Tracking the politics of fear....  

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

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

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30 April, 2009


An email from Will Alexander [] in South Africa

I read all those reports on the solar linkage with climate with a mixture of amusement and amazement. I was particularly amazed by David Whitehouse's conclusion that for now all scientists can do, along with the rest of us, is to watch and wait. This is nonsense. I was amused because the linkage was first reported in the South African literature more than a hundred years ago. I also reported it in 1978, again in 1995, and on a number of occasions since then.

Let me take your readers through the issue in simple steps. The analyses consist of simple school level arithmetic and standard serial correlation analyses. The data were not manipulated in any way before, during or after the analyses.

STEP 1. The following data are from website information distributed by the World Data Centre for the Sunspot Index (2005). There were eight complete cycles during the past century. These commenced with the sunspot minimum that occurred in June1913, and ended with the sunspot minimum that occurred in March 1996. The lengths of the cycles were 10, 10, 11, 10, 10, 12, 10 and 10 years, with a mean of 10.4 years. These values are within a narrow range of between 10 (minimum) and 12 (maximum) years. A corresponding increase in solar activity during the past century is reflected in the increase in the numbers of sunspots per cycle, commencing with the cycle that started in 1913. Alternating cycles are identified by negative values. The sunspot numbers per cycle were +442, -410, +605, -757, +950, -705, +829 and -785. The maximum was more than twice that of the minimum that occurred only three cycles earlier.

The lengths of the corresponding double sunspot cycles were 20, 21, 22 and 20 years with a mean of 20.8 years, a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 22 years. The average numbers of sunspots in the alternating cycles that made up the double cycles were +706 and -664, demonstrating a meaningful difference in sunspot activity in the alternating cycles.

STEP 2. There are very clear and unambiguous reversals in the South African hydrometeorological data. The periods commenced with sudden changes from sequences of drought years that were suddenly broken by floods that persisted in the following years. The years in which the reversals occurred in South Africa's major river are as follows with the corresponding sunspot minima in parentheses. They were 1932/33 (1933), 1941/42 (1944), 1953/54 (1954), 1965/66 (1964), 1972/73 (1975), 1986/87 (1986), 1995/96 (1996), and 2005/06 (2006?).

The annual flows during the three years preceding the reversals averaged 60% of the record average annual flows and the subsequent three years averaged 156% of the average annual flows. The average sunspot numbers in the three years before and after the sunspot minima were 17 and 100 respectively. It is very clear that the sudden changes in river flow are closely linked with corresponding changes in sunspot numbers, and are not random events. This relationship exists despite the long and complex energy path starting at the sun and ending with the potential energy of the water in the river, which is a function of its elevation above sea level.

STEP 3. Records were long enough to detect 21-year periodicity in the data at the 95% level of statistical significance using standard serial correlation analyses. Serial correlation analyses showed a statistically significant, 95 percent level, 21-year serial correlation in many records BUT NO 11-YEAR SERIAL CORRELATIONS. The analyses demonstrated very clearly that the relationship between solar activity and river flow was synchronously related to the double sunspot cycles and not the single sunspot cycles.

STEP 4. The hydrological analyses showed a clear and unambiguous, slow but steady increase in open water surface evaporation during the 70 years of available records. Received solar radiation and not air temperature controls the evaporation process. This was confirmed by evaporation suppression experiments.

STEP 5. There was a similar, steady increase in rainfall during the past century. This is directly contrary to claims by climate alarmists that climate change will result in most of South Africa becoming warmer and drier.


There is a clear and unambiguous synchronous relationship between sunspot activity and river flow in South Africa. The increases in evaporation and rainfall coincided with increases in sunspot activity during the past century. Why were these linkages not detected in the milder climates of the northern hemisphere?

STEP 6. There are two reasons for this. First, most of the solar energy received in the high latitudes is transported from the tropics via the atmospheric and oceanic systems. The subtle signals of variations in received solar energy are subdued in the process.

STEP 7. Another factor is that the average annual rainfall in South Africa is only 500 mm compared with the world average of more than 800 mm. As a consequence our rainfall and river flows are strongly seasonal. There is very little carryover from one year to the next. The annual values are discrete events and the signals are much clearer.


For the past four years I have warned that South Africa, and possibly the rest of the world, are about to enter a drought cycle. There is about a 20% probability that the drought sequences will be as severe as those of the early 1930s. This was called the Great Depression Drought here in South Africa as it coincided with the worldwide economic depression. In the USA it was called the Dustbowl Drought.

My personal concern has increased greatly in recent months. If a severe drought occurs and it coincides with the present economic recession that seems to be heading towards a depression, there will be chaos in this country and elsewhere. I do not know how the prolonged quietness of the Sun will influence my prediction. The reports in CCNet of 27 April were not very helpful. Waiting for events to unfold is not an option.

ARIMA representation for daily solar irradiance and surface air temperature time series

(The scientific paper below shows that the earth's temperature closely tracks changes in the sun)

By Olavi Karner


Autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models are used to compare long-range temporal variability of the total solar irradiance (TSI) at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and surface air temperature series. The comparison shows that one and the same type of the model is applicable to represent the TSI and air temperature series. In terms of the model type surface air temperature imitates closely that for the TSI. This may mean that currently no other forcing to the climate system is capable to change the random walk type variability established by the varying activity of the rotating sun. The result should inspire more detailed examination of the dependence of various climate series on short-range fluctuations of TSI.

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (In press)


The research aircraft "Polar 5" today concluded its Arctic expedition in Canada. During the flight, researchers measured the current ice thickness at the North Pole and in areas that have never before been surveyed. The result: The sea-ice in the surveyed areas is apparently thicker than scientists had suspected.

Normally, newly formed ice measures some two meters in thickness after two years. "Here, we measured ice thickness up to four meters," said a spokesperson for Bremerhaven's Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. At present, this result contradicts the warming of the sea water, according to the scientists.

Apart from measuring ice thickness, the composition of arctic air was also investigated. With the help of a laser, the researchers studied the level of pollution of the atmosphere by emissions from industrialized countries. In the next few weeks the results will be evaluated. Some 20 scientists from the U.S., Canada, Italy and Germany took part in the expedition.

SOURCE [In German. transl. BJP]


Can we solve climate change? No we can't, according to a leading climate change professor. Mike Hulme professor of Climate Change at East Anglia University reckons we are heading up a "dead end" by putting climate change science at the top of the political agenda. In fact he thinks we are pretty arrogant to think we can control the climate.

Mike, who has spent the last 25 years researching climate change, has just written a book Why we disagree about climate change where he questions why climate change has become "the mother of all issues." "Why is it that climate change has taken this premier position as the issue that humanity's future is at stake if we don't attend to climate change?"

Mike reckons "climate change" is unsolvable. People round the world are too different, with different needs, to come together. Since the "landmark" Kyoto agreement ten years ago emissions have accelerated. Instead we should treat climate change as an idea like democracy or justice motivating us to live better so that we can act locally and regionally to get cleaner air, or power or eradicate poverty.

"We shouldn't be framing climate change as the problem that we have to solve above all others. If we do that we have constructed an unsolvable dilemma because of the multiple reasons why we disagree about climate change. We will never converge on a set of solutions.

"Rather than putting climate change at the pinnacle and if we fail on climate change everything else fails. Humanity is doomed, we've only got seven more years, the clock is ticking... what I'm suggesting is that we turn this whole thing around and think of climate change as an imaginative idea like democracy or nationality or justice. It's an idea that can be used but you cannot solve an idea. You can use an idea you can manipulate it, you can exploit it but you can't solve it.

"Let's be very clear about this I'm not denying climate change. I'm not questioning the fundamental science here. Humans are altering the climate around the world in my mind there's no doubt about that. And climate has an effect on eco systems around the world. "What I am questioning is that we can solve it in the way that we have it currently framed. We have reached this paralysis mode"

Mike says the way we are tackling climate change could even lead to reactionary and authoritarian policies such as sending mirrors into space or spraying aerosols in the atmosphere. "My basic thesis is that we should turn climate change around. It's localising issues. "We don't have to get global agreements to attend to fuel poverty in Britain or air pollution in China's cities.

"If by 2050 we have managed to limit global warming to 2 degrees will that world actually be a better world? Will it have attended to these other issues, nationally and globally? I'm not sure it will. "Physical climate is being changed by human societies. Human societies are having to grapple with what that means and just trying to deal with this in terms of science is a dead end, I think." "A more powerful way into these issues to localise them. We can improve the local environment in our cities by changing our transport systems we can buy local food. "They don't all have to tick the climate change box to be morally or ethically desirable. There are more games in town than simply climate change.

"I am not saying we don't want radical change. I am saying we should take the spotlight away from climate change at the top of the pile. "It is rather hubristic to think we can actually control climate. Climate change is the new human condition we have to live with. Let's accept this is the new reality. "Don't construct the problem in a way which means we cannot have a solution which is the way I think we have got it constructed at the moment."



Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne who is most famous for talking to plants, has signed a deal to make a movie and write a book about climate change. The project will be called "Harmony," because, in Charles's words, humankind must "rediscover that sense of harmony, that sense of being a part of, rather apart from, nature." His film will educate the unruly masses - with their fast cars, fridges, and other planet-destroying luxuries - that human beings "have a sacred duty of stewardship of the natural order of things."

The thought of being lectured about living more meekly by a taxpayer-subsidized prince who has never done a proper day's work in his life - and who is currently flying around Europe on a private jet with a master suite and plush bathroom that will spew a whopping 53 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over the course of his five-day, $116,000 charter - is of course eye-swivellingly irritating. But this is something we're getting used to in Britain - because here, environmentalism looks very much like the Revenge of the Aristocrats. The British green lobby is stuffed with the sons and daughters of privilege, for whom environmentalism provides a perfect, scientifically tinged gloss for expressing in a new way their old foul prejudices against mass, modern society.

Many of the major players in British environmentalism are posh, rich, and hectoring. One of Charles's top advisers is Jonathon Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth and a patron of the creepy Malthusian outfit, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). Porritt is a graduate of Eton, Britain's school of choice for the rich and well-connected, and is the son of Lord Porritt, the 11th Governor General of New Zealand. The increasingly influential OPT also counts Sir Crispin Tickell (who is as posh as his name suggests) and Lady Kulukundis, the wife of a Greek shipping magnate, among its patrons.



One of the oldest and most efficient wind farm in Britain is to be dismantled and replaced by a nuclear power station under plans drawn up by the German-owned power group RWE.

The site at Kirksanton in Cumbria - home to the Haverigg turbines - has just been approved by the government for potential atomic newbuild in a move that has infuriated the wind power industry.

Colin Palmer, founder of the Windcluster company, which owns part of the Haverigg wind farm, said he was horrified that such a plan could be considered at a time when Britain risks missing its green energy targets and after reassurance from ministers that nuclear and renewables were not incompatible.



So much for "Green jobs"

One of the biggest renewable energy manufacturers in Britain announced on Tuesday it is to cut more than half its UK jobs - blaming the government for failing to support the sector.

In a grave blow to the government's ambitions to create a "green" export industry, Vestas, the world's biggest maker of wind turbines, will axe about 600 of its 1,100 UK employees, probably closing its factory in the Isle of Wight and cutting jobs elsewhere in the UK.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, told the Financial Times: "We had been planning additional investment in the UK [because of government targets to increase renewables]. But the UK is probably one of the most difficult places in the world to get permission [for wind projects]. We can't afford to keep on this capacity."

The blow comes less than a week after Alistair Darling trumpeted the role of low-carbon industries in job creation, announcing new funding for renewables in his Budget.



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29 April, 2009

British court rules that environmentalism is a religion

A former executive of a top property company has been told he can claim at a tribunal that he was sacked because of his "philosophical belief in climate change".

In the landmark ruling Tim Nicholson was told he could use employment law to argue that he was discriminated against because of his views on the environment. The head of the tribunal ruled that those views amounted to a philosophical belief under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations, 2003. The case is the first of its kind and could open the way for hundreds of future claims to be made in the same fashion, the newspaper reported.

