some might argue that great reductions can be made in greenhouse gas emissions using current technologies (particularly by increasing efficiency), this is still debated within the scientific community. This argument assumes, among other things, that companies replace their current capital stock with the most efficient available today-something that is not likely to occur in the near future even in developed countries due to its considerable cost. For this reason, even if the Bush administration has been slow to publicly admit that human-induced climate change is real, it has been fundamentally right to focus on developing new technologies that might sever the relationship between energy consumption and emissions.

Unfortunately, given the scale and complexity of modern economies and the time required for new technologies to displace older ones, only a stunning technological breakthrough will allow for reductions in emissions that are sufficiently deep to stop climate change. According to Britain's Stern report, stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at 550 parts per million-twice pre-industrial levels, a level at which most believe there is already a higher probability of major climate disruptions-would require stopping the global growth in emissions by 2020 and reducing emissions by 2.5 percent per year after that. The longer it takes to stop the growth in emissions, the deeper the eventual cuts need to be.

And while the United States leads the world in investment in new energy technologies, spending nearly $3 billion in 2007, it would be irresponsible for us to count on an energy technology miracle to save the day. Excitement over increasingly "green" business practices is likewise misplaced; companies will do what they need to do to increase their profits and-when the cost is modest-to improve their images. This has reduced emissions and will continue to do so. But without meaningful international agreements that create both unrealistically tight limits and market mechanisms, the cuts will ultimately be marginal rather than decisive.

Without a technological or economic miracle, it would take a political miracle to reach an international agreement that would mandate the necessary emissions cuts to reverse the momentum behind our evolving global climate system. But once again, realities get in the way. The U.S. Congress is too divided to pass legislation sufficiently tough to make a major difference. And although some hope that regional or state-level cap-and trade systems could sharply reduce U.S. emissions in the absence of federal action, this is also unlikely because states face many of the same problems that challenge national governments. First and foremost, any state that imposes emissions limits that are too tight in comparison with its neighbors' are likely to simply export their emissions without it resulting in a major overall reduction.

The international political environment also makes truly significant emissions cuts very unlikely. In 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, developing countries will emit nearly 20 percent more CO2 emissions than developed countries. Indeed, only in China (and perhaps India) would emissions limits or cuts make more of a difference than in the United States. By one estimate, China has already surpassed America in emissions to become the world's leader and, with sustained high growth rates, will open the gap even further. In fact, if China grows at 8 percent for the next nine years, its economy will double in size-and its greenhouse gas emissions can be expected roughly to double as well. Moreover, as China's economy expands, it is turning increasingly to carbon-laden coal for electricity. And although China's energy intensity (energy consumed per unit of economic output) has decreased by nearly 5 percent per year for the last two decades as a result of greater efficiency, it is still nearly seven times that of the United States, according to the World Bank. At this rate, China's growth trajectory could add the equivalent pollution of another present-day United States to the climate system in a little more than a decade.

Dollar-for-dollar, the most efficient way to cut global greenhouse gas emissions would be, in theory, to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to improve China's energy efficiency. But Congress would never support such an approach. After all, which members of Congress would vote to undercut the competitiveness of U.S. companies, especially in the face of a weak domestic economy, public anger over outsourcing, China's currency value, and the U.S. trade deficit with China? More broadly, how long will voters in Europe and Japan, which have done the most to limit emissions, be prepared to make sacrifices for the global climate if they believe they are alone in doing so?

A realistic look at climate change suggests that it is time to change the debate. In 2005, a paper published by the U.N. Environment Program put average global economic losses due to "great weather disasters" at $100 billion per year, and projected that it was increasing at about 6 percent per year-enough to double every twelve years, and to total $2 trillion for the period from 2007 to 2020. Policy makers in the United States and elsewhere must start hedging their bets and prepare us to live in this new world. This emphatically does not mean giving up on efforts to slow climate change, which could still measurably reduce the costs of protecting the people and infrastructure most vulnerable to higher temperatures and new weather patterns. Nor should it suggest that the task of adaptation will be easy or cheap. World leaders will face many of the same dilemmas that complicate the current debate: Developed countries, which have produced most of the human-origin carbon dioxide in the air, will be in the best position to cope with climate change and developing countries will want them to bear a disproportionate financial burden for its consequences.

Still, we do have some of the tools we will need already. International lenders like the World Bank have only begun to invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; they need to give greater emphasis to projects that limit developing countries' vulnerabilities to climate change. The scientific community will need to do a much better job of predicting climate impacts at a regional and local scale. Governments will need to support this process, to collect and assess the information that results, and develop their own plans. Riding out the consequences of a warming world will be difficult, and we need to prepare now.


UCLA Study finds Entertainment industry 2nd biggest polluter next to oil industry


From "green carpets" at awards shows to organic fruit served to actors on sets, Hollywood is going all out to promote itself as being environmentally hip. But is it all just show? No amount of public service announcements or celebrities driving hybrid cars can mask the fact that movie and TV production is a gritty industrial operation, consuming enormous amounts of power to feed bright lights, run sophisticated cameras, and feed a cast of thousands. Studios' back lots host cavernous soundstages that must be air-conditioned to counter the heat produced by decades-old lighting technology. Huge manufacturing facilities consume wood, steel, paint and plastic to build sets that are often torn down and tossed out after filming ends.

The energy guzzling continues on the exhibition side, too, with multiplexes drawing millions of kilowatts to power old-school popcorn makers and clunky film projectors that cash-strapped theater owners are reluctant to replace. A two-year study released last year by the UCLA concluded that special effects explosions, idling vehicles and diesel generators make the entertainment industry a major Southern California polluter, second only to the oil industry.


"Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide"

New paper by Dr. Art Robinson, Noah Robinson, & Dr. Willie Soon - Published in journal of American physicians and surgeons. Excerpt:

A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th and early 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth's weather and climate. Increased carbon dioxide has, however, markedly increased plant growth.....

There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other green house gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape.


Gore's bonanza

Americans willing to look at the manmade global warming debate with any degree of impartiality and honesty are well aware that those spreading the hysteria have made a lot of money doing so, and stand to gain much more if governments mandate carbon dioxide emissions reductions. In fact, just two months ago, ABC estimated soon-to-be-Nobel Laureate Al Gore's net worth at $100 million, which isn't bad considering that he was supposedly worth about $1 million when he watched George W. Bush get sworn in as president in January 2001. Talk about your get-rich-quick schemes, how'd you like to increase your net worth 10,000 percent in less than seven years?

Fortunately for the world's foremost warm-monger - a term I'd love to see become part of the parlance concerning what, in the long run, will likely be viewed as the greatest con ever perpetrated on the American people - his current wealth represents a mere pittance of what it will be if governments around the world are scared into all of his preposterous recommendations.

With that in mind, Deborah Corey Barnes published a marvelous piece at Human Events Wednesday that would be rather sobering for folks on both sides of the aisle if only a global warming obsessed media would be willing to share the information with the citizenry

More here


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


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ignore Pacific Climate Shift - Just Blame Humans

Hardly a day goes by without a new claim about a human influence on climate. In the last 18 months we've been told, not once but three times, that the air circulation across the tropical Pacific is slowing down and it's all our fault.

The problem is that the scientific papers making those claims have somehow managed to completely ignore the Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1976 despite this being well-known to climatologists. The changes caused by that climate shift can account for the altered circulation pattern. Despite what the three papers say we don't need to include any human influence.

Was the omission of the Climate Shift deliberate or accidental through ignorance? Neither is particularly palatable in such a controversial field where we expect, but don't always get, impartial and accurate science.

Of course such an omission in peer-reviewed papers doesn't reflect well on the reviewers and journals in question, but many of us are used to that bias by now. See the full analysis here (PDF)


A Challenge to the Carbon Dioxide / Global Warming Connection

One issue that seems to have been lost or avoided in the debate over the connection between atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and global warming is the miniscule mass of CO2 that is being blamed for so many past, present and predicted natural disasters. The mass of atmospheric CO2 is extremely small when compared to the total mass of the Earth's atmosphere and even smaller when compared to the combined masses of the land and water features on the Earth's surface as well.

The directly proportional relationship that exists between the mass of any object and its heat capacity is essentially axiomatic: all other factors being the same, the larger the mass of an object, the greater its ability to capture, store, transport and release heat. Since the concentration of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere is so small, the notion that it is causing global warming seems to ignore this basic truth.

This discussion illustrates how the connection between global warming and the tiny mass of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere has been exaggerated. The challenge, expressed here, simply asks the proponents of CO2 induced global warming to reconcile their theories with classical scientific principles and established physical data.

See paper here


Global Warming's Trillion-Dollar Turkey

A trillion dollars doesn't buy what it used to - at least when it comes to global warming, according to a new analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency. Last July, this column reported that the latest global warming bill - the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007, introduced by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. - would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion in its first 10 years and untold trillions of dollars in subsequent decades.

This week, the EPA sent its analysis of the bill's impact on climate to Bingaman and Specter. Now we can see what we'd get for our money, and we may as well just build a giant bonfire with the cash and enjoy toasting marshmallows over it.

For reference purposes, the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million. The EPA estimates that if no action is taken to curb CO2 emissions, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would be 718 ppm by 2095.

If the Bingaman-Specter bill were implemented, however, the EPA estimates that CO2 levels would be 695 ppm - a whopping reduction of 23 ppm.

The EPA also estimated that if all countries - including China, India, Brazil and other developing nations - curb CO2 emissions, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would be 491 ppm in 2095, including the above-mentioned 23 ppm reduction from the implementation of the Bingaman-Specter bill.

So it appears that no matter how you slice it, Bingaman-Specter is worth a 23 ppm-reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 2095. But what are the climatic implications of this reduction in terms of global temperature? After all, we are talking about global warming.

Although the EPA didn't pursue its analysis that far, figuring out the implications are readily doable using the assumptions and formulas of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under the no-action scenario (718-to-695 ppm), the IPCC formulas indicate that the multitrillion-dollar Bingaman-Specter bill might reduce average global temperature by 0.13 degrees Celsius. Under the maximum regulation scenario (514-to-491 ppm), Bingaman-Specter might reduce average global temperature by 0.18 degrees Celsius. Actual temperature reductions are likely to be less since these estimates rely on the IPCC's alarmist-friendly assumptions and formulas.

The question, then, becomes this: Is it really worth trillions of taxpayer dollars over 90 years to perhaps reduce global temperatures by 0.13-0.18 degrees Celsius? If you can't answer that question, consider this.

Under the no-action scenario, average global temperature might be 1.2 degrees Celsius higher in 2095 than it is today, once again using conservative IPCC assumptions and formulas. Under the maximum-regulation scenario, average global temperature might be 1.03 degrees Celsius higher than today. (For reference purposes, the estimated total increase in average global temperature for the 20th century was about 0.50 degrees Celsius.)

So what's the difference in mean global temperature between the no-action scenario and the maximum-regulation scenario?

Could it be a whopping 0.17 degrees Centigrade? Is that what global warming hysteria is all about? The Bingaman-Specter bill, then, would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and produce virtually nothing in terms of temperature outcome. But the pain of Bingaman-Specter doesn't stop with trillions of taxpayer dollars. The heart of the Bingaman-Specter bill is a so-called cap-and-trade system in which CO2 emission limits (caps) would be decreed and certain businesses and other special interest group emitters (such as farmers and states) would be given permits to emit CO2.

Emitters that have extra permits could sell them in the open market to emitters that weren't lucky enough to get free permits and that need permits. Extra permits, as such, are essentially free money.

Proponents of the cap-and-trade scheme - generally speaking, conniving environmentalists who want to appear to be business-friendly and special interest emitters who want to feed at the taxpayer trough - portray it as a "market-based" approach to addressing global warming concerns. Not only is cap-and-trade not "market-based," highly respected economists, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Arthur Laffer and Harvard University's Greg Mankiw, say cap-and-trade will cause significant economic harm.

In a recent paper sponsored by the Free Enterprise Education Institute, a think tank with which I am affiliated, Laffer said that a cap-and-trade scheme would act as a constraint on the energy supply - much like the 1970s-era Arab oil embargoes and other energy crises. He estimates that cap-and-trade would shrink the U.S. economy by 5.2 percent and reduce family income by $10,800 by 2020.

So the Bingaman-Specter bill not only would waste taxpayer money, but it would harm economic growth and reduce family income - all without affecting global temperature in any sort of meaningful or even detectable way.

Although the EPA acknowledged, "Since the variation in cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions are small under [Bingaman-Specter], the variation in the resulting CO2 concentrations are small," this only hints at the bill's futility.

There can be little doubt as to why the EPA failed to carry through the ultimate implications of the 23 ppm impact of Bingaman-Specter. The agency would have "officially" exposed the bill and global warming alarmism as utterly absurd.


Even a freshman student can see through Gore -- see below

After watching Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," I saw that Gore, despite his monotonous tone and poor use of humor, is indeed a great persuasive speaker. But that is just it - Gore employs useless rhetoric and persuasive techniques, such as showing the image of a cute, fuzzy polar bear, to convince the world of global warming's validity, rather than sticking to the facts.