Mr Nicholson, 41, was made redundant while head of sustainability at Grainger plc, Britain's biggest residential property investment company, in July last year. He is now suing his former employers for unfair dismissal, arguing that his beliefs on the environment prompted clashes with other senior executives at the firm, and led to his sacking.

Mr Nicholson told the tribunal that he clashed with other executives over the way it adopted its policies on the environment and corporate social responsibility. He said he tried to get the company to act in a more environmentally responsible way, but was obstructed by senior company executives. Mr Nicholson said that his frustrations were exemplified by an occasion when the company's chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, "showed contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions by flying out a member of the IT staff to Ireland to deliver his BlackBerry that he had left behind in London."

At a pre-hearing review at an employment tribunal in London, tribunal head David Sneath ruled on a point of law that: "In my judgment, his belief goes beyond a mere opinion." The full employment tribunal is now set to take place from June 4. Grainger might consider an appeal against the ruling, the company's lawyer said.


Global warming alarmists out in cold

Comment from Australia by Andrew Bolt

IT'S snowing in April. Ice is spreading in Antarctica. The Great Barrier Reef is as healthy as ever. And that's just the news of the past week. Truly, it never rains but it pours - and all over our global warming alarmists.

Time's up for this absurd scaremongering. The fears are being contradicted by the facts, and more so by the week. Doubt it? Then here's a test.

Name just three clear signs the planet is warming as the alarmists claim it should. Just three. Chances are your "proofs" are in fact on my list of 10 Top Myths about global warming. And if your "proofs" indeed turn out to be false, don't get angry with me. Just ask yourself: Why do you still believe that man is heating the planet to hell? What evidence do you have? So let's see if facts matter more to you than faith, and observations more than predictions.


Wrong. It is true the world did warm between 1975 and 1998, but even Professor David Karoly, one of our leading alarmists, admitted this week "temperatures have dropped" since - "both in surface temperatures and in atmospheric temperatures measured from satellites". In fact, the fall in temperatures from just 2002 has already wiped out half the warming our planet experienced last century. (Check data from Britain's Hadley Centre, NASA's Aqua satellite and the US National Climatic Data Centre.)

Some experts, such as Karoly, claim this proves nothing and the world will soon start warming again. Others, such as Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University, point out that so many years of cooling already contradict the theory that man's rapidly increasing gases must drive up temperatures ever faster. But that's all theory. The question I've asked is: What signs can you actually see of the man-made warming that the alarmists predicted?


Wrong. The British Antarctic Survey, working with NASA, last week confirmed ice around Antarctica has grown 100,000 sq km each decade for the past 30 years. Long-term monitoring by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the same: southern hemisphere ice has been expanding for decades.

As for the Arctic, wrong again. The Arctic ice cap shrank badly two summers ago after years of steady decline, but has since largely recovered. Satellite data from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre this week shows the Arctic hasn't had this much April ice for at least seven years. Norway's Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre says the ice is now within the standard deviation range for 1979 to 2007.


Wrong. A study released this month by the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre confirms not only that we've had worse droughts, but this Big Dry is not caused by "global warming", whether man-made or not. As the university's press release says: "The causes of southeastern Australia's longest, most severe and damaging droughts have been discovered, with the surprise finding that they originate far away in the Indian Ocean.

"A team of Australian scientists has detailed for the first time how a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole - a variable and irregular cycle of warming and cooling of ocean water - dictates whether moisture-bearing winds are carried across the southern half of Australia."


Wrong. The alleged "record" temperature Melbourne set in January - 46.4 degrees - was in fact topped by the 47.2 degrees the city recorded in 1851. (See the Argus newspaper of February 8, 1851.) And here's another curious thing: Despite all this warming we're alleged to have caused, Victoria's highest temperature on record remains the 50.7 degrees that hit Mildura 103 years ago. South Australia's hottest day is still the 50.7 degrees Oodnadatta suffered 37 years ago. NSW's high is still the 50 degrees recorded 70 years ago.

What's more, not one of the world's seven continents has set a record high temperature since 1974. Europe's high remains the 50 degrees measured in Spain 128 years ago, before the invention of the first true car.


Wrong. If anything, the seas are getting colder. For five years, a network of 3175 automated bathythermographs has been deployed in the oceans by the Argo program, a collaboration between 50 agencies from 26 countries. Warming believer Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, reluctantly concluded: "There has been a very slight cooling ..."


Wrong. For almost three years, the seas have stopped rising, according to the Jason-1 satellite mission monitored by the University of Colorado.

That said, the seas have risen steadily and slowly for the past 10,000 years through natural warming, and will almost certainly resume soon. But there is little sign of any accelerated rises, even off Tuvalu or the Maldives, islands often said to be most threatened with drowning.

Professor Nils-Axel Moerner, one of the world's most famous experts on sea levels, has studied the Maldives in particular and concluded there has been no net rise there for 1250 years. Venice is still above water.


Wrong. Ryan Maue of Florida State University recently measured the frequency, intensity and duration of all hurricanes and cyclones to compile an Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index. His findings? The energy index is at its lowest level for more than 30 years.

The World Meteorological Organisation, in its latest statement on cyclones, said it was impossible to say if they were affected by man's gases: "Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point."


Wrong. Yes, in 1999, Professor Ove Hoegh-Gulberg, our leading reef alarmist and administrator of more than $30 million in warming grants, did claim the reef was threatened by warming, and much had turned white. But he then had to admit it had made a "surprising" recovery.

Yes, in 2006 he again warned high temperatures meant "between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef could die within a month". But he later admitted this bleaching had "minimal impact". Yes, in 2007 he again warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were bleaching the reef. But this month fellow Queensland University researchers admitted in a study that reef coral had once more made a "spectacular recovery", with "abundant corals re-established in a single year". The reef is blooming.


Wrong. Poor snow falls in 2003 set off a rash of headlines predicting warming doom. The CSIRO typically fed the hysteria by claiming global warming would strip resorts of up to a quarter of their snow by 2018. Yet the past two years have been bumper seasons for Victoria's snow resorts, and this year could be just as good, with snow already falling in NSW and Victoria this past week.


Are you insane? Tsunamis are in fact caused by earthquakes. Yet there was World Vision boss Tim Costello last week, claiming that Asia was a "region, thanks to climate change, that has far more cyclones, tsunamis, droughts". Wrong, wrong and wrong, Tim. But what do facts matter now to a warming evangelist when the cause is so just?

And so any disaster is now blamed on man-made warming the way they once were on Satan. See for yourself on the full list, including kidney stones, volcanic eruptions, lousy wine, insomnia, bad tempers, Vampire moths and bubonic plagues. Nothing is too far-fetched to be seized upon by carpetbaggers and wild preachers as signs of a warming we can't actually see.

Not for nothing are polar bears the perfect symbol of this faith - bears said to be threatened by warming, when their numbers have in fact increased.

Bottom line: fewer people now die from extreme weather events, whether cyclones, floods or blinding heatwaves.

Read that in a study by Indur Goklany, who represented the US at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: "There is no signal in the mortality data to indicate increases in the overall frequencies or severities of extreme weather events, despite large increases in the population at risk."

So stop this crazy panic. First step: check again your list of the signs you thought you saw of global warming. How many are true? What do you think, and why do you think it? Yes, the world may resume warming in one year or 100. But it hasn't been warming as the alarmists said it must if man were to blame, and certainly not as the media breathlessly keeps claiming.

Best we all just settle down, then, and wait for the proof -- the real proof. After all, panicking over invisible things is so undignified, don't you think?



In 2004, NASA scientists started looking forward to a new solar minimum. In 2005, it began. At this time most scientists expected the new solar cycle 24 to begin in late 2006 or early 2007 with a following ramp up in solar activity. But 2006 and 2007, according to NASA data, passed without any sign of a new solar cycle. During this time, the sun remained unusually quiet. Then, in early 2008, scientists finally found what they were waiting for -- a single sunspot with a reversed magnetic polarity. As a switch in magnetic polarity usually presages an increase in sunspot activity building up to a new solar maximum, scientists around the world proclaimed the new solar cycle had finally begun.

Now, nearly two months later, NASA observations show the sun is still unusually quiet. Day after day, the sun displays few, if any, sunspots. Even coronal holes are curiously absent. The long solar minimum now stretching into its third year coupled with curiously low solar activity even for a solar minimum is causing some scientists to speculate if the sun is entering a period of anemic activity like the most recent Dalton Minimum.

According to Wikipedia, the Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity stretching from 1790 to 1830. Like other long period solar minimums such as the Maunder Minimum and the Sporer Minimum, it resulted in crop failures, lower than average global temperatures, and little ice age conditions in the Northern Hemisphere.

If the sun is entering a new period of very low activity it would presage a 30 year or more drop in global temperatures. Some scientists are already beginning to speculate that just this sort of thing may be occurring now. According to Astronomer David Whitehouse, "It's something we must take seriously because what happened in the 17th century is bound to happen again some time. Recent work studying the periods when our Sun loses its sunspots, along with data on other Sun-like stars that may be behaving in the same way, suggests that our Sun may spend between 10 and 25 per cent of the time in this state. Perhaps the lateness of cycle 24 might even be the start of another Little Ice Age."


Episodes of relative global warming

(The paper below shows that variations in solar activity correlate with temperatures on earth -- funnily enough -- JR)

By C. de Jager and S. Duhau


Solar activity is regulated by the solar dynamo. The dynamo is a non-linear interplay between the equatorial and polar magnetic field components. So far, in Sun-climate studies, only the equatorial component has been considered as a possible driver of tropospheric temperature variations. We show that, next to this, there is a significant contribution of the polar component. Based on direct observations of proxy data for the two main solar magnetic fields components since 1844, we derive an empirical relation between tropospheric temperature variation and those of the solar equatorial and polar activities. When applying that relation to the period 1610-1995, we find some quasi-regular episodes of residual temperature increases and decreases, with semi-amplitudes up to 0.3 °C. The present period of global warming is one of them.

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Volume 71, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 194-198

Warmism fading in Australia

By William Kininmonth, a former head of the National Climate Centre and a consultant to the World Meteorological Organisation. Kininmonth agrees that there is a global warming effect but points out reasons why it has to be trivial. The temperature rise across the 20th century was certainly trivial -- about a half of one degree Celsius. It takes acute imaginitis and a lot of statistical jiggery pokery to extrapolate that to a huge rise in the 21st century

The science of global warming is claimed to be too complex for the public to comprehend and judge. We are continually being told to take and act on the advice of the consensus of IPCC experts; the dissenters are no more than paid mouthpieces of industry or worse. Nevertheless, the public and their representatives are showing innate common sense.

The Australian Senate is poised to reject the "cap and trade" legislation designed by the Rudd Government to implement the Orwellian carbon pollution reduction scheme; it is unlikely the US Senate will ratify similar legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions any time soon, despite the rhetoric of Barack Obama; and the UN's post-Kyoto dreams of global industrial regulation are destined to fail in Copenhagen later this year.

Economist John Quiggin appears so concerned at the direction of events that he claims "mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs" (The Australian Financial Review, April 23).

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and isinto its third print run in as manyweeks. The public is receptive to an expose of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

In an interesting slant on logic, Robert Manne, writing in The Weekend Australian last Saturday, takes the position it is not what citizens should believe that is important but who they believe. Needless to say, he favours the UN's IPCC and its so-called consensus over those such as Plimer who question the anthropogenic global warming science.

What is often forgotten is that the UN established the IPCC in 1988 only because of the then raging scientific debate over the veracity of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. The debate has continued because the dire predictions violate fundamental scientific laws and the real science cannot be suppressed.

Recognition of the essential flaw in the dangerous global warming hypothesis predates the IPCC and has been there for the world to see in the title of a paper published in 1966 by CSIRO division of meteorological physics former chief Bill Priestley: "The limitation of temperature in hot climates by evaporation."