Gore's efforts made him to be one of the most sought-after speakers in America and, most recently, garnered him an Oscar. Hailed as a secular saint and the Noah of our time by experts such as Katie Couric and Oprah Winfrey, Gore travels to campuses across the nation to proliferate his alarmist cries, attempting to act as a sort of John the Baptist in the wilderness.

However, outside the realm of the liberal media and Hollywood, Gore is looked at with pity and disgust by real scientists who have done extensive research on the subject of global warming. According to February 2007 issue of Philidelphia Magazine, for instance, geologist Robert Giegengack believes Gore's understanding of the world is so poor that he told his undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania: "Every single one of you knows more about global warming than Al Gore."

But why would Al Gore devote his life to a seemingly baseless, ridiculous science? The answer is simple - the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business. Billions of dollars of grant money are flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon. All of the alarmism is designed to get your money and then guilt you into living your life a certain way. Aside from this, do not forget that Gore charges $100,000 at each stop on his tour across the nation.

So what is really going on in our atmosphere, and can we prevent it from happening? Climate scientists across the globe once thought, like Al Gore, that CO2 was the culprit in the story of global warming. However, recent scientific research has shown that the sun has been driving temperature changes, as we have the highest solar activity we have had in 1,000 years. In fact, according to the Danish National Space Center, the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

Also, the Russian Academy of Sciences showed in January that, as solar radiation warms Earth, CO2 is released into the atmosphere from the world's oceans, not from SUVs and factories. Also, CO2 may not be as dangerous and threatening as we once thought. Surprisingly, in 2006, even the United Nations' records show that cow emissions are more damaging to the planet than CO2 from cars.

Greenhouse gases, the lovechildren of increased CO2 levels, do not consistently continue to have a warming effect on Earth, contrary to popular opinion. At some point "the heat-trapping capacity of the gas and its effect get saturated, and you don't have increased heating," according to a report by Boston College geology and geophysics professor Amy Frappier.

Furthermore, the Kyoto Protocol is nothing but a socialist scheme designed to suck money out of rich countries to level the worldwide economic playing field. Additionally, the Kyoto Protocol is all cost with no gain. Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Associates estimates that Kyoto would cost an average family of four $2,700 annually, yet would only reduce the temperature by 0.06 degrees Celsius. Also, if legislation like Kyoto would pass in our country, it would represent the largest tax increase ever. According to Wharton, the Kyoto Protocol would cost the U.S. economy at least $300 billion annually, 10 times President Clinton's 1993 record tax increase, which cost $32 billion. It's no wonder the Senate unanimously voted down Gore in the late 1990s.

Also, since Gore calls for great reform, wouldn't you expect him to be an environmental leader? However, this is not the case, as Gore not only flies on a private jet to all the different cities around the nation, but he also has not converted to green energy or sacrificed consumption, as he has called the citizens of America to do. I guess you could say he is almost as hypocritical as the do-nothing Democrats in Congress.

I'm not sure which is more arrogant: to say we caused global warming or to say that we can fix it. Both positions are wrong. The notion that humans have caused global warming is sensational, and alarmists such as Gore can be equated to little kids attempting to scare each other about the end of the world. It quite possibly could be the greatest deception in the history of science, and people need to search for answers from real experts, rather than listening to Hollywood stars and political has-beens.


Some skepticism in Britain

No matter what Zac Goldsmith and David Cameron may say, there is one corner of the Conservative party that is forever sceptical about global warming. That corner gathered in a small studio above the Grand Theatre in Blackpool last night, where the Freedom Association was holding a meeting provocatively titled "Let Cooler Heads Prevail". The Freedom Association's rampant lion - or should that be lion rampant? - was on display. Delegates cooled themselves with climate-sceptic fans. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

"You either believe it or you don't," Roger Helmer, the eurosceptic MEP, told them. "And in my case, I don't!" Cheers. "This whole issue has got completely out of hand. It has become a new religion. You have to believe it. If you do not believe it, you are a heretic. They would like to burn us at the stake - using recycled faggots!"

Zac Goldsmith had apparently criticised him for not reading the Quality of Life report. Well, he wasn't going to! It was 500 pages long and a waste of paper!

Helmer introduced Russell Lewis, the former director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. That meant we could trust him, Mr Helmer explained. "My real reason for coming here tonight is to cheer you up," Lewis told delegates. "I have two messages. First, I am sceptical about the whole official theory of global warming. Second, I think if it does happen it will do us a world of good."

One by one, he exposed the myths peddled by the environmental movement. The rise in temperature over recent years was "tiny - well within the range of natural variation". Scientists were using thermometers on land rather than in the sea, and everyone knew that urban development raised temperatures. Antarctica and Greenland were only melting around the edges - in the middle, the ice was getting thicker.

The population of polar bears was "exploding" and had risen by 25% in the past decade. As for penguins, they are "very adaptable creatures, and certain penguins are flourishing in the tropical Galapagos islands." Global warming would not increase malaria: it used to be endemic in Westminster.

"It is not the planet that is in danger. It is freedom... Don't worry about global warming - it's a myth," he concluded. The audience roared.

Next up was Iain Murray of the Competitiveness Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. Murray took a more measured view. Using the estimates in the Stern report, he explained the impact that cutting emissions would have on the GDP of developed countries and the prospects of poorer nations. "Half a century of stagnation, not just for the US ... If you still think that we need to do something about global warming," he said, "don't go down the route of emissions reduction."

Needless to say, no one in the shadow cabinet would be seen dead at a Freedom Association meeting. The official debates happen at the Climate Clinic, a series of events sponsored by companies like Ecover. Last night's was dedicated to a controversial report by a number of environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, the RSPB and Friends of the Earth, which criticised all three parties' green policies....



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


Friday, October 05, 2007


Reply to Lockwood and Froehlich - The persistent role of the Sun in climate Forcing

In a recent paper (ref. [1]) Mike Lockwood and Claus Froehlich have argued that recent trends in solar climate forcing have been in the wrong direction to account for "the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures". These authors accept that "there is considerable evidence for solar influence on Earth's pre-industrial climate and the Sun may well have been a factor in post-industrial climate change in the first half of the last century." But they argue that this historical link between the Sun and climate came to an end about 20 years ago. Here we rebut their argument comprehensively. [...]

By Lockwood and Froehlich's own data, solar magnetic activity is still high compared with 100 years ago. As to when the recent easing of activity began, counts of cosmic-ray muons at low altitudes were historically low when the muon record-keeping ended in the early 1990s (ref. [7]). That implies an increase in relevant solar magnetic activity continuing till that time. A scarcity of muons can be linked to elevated global temperatures by a reduction in low cloud cover (ref. [8]) and low cloudiness was indeed at a minimum around 1992-93. By other solar indicators, like those cited by Lockwood and Froehlich, the minimum muon counts may well be a little higher in the current solar cycles. That would explain the pause in global warming evident in our Table as well as in Lockwood and Fr”hlich's own Fig. 1e.

That would explain the pause in global warming evident especially in the ocean (Fig. 1) and the troposphere (Fig. 3). The continuing rapid increase in carbon dioxide concentrations during the past 10-15 years has apparently been unable to overrule the flattening of the temperature trend as a result of the Sun settling at a high, but no longer increasing, level of magnetic activity. Contrary to the argument of Lockwood and Froehlich, the Sun still appears to be the main forcing agent in global climate change.



Discussing: Scileppi, E. and Donnelly, J.P. 2007. Sedimentary evidence of hurricane strikes in western Long Island, New York. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 8: 10.1029/2006GC001463.


The authors note that "when a hurricane makes landfall, waves and storm surge can overtop coastal barriers, depositing sandy overwash fans on backbarrier salt marshes and tidal flats," and that long-term records of hurricane activity are thus formed "as organic-rich sediments accumulate over storm-induced deposits, preserving coarse overwash layers."

What was done

Scileppe and Donnelly refined and lengthened the hurricane record of the New York City area by first calibrating the sedimentary record of surrounding backbarrier environments to documented hurricanes - including the hurricanes of 1893, 1821, 1788 and 1693 - and then extracting several thousand additional years of hurricane history from this important sedimentary archive.

What was learned

The two researchers report that "alternating periods of quiescent conditions and frequent hurricane landfall are recorded in the sedimentary record and likely indicate that climate conditions may have modulated hurricane activity on millennial timescales." Of special interest in this regard, as they describe it, is the fact that "several major hurricanes occur in the western Long Island record during the latter part of the Little Ice Age (~1550-1850 AD) when sea surface temperatures were generally colder than present," but that "no major hurricanes have impacted this area since 1893," when the earth was in the initial stages of its transition from the Little Ice Age to the Modern Warm Period.

What it means

Noting that (1) Emanuel (2005) and Webster et al. (2005) have produced analyses that suggest that "cooler climate conditions in the past may have resulted in fewer strong hurricanes," but that (2) their own findings suggest just the opposite, Scileppe and Donnelly conclude that "other climate phenomena, such as atmospheric circulation, may have been favorable for intense hurricane development despite lower sea surface temperatures," prior to the development of the Modern Warm Period. Perhaps, therefore, we have much-maligned global warming to thank for the complete absence of major hurricanes in the vicinity of New York City over the past 114 years.

Extract from the original paper below:

Sedimentary evidence of hurricane strikes in western Long Island, New York

By Elyse Scileppi et al.

[1] Evidence of historical landfalling hurricanes and prehistoric storms has been recovered from backbarrier environments in the New York City area. Overwash deposits correlate with landfalls of the most intense documented hurricanes in the area, including the hurricanes of 1893, 1821, 1788, and 1693 A.D. There is little evidence of intense hurricane landfalls in the region for several hundred years prior to the late 17th century A.D. The apparent increase in intense hurricane landfalls around 300 years ago occurs during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a time of lower tropical sea surface temperatures. Multiple washovers laid down between 2200 and 900 cal yr B.P. suggest an interval of frequent intense hurricane landfalls in the region. Our results provide preliminary evidence that fluctuations in intense hurricane landfall in the northeastern United States were roughly synchronous with hurricane landfall fluctuations observed for the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, suggesting North Atlantic-wide changes in hurricane activity. [...]

7. Conclusions

[57] A record of hurricane landfall is preserved in backbarrier marshes of the New York City area. This region has been impacted by numerous strong hurricanes during the last 3500 years even though no major hurricanes have impacted this area since 1893. Widespread storm-induced deposits preserved in backbarrier sediments indicate the likely preservation of washovers corresponding to the 1893, 1821, 1788, and 1693 hurricanes. The 1821 (possibly 1788) hurricane caused region-wide overwash from western Long Island to southern New Jersey. A localized overwash deposit is recorded at one marsh that corresponds to Hurricane Gloria which occurred in 1985 with a moderate storm surge. Coarse layers preserved likely correspond to prehistoric storms and more work is necessary to determine their spatial consistency across study sites. An apparent lull in intense hurricane landfalls prior to the historic record is evident in cores from the three study sites as well as southern New Jersey, indicating that a period of infrequent hurricane landfall may have occurred in the region between about 900 cal yr B.P. and 250 cal yr B.P. (i.e., 1693 A.D.). Despite significantly cooler than modern SSTs in the Atlantic during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, the frequency of intense hurricane landfalls increased during this time. The relatively quiescent interval spans times with relatively cool and warm Atlantic SSTs.

[58] The longest record from western Long Island reveals intervals of more frequent overwash deposition punctuating intervals of quiescent backbarrier sedimentation. Alternating periods of quiescent conditions and frequent hurricane landfall are recorded in the sedimentary record and likely indicate that climate conditions may have modulated hurricane activity on millennial timescales.

Although additional records are necessary to test this hypothesis, the possible synchroneity of increased storm activity in western Long Island (2200-900 cal yr B.P. and pre 2800 cal yr B.P.) and the northern Gulf Coast ( 3650-930 cal yr B.P.) suggests that landfall patterns may be caused by overall increases in storm frequency and are not simply due to changing hurricane tracks.



"Given this state of affairs, projections of changes in [tropical cyclone] intensity due to future global warming must be approached cautiously." This is the concluding sentence of a just-published article by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Kyle Swanson in which he carefully examined the historical relationship between sea surface temperatures and tropical cyclone intensity in the Atlantic and western Pacific ocean. Swanson justified his research efforts, well summarizing the current state of things (including references):

"Recent studies have found an apparent increase in the proportion and number of tropical cyclones (TCs) that become intense [Webster et al., 2005] along with links of this increase to positive sea surface temperature anomalies [Emanuel, 2005; Hoyos et al., 2006] and possibly global warming [Trenberth, 2005]. However, the sensitivity of TCs to changes in sea surface temperature (SST) remains controversial [Landsea et al., 2006; Shapiro and Goldenberg, 1998], as modeling and theoretical studies suggest only small changes to TC intensities given the observed 0.5§C SST warming that has occurred since the 1970s [Emanuel, 1988; Knutson et al., 2001]). Further, satellite reanalysis suggests no increase in the fraction of intense TCs outside the North Atlantic basin [Kossin et al., 2007]. Trends in TC intensity are difficult to discern, as statistics are inherently noisy due to fluctuating storm numbers and life spans. As the theory underlying TC intensities specifically predicts only the maximum potential intensity, it is necessary to control for these other factors if the response of the TC intensity to changes in SST is to be understood."