Seventy per cent of the Earth's surface is made up of ocean and much of the remaining surface is transpiring vegetation. Evaporation and the exchange of latent energy from the surface is a strong constraint to surface temperature rise. It is not rocket science that water from a canvas bag is cool even on the hottest days.

Furthermore, the surface temperatures of the warmest tropical oceans seldom exceed 30C and for millions of years the underlying cold sub-surface waters have provided a powerful thermal buffer to warming. The suggestion of anthropogenic global warming exceeding a tipping point and leading to runaway or irreversible global warming is a violation of conservation of energy principles.

Computer models are the essential tool for prediction of future climate. Since the IPCC fourth assessment, several independent analyses of the characteristics of the various models have been published in the scientific literature. These analyses reveal serious defects. As the Earth warmed during the 1980s and '90s, it was observed that the convective overturning of the tropics (the Hadley circulation) increased. In contrast, the overturning of the computer models is portrayed to decrease as increasing carbon dioxide generates global warming.

Separately it is found that the computer models underspecify (by a factor of three) the important rate of increase of evaporation with projected temperature rise, meaning that the models underspecify rainfall increase and exaggerate the risk of drought. The same evaporation problem causes an exaggeration of the temperature response to carbon dioxide, but the exaggeration is a model failure and not reality.

The greenhouse effect is real, as is the enhancement due to increasing carbon dioxide concentration. However, the likely extent of global temperature rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide is less than 1C. Such warming is well within the envelope of variation experienced during the past 10,000 years and insignificant in the context of glacial cycles during the past million years, when Earth has been predominantly very cold and covered by extensive ice sheets.

Fundamental science has always identified that it is quixotic to attempt regulation of climate through management of carbon dioxide emissions. The pity is that community leaders have been beguiled by the mystery of powerful computers and have failed to critically assess the predictions within the context of Earth's history. Plimer's authoritative book provides the excuse and impetus to re-examine the scientific fundamentals and redress that failure.


Greenies and the supply side of the housing bubble

Environmental activists have blamed every conceivable ill in society on global warming – from the spread of disease to increased risks of forest fires to environmental despoliation and the retreat of glaciers. If you read the "enviro" literature, you'll be hard-pressed to find any problem worldwide that might not be exacerbated by the Earth's changing temperature. I dismiss most such claims, or at least treat them skeptically, given that the goal of the alarmists is obvious: to scare humanity into ceding more of our freedom and our money to the politicians, government administrators and activist groups that promise to save us.

Yet there is one massive and ever-present problem that environmentalists have not yet tied to global warming: the global financial meltdown, which has threatened the world economy much the way supposedly melting polar ice is supposedly shrinking polar bear habitats. This is one crisis, however, that might actually be directly tied to global warming. I exaggerate a bit. Actually, theoretic man-made global warming didn't cause the housing bubble, but land-use policies implemented, in part, to fight global warming, do have a direct link to the housing bubble, the subsequent deflation of that bubble and all the wreckage that has followed.

This is the largely untold story of the ongoing economic crisis. It's not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. We've all been reading about the main causes of the economic bust. It's elementary economics, really. Science-fiction writer Jerry Pournelle puts it in simple terms: "I've been telling you for years: you can't pump money into the housing market, and keep lowering the interest rates, without creating a bubble; and eventually the bubble will burst." Cheap money and loosened home-lending standards, pushed by politicians who wanted to make homeownership affordable even to people who clearly were not financially ready to buy and maintain a house, created an unnatural demand for housing. Demand went up, and prices soared. All Ponzi schemes come to an end, and now you've got wide choices among Southern California houses that cost not much more than a decent luxury car.

We know that. But let's look more closely at what happened. For example, answer this question: Why did prices go up when demand shot up? That's easy. Demand exceeded supply. Now for the follow-up question: Why didn't supply keep up with demand? It takes awhile to build houses, and government restrictions on land use made it far more difficult for that new supply to be built as demand soared.

In reality, the housing bubble did not get particularly inflated in many parts of the country. The bubble was almost exclusively a feature in big urbanized markets, and not just any big, urbanized markets. The bubble was inflated mainly in those metropolitan areas – i.e., San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, etc. – that embrace Smart Growth, the trendy and widely implemented idea that government should limit suburban growth (sprawl, as it is pejoratively called) and insist that new growth be crammed into urban growth boundaries.

"'Easy money,' by itself, does not explain what caused the unprecedented housing bubble in California," writes Wendell Cox, a former Los Angeles transportation planner and a well-known housing and transportation consultant who battles the Smart Growth folks for Heritage Foundation and other market-oriented think tanks. "If 'easy money' were the sole cause, then similar house price escalation relative to incomes would have occurred throughout the country. Take, for example, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. These are the three fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the developed world … . Since 2000, these metropolitan areas have grown from three to 15 times as fast as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose. … This is where the demand would have been expected to produce the bubble. But it did not. House prices remained at or near historic norms and average house prices rose one-tenth that of the California coastal metropolitan areas."

I heard Cox last week at the American Dream Coalition conference in Bellevue, Wash. (I spoke on local Smart Growth initiatives, and Cox offered a presentation via satellite from Paris). He noted that even economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agrees that land rationing causes home-price increases. In fact, it's so obvious, I'm surprised a liberal Nobel Prize winner, as Krugman is, would recognize as much.

Don't get caught up in the politics of it, though. Think economically, in terms of any product you choose. Let's say money became available to virtually anyone to buy a new car, but that carmakers weren't able to build many new cars to fulfill the demand. Car prices would go up and up. The same thing would happen with anything. Remember the short-lived bubble for – it's hard to believe, but true – "scarce" Beanie Babies?

I looked at home-price data for some decent-size Midwestern cities over the period of bubble and bust that we experienced in California. The trend line was shocking – prices went up steadily but modestly year after year. In California markets, the prices spiked and then fell. In California, there wasn't enough supply – and it takes too many months to get approvals to fill the demand.

Certainly, some of the California markets that experienced the biggest bust, such as the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and the high desert, are not Smart Growth havens. But, as Randal O'Toole, a land-use expert for the Cato Institute, explained to me, these are markets that served as the blow-off valve for the highly restrictive Bay Area and Southern California urban markets. In other words, average folks couldn't afford homes in restrictive Orange County and Los Angeles, so they moved out to places such as Perris and Moreno Valley. Those are among the communities particularly hard hit by the bust.

California and other progressive states have been pushing tough land-use rules for years and for myriad reasons. But there's no doubt that global warming concerns have provided recent impetus for stringent restrictions. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law last year Senate Bill 375, a "Smart Growth" bill that withholds transportation funds from localities that do not embrace limits on suburban development. That was a follow-up to Assembly Bill 32, designed to battle global-warming-related emissions. In fairness, we shouldn't blame global warming hysteria entirely for these problems, but it deserves a good share of the blame.

Global warming might someday harm the polar bear. But the policies politicians have implemented to deal with this issue have had a good bit to do with the financial suffering Americans are facing today. Next time someone complains about the ill effects of global warming, add this one to the list.



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


28 April, 2009

Warmism: A hopeless blend of hot air and hubris

THE ancient Greeks invented the idea of hubris, of human beings having overweening pride and self-esteem that needed to be punished for its excess. There are perhaps those who believe that what is commonly called climate change is a punishment for hubris, for human beings having gone beyond their place in the scheme of things.

However, an equally good case can be made that the call for human beings to make far-reaching changes to their way of life in response to climate change is itself a form of hubris. To begin, it is based on the belief that human endeavours, in the shape of industrial development, have had such an impact on the Earth that they threaten to disrupt its environment on an enormous scale. Not only have humans made such an impact on the planet, they are also capable, through an act of will, of reversing that impact and setting things right.

According to this scenario, human beings are the most important players in the history of the planet; they are the lords and masters who can destroy things as well as set them right. This belief in the capacity of humans to control the environment is very old. In some ancient civilisations the ruler was supposed to have the power to create a beneficial climate. If there were a prolonged drought, then the ruler sometimes was expected to make the ultimate sacrifice to propitiate the gods. During the depths of the Little Ice Age in Europe, some communities asked God for forgiveness of their sins so that a better climate might return.

Today, however, we look to the state to return us to the path of righteousness. Government can undo the wrongs that we have inflicted on the planet.

Think how much worse it would be for us if it could be demonstrated that the process of global warming were outside of human hands and unable to be manipulated by human efforts. The most we could do would be to adapt to the changes that are occurring. It would be a huge blow to humanity's ego.

Human beings do not want to feel helpless in the face of such changes. They want to feel in control. Believing in climate change creates the illusion that they are in control, that they can do something to make a difference. If they have already affected the planet in such a profound way, surely they can do itagain.

If human beings did not have climate change they might find themselves reduced to being mere spectators in a cosmos over which they had fairly limited control. They would feel that their stature had been diminished. Put simply, they need climate change.

Yet, reading Ian Plimer's excellent Heaven and Earth, what impresses one about his extraordinary account of the Earth's history and its climate is the many forces of nature that are beyond human control. These range from cosmic radiation to the movement of continents and the force of volcanoes. In so many ways we are just spectators, pilgrims who spend a short time on Earth.

That so many people need climate change in the face of the immense forces of nature can be put down to human hubris. They want the illusion of control, and the tool that they use to further that illusion is no longer religion but the state.

The same impulse that leads individuals to look to the state to control climate change also leads them to want to use the state to control economic matters. This is not to say that there is no role for the state in providing the framework in which economic activities take place. It is merely to point out that there are times when it is better for it not to interfere and to allow things to work themselves out.

There is a very important law in politics and economics known as the law of unintended consequences. When governments intervene in matters about which they have limited knowledge, and this is basically everything, they can take steps that make things worse rather than better.

The same law applies to the natural world. Plimer describes a universe so complex that it is simply not feasible that any computer model devised by a human being could capture its complexity.

State action based on such limited knowledge invariably will have unforeseen consequences that may well prove quite harmful.

Humility can be seen as the antidote to hubris. Human beings should be humble in the face of the immense forces of nature and recognise that their power to manipulate and change the world is very limited. They can do this only if they recognise that adherence to climate change is the ultimate expression of hubris. There are times when the best thing for the state to do is nothing.


Bogus Models Used To Justify Anti-CO2 Push

Few things are more appealing in politics than something for nothing. As Congress begins considering anti-global-warming legislation, environmentalists hold out precisely that tantalizing prospect: We can conquer global warming at virtually no cost. Here's a typical claim from the Environmental Defense Fund: "For about a dime a day (per person), we can solve climate change, invest in a clean energy future and save billions in imported oil."

This sounds too good to be true, because it is. About four-fifths of the world's and America's energy comes from fossil fuels — oil, coal, natural gas — which are also the largest source of man-made carbon dioxide, the alleged main greenhouse gas. The goal is to eliminate fossil fuels or suppress their CO2. The bill now being considered in the House would mandate a 42% decline in greenhouse emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels and an 83% drop by 2050.

Re-engineering the world energy system seems an almost impossible undertaking. Just consider America's energy needs in 2030, as estimated by the Energy Information Administration. Compared with 2007, the U.S. is projected to have almost 25% more people (375 million), an economy about 70% larger ($20 trillion) and 27% more light-duty vehicles (294 million). Energy demand will be strong.

But the EIA also assumes greater conservation and use of renewables. From 2007 to 2030, solar power grows 18 times, wind six times. New cars and light trucks get 50% better gas mileage. Light bulbs and washing machines become more efficient. Higher energy prices discourage use; by 2030, oil is $130 a barrel in today's dollars.

For all that, U.S. CO2 emissions in 2030 are projected at 6.2 billion metric tons, 4% higher than in 2007. As an example, solar and wind together would still supply only about 5% of electricity, because they expand from a tiny base.

To comply with the House bill, CO2 emissions would have to be about 3.5 billion tons. The claims of the EDF and other environmentalists that this reduction can occur cheaply rely on economic simulations by "general equilibrium" models.

An Environmental Protection Agency study put the cost as low as $98 per household a year, because high energy prices are partly offset by government rebates. With 2.5 people in the average household, that's roughly 11 cents a day per person. The trouble is that these models embody wildly unrealistic assumptions: there are no business cycles; the economy is always at "full employment"; strong growth is assumed, based on past growth rates; the economy automatically accommodates major changes — if fossil fuel prices rise (as they would under anti-global warming laws), consumers quickly use less and new supplies of "clean energy" magically materialize.

There's no problem and costs are low, because the models say so. But the real world, of course, is different. Half the nation's electricity comes from coal. The costs of "carbon capture and sequestration" — storing CO2 underground — are uncertain, and if the technology can't be commercialized, coal plants will continue to emit or might need to be replaced by nuclear plants. Will Americans support a doubling or tripling of nuclear power? Could technical and construction obstacles be overcome in a timely way? Paralysis might lead to power brownouts or blackouts, which would penalize economic growth.

Countless practical difficulties would arise in trying to wean the U.S. economy from today's fossil fuels. One estimate done by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that meeting most transportation needs in 2050 with locally produced biofuels would require "500 million acres of U.S. land . . . more than the total of current U.S. cropland." America would have to become a net food importer.

In truth, models have a dismal record of predicting major economic upheavals or their consequences. They didn't anticipate the present economic crisis. Earlier, they didn't predict the run-up in oil prices to almost $150 a barrel last year. In the 1970s, they didn't foresee runaway inflation. "General equilibrium" models can help evaluate different policy proposals by comparing them against a common baseline. But these models can't tell us how the economy will look in 10 or 20 years, because so much is assumed or ignored — growth rates; financial and geopolitical crises; major bottlenecks; crippling inflation or unemployment.

The selling of the green economy involves much economic make-believe. Environmentalists not only maximize the dangers of global warming — from rising sea levels to advancing tropical diseases. They also minimize the costs of dealing with it. Actually, no one involved in this debate really knows what the consequences or costs might be. All are inferred from models of uncertain reliability. Great schemes of economic and social engineering are proposed on shaky foundations of knowledge. Candor and common sense are in scarce supply.



Our lab has just published a new paper in PLoS ONE, detailing the interactions of coral and algae on the Great Barrier Reef, and uncovered just how resilient some reefs can be following coral bleaching events. The southern end of the Great Barrier Reef was exposed to extended periods of high sea surface temperatures in the end of 2006, resulting in extensive coral bleaching across the Keppel Islands throughout January 2006. Following the bleaching event, a single species of fleshy macro-algae (Lobophora) overgrew the coral skeletons, causing high rates of mortality throughout the second half of 2006. But, by February 2007, corals were rapidly recovering due to an unusual seasonal dieback of the macro-algae, and astonishing regenerative capabilities of the dominant branching Acroporid corals - almost twice the rate of offshore corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef.

What is unusual about the Keppel Islands story is threefold: first, that corals recovered within months to years (reversal of macro-algae dominated reefs often takes decades), second, recovery of the corals occurred in the absence of herbivory (traditionally assumed to be the 'driving factor' in macro-algal phase shifts), and third, that corals recovered through asexual (regenerative) capacities rather than reseeding of reefs by larval recruitment. Understanding the processes that drive recovery following disturbances is critical for management of coral reefs, and the Keppel Islands example shows that managing local stressors (overfishing and water quality) helps reefs bounce back from global stressors such as coral bleaching events. PLoS One is an open-access journal, so the article is free to read - click on the link below, and feel free to rate and comments on the paper. Congratulations Guillermo et al!

Guillermo Diaz-Pulido et al. (2009) Doom and Boom on a Resilient Reef: Climate Change, Algal Overgrowth and Coral Recovery. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5239


NOTE: Hoagy (Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg), Australia's no.1 coral doomster, was among the joint authors of the paper. I wonder will this slow him down any?

Pesky! Plants Absorb More Carbon Dioxide Under Polluted Hazy Skies

Plants absorbed carbon dioxide more efficiently under the polluted skies of recent decades than they would have done in a cleaner atmosphere, according to new findings published this week in Nature.

The results of the study have important implications for efforts to combat future climate change which are likely to take place alongside attempts to lower air pollution levels.

The research team included scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Met Office Hadley Centre, ETH Zurich and the University of Exeter.

Lead author Dr Lina Mercado, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, "Surprisingly, the effects of atmospheric pollution seem to have enhanced global plant productivity by as much as a quarter from 1960 to 1999. This resulted in a net 10% increase in the amount of carbon stored by the land once other effects were taken into account."

An increase in microscopic particles released into the atmosphere (known as aerosols), by human activities and changes in cloud cover, caused a decline in the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface from the 1950s up to the 1980s (a phenomenon known as 'global dimming').

Although reductions in sunlight reduce photosynthesis, clouds and atmospheric particles scatter light so that the surface receives light from multiple directions (diffuse radiation) rather than coming straight from the sun. Plants are then able to convert more of the available sunlight into growth because fewer leaves are in the shade.

Scientists have known for a long time that aerosols cool climate by reflecting sunlight and making clouds brighter, but the new study is the first to use a global model to estimate the net effects on plant carbon uptake resulting from this type of atmospheric pollution.

Co-author Dr Stephen Sitch from the Met Office Hadley Centre (now at the University of Leeds) said, "Although many people believe that well-watered plants grow best on a bright sunny day, the reverse is true. Plants often thrive in hazy conditions such as those that exist during periods of increased atmospheric pollution."

The research team also considered the implications of these findings for efforts to avoid dangerous climate change. Under an environmentally friendly scenario in which sulphate aerosols decline rapidly in the 21st century, they found that by cleaning up the atmosphere even steeper cuts in global carbon dioxide emissions would be required to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations below 450 parts per million by volume.

Co-author Professor Peter Cox of the University of Exeter summed up the consequences of the study, "As we continue to clean up the air in the lower atmosphere, which we must do for the sake of human health, the challenge of avoiding dangerous climate change through reductions in CO2 emissions will be even harder. Different climate changing pollutants have very different direct effects on plants, and these need to be taken into account if we are to make good decisions about how to deal with climate change."

Journal reference:

1. Lina M. Mercado, Nicolas Bellouin, Stephen Sitch, Olivier Boucher, Chris Huntingford, Martin Wild & Peter M. Cox. Impact of changes in diffuse radiation on the global land carbon sink. Nature, 2009; 458 (7241): 1014 DOI: 10.1038/nature07949


A big climbdown from Britain's Greenest newspaper

The missing sunspots: Is this the big chill? Scientists are baffled by what they’re seeing on the Sun’s surface – nothing at all. And this lack of activity could have a major impact on global warming. David Whitehouse investigates:

The disappearance of sunspots happens every few years, but this time it's gone on far longer than anyone expected - and there is no sign of the Sun waking. Could the Sun play a greater role in recent climate change than has been believed? Climatologists had dismissed the idea and some solar scientists have been reticent about it because of its connections with those who those who deny climate change. But now the speculation has grown louder because of what is happening to our Sun. No living scientist has seen it behave this way. There are no sunspots.

“This is the lowest we’ve ever seen. We thought we’d be out of it by now, but we’re not,” says Marc Hairston of the University of Texas. And it’s not just the sunspots that are causing concern. There is also the so-called solar wind – streams of particles the Sun pours out – that is at its weakest since records began. In addition, the Sun’s magnetic axis is tilted to an unusual degree. “This is the quietest Sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” says NASA solar scientist David Hathaway. But this is not just a scientific curiosity. It could affect everyone on Earth and force what for many is the unthinkable: a reappraisal of the science behind recent global warming.

Our Sun is the primary force of the Earth’s climate system, driving atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. It lies behind every aspect of the Earth’s climate and is, of course, a key component of the greenhouse effect. But there is another factor to be considered. When the Sun has gone quiet like this before, it coincided with the earth cooling slightly and there is speculation that a similar thing could happen now. If so, it could alter all our predictions of climate change, and show that our understanding of climate change might not be anywhere near as good as we thought.

Sunspots are dark, cooler patches on the Sun’s surface that come and go in a roughly 11-year cycle, first noticed in 1843. They have gone away before. They were absent in the 17th century – a period called the “Maunder Minimum” after the scientist who spotted it. Crucially, it has been observed that the periods when the Sun’s activity is high and low are related to warm and cool climatic periods. The weak Sun in the 17th century coincided with the so-called Little Ice Age. The Sun took a dip between 1790 and 1830 and the earth also cooled a little. It was weak during the cold Iron Age, and active during the warm Bronze Age. Recent research suggests that in the past 12,000 years there have been 27 grand minima and 19 grand maxima.

Throughout the 20th century the Sun was unusually active, peaking in the 1950s and the late 1980s. Dean Pensell of NASA, says that, “since the Space Age began in the 1950s, solar activity has been generally high. Five of the ten most intense solar cycles on record have occurred in the last 50 years.” The Sun became increasingly active at the same time that the Earth warmed. But according to the scientific consensus, the Sun has had only a minor recent effect on climate change.

Many scientists believe that the Sun was the major player on the Earth’s climate until the past few decades, when the greenhouse effect from increasing levels of carbon dioxide overwhelmed it. Computer models suggest that of the 0.5C increase in global average temperatures over the past 30 years, only 10-20 per cent of the temperature variations observed were down to the Sun, although some said it was 50 per cent.

But around the turn of the century things started to change. Within a few years of the Sun’s activity starting to decline, the rise in the Earth’s temperature began to slow and has now been constant since the turn of the century. This was at the same time that the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide carried on rising. So, is the Sun’s quietness responsible for the tail-off in global warming and if not, what is?

There are some clues as to what’s going on. Although at solar maxima there are more sunspots on the Sun’s surface, their dimming effect is more than offset by the appearance of bright patches on the Sun’s disc called faculae – Italian for “little torches”. Overall, during an 11-year solar cycle the Sun’s output changes by only 0.1 per cent, an amount considered by many to be too small a variation to change much on earth. But there is another way of looking it. While this 0.1 per cent variation is small as a percentage, in terms of absolute energy levels it is enormous, amounting to a highly significant 1.3 Watts of energy per square metre at the Earth. This means that during the solar cycle’s rising phase from solar minima to maxima, the Sun’s increasing brightness has the same climate-forcing effect as that from increasing atmospheric greenhouse gasses. There is recent research suggesting that solar variability can have a very strong regional climatic influence on Earth – in fact stronger than any man-made greenhouse effect across vast swathes of the Earth. And that could rewrite the rules.

No one knows what will happen or how it will effect our understanding of climate change on Earth. If the Earth cools under a quiet Sun, then it may be an indication that the increase in the Sun’s activity since the Little Ice Age has been the dominant factor in global temperature rises. That would also mean that we have overestimated the sensitivity of the Earth’s atmosphere to an increase of carbon dioxide from the pre-industrial three parts per 10,000 by volume to today’s four parts per 10,000. Or the sun could compete with global warming, holding it back for a while. For now, all scientists can do, along with the rest of us, is to watch and wait.


MSNBC climate fakery

MSNBC is running a four-part series entitled Future Earth. On their website they say you can “find out why Earth’s climate machine — the North Pole — is melting alarmingly fast. Learn about our planet’s future, and how you can stop its decline.”

First, the North Pole is not “Earth’s Climate Machine”. There is far more heat and area in the Tropics than at the North Pole.

Second, YOU can’t stop its decline (assuming it’s declining)! Nature is big - you personally are insignificant compared to nature. Don’t you wish you had the power to control icecaps! If you don’t mind some profanity, check out George Carlin’s take on “Saving the Planet”.

Third, MSNBC does not know “our planet’s future”. The scenario they portray in this piece is about as remote a possibility in the near future (and more than likely the very far future) as the Lions going 16-0 next season.