In looking for the primary drivers of tropical cyclone intensity, Swanson found that tropical cyclones do not always react the same way to changes in local sea surface temperatures (SSTs). During some periods, like the mid-1970s through the present, an increase in the percentage of stronger hurricanes has accompanied rising SSTs, but during other earlier periods, the apparent relationship was not so clear. In fact, overall, Swanson found no statistically significant correlation between SSTs and average tropical cyclone intensity in either ocean basin during the 1950 to 2005 period of his study.

Consequently, here is what Swanson had to say about recent papers claiming to have found an definitive link between rising SSTs, tropical cyclone intensity (and anthropogenic global warming): "[T]he period 1975-2004 examined by Webster et al. [2005] is fortuitous; it captures the minimum of [tropical cyclone, TC] intensities during the 1970s and the subsequent increase in TC intensities. However, the post-1975 upward intensity trend over this period does not appear to mark a fundamental shift in TC intensity behavior; this behavior is still within the upper bound set during the 1950s in both the NATL and WNPAC basins."

Instead of a relationship with local SST variability, Swanson found that tropical cyclone intensity was much more closely linked to local SST anomalies-that is, the difference between the SST in the primary tropical cyclone formation regions in the Atlantic and the western Pacific, and that of the average SST in the tropics as a whole. For instance, during the times when the central tropical Atlantic SST were higher than the average SST across the entire tropics, Atlantic hurricane activity and intensity levels were above normal, conversely, when the Atlantic SSTs were below the tropical average, hurricane activity was diminished. Figure 1, taken from Swanson (2007), depicts this relationship. Average hurricane intensity was as high in the 1950s and early 1960s as it has been recently (Figure 1b and c), despite the fact that SSTs were more than 0.5§C lower in the main cyclone development regions in the Atlantic and western Pacific in the 1950s than presently (Figure 1a). But, when compared to the average SST in all the world's tropical areas, the 1950s and early 1960s were relatively warm in the cyclone development regions in both the Atlantic and western Pacific.

Swanson suggests that this type of behavior "is consistent with the tendency for regions of anomalously warm SSTs to cannibalize moist convection in the tropics, most apparent in the global-scale reorganization of convective behavior that occurs during El Ni¤o events." In other words, warm pools of water, rather than uniformly warm water, are more conducive to firing up thunderstorm complexes that can lead to tropical cyclone formation.

Here is how Swanson sums up this finding, including its implication for predictions of global warming-induced changes to tropical cyclone intensities: "Finally, the apparent sensitivity of TC intensity to relative MDR SST anomalies is itself troublesome. How these relative SST anomalies will change under global warming scenarios is unclear, as modeling relative SST anomalies is a much more difficult task than modeling SST anomalies for the tropics as a whole. As such, it is unclear whether the coincident increase in MDR SST anomalies and relative MDR SST anomalies since the mid-1970s shown in [our Figure 1, above] will continue. Given this state of affairs, projections of changes in TC intensity due to future global warming must be approached cautiously."

Swanson's conclusions are similar to those recently reported by some folks working out of the University of Wisconsin's more westerly Madison campus. Jim Kossin and colleagues conducted a research project (for more details of the Kossin et al., study, see here) in which they carefully constructed a homogenous tropical cyclone dataset for all the world's ocean basins for the past 23 years. After examining their new record for trends, they concluded: "Using a homogeneous record, we were not able to corroborate the presence of upward trends in hurricane intensity over the past two decades in any basin other than the Atlantic. Since the Atlantic basin accounts for less than 15% of global hurricane activity, this result poses a challenge to hypotheses that directly relate globally increasing tropical SST to increases in long-term mean global hurricane intensity."

It certainly is beginning to seem that the more and more people look, the less and less they can find any clear relationship between rising SSTs and increased activity and intensity levels of tropical cyclones. Further, the lack of a clear understanding of the past and present relationships serves to cloud our ability to see into the future when many aspects of the tropical environment are projected to change, not simply sea surface temperatures (for more information about how these other projected changes may impede tropical cyclone development, see here).


Recent Rapid Decline in Arctic Sea Ice caused by Unusual Winds, says NASA

Post below lifted from Accuweather. See the original for links and graphics

In a news release from NASA Monday, a group of scientists have determined that unusual winds caused the rapid decline (23% loss) in winter perennial ice over the past two years in the northern hemisphere. This drastic reduction is the primary cause of this summer's fastest-ever sea ice retreat in recorded history which has lead to the smallest extent of total Arctic coverage on record.

According to the NASA study, the perennial ice shrunk by an area the size of Texas and California combined between the winter of 2005 and the winter of 2007. What they found was the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia and Alaska was dominated by thinner seasonal ice that melts faster compared to the thicker ice confined to the Arctic Ocean north of Canada. The thinner ice is more easily compressed and responds more quickly to being pushed out of the Arctic by winds.

"Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic," said Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and leader of the study. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

What about these unusual wind patterns. Well, the article does not go into that too much, but I must believe some of this is due to changes in the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which are large atmospheric circulations which have major impacts on the weather in certain parts of the world.

If you look at the two graphics below, you will notice that both the AO and the NAO have been predominately in the positive phase (red) between 1989-1995 and again from 1999 to current. The positive phase of the (AO) typically leads to milder than normal winters over Scandinavia and Siberia, while colder than normal conditions prevail across Greenland. The positive phase of the NAO again leads to colder conditions over Greenland, while much of the eastern U.S. is warmer than normal in general.

Now light is pollution

Here's your mission, should you choose to accept it: Look up in the sky after dark and count the stars you see. As part of a worldwide push to gauge how much light pollution is out there, a scientific organization is asking people to look for specific constellations during the next two weeks and share observations on the Internet.

You probably won't be able to see the Milky Way from your San Jose backyard, experts say - but this area is still better off than some when it comes to the artificial lighting that illuminates the sky and interferes with stargazing. It isn't as bright as Los Angeles, isn't as gaudy as Las Vegas, and is home to the Lick Observatory - which has worked closely with San Jose officials to ensure special streetlights are used here.

The stargazing effort, dubbed the Great World Wide Star Count, is open to anyone who has access to a computer and the World Wide Web. And while scientists hope it will help them map light pollution on a global scale, they do have another motive. "We want people to go outside and look up, to appreciate the night sky," said Dennis Ward, an educational technologist and astronomer with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The consortium of universities is organizing the event along with planetariums and scientific societies across the country.

Under perfect conditions - no moon, a clear sky and minimal light pollution - a stargazer should be able to see as many as 14,000 stars, Ward said. But in many major cities, where used car lots, shopping malls and football stadiums illuminate the night, often fewer than 150 are visible. "It's pretty bad," said Ben Burress, staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. "People who live in cities tend to not think about the nighttime sky very much because they can't see it very well," he said. "You can't just walk outside and see something really enthralling."

That's a shame - and probably a major deterrent to kids developing an interest in the sciences these days, said Bob Gent president of the board of directors of the International Dark-Sky Association in Tucson, Ariz. When Gent was a young boy growing up in Phoenix, he could view a sky filled with thousands of objects, including his favorite, the Milky Way. Seeing the constellations made him curious about the universe and our solar system, and instilled in him a respect for the outdoors. "I became an astronomer for life by the time I was 5 years old," he said. "But now we've lost the heritage of dark skies in these big cities."

Light pollution has become a growing problem around the globe, fueled by urban sprawl and a growing population. Satellite images show much of the U.S. eastern seaboard is socked in by light pollution, as well as most large cities across the rest of the country. Among the problems caused by light pollution: Bright lights have interrupted the migratory patterns of birds and disoriented baby marine turtles. As a result, dozens of communities across the country have begun to enact ordinances aimed at reducing the glare. "It's not just astronomy impacted," Gent said. "It's a wildlife issue. It's the loss of the inspiration of the night sky. It's all those - while we're wasting energy."

When it comes to lighting, many city governments and private corporations have kept safety issues - and good business - squarely in mind, opting to keep streets, parking lots and store displays well-lit. While dark-sky advocates aren't calling for blackened city scapes, they do point out that some lighting is purely ornamental and unnecessary - think Las Vegas.

Despite the fact that the Bay Area has been densely populated for decades, it wasn't that long ago that you could drive a little ways and get a magnificent view of the sky, said Marni Berendsen, education project coordinator for the San Francisco-based Astronomical Society of the Pacific. During the early 1990s, for example, Berendsen would go to Mt. Diablo near Walnut Creek to see the Milky Way. No longer. "As the years go by and more and more houses are built at the base of the mountain," she said, "we're really starting to lose our dark sky up there."

San Jose is one community that has made great strides to reduce its light pollution - at least the kind that can obstruct observatory instruments. Of the city's 60,293 streetlights, an estimated 51,341 are low-pressure sodium lights, energy savers that give off a yellowish hue. They produce a light that researchers at the Lick Observatory can easily filter out. "They've really gone out of their way to help the observatory," said Burt Jones, assistant director of Lick. "Most cities are not like that."

Organizers of the Great World Wide Star Count wish more communities would take similar steps to turn down the lights. If their event becomes an annual one as they envision, scientists will be able to compare data from year to year and map the light-pollution changes. They hope their event will raise awareness of the issue, while shedding light on how poor the stargazing is from some urban centers. "That's one of our goals," Ward said, "to make people understand there could be so much more."



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


Thursday, October 04, 2007


Skeptical thinking from Russia

Paleoclimate research shows that the chillier periods of the Earth's history have always given way to warmer times, and vice versa. But it is not quite clear what causes this change. This is what makes predicting climate change so difficult. Although everyone agrees that the climate is changing very fast, hardly anyone can say whether it will be warmer or colder in the next 100 years. At the moment it is getting warmer. The majority attribute this change to human impact on the environment. But are they right?

Lev Zeleny, director of the Institute of Space Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences and an Academy corresponding member, believes that before making Kyoto Protocol-like decisions, we should thoroughly study the influence of all factors and receive more or less unequivocal results. In order to treat an illness, we must diagnose it first, he insists. Yury Leonov, director of the Institute of Geology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, thinks that the human impact on nature is so small that it can be dismissed as a statistical mistake.

Until quite recently, experts primarily attributed global warming to greenhouse gas emissions, with carbon dioxide singled out as the chief culprit. But it transpires that water vapor is just as bad. Paleoclimate studies have revealed that during the ice ages the climate became much less damp, because the North Atlantic produced little moisture. The increase in temperature in turn increased humidity, and as a result rivers became fuller and more fresh water flowed into the Arctic and the North Atlantic. This fresh water covered the ocean's surface with a thin film, thereby decreasing evaporation. Another chilly period set in, and the flow of the rivers slowed down, marking the beginning of a new cycle. This is not a linear process - the higher the average temperature, the more steam gets into the air.

"Judging by Venus, a planet, which is similar to the Earth in all respects, we can see how far this can go. The temperature on its surface is about 500° C (mostly due to a greenhouse effect). At one time, Venus did not have a layer of clouds, and this is probably when it was warmed up by the Sun, causing a greenhouse effect. What if the Sun is responsible for the warming of our climate?" queries Lev Zeleny.

"There are two channels of energy transfer from the Sun - electromagnetic and corpuscular radiation," he explains. "The bulk of it - about 1.37 kW per square meter of the Earth's surface - which equals the power of an electric kettle - comes via the electromagnetic channel. This flow of energy primarily fits into the visible and infrared range of the spectrum and its amount is virtually immune to change - it alters by no more than a few fractions of a percent. It is called the 'solar constant.' The flow of energy reaches the Earth in eight minutes and is largely absorbed by its atmosphere and surface. It has decisive influence on the shaping of our climate."

The second channel is corpuscular radiation, consisting of solar wind and space rays. Although transferring much less energy, it plays a key role in forming "space weather" - changeable conditions in space which depend on solar activity. Until recently, it was believed that "space weather" had nothing to do with ours, but that idea has been proved wrong.

"Solar wind becomes more intense when the Sun is active. It sweeps space rays out of the solar system like a broom," Zeleny points out. "This affects cloud formation, which cools off both the atmosphere and the whole planet. We know from historic records that it was quite cold in 1350-1380. The Sun was very active during this time."

Solar wind is also the main transmitter of energy for geomagnetic phenomena in the Earth's magnetosphere, which is formed as a result of the solar wind streamlining the Earth's magnetic field. If the influx of energy exceeds its dissipation, energy accumulates in the magnetosphere. If a certain level of energy is exceeded, any disturbance outside or inside the magnetosphere may release excess energy and cause a magnetic storm. But it may also have no consequences at all.