The Antarctic icecap (which is much bigger than the Arctic icecap) has been growing. In Sept. 1979 (first year of satellite data) the Antarctic icecap was 18.4 million sq. km. In Sept. 2008, the Antarctic icecap was at 19.2 million sq. km. That’s a 30-year trend. By comparison, Michigan is 151,586 sq. km, so that’s an increase in icecover of over five times the area of Michigan.

MSNBC could instead be doing a story on the trend of cooling in Antarctica and possible falling sea levels due to ice accumulation in Antarctica. Keep in mind that if the Polar icecap (without Greenland) melted…it would hardly cause sea level to rise, because the icecap is currently displacing water in the Arctic Ocean. The Antarctic icecap is over a land continent, not floating over an ocean. Significant ice accumulation over the land of Antarctica would cause sea level to fall. The Arctic icecap did decrease significantly (yes, very significantly) from 1979 to 2007.

To do a fair piece on Arctic ice…MSNBC or anyone would have to note this. However, to also be fair…they should also tell what’s been going on in the Arctic since 2007. Please, CHECK OUT THIS GRAPH from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Note that the current icecap has grown significantly and is now much closer to the 1979-2000 average than it is to the low level of 2007.

There are meteorological reasons for this increase (PDO - Pacific Decadal Oscillation going negative, etc.) that have nothing to do with CO2. Some scientists predicted there would be no icecap this summer. It’ll actually be bigger than last summer. Al Gore predicted last year that “the icecap will be gone in five years!”.

I would be willing to not only bet Al Gore but also give him 100 to one odds that there will still be a polar ice cap in 2013. One last point, MSNBC is owned by General Electric. GE is already making money off the issue with their Carbon Credit Master Card (link from “Treehugger”, no less). Here’s CNN’s story on the new credit card.

Interesting note: In the fourth quarter of 2008 as GE/NBC stock fell 30 percent, GE spent $4.26 million on lobbying — that’s $46,304 each day, including weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2008, the company spent a grand total of $18.66 million on lobbying.” Reviewing their lobbying filings, GE’s specific lobbying issues included the “Climate Stewardship Act,” “Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act,” “Global Warming Reduction Act,” “Federal Government Greenhouse Gas Registry Act,” “Low Carbon Economy Act,” and “Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.”

Do you think this “big business” is just concerned about the environment? Well, check out this column from the Politico, which says: “Several of the companies would gain a commercial advantage after a cap and trade was established. General Electric has an “ecoimagination” line of green appliances and equipment. Robert Stavins, a professor of business and government at Harvard University, said a cap and trade program would be fantastic for GE and other companies that sell products that consume power. He said that if energy costs go up as a result of the regulation — something he believes is likely — a wide array of products from appliances to power plants would become prematurely obsolete and need to be replaced with greener models.” That would mean big money for GE (parent company of NBC and MSNBC).

Take a moment and read my previous post on polar ice…check out the graphs and charts…they speak for themselves.



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


27 April, 2009


An email from Mark Lawson [] of the Australian Financial Review about the Salonius effusion

I wish to respond to the post by Peter Salonius that takes the green alarmism to new extremes. For he suggests that the only way to save the planet is to go back to hunter-gathering lifestyles, and have no children. Anti-population groups (the best collective term I can think of for them) are common in Australia and I recently annoyed them by pointing to the obvious from official statistics - there is just no hint of any limit, anywhere.

There are many facets to the argument but let us briefly discuss one aspect - agricultural productivity. Salonius is fond of quoting Jared Diamond. In one book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), Prof Diamond makes the valuable point that the Australian state of Western Australia is akin to a gigantic flower pot. The soil has few nutrients of its own so what farmers put in the way of fertiliser is what they get out in crops. If the fertiliser stops coming then no crops. Salonius says that phosphate will eventually stop coming, pointing to research suggesting a "phosphate peak" [This was a great scare in the 1970s but was rather defused by the discovery (now apparently forgotten) of vast phosphate deposits in the Western Sahara -- JR]

I groaned when I saw this. Arguing over forecasts of peak oil is bad enough, with all the immense complications of no standardisation in the way reserves are reported, and the interplay between price, demand, supply, oil exploration and technology. Then there are different types of oil (oil sands and shales) and substitutes (LNG or even coal if the price is right). But at least we understand a great deal about the most traded commodity as it is the subject of intense research. Trying to work out what phosphate production might be in, say, 50 years when far less is known about reserves and substitutes would be a waste of time. A dozen highly-paid analysts could examine the issue intensively for five years and come up with a forecast that could still be completely wrong.

When it comes to making forecasts Prof Diamond and his fellow travellers are likely to be no better than the rest of us. Although the chapter quoted above makes some valuable points, there are also howlers. Prof Diamond somehow manages to give the impression that Australia can barely feed itself, without actually saying so. In fact its agricultural surpluses are so large farmers have to make special efforts to find markets. He also manages to confuse the West Australian State Constitution (which is arranged to favour the agricultural sector) with the Federal Constitution (which isn't).

While on the question of productivity publications from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) show that total factor productivity was increasing, in Australia at least, until perhaps 10 years ago. No one seems to know what this pause is due to, but the delay in bio-engineered crops may be an explanation. The increase in productivity is, in turn, only just keeping Australian farmers ahead of generally declining terms of trade (increase in prices for farm inputs, and general decline in real prices for agricultural commodities). It doesn't look like we will run out of food any time soon.


A new study on global streamflows has just been announced via press release by NCAR. Here is how the press release opens:

"Rivers in some of the world's most populous regions are losing water, according to a new comprehensive study of global stream flow. The study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), suggests that in many cases the reduced flows are associated with climate change. The process could potentially threaten future supplies of food and water."

Here is what the paper actually says:

"We emphasize, however, that the actual streamflow and discharge examined here likely include changes induced by human activities, such as withdrawal of stream water and building dams, and thus they are not readily suitable for quantifying the effects of global warming on streamflow."

Lets see how many news stories follow the press release rather than the paper.


Note: The Guardian does not disappoint. It always chooses the alarmist path.


Philip Stott

The Sun isn't playing ball with the 'global warmers'. Indeed, I expect one of our more rabid Labour ministers to come out any day now fatuously accusing the fading star of 'global warming' denial on a par with denying the effects of smoking or the link between HIV and AIDS. But one has to laugh. The sun is currently so inactive that even our 'global warming'-obsessed media has been forced, through heavily rose-tinted sunglasses, to admit the phenomenon, rushing to add, of course, that this doesn't mean that 'global warming' has halted, or that we must stop mending our evil ways.

'Global Warming' In Trouble

Yet, the truth is that 'global warming' [not, let's be clear, climate change] is possibly in trouble. The whole point is that climate is the most complex of systems, and that it is impossible - madness even - to try to predict future climates with respect to one variable, and a variable working at the margins to boot.

So what precisely is all the fuss about that very big other variable, the Sun? Put simply, a thing called 'Solar Cycle 24' is long overdue; it just can't seem to get going. Solar-cycle intensity is measured by the maximum number of sunspots. Sunspots are dark blotches on the Sun that mark areas of heightened magnetic activity. The more sunspots, the more likely it is that major solar storms will occur. The next 11-year cycle of solar storms (i.e. 'Solar Cycle 24') was predicted to begin in Autumn, 2006, but it appears to have been seriously delayed.

This is what Paul Stanko of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reported as saying about this on the wonderful Watts Up With That web site: "My running mean of the International Sunspot Number [ISN} for 2009 just dipped below 1.00. For anything comparable you now need to go back before 1913 (which scored a 1.43) which could mean we're now competing directly with the Dalton Minimum.

Just in case you'd like another tidbit, here is something that puts our 20 to 30 day spotless runs in perspective... the mother of all spotless runs (in the heart of the Maunder Minimum, of course!) was from October 15, 1661 to August 2, 1671. It totaled 3,579 consecutive spotless days, all of which had obs[ervations]."

So Why Do Sunspots Concern Us Here On Planet Earth?

But why does a spotless sun matter to you and me? The reason is simple: there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climates. During an active solar period, violent eruptions occur more often on the Sun. Solar flares and vast explosions, called coronal mass ejections, shoot energetic photons and highly-charged matter towards Earth, affecting the planet's ionosphere and geomagnetic field, potentially disrupting power grids, critical communications, satellites, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and even threatening astronauts with harmful radiation. These storms also illuminate night skies with brilliant sheets of red and green, called auroras or aurorae - the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) and the Southern Lights (aurora australis).

However, sunspot numbers also affect the temperature of the Earth. A famous student of solar cycles was Edward Walter Maunder (1851-1928). Maunder was an English astronomer who identified an historical climate period, dating from 1645 to 1715, which is now named after him as the 'Maunder Minimum' [see the graph right: reproduced under the GNU Free Documentation Licence Version 1.2. Original by the excellent 'Global Warming Art' website].

This was a period in the Little Ice Age when sunspots became very rare, as noted by observers of the era. During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum, astronomers recorded only about 50 sunspots. Although a simplistic correlation is rightly contested, the Maunder Minimum thus appears to coincide with the middle - and the severest part - of the Little Ice Age.

Moreover, a second time a cycle was delayed like our current Solar Cycle 24 occurred during the so-called Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790. Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon's Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots.

Thus, what currently is happening to the average temperature of the Earth's surface? Since at least 2001, it has been falling, and dramatically so during the last two years.

Nobody Knows

Will this lead to a new mini Little Ice Age? I don't know, and nor does anybody else, anymore, I might add, than the global warmers know 'the truth' about climate. What it does remind us, however, is that climate remains entirely beyond human control and management, and that there will be no predictable outcomes to managing CO2 emissions at the margins.

The question we should be asking every Minister who comes out blathering that we must 'fix' climate is: "What climate precisely are you going to conjure up for us?"

Political Madness: 'Global warming' is a quite extraordinary political madness. In the immortal words of Bruno Latour: "Nous n'avons jamais été modernes".


False prophet rewarded at the NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Last year we had the forecast from NSIDC’s Dr. Mark Serreze of an “ice free north pole”. As we know, that didn’t even come close to being true. Summer 2008 had more arctic ice than summer 2007, and summer 2007 was not “ice free” by any measure.

In spite of the spectacular failure of Dr. Serreze’s widely quoted prediction, there were no retractions, no apologies for misleading the public, no admissions of error, and inaccurate stories like the one above are still in place. So what could possibly be worse news from NSIDC?

The very man who made that ridiculous statement of “an ice free north pole in 2008? is set to become the “incoming director” of NSIDC. Apparently alarmism pays, especially if you get press.



Departing ambassadors give valedictory addresses, most of which are stunningly dull. Not so the US special envoy to the EU, the exotically named C Boyden Gray, who had a stark warning for Europe and a dig at Britain as he shut the door behind him.

C Boyden was scathing about the European plan for a 20% drop in greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2020, which would allow 50% of the "savings" to be achieved via "offsets" in developing countries.

With one eye clearly on UK plans to build Kingsnorth and up to seven other coal power stations, he pointed out that European countries could hardly claim to be world leaders on climate change if they were going to increase coal consumption and get everyone else to make the cuts. How much more ethical was the US, planning to cut emissions just as deeply but to make all except 15% of the cuts at home!

The ears of the British diplomats in the audience burned, seeing as they were the chief cheerleaders of the EU's offset arrangements.


Cancelled: 'Snow and freezing winds' puts Edmonton's Earth Day on ice

Mother Nature upstaged Mother Earth in Edmonton this weekend. Earth Day celebrations in the Albertan capital that were planned for Sunday have been postponed because of the cold weather.

Organizer Janice Boudreau said exhibitors and entertainers had been pulling out all week as forecasts announced snow and freezing winds. "They did it last year, but they didn't want to do it again," she said. "This is supposed to be an enjoyable experience for everyone." The organizing team will meet Monday to pick a new date, hopefully one during May or June.

Boudreau made the decision to put the event on hold on Saturday. "Our philosophy is any day is Earth Day," she said. "This was not an easy decision to make."

April 22 was International Earth Day.



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


26 April, 2009


Last weeks' top Antarctic AGW story was: Antarctic ice melting faster than expected

due to CO2, of course. This week the #1 story is: Antarctic ice spreading

but the increase in size is due to "stratospheric ozone depletion" which is of course also caused by man-made gases.

So Antarctic ice is disappearing faster than expected due to man, and it is also expanding in size due to man. Meanwhile, the early autumn temperature in Vostok, Antarctica is a toasty -95F, a nice warm up from the -104F temperatures earlier this week.

Oh, and one minor problem with the ozone hole theory "The ozone hole occurs during the Antarctic spring, from September to early December" - but the positive ice anomaly occurred during the autumn and winter (March through July) as represented by the red line below. And while the ozone hole was present, ice was normal. So the ice excess probably has nothing to do with the ozone hole.



For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza. Ignore them. They'll be wrong. We're confident in saying that because they've always been wrong. And always will be. Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.

"We have about five more years at the outside to do something." -Kenneth Watt, ecologist

"Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind." -George Wald, Harvard Biologist

"We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation." -Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

"Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction." -New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years." -Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist




The climate change of our planet, which can be observed more frequently in recent years, has become alarming for the public opinion. Various methods to remedy the situation are elaborated on the international level by decision makers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (operating since 1988) and different ecologic organisations.

Having a part in this significant debate, the Geologic Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences wishes to turn to 10 fundamental aspects of the problem closely related to the functioning of geosystem - the complex interdependence of processes occurring in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The knowledge of these factors should be the foundation for any rational and careful decisions, which could interfere in the geosystem.

1. The climate of the Earth depends on the interaction between the surface and the atmosphere, both of which are heated by solar radiation characterized by a cyclical, variable intensity. The climate is influenced by the Earth's yearly revolution around the Sun, thermics, changes in ocean waters flow, air mass movement, mountain massif position, their uplift and erosion in time perspective as well as changes in the continents' position as a result of their permanent wandering.

2. Geologic research proves irrefutably that the permanent change is the fundamental characteristic of the Earth's climate as throughout its entire history, and the changes occur in cycles of varied length - from several thousand to just a few years. Longer climate cycles are provoked by the extraterrestrial factors of astronomic character as well as by the changes of the Earth's orbital parameters, in brief - by regional and local factors. Not all reasons for climate change or their phenomena are fully known yet.

3. Although in the history of the Earth, a considerably warmer climate than today had dominated, there had been repeated occurrences when the Earth experienced massive global cooling which always resulted in vast ice sheets that sometimes even reached the subtropics. Therefore, reliable forecasts of changes in the Earth's climate (not to mentioned efforts to prevent, shape, or act against them) must take into account the results of its research of the Earth's geological history - a time when humanity (and the industry) were not on our planet.

4. Since twelve thousand years ago, the Earth is in the another phase of cyclical warming and is near the maximum of its intensively. Just in the last 2.5 million years, periods of warming have on several occasions intertwined with ice ages, which have already been well identified.

5. The current warming is accompanied by an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: water vapour is dominant among them, and in smaller quantities there are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and ozone. This has always happened because it is an occurrence that accompanies cyclical warming and cooling. The periodic increase in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, sometimes a value even several times larger than at present, has accompanied previous warming even before man inhabited the Earth.

6. Over the past 400 thousand years - even without human intervention - the level of CO2 in the air, based on the Antarctic ice cores, has already been similar 4 times, and even higher than the current value. At the end of the last ice age, within a time of a few hundred years, the average annual temperature changed over the globe several times, in total, it has gone up by almost 10 °C in the northern hemisphere, therefore the changes mentioned above were incomparably more dramatic than the changes reported today.

7. After a warm period in the past millennium, by the end of the thirteenth century, a cold period had begun and it lasted up to the mid-nineteenth century, and then a warm period in which we are living had begun. The phenomenon observed today, in particular the temporary rise of global temperature, are the result of the natural rhythm of climate change. Warmer and warmer oceans have a smaller ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and reducing the area of the long term permafrost leads to more rapid decomposition of organic compounds in the soil, and thus to increased emissions of greenhouse gases. For billions of years, Earth's volcanic activity along the lines of lithosphere plate boundaries, hidden mainly beneath the surface of the oceans, has been constantly providing the atmosphere with CO2 with various levels of intensively.

In the geo-system gas is removed from the atmosphere to the biosphere and from the lithosphere through the process of photosynthesis that is bound in the living organisms - including the shell carbonate marine organisms and after their death it is stored in the huge limestone on the bottom of the seas and the oceans, while on land it is bound in various organic sediments.

8. A detailed monitoring of climate parameters has been carried out for slightly over 200 years; it only regards parts of continents, which constitute only 28% of the world. Some of the older measuring stations established - as a result of progressive urbanization, in the peripheries of the cities, are now within them. This factor, among other things, is the reason for the rise of the measured values of temperature. The research of the vast areas of the oceans has only been launched 40 years ago. Measurements taken for this kind of short periods of time can not be considered as a firm basis for creating fully reliable models of thermal changes on the surface of the Earth, and their accuracy is difficult to verify. That is why far-reaching restraint needs to be kept regarding blaming, or even giving the biggest credit to man for the increased level of emissions of greenhouse gases, for such a theory has not been proven.

9. There is no doubt that a certain part of the rise of the level of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, is associated with human activity therefore, steps should be taken to reduce the amount on the basis of the principles of sustainable development, a cease of extensive deforestation, particularly in tropical regions. It is equally important to take up and pursuit appropriate adapting actions that will mitigate the effects of the current warming trend.

10. Experiments in natural science show that one-sided observations, those that take no account of the multiplicity of factors determining certain processes in the geo-system, lead to unwarranted simplifications and wrong conclusions when trying to explain natural phenomena. Thus, politicians who rely on incomplete data may take wrong decisions. It makes room for politically correct lobbying, especially on the side of business marketing of exceptionally expensive, so called eco-friendly, energy technologies or those offering CO2 storage (sequestration) in exploited deposits. It has little to do with what is objective in nature. Taking radical and expensive economic measures aiming at implementing the emission only of few greenhouse gases, with no multi-sided research into climate change, may turn out counterproductive.

The PAN Committee of Geological Sciences believes it necessary to start an interdisciplinary research based on comprehensive monitoring and modelling of the impact of other factors -not just the level of CO2 - on the climate. Only this kind of approach will bring us closer to identifying the causes of climate change

Geological Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences

NOTE: The original document (in Polish) is available here


Emissions trading will burden German energy companies considerably while its competition in France will be able to attract industrial consumers with lower energy prices as a result of rules adopted by the EU. The relocation of German industries could be the result. This is the result of calculations by the consulting firm Energy Environment Forecast Analysis (EEFA).

At the end of last year, the EU member states agreed on the rules for emissions trading from 2013 to 2020. One of the benchmarks agreed: from 2013 onwards, the operators of CO2-emitting power plants will be forced to buy all their emission allowances through auctions. Exceptions from this rule only apply to nine eastern European member states.

From the start, German electricity producers had warned about the consequences of this decision and calculated billion-dollar benefits for competing countries. The consultant firm EEFA has now quantified these benefits. "By 2020, French energy suppliers will rake in additional profits of 9.5 billion euros as a direct result of the auctioning of carbon allowances," said EEFA's Elmar Hillebrand. Among EU countries, there are clear winners and losers of the new emissions trading rules. "Countries with a high proportion of nuclear power or hydroelectric power, such as France and Sweden, are among the winners. Germany, because of the structure of its power generation, is among the losers, also because of the exit from nuclear energy, "says Hillebrand.

Hillebrand expects serious consequences for industrial production in Germany. So far, the issue at the centre at the debate has been whether German industry, due to the ETS's effects on the price of electricity, would have to relocate outside the EU. What has been ignored, however, is the effect of the emissions trading scheme on competition within Europe. "This aspect should not be underestimated. It might be of interest for energy-intensive businesses to relocate their production from Germany to France," Hillebrand warned. This could mean that "the wealth creation chain in Germany would be disrupted." [transl. BJP]

More HERE (in German)

$8 gas and the green agenda

by Jeff Jacoby

TESTIFYING BEFORE the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was asked about something he said in September. "Somehow," the Nobel laureate had told The Wall Street Journal, "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." At the time, gasoline in Europe was going for around $8 a gallon. Did the secretary, Florida Representative Cliff Stearns inquired, still want to see US gas prices rise that high?

"In today's economic climate," Chu quickly replied, "it would be completely unwise to want to increase the price of gasoline. And so we are looking forward to reducing the price of transportation in the American family . . . by encouraging fuel-efficient cars (and) developing alternative forms of fuel." The congressman couldn't resist giving the knife a twist. "Your statement, 'Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe' -- doesn't that sound a little bit silly in retrospect?" Stearns asked.

Chu: "Yes."

Stearns didn't ask why Chu had stopped being "silly," but it doesn't take a Ph.D. in political science to know that a craving for higher gas prices is one of those things you quit talking about after you join a presidential administration -- assuming you want the president to be reelected.

Yet Chu is hardly the first person to have called for making gasoline more expensive. As far back as his first US Senate campaign in 1984, for example, John Kerry advocated a 50-cent-per-gallon increase in gas taxes. Many environmental activists, climate alarmists, and mass-transit fetishists want to see fuel costs rise -- even as high as, yes, $8 a gallon. The steeper the price at the pump, they reason, the fewer miles Americans will drive, the less petroleum they will consume, and the greener their lifestyles will become.

"I hope gas prices go as high as they have to go to get the rest of these morons off the road in these big Hummers," CNN's Jack Cafferty has said, while Freakonomics author Steven Levitt wrote in 2007 -- in an essay headlined "Hurray for High Gas Prices!" -- that "rather than bemoaning the high price of gas, we should be celebrating it." Last year, The New York Times's Thomas Friedman sang the praises of $4-a-gallon gasoline, and wished "Washington would declare that it would never let the price fall below that level." Even Barack Obama, asked on the campaign trail whether sky-high gas prices might actually be a good thing, objected only to the speed with which they had climbed. "I think I would have preferred a gradual adjustment," he told CNBC.

Those are fringe opinions, of course. Most Americans don't regard automobiles as a blight and don't blame human activity for global warming, so it goes without saying that most of them don't want fuel prices to rise. For those who do believe that cars are a curse and climate change is caused by people, however, it makes perfect sense to call for more expensive gasoline.

Raise the price of something high enough and you invariably lower the demand for it. That's why last year's sharp spike in gas prices resulted in fewer cars on the highways and a plunge in miles driven. If your goal is fewer SUVs, less solo driving, and lower carbon-dioxide emissions, inflicting European-level gasoline prices on American motorists is a pretty good strategy. Conversely, it is hypocritical -- or at least illogical -- "to say you care deeply about global warming and advocate for the price of gas to go down," as AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Newsweek last year. "Those are mutually exclusive concepts."

And yet advocating for the price of gas to go down is essentially what environmentalists are doing when they clamor for higher-mileage cars. All other things being equal, raising fuel efficiency lowers the cost of driving. As Secretary Chu correctly told the House committee last week, "encouraging fuel-efficient cars" is one means of "reducing the price of transportation." But cheaper driving means more driving, and more driving means more energy use, more cars on the road, more demand for highways, more drilling for oil -- all things environmentalists abhor.

If greens and global-warmists really want the US automotive fleet to use less energy, they should be clamoring for cars that get lower mileage. Crazy, you say? Surely no crazier than $8-a-gallon gas.