A statistical analysis of solar and geomagnetic disturbances shows a rather low correlation between them. It transpires that most solar bursts do not trigger magnetic storms. It would be interesting to know why this correlation is so low. Nevertheless, other Sun-related phenomena have fairly regular and predictable consequences on the Earth. Of course, they exert influence on humans and other species and, to some extent, on the environment, altering atmospheric pressure and temperature. But they are not likely to contribute much to climate change. This is a global process and is the result of global causes. For the time being, we are far from understanding them fully.

"Some dangers are much less discussed today, for instance, the inversion of the Earth's magnetic field," Zeleny warns. "It is gradually changing its polarity; the poles are crawling to the equator at increasing speed. There were whole epochs in the Earth's history when the magnetic field all but disappeared. Such oscillations have taken place throughout almost its entire geological history."

Paleomagnetic data show that last time the magnetic field disappeared was several hundred thousand years ago. It is possible that the Earth will lose it again in the 21st and 22nd centuries. The "magnetic umbrella," which protects us from deadly space radiation, will disappear, exposing humankind to a heavy "rainfall" of solar particles and space rays. Our descendants will have to understand how a weaker magnetic field will affect the climate and what protection they will need.


Politicians love mass transit, just not for themselves

"You've got to use public transit," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared. "You can't keep on pointing to someone else and saying it's their responsibility." Imagine the credibility and public relations points Villaraigosa could have racked up uttering those words while commuting on a bus to City Hall. But instead of being the "eco-friendly transit-riding mayor" Villaraigosa rides an SUV to work.

Yet many Angelinos probably sympathize with the mayor. "Give me a first-rate transit system, and I'll use it," they might say. Until that system arrives, they support new transit proposals, like the $5 billion "subway to the sea," while continuing to drive everywhere. But what would it say about the practicality of mass transit if the mayor of the city with the nation's best subway system also took an SUV to work?

After Michael Bloomberg became mayor of New York City, he invited reporters to follow him to work. The billionaire mayor didn't slip into a limo-he piled into a subway car like a "regular Joe mayor." Positive press gushed forth. Bloomberg was the real-deal, a green leader and blue-collar populist. One transit group dubbed him "the MetroCard Mayor." Bloomberg bragged about taking transit, and urged others to follow. Yet, after a five-week stakeout, New York Times reporters discovered that Bloomberg's enthusiasm for transit has since fizzled. These days he only takes the subway to work about twice a week. That's more transit travel than Villaraigosa, but not enough to meet the federal government's definition of a transit commuter.

Even during transit days, Bloomberg doesn't schlep to the nearest subway stop. Staffers drive him 22 blocks so he can hop aboard an express train, avoiding the hassle of making a transfer and shrinking his commute time by about a third. Avoiding transit is commonplace for those who run some of our nation's other top-tier transit systems. The Philadelphia Inquirer discovered that only four of 14 transit board members interviewed used that city's system at least twice a week. And when asked by the Washington Post, only five out of 10 local transit board members said they rode their rail system even occasionally (two others refused to talk, so it's probably safe to file them under "infrequent transit user").

Villaraigosa's actions make the obvious point that his words never would: Public transit doesn't work for the vast majority of Angelinos, 95 percent of whom find another way to get to work. Still he and other public officials fuel a double fantasy. First, they claim our existing public transit system is a better choice for motorists, at least those who aren't serving as mayor. Villaraigosa says he'd use transit more often, "But my problem is I have to go all over the city . It's very tough because of my schedule." City Councilman Herb Wesson, a transportation committee member, says the same thing, "Given the type of work I do, it just doesn't work for me to take public transportation." Don't the rest of us also have busy schedules - jobs to get to, kids to pick up, and errands to run? Why are we being urged to ditch our cars for a transit system that is ill-suited to serve city officials?

The second fantasy is that each new rail transit project represents a step toward building a New York-style transit system. New York's subway system boasts 468 stations; LA's 78 (if you generously count light rail stations too). The current piecemeal transit approach should get LA to New York's level sometime in the middle of the next millennium, and the "build it all at once" strategy made fashionable by Denver is really just a replay of LA in 1980, when Prop A was supposed to fund 11 rail transit lines. What committing to rail really did was soak up funds that could have gone toward more sensible fixes: mainly improving and expanding bus service for the transit dependent poor

Bloomberg's falling out with transit adds another disturbing wrinkle: Maybe even a system as extensive as New York's couldn't transform Villaraigosa into a transit-riding mayor. In Metro New York, 25 percent of commuters rely on transit, much more than LA's 5 percent, but not in step with the popular view that "everyone" takes transit in New York.

Back when workers traveled in beelines from homes in the suburbs to offices in a city center, it was relatively easy to design successful transit systems. Today, old fixed-route systems don't serve most travelers. Yet officials still prefer to fund snazzy rail lines over buses because for them transit's primary use isn't transportation but a backdrop for photo ops: Cut the ribbon, huddle around the others who fought for funding, smile, and then jump back into your SUV. Imagine how much transit might improve if public officials actually had to ride the systems they tout.


Towards an age of abundance

Why we must tackle the critics of economic growth, and finish off the war against scarcity

Imagine an egalitarian world in which all food is organic and local, the air is free of industrial pollution, and vigorous physical exertion is guaranteed. Sound idyllic? But hold on. Life expectancy is 30 at most; many children die at or soon after birth; life is constantly lived on the edge of starvation; there are no doctors or dentists or modern toilets. If it is egalitarian it is because everyone is dirt poor, and there is no industrial pollution because there are no factories. Food is organic because there are no pesticides or high technology farming methods. As a result, producing food means long hours of back-breaking physical work which may end up yielding little.

There is - or at least was - such a place. It is called the past. And few of us, it seems, recognise the enormous benefits to humanity of escaping from it. On the contrary, there is a pervasive culture of complaint about the perils of affluence and a common tendency to romanticise the simple life.

From the 1790s onwards, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the prospect of a world without scarcity seemed like a realistic possibility (1). Humans strove for a day when they could have a guaranteed food supply at all times. It should be remembered that the famous clause in Christianity's Lord's Prayer - `give us this day our daily bread' - was meant literally. Our ancestors struggled for a world where we could take abundant food, clean water and adequate shelter for granted. Not only have we achieved these goals, at least in the developed world, but modern technology and economic organisation have improved our lives hugely.

Yet in the midst of contemporary abundance, there are vocal criticisms. The gains of modernity are under attack. Cheap food, one of the great achievements of humanity, is frequently derided as a curse rather than a blessing. Our houses are said to be too large. Cars and aeroplanes are seen as both destroying the planet and wrecking communities. Although we travel more than ever before, the local is being exalted at the expense of wider horizons.

Of course most people get on with their lives and enjoy the benefits of affluence. They eat plentiful food, travel abroad for their holidays and go to the doctor if they become ill. But the pervasive cynicism towards popular prosperity still has a negative effect. It makes it harder to enjoy or make the most of what we have got. It is also a barrier against making things better still. In this context, it is important to remember that there are still many billions of people in the world who live in poor countries. And yet the prospect of everyone having access to the best the world has to offer is commonly seen as an environmental nightmare rather than a worthwhile goal.

Deep Economy is one of the most articulate recent assaults on popular prosperity. Bill McKibben, an environmental writer and campaigner based in the American state of Vermont, follows a pattern typical of such works. He grudgingly admits that mass affluence has advantages. For example, he concedes that we are richer and healthier than a few hundred years ago. Then he introduces numerous caveats to call the benefits of prosperity into question. This is an outlook I have previously described as `growth scepticism', as it represents an indirect attack on growth rather than an overt rejection of its benefits (2).

McKibben puts three main arguments against growth. First, he argues that it increases inequality and insecurity. He does not spend much time on these objections as he sees them as widely discussed and the least fundamental criticisms. Second, he argues that there is not enough energy in the world to maintain growth at its present level or deal with the inevitable pollution. Finally, he argues that economic growth no longer makes us happy.

In relation to the environment, McKibben quickly concedes that some kinds of pollution can be solved by greater affluence: `Eventually those riches translate into a desire for the new "luxury" of clean air and the technological means to achieve it: England's air is relatively fresh now, and even in Beijing planners are busy figuring out how they'll move enough industry and install enough smokestack scrubbers and catalytic converters to have sparkling skies for the 2008 Olympics.' (3) But he goes onto to argue that some kinds of environmental degradation cannot be solved by greater affluence. A chronic water shortage and global warming are his two examples.

Yet it is hard to see how McKibben's distinction between two types of environmental degradation can hold. Both are susceptible to a combination of more resources generated by economic growth and improved technology. Certainly it is hard to see why there should be any fundamental shortage of water. Even if fresh water is scarce there are vast volumes of seawater in the oceans. Technology for desalination and irrigation already exists, even though, no doubt, it could be made better still. Nor should there be any problem in generating the energy to convert seawater to fresh water.

Spiked has dealt with the question of climate change in numerous articles (4). But it seems clear that if we put our minds to it, the challenge can be met. There are already technologies, such as nuclear power and hydroelectric power, that do not emit greenhouse gases. There are also ways to adapt to the effects of climate change by such means as modern flood defences. Further into the future it may also be possible to find more high-technology ways to modify the climate for the benefit of humanity. Although it is not possible in advance to say for sure what will work best, there is no reason to believe that climate change should be an insurmountable problem.

McKibben's arguments on happiness draw heavily on the work of Richard Layard, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. Layard has observed, like others before him, that beyond a certain threshold, economic growth does not seem to generate more happiness (5). McKibben also emphasises Layard's arguments on how economic growth can destroy communities. Deep Economy places great importance on the need to promote local communities for everything from food to entertainment.

There are numerous reasons to object to the happiness agenda. For a start, economic growth should be advocated for its objective benefits. It has given us the ability to lead longer and more prosperous lives. It gives us more leisure time. It is a key factor in the development of science and culture. The question of individual happiness is a separate one.

It is also questionable that, as Layard has advocated, happiness should be a goal of public policy. There are plenty of things that are worthwhile but do not necessarily make people happy: bringing up a family, learning a foreign language, excelling at sport or producing great art, to name a few. Although those involved in such activities may experience brief moments of elation, these are far from guaranteed. And for much of the time, what they experience is likely to be hard work and sometimes even misery or physical pain. But this does not mean that such goals are not worth striving to achieve. On the contrary, the contemporary obsession with individual happiness has a narcissistic edge.

Perhaps worst of all is McKibben's emphasis on local communities. Although this is presented as somehow humanistic, it is the very opposite. It means downgrading our common humanity in favour of privileging those who happen to live close by. In practice it seems to mean favouring such things as farmers' markets and community radio stations over supermarkets and the global media. It also means condemning Wal-Mart for exporting `American jobs' abroad (6). McKibben's vision of a healthy community is primarily one that consumes goods and services that are produced locally. It is a depressingly parochial vision for the twenty-first century....

We should be looking forward to a true age of abundance rather than romanticising a world in which we felt we had to pray for our daily bread.

More here

Global Warming Hysteria

By economist Walter E. Williams

Despite increasing evidence that man-made CO2 is not a significant greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change, politicians and others who wish to control our lives must maintain that it is. According to the Detroit Free Press, Rep. John Dingell wants a 50-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline. We've heard such calls before, but there's a new twist. Dingell also wants to eliminate the mortgage tax deduction on what he calls "McMansions," homes that are 3,000 square feet and larger. That's because larger homes use more energy.

One might wonder about Dingell's magnanimity in increasing taxes for only homes 3,000 feet or larger. The average U.S. home is around 2,300 square feet, compared with Europe's average of 1,000 square feet. So why doesn't Dingell call for disallowing mortgage deductions on houses more than 1,000 square feet? The reason is there would be too much political resistance, since more Americans own homes under 3,000 square feet than over 3,000. The full agenda is to start out with 3,000 square feet and later lower it in increments.

Our buying into global warming hysteria will allow politicians to do just about anything, upon which they can muster a majority vote, in the name of fighting climate change as a means to raise taxes. In addition to excuses to raise taxes, congressmen are using climate change hysteria to funnel money into their districts. Rep. David L. Hobson, R-Ohio, secured $500,000 for a geothermal demonstration project. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., got $500,000 for a fuel-cell project by Superprotonic, a Pasadena company started by Caltech scientists. Money for similar boondoggles is being called for by members of both parties.

There are many ways to reduce CO2 emissions, and being 71 years of age I know many of them. Al Gore might even consider me carbon neutral and possibly having carbon credits because my carbon offsets were made in advance. For example, for the first 15 years of my life, I didn't use energy-consuming refrigerators; we had an icebox. For two decades I listened to radio instead of watching television and walked or used public transportation to most places. And for more than half my life I didn't use energy-consuming things such as computers, clothes dryers, air conditioning and microwave ovens. Of course, my standard of living was much lower.

The bottom line is, serious efforts to reduce CO2 will lead to lower living standards through higher costs of living. And it will be all for naught because there is little or no relationship between man-made CO2 emissions and climate change.

There's an excellent booklet available from the National Center for Policy Analysis ( titled "A Global Warming Primer." Some of its highlights are:

"Over long periods of time, there is no close relationship between CO2 levels and temperature."

"Humans contribute approximately 3.4 percent of annual CO2 levels" compared to 96.6 percent by nature.