Pressure to censor global warming skepticism

In a series of articles on climate change the villain is gradually being identified as, you should have guessed it, freedom of thought! One Jon Gertner of The New York Times Magazine wrote the other day that

"What makes CRED's work [the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions] especially relevant ... is that various human attitudes and responses--How can there be global warming when we had a frigid January? What's in it for me if I change the way I live?--can make the climate problem worse by leaving it unacknowledged or unaddressed. Apathetic and hostile responses to climate change, in other words, produce a feedback loop and reinforce the process of global warming"

The idea that thought and speech are major obstacles to doing what is right isn't new at all. As recently as the 1980s the one liberty that liberal statists could be counted on defending, at least in the United States of America, is the one spelled out in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Alas, this was challenged some time ago by Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon of the University of Michigan school of law, in her short but prominently published book, Only Words (Harvard University Press, 1983). In it the good professor argued that words do not deserve the legal protection afforded them by the Constitution since insults and put downs, including jokes, can injure people good and hard. And such injuries should not be protected. The victims would have to pay too high a price for the fact that the law treats such injuries as "only words."

We have heard a good deal lately about how President Barack Obama is a pragmatist, how he eschews ideology. The most sensible rendition of this sound bite is that he refuses to be bound by principles and when it comes to something as vital as containing climate change, why not toss the First Amendment and censor those who show skepticism?

Professor MacKinnon wasn't recommending tossing the principle underlying the First Amendment, only suggesting that we should not be ideological about our embrace of it. Maybe the same should be expected from President Obama when it comes to a central elements of his political agenda, namely, to contain pollution.

This pragmatism isn't across the board for Mr. Obama, of course. As with all loyal pragmatists he, too, is willing to stick to a select few principles and refuse to give them up even in times of emergency. Consider, for example, that according the Obama & Co. there is never any excuse for using torture!

I will not speculate on why in that instance pragmatism is inadequate--various suggestions present themselves and some of them aren't pretty at all. Suffice it to note that Mr. Obama seems to be perfectly willing to toss jettison the principles of the free market--the right to private property, the right to enter into binding contracts, the right to due process.

And here we have evidence that like minded folks, too, appear not to be very worried about banning certain kinds of inconvenient conduct such as speaking out against the doctrine--the ideology?--of climate change. We should be prepared, I believe, for some movement in this direction. Apathy toward climate change isn't tolerable, nor is skepticism. Leaving the climate problem unacknowledged or unaddressed would also count as something we ought not to tolerate--so if I speak out against recycling, for example, maybe I ought to be muzzled since not doing so will "produce a feedback loop and reinforce the process of global warming."

Just as Professor MacKinnon's abandoning of the First Amendment seemed to her fully justified, given how that Amendment made it possible to insult and intimidate women, so it should come as no big surprise to anyone that laws will be passed that prohibit global warming skepticism. Such dangerous conduct on the part of citizens must be arrested, or so some of the climate change fanatics could well believe now, quite seriously.



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


25 April, 2009

World cooling has set-in warns astrophyicist - BBC & 'Global Warming apologists' challenged to end 'cover-up'

"Official data shows the world passed its peak temperatures 10 years ago, but sadly the BBC and 'Global Warming apologists' are now attempting to cover up the facts" said Piers Corbyn, 'climate realist', astrophysicist & long range weather & climate forecaster, 24 April, in response to the BBC's 'Quiet Sun baffling astronomers' report.

"In timely backing of the UK Government's £1billion Carbon budget and similar moves in the USA, the BBC and Prof Lockwood of Southampton University distort the facts in an attempt to cover-up the proven centrality of the sun in controlling world temperatures", said Piers.

"They make the ignorant and loaded claim that '...Current slight dimming of the sun was not going to reverse the rise in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels'. This is treble confusion because (1) the world is already cooling even though CO2 is rising; (2) there is no evidence that the burning of fossil fuels ever did or ever will drive world temperatures and (3) reputable and informed solar scientists know that there is a lot more to the sun's influence on the world than its dimness or brightness."

"It appears the BBC and Prof Lockwood hope to coax the public into believing coal burning drives climate by telling us that another discredited theory - that of solar dimming - doesn't work. This approach is disingenuous. It is astounding that such arguments as bizarre as 'It's not a dog so it must be a cat' emanate from a member of the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

"It is well known that world temperatures primarily follow the sun's magnetic cycle of 22 years, so obviously half the time temperatures will move oppositely to the 11 year cycle of tiny solar dimming and brightening. Prof Lockwood has been reminded of this fact on a number of occasions yet he is still recycling this old chestnut. With scientific leadership of this calibre what hope has the UK of clawing its way out of recession on the back of sound investment in science and technology?"

"The latest advances in Sun-Earth relations show not only the primacy of magnetic-particle links between the sun and the earth but that these are modulated by lunar effects to give the observed 60 year cycle in both world and USA temperatures. This means that the world will continue general cooling at least to 2030 (see ++). Neither the 60 year cycle, nor the 22 year cycle nor any fluctuations in world tempertaures over the last 100 years, thousand years or million years can be explained by changes in CO2. Furthermore advances in understanding of Sun-Earth magnetic and particle activity are being applied to succesfully predict dangerous weather and climate change events months and years ahead; whereas all predictions of the CO2-centred theory have failed and will continue to fail and anti-CO2 taxes and measures will never stop a single extreme weather event. The UN's Climate Change committee (the IPCC) have still failed to respond to requests from an international group of scientists to provide data evidence for the CO2 theory (see+*).

"Tragically the BBC is driven by a political agenda to propagate failed science rather than report on front-line advances in this field of key scientific and political import. The BBC and NERC boycotted the International Climate Change Conference New York 8-10 March which is a great pity because they missed sound refutations of the theory of man-made global warming and many world-class reports on scientific advance"

"One wonders if Prof Lockwood's place on the Natural Environment Research Council and the well-known opposition of its Chief Executive to 'Climate Sceptics' are not dimming his scientific faculties" queried Piers (See NERC-Register of interests)

The above is a press release from Enquiries:

The warmth of our present geological era is associated with Methane from Wetlands

Wot?? No CO2?

At the end of the cold climate interval called the Younger Dryas, approximately 11,600 years ago, global temperatures began their final ascent to the warmth of the Holocene, and the concentration of methane in the atmosphere increased rapidly and substantially. There has been much speculation about the cause of that increase, with most recent evidence pointing to wetlands as the source. The most direct proof of that explanation requires the measurement of the radiocarbon content of that methane. Petrenko et al. (p. 506; see the Perspective by Nisbet and Chappellaz) analyzed 1000 kilogramsized samples of Greenland ice, which have sufficient methane to allow measurement of its 14C content. They show that wetland sources indeed must have been responsible for the majority of the rise in atmospheric methane levels at the end of the Younger Dryas.

14CH4 Measurements in Greenland Ice: Investigating Last Glacial Termination CH4 Sources

By Vasilii V. Petrenko et al.

The cause of a large increase of atmospheric methane concentration during the Younger Dryas–Preboreal abrupt climatic transition (~11,600 years ago) has been the subject of much debate. The carbon-14 (14C) content of methane (14CH4) should distinguish between wetland and clathrate contributions to this increase. We present measurements of 14CH4 in glacial ice, targeting this transition, performed by using ice samples obtained from an ablation site in west Greenland. Measured 14CH4 values were higher than predicted under any scenario. Sample 14CH4 appears to be elevated by direct cosmogenic 14C production in ice. 14C of CO was measured to better understand this process and correct the sample 14CH4. Corrected results suggest that wetland sources were likely responsible for the majority of the Younger Dryas–Preboreal CH4 rise.

Science 24 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5926, pp. 506 - 508

Global Warming Overreach

Congressman Henry Waxman played to the crowds this week with high-profile hearings designed to boost his climate legislation. To listen to the Energy and Commerce committee chair, a House global warming bill is all but in the recyclable bag.

To listen to Congressman Jim Matheson is something else. During opening statements, the Utah Democrat detailed 14 big problems he had with the bill, and told me later that if he hadn't been limited to five minutes, "I might have had more." Mr. Matheson is one of about 10 moderate committee Democrats who are less than thrilled with the Waxman climate extravaganza, and who may yet stymie one of Barack Obama's signature issues. If so, the president can thank Democratic liberals, who are engaging in one of their first big cases of overreach.

Not that you couldn't see this coming even last year, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered her coup against former Energy chairman John Dingell. House greens had been boiling over the Michigan veteran's cautious approach to climate-legislation. Mr. Dingell's mistake was understanding that when it comes to energy legislation, the divides aren't among parties, but among regions. Design a bill that socks it to all those manufacturing, oil-producing, coal-producing, coal-using states, and say goodbye to the very Democrats necessary to pass that bill.

Such sense didn't deter Mrs. Pelosi, who first tried an end-run around Mr. Dingell in 2007 by putting Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey in charge of a new global-warming committee. When that didn't get her a bill, she helped her fellow Californian, Mr. Waxman, unseat Mr. Dingell. Environmentalists threw a party, and the Waxman-Markey duo got busy on legislation to please their coastal crowds.

Cap and trade was already going to be a brawl, but the two upped the ante by including tougher targets and restrictions. If that weren't enough, they rolled in every other item on the green wish list: a renewable electricity standard; a low-carbon fuel standard; a broader renewable fuels policy; new efficiency standards. Any one of these is a monumental fight on its own. Put together they risk an intra-party committee mutiny.

There's Mr. Matheson, chair of the Blue Dog energy task force, who has made a political career championing energy diversity and his state's fossil fuels, and who understands Utah is mostly reliant on coal for its electricity needs. He says he sees several ways this bill could result in a huge "income transfer" from his state to those less fossil-fuel dependent. Indiana Democrat Baron Hill has a similar problem; not only does his district rely on coal, it is home to coal miners. Rick Boucher, who represents the coal-fields of South Virginia, knows the feeling.

Or consider Texas's Gene Green and Charles Gonzalez, or Louisiana's Charlie Melancon, oil-patch Dems all, whose home-district refineries would be taxed from every which way by the bill. Mr. Dingell remains protective of his district's struggling auto workers, which would be further incapacitated by the bill. Pennsylvania's Mike Doyle won't easily throw his home-state steel industry over a cliff.

Add in the fact that a number of these Democrats hail from districts that could just as easily be in Republicans' hands. They aren't eager to explain to their blue-collar constituents the costs of indulging Mrs. Pelosi's San Francisco environmentalists. Remember 1993, when President Bill Clinton proposed an energy tax on BTUs? The House swallowed hard and passed the legislation, only to have Senate Democrats kill it; a year later, Newt Gingrich was in charge. With Senate Democrats already backing away from the Obama cap-and-trade plans, at least a few House Dems are reluctant to walk the plank.

Rumors were in fact flying earlier this week that Mr. Markey might have to postpone next week's subcommittee markup. For now, he and Mr. Waxman are busy trying to buy or arm-twist votes. They have some potent tools, in particular the enticement of giving some carbon-emission permits away for free, or allocating them to specific industries. Yet having set expectations so high, the duo risk losing liberal members if they give away too much.

The Obama team is aware it has trouble, which explains last week's well-timed Environmental Protection Agency "finding" that carbon is a danger. The administration is now using this as a stick to beat Congress to act, arguing that if it doesn't the EPA will. (Reality: Any EPA actions will be tied up in court for years.) It also helps explain EPA's Monday analysis claiming the legislation won't cost all that much. (Reality: The agency could only make this claim by assuming an endless recession.)

The real risk to the president is that his bill goes down at the hands of his own party -- with nary a Republican to blame. Whether Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Waxman considered this as they crafted their gem is unclear. But the overreach has made it a possibility now.


Geologist Chides Revkin of New York Times For 'Strange, Silly' Climate Article

Revkin 'is starting to really feel the weight of the evidence showing that dangerous AGW is a myth'

Australian Paleoclimate researcher Dr. Robert M. “Bob” Carter dismissed New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin's April 23, 2009 article “Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate” as “strange, silly even.” Revkin wrote about the now defunct Global Climate Coalition and documents that suggest the group had scientists on board in the 1990's who claimed “the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.”

Paleoclimate scientist Dr. Bob Carter of Australia's James Cook University and former chairman of the earth science panel of the Australian Research Council told Climate Depot his thoughts on Revkin's article on Friday April 24, 2009. Dr. Carter also testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on December 6, 2006.