"There was an explosion of life forms 550 million years ago (Cambrian Period) when CO2 levels were 18 times higher than today. During the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, CO2 levels were as much as nine times higher than today."

What about public school teachers frightening little children with tales of cute polar bears dying because of global warming? The primer says, "Polar bear numbers increased dramatically from around 5,000 in 1950 to as many as 25,000 today, higher than any time in the 20th century." The primer gives detailed sources for all of its findings, and it supplies us with information we can use to stop politicians and their environmental extremists from doing a rope-a-dope on us.


New climate guesses from Australian scientists

The guesses are getting more cautious. Who knows what next years' guess might be?

NEW climate change projections for Australia have lowered worst-case forecasts of temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius but are more certain of temperature increases causing more droughts and bushfires this century. The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology warn Australia is almost certain to be 1C warmer by 2030 and will warm by between 1C and 5C, depending on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. This is a narrowing of projections six years ago. In 2001, those predictions were for warming of up to 6C.

The CSIRO report updates projections for the Australian climate for the rest of the century, incorporating material from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report, released in February. They project the impact of different greenhouse gas scenarios, predicting a 1C rise in temperature in Australia in 2030, compared with 1990, with the inland warming more than the coast. Under a low-emissions scenario, the report projects warming of between 1C and 2.5C by 2070, which could increase to more than 3.4C with high levels of greenhouse gases. There will also be changes in temperature extremes, with fewer frosts and substantially more days over 35C. The number of drought months is expected to increase by 20 per cent by 2030, 40 per cent in eastern Australia by 2070, and up to 80 per cent in southwestern Australia by 2070.

Yesterday, Britain's Chief Scientist, in Australia for a national greenhouse conference, said a global deal to cut greenhouse emissions would need to be brokered by meetings of world leaders rather than forums such as the UN, although these would still be needed to formalise a deal. Attending the conference in Sydney yesterday, Britain's Chief Scientist, David King, said he was less hopeful of an international climate agreement being brokered by the UN at a meeting in Bali in December. "My feeling is the critical meetings are meetings of heads of state. They're the real decision-makers," he told The Australian. Sir David said the likelihood of some kind of deal by 2009 had improved following a "substantial" policy shift by the Bush administration. "President Bush can open the way for his successor by taking the Republicans towards an agreement but leaving whoever becomes president to run it through," he said. "They have removed the questions of doubt in saying the science is now clear, there is still talk about technology providing the solution and of course we all agree, but we must have fiscal drivers and processes for dealing with adaptation for countries that can't afford it."

Penny Whetton, from the CSIRO, said the projected temperature increase would depend on the rate of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. "Decreases in rainfall are likely for southern Australia, particularly through the winter and in southern and eastern Australia through the winter and the spring," Dr Whetton said. She said those decreases would mean more drought. The flipside would be an increase in downpours. "Even if average rainfall declines, heavy downpours will be more intense." That will result in more flooding.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Scott Power said there had already been a substantial decline in rainfall across most of eastern and southwestern Australia. "At the moment what we are seeing is a combination of human-induced climate change and a huge amount of natural variability, and it is very likely the temperature change is due to human intervention," Dr Power said. "The rainfall decline in west Australia is most likely human and natural variability, but beyond that, you really need to know the relative contributions and we are not able to do that with any accuracy."

Rainfall declines in the southwest had resulted in annual inflows into Perth's dams decreasing from 338 gigalitres between 1911 and 1974, to 114GL between 1997 and 2005. Dr Power said Victoria was set to experience 11 years in a row of below-average rainfall. The report said one of the major impacts of rainfall decline was a reduction in inflows into streams and dams. The yearly inflow into Victoria's Eildon Dam had fallen from a pre-1997 average of 1533GL to a post-1997 average of 956GL. Dr Power said the increase in greenhouse gases was "likely to have contributed to the drying in the southwest and is a major suspect in the east". He said temperatures in the Murray-Darling Basin for the period January to September were a record, as was the temperature over southern Australia. "The warming is consistent with climate change," he said.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The administration of George W. Bush seems to have discovered a new interest in the issue of climate change, starting just before the G8 summit last summer in Germany. Common wisdom holds that this interest is either shallow or, more cynically, an effort to derail ongoing international negotiations via distraction. But when President Bush proposed that a new international framework for climate change be developed by the end of 2008, his last year in office, he had no trouble getting other world leaders to agree enthusiastically, and a first meeting is scheduled for this week in Washington.

The dynamics of late-term lame-duck presidencies (i.e., those ineligible to run again for office) suggest that the climate issue is indeed ripe for action at the end of 2008, especially if a Democrat is elected in November. These dynamics give at least some reason for thinking that action on climate change under the Bush Administration may not be so far-fetched a possibility.

It is quite likely that the political use of late-term regulatory action is one lesson that the Bush Administration surely learned from its predecessors. In 1995, under the Clinton Administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a report for Congress on mercury emissions, finding 1.6 million Americans potentially at risk from food contaminated by mercury pollution. But the EPA refused to release the report to Congress or to the public, claiming that it needed further scientific review. This drew the ire of several members of Congress, who argued that the report was being withheld because of industry pressure. One of the leading emitters of mercury into the environment is coal-fired power plants.

The EPA report was finally released in December, 1997, and the Clinton Administration continued its policy of inaction, if not obstruction, on mercury regulation. That is, until December 14, 2000, when the EPA abruptly announced a proposed rule that would cut mercury emissions by an impressive 90 percent.

What accounted for the sudden change from years of foot-dragging? One factor that certainly seems to have played a role is that on December 13, 2000 - one day earlier - the US Supreme Court decided that George W. Bush would be the 43rd president of the United States. The EPA could propose drastic regulations on mercury knowing that whatever negative political consequences would ensue, they would be borne by the incoming Bush Administration.

The proposed mercury regulations were a perfect political trap for the incoming president. The 90 percent reduction would be drastic enough to impose costs on important political constituencies. But if the regulations were to be scaled back, it would ensure headlines like the following: "Bush Administration Rolls Back Clinton Mercury Guidelines," which also would cast the administration in a bad light. Regardless of the merits of mercury regulation, the outgoing administration had guaranteed political problems for its political opponents....

There is little doubt that the Bush Administration felt the political sting of not only the proposed mercury regulation but other last-minute actions by the Clinton Administration as well, such as those on arsenic and the International Criminal Court.

So if a Democrat is elected in November 2008, which appears likely, it seems eminently plausible that the Bush Administration would help the new administration get off to a running start by leaving them with a proposed rule, under the EPA, for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Even the possibility of such a late-hour action is probably enough for the declared Democratic presidential candidates to be very careful about calling for dramatic action on climate change, lest - if elected - they find themselves getting what they asked for.

Because no one really yet knows how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by any significant amount, a strong proposed rule on climate change issued in the final months of the Bush Administration would create all sorts of political difficulties for the next president, just as those late-hour rules proposed by President Clinton did for President Bush. If reducing emissions indeed proves to be easy, as some have suggested, President Bush would get credit for taking decisive action. If it proves difficult and costly, as many suggest, then the next administration would bear the political backlash.

Common wisdom that the Bush Administration will not act meaningfully on climate change may in the end prove to be correct. But, at the same time, remember that lame ducks are unpredictable creatures.



This is from the NYT! A sign of things to come?

Soaring food prices, driven in part by demand for ethanol made from corn, have helped slash the amount of food aid the government buys to its lowest level in a decade, possibly resulting in more hungry people around the world this year. The United States, the world's dominant donor, has purchased less than half the amount of food aid this year that it did in 2000, according to new data from the Department of Agriculture. "The people who are starving and have to rely on food aid, they will suffer," Jean Ziegler, who reports to the United Nations on hunger and food issues, said in an interview this week.

Corn prices have fallen in recent months, but are still far higher than they were a year ago. Demand for ethanol has also indirectly driven the rising price of soybeans, as land that had been planted with soybeans shifted to corn. And wheat prices have skyrocketed, in large part because drought hurt production in Australia, a major producer, economists say.

The higher food prices have not only reduced the amount of American food aid for the hungry, but are also making it harder for the poorest people to buy food for themselves, economists and advocates for the hungry say. "We fear the steady rise of food prices will hit those on the front lines of hunger the hardest," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program. The United States is the biggest contributor to the agency. She warned that food aid spending would have to rise just to keep feeding the same number of people. But the appropriations bill for the coming year now moving through Congress does not promise any significant increases in the food aid budget.

The impact of rising food prices on food aid is part of a broader debate about the long-term impact on the world's poorest people of using food crops to make ethanol and other biofuels, a strategy that rich countries like the United States hope will eventually reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil.



BIOFUELS firms are demanding the British government and the European Union take action to stop American rivals exploiting subsidies to flood the European markets with cut-price fuel. The Renewable Energy Association, an industry group, contacted the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson in recent weeks. The European Biodiesel Board is also lobbying the EU to protest to the US government.

Since the start of the year, American biodiesel groups have flooded the European markets with cheap fuel. The volumes are so large that US imports are thought to account for more than 50% of demand for biodiesel. European biodiesel groups, including Biofuels Corporation, the UK's largest producer, and listed group D1 Oils, have warned that the glut of cheap American imports could drive many firms out of business.

American companies have been exploiting federal government subsidies and rebates offered by European countries including Britain. Under the US scheme, biodiesel producers are paid a subsidy of $1 per gallon, or 11p per litre. But the groups can also claim 20p per litre in excise duty rebates by importing biofuels to the UK ? in effect "double dipping" on tax relief. The American fuel, known as B99, is a blend of 99% soya biodiesel and 1% mineral diesel. It is being sold at about $860 per tonne, far cheaper than the $1,114 price of raw rapeseed oil before it has been refined to create biodiesel. Refining typically costs $125 a tonne.

The European biofuels industry is demanding the EU looks at measures including placing duties on US imports. In America, Congress is considering a bill that would only allow firms to claim the subsidy on biofuels used in the country. However, it is feared the bill could take more than a year to become law.

According to a recent report by accountants Ernst & Young, US biofuel imports to Europe are expected to reach more than 500,000 tonnes by the end of this year. In Germany, some biodiesel refiners have cut their output by 50%, though there are fears this could lead to an 80% fall by the end of the year.



Most crops grown in the United States and Europe to make "green" transport fuels actually speed up global warming because of industrial farming methods, says a report by Nobel prize winning chemist Paul J. Crutzen. The findings could spell particular concern for alternative fuels derived from rapeseed, used in Europe, which the study concluded could produce up to 70 percent more planet-warming greenhouse gases than conventional diesel.

The study suggested scientists and farmers focused on crops, which required less intensive farming methods, to produce better benefits for the environment.

Biofuels are derived from plants which absorb the planet-warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as they grow, and so are meant as a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. But the new study shows that some biofuels actually release more greenhouse gases than they save, because of the fertiliser used in modern farming practices.

The problem greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, is more famous as the dentists' anaesthetic "laughing gas," and is about 300 times more insulating than the commonest man-made greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. "The nitrous oxide emission on its own can cancel out the overall benefit," co-author Professor Keith Smith told Reuters in a phone interview.

The results, published in "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions," were based on the finding that fertiliser use on farms was responsible for three to five times more such greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought.

They cast further doubts on the credibility of biofuels as a climate cure, following the revelation of other unintended side effects such as rainforest clearance and raised food prices, from competition with forests and food for land. Brazil and the United States produce most of the world's bioethanol, as a substitute for gasoline, while the European Union is the main supplier of biodiesel.


Using biodiesel derived from rapeseed would produce between 1 and 1.7 times more greenhouse gas than using conventional diesel, the study estimated. Biofuels derived from sugar cane, as in Brazil, fared better, producing between 0.5 and 0.9 times as much greenhouse gases as gasoline, it found. Maize is the main biofuels feedstock used in the United States, and produced between 0.9 and 1.5 times the global warming effect of conventional gasoline, it said. "As it's used at the moment, bioethanol from maize seems to be a pretty futile exercise," Smith said.

The study did not account for the extra global warming effect of burning fossil fuels in biofuel manufacture, or for the planet-cooling effect of using biofuel by-products as a substitute for coal in electricity generation. "Even if somebody decides that our numbers are too big ... if you add together the undoubted amount of nitrous oxide that is formed, plus the fossil fuel usage, with most of the biofuels of today you are not going to get any benefit," Smith said.

However, the study did not condemn all biofuels, suggesting that scientists and farmers should focus on crops needing little fertiliser, and harvesting methods that were not energy intensive. "In future if you use low nitrogen demanding crops, and low impact agriculture, then we could get a benefit," Smith said. The study singled out grasses and woody coppice species -- like willows and poplars -- as crops with potentially more favourable impacts on the climate



One of the major concerns today is the rise in global temperatures, which are generally thought to be caused by the release of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. As a result, a growing proportion of the political agenda is occupied by the challenge of implementing policies and strategies in time to mitigate the possible consequences of global warming.

A key element in assessing climate change is the powerful computer simulations used to demonstrate how complex, interacting forcing agents influence the evolution of the climate system. Although the models are built around a long-accumulated understanding of the underlying physical processes and dynamics - and are compared with historical and contemporary observations - there are still many aspects that are less well understood. There is, therefore, a range of views about the reliability of using these models to make credible projections of our future climate.

At the seminar, two leading climate physicists, Prof. Richard S Lindzen, Alfred P Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Prof. Alan J Thorpe, chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), described the current status of climate-model prediction from rather different viewpoints. Prof. Lindzen explained the limitations of climate models and outlined why attempts to attribute global temperature rise to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were flawed. He maintained that there was no sound evidence that temperatures would rise substantially in the future. Prof. Thorpe based his presentation on the huge weight of evidence in the scientific literature, showing that current and future warming of the climate is caused by the human input of greenhouse gases. He presented a variety of evidence supporting the validity of current global models on which current concerns about global warming are based. He also stressed that more research was being done and needed to refine the details further.

The seminar was chaired by Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham West and Royton, and a former Minister of State for the Environment. Prof. Chris Rapley of the British Antarctic Survey and Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction joined the speakers in answering questions from the audience.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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


Tuesday, October 02, 2007


An email below from Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore [] to Benny Peiser:

Excellent comment by Chris Horner [See article immediately below] on the fact that EU CO2 emissions are increasing faster than the US. Does this confirm the US position that technology is the key, not political targets?

Perhaps the Danish Environment Minister is not aware of the fact that Denmark has the highest CO2 emissions per capita of the EU 15? Yes, they have 18% wind energy but the other 82% is all fossil fuel. Denmark has no hydro-electric because it is flat and they have no nuclear because they are anti-nuclear. Denmark produces 11 tonnes CO2 per capita whereas Sweden, the lowest per capita of the EU 15, produces 6.3 tonnes per capita, in a colder climate. Sweden's electricity is 50% hydro-electric and 50% nuclear, i.e. no carbon. France has the second lowest at 6.8 tonnes per capita, primarily due to 80% nuclear electricity. Germany produces 10.2 tonnes per capita with only 30% nuclear and a lot of fossil fuel. It is clear that given comparable per capita GDP, CO2 emissions per capita are largely governed by electricity generation technology. The more nuclear, hydro-electric and wind the lower the emissions.

France and Germany provide a stark comparison. France has 80% nuclear, low per capita emissions, and is the only country in Western Europe with a large surplus of electricity for export. Their electricity technology is in line with climate policy. Germany, under the Social Democrat/Green alliance, voted to phase out all their nuclear plants. The only possible replacement is either domestic dirty brown coal or Russian gas, both of which would increase CO2 emissions above present levels. At the same time the German government has committed to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. These two objectives can not be attained simultaneously thus Germany has logically inconsistent and dysfunctional policies for energy and climate.

Meanwhile Germany is importing billions of dollars worth of nuclear energy from France. And Chancellor Schroeder, who presided over the decision to shut down the nuclear industry, took the job of European representative for Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, immediately after stepping down. Talk about creating your own job.

It is clear to me that until the "green" movement recognizes that nuclear and hydro-electric are the primary technologies capable of getting us off fossil fuels, they will remain a primary obstacle to the realistic achievement of CO2 emissions reduction.


Today's Washington Post story was replete with pompous and absurd proclamations - the pompous being the Danish Environment Minister claiming that she and her ilk "are getting a bit impatient, not on our own behalf but on behalf of the planet." The condemnations of the US included "unusually blunt language" about how the rest of the world are waiting for the US to act, and that it is the US resistance to adopting a particular approach to addressing emissions that jeopardizes the climate. Not China, India, Mexico and 155 countries representing the vast majority of emissions seeing theirs skyrocket; certainly not the EU.

Although that specific assertion begs the question, no mention was made of actual emissions (sidebar: this story was written by Juliet Eilperin, who has this beat and is by no means new to the story. Putting aside that the administration has only once uttered something that can be called a robust comparison of US and EU performance, it remains baffling that she and her peers can continue writing as if what it is now well understood were never in fact revealed)

given that the European Environment Agency may play rhetorical games but it makes no secret of the fact that Europe is not lowering but increasing their emissions, which are up since Kyoto was agreed not down, this struck me as possibly clever groundwork-laying for that which ultimately must publicly come to pass: Europe explaining away the gaping chasm between global warming "world leader!" rhetoric and actual emissions performance. We would've cut them but we're waiting on the US to do something. Don't laugh, that wouldn't be all that aberrant for Brussels, Berlin or Paris.

Regardless, yesterday's vulgar display prompted me to tally the comparative, real emission increases in US and EU, given I have heard the counter "well, in percentage terms, but..." when I point out that EU emissions are increasing faster than the US's under any modern baseline (that is, since Kyoto was agreed and the EU commenced its breast-beating).

We know that the US CO2 emissions are going up at a much slower rate than the EU-15 ("Europe" per Kyoto). We know that, as a result of the EU-15's obvious failure to reduce emissions, even Cf. 1990 (with the gift that that baseline was to them, for reasons of unrelated UK and DE political decisions), the EU-likes to redefine Europe. They do this to boast on the EU-25 doing this or that -- usually, being on target to meet its [sic] Kyoto promise...there not being an EU-25 Kyoto promise, but one collective promise for the EU-15 and 10 different other individual promises, plus 2 countries that are exempt from Kyoto. They do this now as a way to ride the economic collapse of Eastern Europe, reclaiming the hoped-for benefits of the 1990 baseline that slipped away for the more developed EU countries.

However, having a higher percentage increase for even an economy smaller than the US's (EU-15) means that one might actually produce a larger real emission increase as great or greater than the US. One cost of redefining one's self as is convenient is that it allows others to do so, possibly guaranteeing that a larger real emission increase is the case.

It turns out that a quick review indicates that real EU-25 CO2 emissions have increased more than the US since, say, 2000, by a third as much (133.1%) in fact. If my numbers are right, that means +177.7 MMT for the EU-25 in 2005 Cf. 2000, as compared to the US's +133.5 MMT 2005 over 2000, per the Energy Information Administration numbers (I have only just done this and do not know how it holds for older baselines, e.g., 1997 being the only potentially relevant year).

And oh, dear, even without the EU-10, the EU-15, "Old Europe" - a smaller economy than the US's - increased emissions by 161.67 MMT to the US's 133.5 over the same period; that is our climate hectors have increased real emissions more than the US's, in real terms, by 21%.

So there is no need to rely on the "in percentage terms" qualifier when noting that Europe's emissions have risen faster than the US's (as Kyoto defines Europe). Instead, it appears that Europe's emissions (as Kyoto defines Europe, and certainly as Europe defines Europe, including for these purposes) have not only increased much faster than the US's but also that the EU has increased CO2 emissions much more than the US.

It seems the only thing standing between Europe and a reality check is a White House calling them on their bluster.



It sure is tricky in what it does. Note the contrasting reports from Australia in the two articles below. Perth and Adelaide are roughly in the same latitude but have a big desert in between them. Extreme weather is ALWAYS blamed on global warming so we KNOW what is causing the events below

Perth wettest for four years

PERTH has recorded its wettest September in four years. The city got 101mm of rain in September, slightly above the long-term normal of 90mm. It was a wet month right across the southwest corner of the state, meteorologist Matt Pearce said. "However, the rain did not penetrate very far eastward," he said.

"Forrest, in the Eucla district, did not record any rain during the month, the first time this has occurred for September in 11 years of (the company's) records." With the exception of the stormy southwest, the rest of WA experienced warmer than normal days. "Warburton, in the state's Interior, had an average maximum of 31C, making it the equal hottest September there in 28 years of records." Perth had an average maximum of 20C, right on the long-term average.

Mr Pearce said he was expecting the next few months to continue wetter than normal across WA. "It is also likely to remain warm, especially by night."


Adelaide suffers driest September in decades

This September has been the driest in Adelaide for 20 years. The city had 23 millimetres of rain, compared with the average of 64. Temperatures were also above average. Weatherzone meteorologist Matt Pearce says there is more rain on the way. "The waters of the Indian Ocean, just off the west coast of Australia, are in the process of warming up at the moment," he said. "Now that does tend to result in increased rainfall, especially in Western Australia but also extending into South Australia as well. "I guess the bad news however is that temperatures will remain above average, especially the daytime temperatures so we're looking at quite a warm spring and summer."


Inconvenient Truths: The unintended consequences of bad environmental policies

IF YOU FOLLOW THE media you must think that everyone agrees that the earth is warming, and that it is our fault because we create greenhouse-gas emissions by driving, flying, heating and cooling our homes, and making other uses of fossil fuels. And you must think that everyone agrees that unless something is done, and soon, the polar ice cap will melt, floods around the world will become more frequent and more lethal, and hurricanes will increase in intensity and frequency. If you don't believe this calamity is upon us, go see Al Gore's movie, Inconvenient Truth.

Well, not everyone thinks our future is so dire. There are responsible scientists who attribute recent warming to the natural, long-run rhythms of the weather cycle. Others concede that the earth is warming, but say that it is important not to panic lest we rush to adopt excessively costly solutions. Still others urge us to Cool It, the title of a wonderfully readable new book by Bjorn Lomborg, an economist specializing in environmental matters.

No matter: enough people believe something must be done to propel politicians into action--not always a good thing. The Bush administration and the congress want to lavish still more funds on growers of corn so that what was once a food crop can be converted into ethanol, a gasoline substitute. This has had at least two unfortunate and unintended consequences.

First, corn prices have been driven so high that (even after a recent easing) poor Mexicans can no longer afford their tortillas, and American housewives find the prices of everything from salad oil to dairy products and meat (corn is an animal feedstock) hitting new highs. Second, farmers around the world are rushing to clear land to make room for products that can be converted to fuel--it's called deforestation. These unintended consequences matter little to most politicians, especially those eager to please corn-growing Iowans who will troop to the polls in the nation's first presidential primary.

Those who are less enthusiastic about the ethanol solution see our salvation in a revival of the nuclear power industry. These plants produce electricity without emitting the greenhouse gasses that are alleged to cause global warming. But they are expensive, and cannot be built without substantial subsidies, either paid directly by taxpayers or hidden as a surcharge on electricity bills. And they do produce radioactive waste that Senate leader Harry Reid has sworn will never find its way into the storage site that can accommodate it, that site being located in his home state of Nevada. Besides, new nukes can't do much to reduce consumption of oil by our cars and trucks, at least until we figure out how to run these vehicle for long distances at high speeds on batteries, without sacrificing other economies of operation.

Then there are the technology worshippers, each of whom has an invention that will enable our automobiles to do without gasoline, or permit us to heat and cool our homes without connecting to the electricity grid, or will generate power from renewable resources. There is no question that many of these technologies do work. But they are expensive--and not without environmental problems of their own, ranging from the vast spaces needed by solar generating plants, to the visual and noise problems incident to the operation of wind machines.

Still, congress stands ready to spend taxpayers' money on research and development of these sources, although history suggests that our government, which squandered something like a cool billion dollars on a failed attempt to liquefy coal, is just not well suited to picking winners. Better to leave this chore to the many hard-nosed venture capitalists who stand ready to bet their own money on technologies that look promising....

Meanwhile, approach media reports with care. One example: we are told that global warming will increase flooding. The fact is that warming will indeed increase precipitation but, as Lomborg points out, "If we check out when the increase happens, it turns out that it happens mostly during the fall, when there is generally lower [river] flow and little risk of flooding..." Facts matter, even when making environmental policy.

More here


Another Bush convert

Advances in technology to reduce carbon emissions will be key to solving the issue of climate change without damping growth for developing countries, Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, said on Thursday. "The problem is now very simple: how do you get a global framework that incentivises the development of the technology to reduce emissions? How do you get such a global framework that includes America, but also China and India?" said Mr Blair at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Technological development is crucial to addressing the risk of climate change because of the impossibility of asking developing countries to compromise their growth or forcing consumers to reduce demand, Mr Blair said. "The brutal reality is, you're not going to stop people consuming, or taking flights, and you're not going to stop China," he told a panel that included Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, UN special envoy on climate change.

Mr Paulson, defending the Bush administration's position on climate change, said that all parties wouldl need reassurance that they won't be disadvantaged by investing in solutions to climate change, and that trade needs to be a part of the solution.

Bill Clinton, the former US president who is hosting world leaders at his conference this week, has repeatedly asserted that alternative energy will generate more economical benefit than cost. Al Gore, his former vice president, said on Wednesday that a "global Marshall plan" was needed to make job creation and measures to address climate change compatible.

That was met with concerned remarks from Robert Zoellick, World Bank chief, who said poor countries were worried their growth would be set back with the world's focus on the issue. "It is impossible to solve this without technology development, it is impossible to solve this without engaging globally," Mr Paulson said, adding that a successful conclusion to the Doha talks would allow efficient trade in grains, which are in high demand with the growing biofuels industry.

Mr Blair also said the private sector was poised to address climate change, but was being held back by domestic and international politics that had failed to provide a direction for companies. "You're at a point now where the business community internationally is ahead of the politics," he said.

The two leaders' remarks were met by strong calls for "cap and trade" systems from Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister , who said Africa would pay a disproportionate price for pollutions it had no part in creating. "We have recognized that global warming could be the next colonialism and slavery, another of those shocks that could affect the future of the continent," he said.


Gore Dodges Repeated Calls to Debate Global Warming

As over 150 heads of state and government gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss climate change, former Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse repeated challenges to debate the issue.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis."

Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his critics have fallen on deaf ears.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think tank, launched the debate campaign in April, using ads, press releases, and other tactics to prod Gore into confronting those who reject his alarmist views on global warming.

For his part, President Klaus has not minced words on what he sees as the real agenda of those promoting climate hysteria. In an op-ed in the Financial Times (June 13, pointedly titled "Freedom, Not Climate, is at Risk," Klaus said: "Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives."

Arguing that the issue of global warming "is more about social than about natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature," Klaus rejected the notion of a "scientific consensus" on climate change as an effort by a "loud minority" to impose its will on a "silent majority."

However, Klaus reserved his unkindest cut of all for the movement that has joined forces with Gore is spreading fear about global warming:

"As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

Gore's refusal to take on the likes of Klaus, Avery and Lord Monckton is no isolated incident of the former vice president's lacking the courage of his convictions. In June, Professor Scott Armstrong of the University of Pennsylvania urged Gore to put his global warming money where his mouth is. Armstrong, one of the world's leading experts on forecasting, has studied the forecasts made by Gore and such organizations as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and found their methodology wanting.

Convinced that Gore and the IPCC are overstating how much temperatures will rise in the years to come, Armstrong has challenged Gore to the following wager: Each man bets $10,000 on how much temperatures will go up in the next ten years.

The money will stay in escrow until 2017. The one whose forecast come closer to the actual change in temperature will be declared the winner and be allowed to donate the $20,000 plus accumulated interest to the charity of his choice. But despite being flush with cash from his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," and from lucrative speaking engagements around the world, Gore has not taken Armstrong up on the bet.

Gore's reluctance to go toe-to-toe with global warming skeptics may have something to do with the - from the standpoint of climate change alarmists - unfortunate outcome of a global warming debate in New York last March. In the debate, a team of global warming skeptics composed of MIT scientist Richard Lindzen, University of London emeritus professor of biogeology Philip Stott, and physician-turned novelist/filmmaker Michael Crichton handily defeated a team of climate alarmists headed by NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt. Before the start of the nearly two-hour debate, the audience of several thousand polled 57.3 percent to 29.9 percent in favor of the proposition that global warming is a "crisis." At the end of the debate, the numbers had changed dramatically, with 46.2 percent favoring the skeptical point of view and 42.2 percent siding with the alarmists.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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


Monday, October 01, 2007


Global warming is a complex issue to figure out, but one thing about it is actually quite simple - discerning which side dominates the debate right now. For the past year, those who view global warming as a crisis justifying a major federal response have had just about everything going in their favor. Granted, the Bush administration continues to resist first-ever mandatory limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, but the Democratically controlled Congress has introduced a number of so-called cap-and-trade bills to do just that. Some of them have bipartisan support. And many of the leading presidential candidates have endorsed these efforts.

Several other factors, including a recent Supreme Court decision compelling the Environmental Protection Agency to consider global warming measures, as well as state and local efforts to bypass the feds and impose their own controls, all seem to be forcing Washington's hand.

Meanwhile, the opposition to cap and trade seems to be collapsing. The owners of the nation's coal-fired power plants, manufacturing facilities, and oil companies - until recently the most politically powerful holdouts - have largely given up the fight. Most now see some form of fossil-fuel rationing as inevitable, and several are actually lobbying for cap-and-trade legislation in the hope that they can shape it to their advantage.

Of course, the driving force behind all of this is the steady stream of gloomy claims about global warming. Most recently, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report received widespread coverage as the smoking-gun evidence that mankind is warming the planet to dangerously high levels. Al Gore's Academy Award-winning movie and accompanying bestseller, An Inconvenient Truth, has also done much to hammer home the message.

The drumbeat continues as virtually every natural disaster that occurs- from storms, to droughts, to floods, to wildfires, to disease outbreaks- gets pinned on global warming. Even normal summer temperatures sometimes get alarmist ink. The frightening coverage has clearly shaped public opinion. Surveys consistently show that a majority of Americans want their government to do something about warming.

Taking all of this into account, there's no question that global-warming activists currently have the momentum. But momentum can change, and on this issue there are reasons to believe it soon will. It may well be that the prospects for the cap-and-trade bills are peaking - before being enacted into law - and will begin to fall once as the following factors come into focus.

China's Great Leap Forward on Emissions.

A central part of the climate-change message has been the demonization of America as the world's top global-warming culprit. But that will soon change, as China is close to surpassing the U.S. and becoming the biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses. When this shift happens it will have tremendous practical as well as symbolic significance, and it will dim the appeal of unilateral U.S. action.

It is important to note that China isn't slowly edging past America; it is roaring ahead. Emissions of carbon dioxide, the byproduct of fossil-fuel combustion and the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, are exploding along with China's economy. New coal-fired power plants are reportedly being added in China at the rate of about one per week, and these facilities are less efficient and higher-emitting than their western counterparts. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which believes China has already surpassed America, emissions in China rose 9-percent in 2006, on top of a 12-percent increase in 2005.

Meanwhile, America's emissions have been growing much more slowly, averaging little more than 1-percent per year. They actually declined by 1.3-percent in 2006, according to the Department of Energy.

The U.S. was easily the biggest emitter during the 20th century, but future carbon-dioxide emissions will come less from American sources, and more from Chinese ones. Even if the U.S. saddled itself with economy-damaging energy constraints, it would barely begin to offset China's projected increases. But so far, China has adamantly refused to agree to any controls, arguing that economic growth is their top priority. Other fast-growing developing nations have said the same thing.

Thus, notwithstanding questions about the seriousness of the global-warming problem, any bills that single out U.S. emissions will be a fast-shrinking part of the solution. As China's emissions race ahead of ours, Americans will begin to realize that unilateral action is not the way to go.

The Failing Kyoto Protocol

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the multilateral global-warming treaty, is still being touted as a great success. The Western European governments that signed onto the treaty continue to congratulate themselves for doing so while criticizing America for staying out. Most climate activists here convey the same message. They hope to convince Washington to make up for lost time by enacting one of the Kyoto-like cap-and-trade bills currently under consideration.

But far from being a model to emulate, Kyoto is proving to be a near-complete failure, and over time it is going to get more difficult to conceal this fact.

For all their rhetoric, the European nations are well off track of Kyoto's requirement that emissions be 8-percent below 1990 levels starting in 2008. Official European emissions data shows that nearly every one of these countries has higher carbon-dioxide emissions today than when the treaty was signed in 1997, and the emissions increases show no signs of leveling off. The same is true of Canada, Japan, and other major non-European signatories. In fact, most of these countries are seeing their emissions rising faster than those in the U.S.

Pro-Kyoto Protocol activists and the media continue to heap praise on the treaty for its carbon-emissions goals, but they rarely explore the obvious question of whether these goals are actually being met. But the failure to reduce emissions can't remain a secret for much longer. Once Kyoto reality sets in, it will deal a blow both to the treaty itself and to any congressional efforts to mimic its approach.

The High Costs to Cool The Planet

The reason Kyoto Protocol signatories are not reducing their emissions is that doing so is proving to be prohibitively costly. These nations are learning the hard way what the Bush administration has understood all along - that attempts to rapidly force down the fossil-fuel use that provides the backbone of modern economies will be very expensive. As costs enter into the debate, they could well prove to be a game changer.

While inundating the public with scary stories about global warming's effects, the proponents of cap-and-trade have thus far said little about the costs of combating the threat-and for good reasons. Their agenda would inflict serious and noticeable economic pain long before it would have even a modest impact on the earth's future temperature. Kyoto's provisions, if fully implemented, would have cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars annually from higher energy prices, but would, according to proponents, avert only 0.07 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2050.

Given the Kyoto Protocol's small impact on warming, many proponents believe that the treaty should be just a first step towards much stronger controls. But, as the European experience is showing, even this first step is proving too costly and impractical.

It should be noted that the surveys indicating public support for action on warming also show that the support quickly turns into opposition if the measures taken would raise energy prices appreciably. This is especially true for gasoline prices, and on this point the European experience is worth noting. A European Environment Agency report found that greenhouse-gas emissions from motor vehicles continue to rise due to increased driving, despite punitively high European gasoline taxes that push the overall price well above $6 per gallon. In fact, increased vehicle emissions are a big part of the reason most Western European countries are going to miss their Kyoto targets. If $6 per gallon is not high enough to discourage driving and meet Europe's global-warming targets, then what will it take here? Americans, who get angry enough over $3 gas, will want answers to this and other economic questions before they buy into any climate policy.

A realistic discussion about costs can't be sidestepped much longer. Once it commences, it has the potential to greatly sap the momentum for these bills.

Bursting the Climate Fear Bubble

In the last year or so, the coverage of climate science has gotten more apocalyptic in tone. This is not so much a change in the underlying science as a change in the way it is being communicated to the public. The cap-and-trade proponents have cranked up the gloom and doom for a reason - they essentially had to. The issue in the U.S. was dead in the water without it. Previous efforts to move cap-and-trade bills had been easily defeated, and proponents needed to shake things up. For now, it is working.

But fear is two-edged sword. It can be used to whip up support for action over the near term, but it is hard to sustain for long, especially if it is not well supported by fact. Eventually it could lead to a backlash. Indeed, the global-warming doomsayers may well prove to be their own worst enemy, with their credibility taking a tumble along with the prospects for cap-and-trade legislation.

One over-utilized source, employed in spreading this kind of fear, is supposedly rock-solid "scientific consensus" on global warming, a consensus that has significant outer limits. Virtually everything the public has been told about global warming that sounds terrifying is not true and lies outside that consensus. And what is true and fully accepted by most scientists really isn't particularly terrifying.

Consider the two scariest and most attention-grabbing claims from An Inconvenient Truth - rising sea levels and deadlier hurricanes. Gore devotes considerable attention to the horrible consequences of an 18- to 20-foot rise in sea level over an unspecified time frame, including computer graphics showing major parts of coastal cities like New York and San Francisco and even entire regions, like South Florida, under water. Yet the IPCC report (which Gore considers to be the gold standard of consensus science) projects an increase of 7 to 23 inches over the next century. The lower end of that range is about what has occurred - without serious consequences - over the last two centuries. Of course, the public doesn't closely follow the details of global-warming science, but the disjunction between hype and reality is so big that even casual observers can smell a rat.

In addition, Gore couldn't resist exploiting Hurricane Katrina, America's deadliest natural disaster in years. He blames global warming for the storm that claimed over 1,000 lives in August 2005, driving home the message with image after image of post-Katrina devastation. Gore asserts that Katrina portends a dangerous new era where deadlier storms are more common. But how then to explain the 2006 hurricane season, which was unusual only in how little hurricane damage occurred?

Global warming or not, we will get our share of hurricanes. But if we go yet another year without anything as bad as Katrina, the public may realize, quite rightly, that Gore simply engaged in opportunism, and that no global warming-induced pattern of deadlier hurricanes exists. If people start to feel that they have been lied to about these and other global-warming catastrophe scenarios, it could spell the end for cap-and-trade legislation.

The current Congress has pledged to make a go of enacting cap-and-trade legislation, actually pegging it as a top priority when they took over in January. But beyond holding innumerable hearings on pending bills, the House and Senate have done little since, except put off their initial deadlines for action. This may be a first sign that their momentum is slowing. And with the current trends currently pushing their way into the debate, things are not going to get any easier for them in the months and years ahead.


Carbon dioxide did not end the last Ice Age

One by one the Warmist assertions are being undermined by reality

Carbon dioxide did not cause the end of the last ice age, a new study in Science suggests, contrary to past inferences from ice core records. "There has been this continual reference to the correspondence between CO2 and climate change as reflected in ice core records as justification for the role of CO2 in climate change," said USC geologist Lowell Stott, lead author of the study, slated for advance online publication Sept. 27 in Science Express. "You can no longer argue that CO2 alone caused the end of the ice ages."

Deep-sea temperatures warmed about 1,300 years before the tropical surface ocean and well before the rise in atmospheric CO2, the study found. The finding suggests the rise in greenhouse gas was likely a result of warming and may have accelerated the meltdown - but was not its main cause. "I don't want anyone to leave thinking that this is evidence that CO2 doesn't affect climate," Stott cautioned. "It does, but the important point is that CO2 is not the beginning and end of climate change."

While an increase in atmospheric CO2 and the end of the ice ages occurred at roughly the same time, scientists have debated whether CO2 caused the warming or was released later by an already warming sea.

The best estimate from other studies of when CO2 began to rise is no earlier than 18,000 years ago. Yet this study shows that the deep sea, which reflects oceanic temperature trends, started warming about 19,000 years ago. "What this means is that a lot of energy went into the ocean long before the rise in atmospheric CO2," Stott said.

But where did this energy come from? Water's salinity and temperature are properties that can be used to trace its origin - and the warming deep water appeared to come from the Antarctic Ocean, the scientists wrote. This water then was transported northward over 1,000 years via well-known deep-sea currents, a conclusion supported by carbon-dating evidence. In addition, the researchers noted that deep-sea temperature increases coincided with the retreat of Antarctic sea ice, both occurring 19,000 years ago, before the northern hemisphere's ice retreat began.

Finally, Stott and colleagues found a correlation between melting Antarctic sea ice and increased springtime solar radiation over Antarctica, suggesting this might be the energy source. As the sun pumped in heat, the warming accelerated because of sea-ice albedo feedbacks, in which retreating ice exposes ocean water that reflects less light and absorbs more heat, much like a dark T-shirt on a hot day.

In addition, the authors' model showed how changed ocean conditions may have been responsible for the release of CO2 from the ocean into the atmosphere, also accelerating the warming.

The link between the sun and ice age cycles is not new. The theory of Milankovitch cycles states that periodic changes in Earth's orbit cause increased summertime sun radiation in the northern hemisphere, which controls ice size. However, this study suggests that the pace-keeper of ice sheet growth and retreat lies in the southern hemisphere's spring rather than the northern hemisphere's summer.

The conclusions also underscore the importance of regional climate dynamics, Stott said. "Here is an example of how a regional climate response translated into a global climate change," he explained.

Stott and colleagues arrived at their results by studying a unique sediment core from the western Pacific composed of fossilized surface-dwelling (planktonic) and bottom-dwelling (benthic) organisms. These organisms - foraminifera - incorporate different isotopes of oxygen from ocean water into their calcite shells, depending on the temperature. By measuring the change in these isotopes in shells of different ages, it is possible to reconstruct how the deep and surface ocean temperatures changed through time.

If CO2 caused the warming, one would expect surface temperatures to increase before deep-sea temperatures, since the heat slowly would spread from top to bottom. Instead, carbon-dating showed that the water used by the bottom-dwelling organisms began warming about 1,300 years before the water used by surface-dwelling ones, suggesting that the warming spread bottom-up instead.

"The climate dynamic is much more complex than simply saying that CO2 rises and the temperature warms," Stott said. The complexities "have to be understood in order to appreciate how the climate system has changed in the past and how it will change in the future."



See it below:

US President George W Bush infuriated his critics by professing world leadership on climate change at his meeting of the top 16 world economies - while offering no new substantive policy and implicitly rejecting binding emissions controls. Mr Bush, who has been sceptical of climate change, said at the forum in Washington that our understanding of the science had moved on. He agreed that energy security and climate change were major challenges and pledged to solve both problems - but dismissed notions of despair. The American president said clean technologies like nuclear power and clean coal would protect the economy as well as the environment. He said the US wanted to work with the United Nations towards a long-term goal on greenhouse gases. He also proposed a new global fund from the US, Japan and Europe to channel clean technology to developing countries.

But some visiting delegates were outraged by what they said was a stream of spin running through the speech. One (who understandably asked not to be named) said: "This is a total charade. "The president has said he will lead on climate change but he won't agree binding emissions, while other nations will. "He says he will lead on technology but then he asks other countries to contribute funds, without saying how much he'll contribute himself. "It's humiliating for him - a total humiliation."

Some delegates were particularly upset by the extravagant invitation by Mr Bush for other nations to follow the US lead in cutting emissions while increasing the economy. Emissions did indeed buck the upward trend by dropping a fraction of 1% in the US during 2006 - but even the American government admits this was due to a warm winter, cool summer and an oil price they considered far too high.

Significantly, some of the visiting delegates indicated they were already planning for Mr Bush's departure from the White House. The Germans said they had spent the past two days in productive meetings with US Democrats. More diplomatically, the British said the issue of climate change stretched beyond any political cycle so it was natural to look ahead.

Certainly the Democrats are hoping to push an energy bill through the US Congress soon - maybe within the next few months. Mr Bush would then be forced to veto it to prevent it passing. And this may not prove popular as opinion polls in the US suggest the American people are more concerned about climate change than ever before.

Delegates, though, are not dismissing the Washington meeting out of hand. They say all talks on climate change bringing together the major economic powers are useful in some way - forging personal relationships and building trust. A number of delegates said the Chinese were becoming less defensive with every international meeting on climate - and that will be vital if China is to be helped to deal with its booming emissions.

And some said it was useful - albeit tedious - to hear American officials lecturing them with the very facts of climate change that they had been ignoring for years. The US has offered to continue this Washington process of discussions if it is deemed helpful by the United Nations. Mr Bush himself says he is organising a summit of world leaders next summer. Privately, some European delegates are already saying they hope their political leaders are not invited.

BBC News, 29 September 2007

Greenies oppose "green" energy

Nothing suits a Greenie

Several years ago, Cape Wind Associates proposed the nation's first offshore windfarm in Nantucket Sound. They sought to build 130 wind turbines several miles off the coast on Horseshoe Shoal. The Sound is an ideal location for offshore wind production. The surrounding land masses and relatively shallow water would protect the installation from storms and make it easier to erect and maintain the 258-foot turbine towers. Upon completion, the wind farm could provide approximately 75-percent of Cape Cod's electricity, reducing the need to rely on nearby fossil-fuel-fired power plants. As good as it sounds, the project faces strong opposition.

Some local residents and vacation property owners, including the Kennedy family, were outraged at the idea of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. The prospect of wind turbines dotting the horizon was too much to bear, so they swung into action, launching local p.r. campaigns and filing suit to prevent the Cape Wind project's completion. Walter Cronkite, who owns a home in nearby Martha's Vineyard, warned of an "industrial energy complex" despoiling the "publicly owned" Nantucket Sound. Noted environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has stridently condemned fossil fuel energy production, echoed this concern, decrying plans to soil the "wilderness" of the sound for "industrial development."

Cape Wind's primary opponent, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, is bankrolled by many wealthy Cape Cod residents and owners of vacation homes, and has spent millions to defeat the campaign - $15 million by one estimate, and $2.4 million in 2003 alone. Though the Alliance has the support of several thousand locals, a few dozen wealthy residents are responsible for the bulk of its financial support. Over three-quarters of the Alliance's funding came from just 56 individuals in 2003.

Cape Wind opponents have raised substantial funds for their campaign, but it is not clear they really speak for local residents, and they certainly do not represent popular opinion within the state. One recent survey found that a majority of locals support the project, and over 80-percent support it statewide. Still the project faces tough sledding. In 2002, federal regulators predicted it would take 18 months to three years for the project to gain approval, yet, as of late 2007, Cape Wind is still yet to begin operation. If the project is approved next year, as some expect, litigation is almost sure to follow, and could delay construction past 2010.

Cape Wind's opponents have sought to take advantage of various state and federal regulatory requirements to stall the project. These processes create substantial opportunities for activists and NIMBYs to gum up the works, spurring delays and hoping to scare off investors. Cape Wind's consultants spent four years on a 3,800-page environmental impact statement, but this was not enough to ensure a go. While the project eventually obtained state approval, the federal government has yet to give the final okay.

If pre-existing regulatory requirements were not enough, Senator Edward Kennedy conspired with other Senators to enact additional legal obstacles to Cape Wind, burdening all proposed offshore wind power projects in the process. Despite his best efforts, Kennedy failed to kill the project outright, but Cape Wind is still not in the clear - and if Cape Wind fails, the prospects for other offshore wind farms could fall with it.

Cape Wind is hardly the only wind power project to face opposition. Even land-based wind farms have sparked opposition. Local activists are against the erection of additional wind turbines in California's San Gorgonio Pass. In addition to aesthetic concerns, some environmentalists fear wind turbines could harm local bird populations. Feared threats to bird populations were enough to defeat a small wind farm plan in Tennessee.

Local landowners also fought wind turbines on Maine's Beaver Ridge and in western Maryland. In just the past few months, proposed wind farm projects have been scuttled in Texas and New York. Prospects seem brighter for a proposed wind farm off Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, so long as the proposed project is cut down to size. Activists swear they are not opposed to wind power, as such, just the specific wind projects at issue. For many, wind power is a great idea, so long as it is sited in someone else's neighborhood.

Wind power is also not the only alternative energy source to face regulatory obstacles and NIMBY opposition. Proposed tidal power projects are having similar experiences with the regulatory process. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates tidal and wave-based energy could provide up to ten percent of the nation's electricity some day. Yet while there are a handful of such facilities overseas, there are none in the United States - at least not yet. The nation's first commercial wave-energy project - a small, one megawatt facility in Washington State - should come on line in Washington State in 2009.

One tidal power project that has received significant attention is Verdant Power's plan for the big Apple. Verdant wants to harness non-polluting tidal power in New York's East River, but it too faces regulatory hurdles. Verdant executives estimate they have spent at least $7 million over seven years working their way through state and federal regulatory requirements. Even a pilot project designed to test turbine design and develop project parameters required permission from the Federal energy Regulatory Commission, which plans to regulate underwater power generation the same way it regulates large hydroelectric dams. As The Economist reported, "this tiny project faces as big a regulatory burden from federal authorities as a giant conventional power station."

Water-based projects, whether they draw power from tides or winds, face an array of overlapping, and not always clear, regulatory requirements. Many of these rules were developed with traditional power sources in mind. In some cases, review processes were adopted to facilitate activist opposition. The end result is that a modest wind farm or potential tide-power operation can be just as vulnerable to obstruction and delay as a major coal facility or hydroelectric dam. Such renewable power facilities have environmental impacts of their own, to be sure. Yet, in most instances their impact will be significantly less than the power sources they displace.

Alternative energy advocates often bemoan the lack of a "level playing field" for renewable energy, recommending additional federal subsidies as the solution. Yet renewable energy sources already receive generous financial support from the Department of Energy and other government sources. In practice, such funding does little to bring commercially viable facilities on line.

To promote alternative energy development, there's no need for more handouts. Instead the government should get out of the way. If the goal is to increase actual alternative energy production, and increase the proportion of renewable energy that supplies electricity to American consumers, the best thing the federal government can do is reduce or remove regulatory obstacles to energy entrepreneurship and innovation. If renewable energies are to capture a sizable share of the energy market, what they need, more than anything else, is regulatory room to compete.


Greenhouse mania in Australia

A SUCCESSION of public figures succumbed to climate change hysteria this week as if it were a contagion. Sufferers exhibited symptoms that included an inability to deal with facts and a propensity to offer wild surmises, to adopt irrational positions and to ignore practical solutions.

On Monday, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told a criminology conference that "climate change would be the biggest security issue of the 21st century". Mr Keelty's feverish imaginings conjured up a new "Yellow Peril", with millions of Chinese on the move because of their "dramatically shrinking" land, crossing "borders and oceans" in forced migration.

There is one small problem with Mr Keelty's doomsday predictions: he based them on outdated statistics. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a possible rise in sea levels during the whole of the next century of only 43cm, half the figure cited by Mr Keelty. Which means that climate change might be the biggest threat of the 22nd century, assuming that no effective action were taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

John Howard also abandoned rational positions he had adopted as recently as June, opting for populist policies to appeal to voters. The Prime Minister's hand-picked task force on climate change had recommended a national carbon emissions trading scheme that dispensed with the mish-mash of state government political fixes. Unable to deliver this in the lead-up to an election, Mr Howard opted to rebadge the states' targets as his own.

The Opposition continued its opportunistic scaremongering about nuclear power yesterday with an announcement that the federal Government had a secret nuclear reactor plan after Mr Howard stated what in fact was obvious, that it would be unlikely that laws enabling nuclear power would be ready before the election. The ALP never tires of trumpeting its support for the Kyoto Protocol, but it is loath to acknowledge the key role that nuclear power has played in enabling some Kyoto signatories to keep emissions in check. If the ALP were serious about fast, deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, they would be barracking for the next power plant in NSW to be nuclear, but it is more interested in greenhouse gasbagging.

Quick to capitalise on the drought to push the climate change barrow, Greens senator Rachel Siewert said on Wednesday, "We are now dealing with the impact of climate change on agriculture". More informed voices begged to differ. Amanda Lynch of Monash University and University of Southern Queensland professor in climatology and water resources Roger Stone said more research was needed to establish what, if any, influence climate change had on drought.

At the heart of the moral panic being whipped up about climate change is the belief that global warming is not an environmental challenge that requires technological solutions but a moral judgment on a sinful society, divine retribution meted out by the earth goddess Gaia for our willful destruction of the planet. Green millenarians like to claim that the only solution is to return to a pre-industrial economy. The truth is that scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs are already coming up with solutions. In July this year, with no fanfare, three Welsh inventors announced a method of capturing the carbon dioxide emissions from cars, allowing them to be recycled into bio-fuels. The Victor Smorgon Group is also assessing a system to use algae to reduce carbon emissions at power plants by up to 80 per cent. It is these quiet achievers, not the greenhouse hysterics, who deserve our acknowledgement and support.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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


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