Dr. Carter's Comments on Revkin's NYT Article: Andrew Revkin's latest article in the New York Times makes for strange reading; silly, even. For though the technical experts may have been advising (for some strange, doubtless self-interested reason) this: “even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted”, I'll eat my hat if anyone could show that was actually the case at any time since 1990.

My guess is that Revkin -- like all other promulgators of AGW (anthropogenic global warming) hysteria throughout the media and scientific communities -- is starting to really feel the weight of the evidence that shows all too clearly that dangerous AGW is a myth, and is simply thrashing around in any and every direction to try to find a way of continuing to obfuscate the issue until December.

The bottom line is that - with President Obama elected and Copenhagen COP (Conference of Parties) coming up as long-planned - the carbonistas can sense that they are oh-so-nearly over the line.

In my view they will do absolutely anything to ensure that the dam holds until December, and then in Copenhagen aim to achieve “another Kyoto”, i.e. organize a lowest-common-denominator agreement that is so inoffensive that countries will sign it with relief (anything to get this bloody issue of off our backs for a while). And this will be making exactly the same mistake again, for a signed piece of paper, however ineffectual the actions, if any, that are required to stem from it, will serve to keep the matter on the political agenda – just as Kyoto has.

God protect us from those who want to save the world.

On a more positive note, there has been a MAJOR change in the way that the Australian media are reporting the AGW issue, led nobly by newspaper The Australian. The change has been stimulated by a Canberra Senate select committee that is discussing the tabled ETS legislation, and also by the release of Geologist Ian Plimer's new book. “Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science”


Democrats afraid of what a British aristocrat might say

UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington. Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.

“The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,” Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “They are cowards.”

According to Monckton, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Energy & Commerce Committee, had invited him to go head to head with Gore and testify at the hearing on Capitol Hill Friday. But Monckton now says that when his airplane from London landed in the U.S. on Thursday, he was informed that the former Vice-President had “chickened out” and there would be no joint appearance. Gore is scheduled to testify on Friday to the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment's fourth day of hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The hearing will be held in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

According to Monckton, House Democrats told the Republican committee staff earlier this week that they would be putting forward an unnamed 'celebrity' as their star witness Friday at a multi-panel climate hearing examining the House global warming bill. The 'celebrity' witness turned out to be Gore. Monckton said the GOP replied they would respond to the Democrats 'celebrity' with an unnamed 'celebrity' of their own. But Monckton claims that when the Democrats were told who the GOP witness would be, they refused to allow him to testify alongside Gore.

“The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the US Constitution. Congress Henry Waxman's (D-CA) refusal to expose Al Gore's sci-fi comedy-horror testimony to proper, independent scrutiny by the House minority reeks of naked fear,” Monckton said from the airport Thursday evening.

“Waxman knows there has been no 'global warming' for at least a decade. Waxman knows there has been seven and a half years' global cooling. Waxman knows that, in the words of the UK High Court judge who condemned Gore's mawkish movie as materially, seriously, serially inaccurate, 'the Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view,'” Monckton explained. Monckton has previously testified before the House Committee in March. [So they know he would wipe the floor with Gore]


Comment on the people-hating Kanck the crank -- who says that we need to cut population drastically

AS the father of three small boys, I am well aware I am guilty of certain crimes. Like telling corny dad jokes. Or bragging about my sons' achievements to anyone who'll listen. But in the grand scheme of things, these are mere social misdemeanours. Because it turns out that in process of raising a small brood of children, I have committed heinous crimes against humanity.

At least, that's what it felt like after I read comments by Sandra Kanck, a former South Australian Democrats politician and newly appointed leader of an advocacy group calling itself Sustainable Population Australia.

Ms Kanck said this week that Australia, whose current population is bumping up against the 22 million mark, should cut its head count to something nearer to just seven million. Kanck's suggested means of achieving this target is a China-style one child policy.

The SPA isn't what you'd call a people-friendly mob. One item at the SPA website suggests that Nadya Suleman, the American woman who recently gave birth to octuplets, should be jailed as a murderer who is killing all of us.

Never mind the Suleman case, which is admittedly at the extreme end of the scale. In the strange, Orwellian world of the population controllers, to give life is to reap death. My only hope is that if having eight children in one go is murder, perhaps some future Population Court will allow me to plea bargain my way to a charge of mere Earthslaughter.

Though there is a danger that my repeat offences - whoops, I mean "children" - arrived over a number of years might be seen as evidence of a long-running conspiracy against the planet.

Of course, the idea that even if we could depopulate Australia, anything good would come of it is laughable. As demographer Bernard Salt explains: "Australia is the only nation on the planet to lay claim to the resources of an entire continent. "In a world with a population of six billion, rising to nine billion in the foreseeable future, the cold, hard reality is that we'll have to accommodate more people, not less."

What's more, as Salt points out, Kanck's plan won't even work. "Even if you eliminated all immigration, which currently runs to about 200,000 people per year, a one-child policy would only begin to see overall population reductions by around the mid 2020s."

To achieve her complete 15 million reduction target in any speedier timeframe, Kanck presumably has a Plan B in mind.

And this does not even begin to take into account economic damage that would occur from about 2030, when an ageing population would have to be supported by a vanishingly small number of taxpayers, or what might happen to an all-but-empty continent seen as ripe for the picking by densely-populated, resource-hungry neighbours looking for more space.

As Salt puts it, Kanck's ideas are "retrograde and bizarre". For as even the deepest cuts in Australia's tiny (1.5 per cent) share of the globe's carbon emissions will do nothing to change the globe's climate, eliminating 15 million Australians would have zero impact on the global environment.

Just as the relationship between man and climate is a lot more complicated - and a lot less direct - than conventional green wisdom would have it, so to is the link between people and the planet.

The fact is, it is not people causing environmental degradation. Researchers at Rockefeller University in the US recently confirmed what dozens of studies have shown - and what anyone who has travelled in the developing world will understand.

Namely, that the primary driver of environmental damage is not people but poverty. Increasing incomes lead in the long run to cleaner air, cleaner water, and cleaner energy. Scientist Jesse Ausubel put it this way: "The long-term trend is towards natural gas and nuclear power, or conceivably solar power. If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070."

Yet the environmental movement is seemingly inextricably bound up in the sort of misanthropy of which Kanck is only an extreme example.

Years of dreary campaigns that turn every human achievement from powered flight to the incandescent light globe into nothing more than a carbon footprint that must be cut and eliminated show a real lack of imagination. And they suggest a subconscious desire to return to some green Garden of Eden that never was - and when life was a whole lot harder and a whole lot shorter for the lack of technology.



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


24 April, 2009


Is the Democrat love affair with Communist governments over? Probably not. But it looks like green trumps red these days. Besides, China is probably not Communist enough now. A trade war with China would be incredibly stupid, however. China is far too big to bully. How would an atmospheric nuclear test in the waters off San Francisco go, for instance? If America can break its agreements, so can China. Obama could only come out of it with much mud on his face and the danger posed by the Greenies would be made plain for all to see. At the moment China is the only party talking reason about these matters. That's how low the standards in American political debate have sunk

A top adviser to the Chinese government on Tuesday warned that a proposed US border tax on carbon sensitive materials "smells of protectionism" and could spark retaliation from developing countries.

During a speech at New York University about how the US and China can forge a closer partnership, Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Chinese government's official advisory, said that a proposed "border adjustment" programme could be challenged through the World Trade Organisation and that he was "distressed" by the new bill introduced to Congress.

The programme in question was introduced earlier this month by two powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives. The bill includes aggressive climate targets to be met through a green house gas emissions cap and trade programme, where companies would be eligible for rebates to compensate for cost they incur. More controversially, the US government would be able to levy import taxes on foreign manufacturers to cover carbon contained in US-bound products.

"This is particularly unfair to China," Mr Tung, who was chief executive of Hong Kong from 1997 until 2005, said.

In March, Steven Chu, US energy secretary, told Congress that a carbon border tax would help "level the playing field" with countries with looser carbon standards.

The legislation, introduced by Henry Waxman, California Democrat and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Edward Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts and Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, aims to cut green house gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and by more than 80 per cent by 2050, from 2005 levels. The draft proposal would require electricity suppliers to get 25 per cent of their power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2025. It would establish a national renewable energy standard and an energy efficiency standard aimed at cutting power demand by 15 per cent by 2020 and natural gas demand by 10 per cent.

On Tuesday Mr Tung said that China was taking its own aggressive measures to combat climate change but that he was concerned about the US taking a more protectionist stance. "The lesson from 1929 was that we went to protectionism and the whole world collapsed," he said. "China and America are on the same boat."



An email from Prof. Oliver Manuel []. Prof. Manuel is a skeptic in the field of astrophysics. He points out that the accepted theory of how the sun works appears to be wrong and that a better understanding of how the sun influences our climate is possible if we look at the facts about the sun instead of at that famed Warmist "consensus" which basically ignores the sun


Yes, indeed, the Sun is quiet. Sunspots have disappeared! Earth is cooling.

Astronomers - especially those associated with NASA - are baffled because they chose to ignore cycles of solar activity and all other observations and space-age measurements over the past five decades that were unexplained by the Standard Solar Model (SSM) of a Hydrogen-filled Sun.

Angular momentum changes in the Sun cause deep-seated magnetic fields from the dense, energetic solar core to penetrate the visible solar surface (the photosphere) and produce cycles of sunspots and solar eruptions.

Earth's climate is closely linked to this cycle of angular momentum changes and to the number of sunspots at the solar surface.

You can see the Landscheidt solar cycles here:

Astronomers are baffled by the quiet Sun precisely because they continued to claim that our Sun is nothing but a homogeneous ball of Hydrogen, despite precise, space-age experimental data that directly falsify this claim. Some of the data are summarized in the papers below:

1. "Composition of the solar interior: Information from isotope ratios", Proceedings of the 2002 SOHO/GONG Conference on Helioseismology, European Space Agency SP-517 (editor: Huguette Lacoste, 2003) pages 345-348 :

2. "The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass", Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69 (2006) pages 1847-1856; Yadernaya Fizika 69 (Russian), number 11 (Nov 2006).

Astronomers need to address the experimental data, whether or not they agree with the interpretations given above.

Climate change science isn't settled

By Jan Veizer. Veizer is a distinguished university professor of geology (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and has researched the use of chemical and isotopic techniques in determining Earth's climatic history.

MANY people think the science of climate change is settled. It isn't. And the issue is not whether there has been an overall warming during the past century. There has, although it was not uniform and none was observed during the past decade. The geologic record provides us with abundant evidence for such perpetual natural climate variability, from icecaps reaching almost to the equator to none at all, even at the poles.

The climate debate is, in reality, about a 1.6 watts per square metre or 0.5 per cent discrepancy in the poorly known planetary energy balance. Let me explain.

Without our atmosphere, the Earth would be a frozen ice ball. Natural greenhouse warming, due to atmospheric blanket, raises the temperature by about 33C. At least two-thirds of this warming is attributed to the greenhouse effect of water vapour.

Water vapour, not carbon dioxide, is by far the most important greenhouse gas. Yet the models treat the global water cycle as just being there, relegating it to a passive agent in the climate system. Energy that is required to drive the water cycle and generate more water vapour must therefore come from somewhere else: the sun, man-made greenhouse gases, other factors or any combination of the above.

Note, however, that because of the overwhelming importance of water vapour for the greenhouse effect, existing climate models are unlikely to yield a definitive answer about the role of carbon dioxide v the sun, for example, and the answer must be sought in past records.

The past climate record does indeed resemble the trend in solar output. However, because three decades of satellite data show only limited variability, the solar output would have to be somehow amplified to explain the entire magnitude of the centennial warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues that because no amplifier is known, and because the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide did increase from 280 parts per million to 370ppm, man-made greenhouse gases must be responsible for most of the energy imbalance.

But this is an assumption, an attribution by default, not an actual empirical or experimental proof that carbon dioxide is the driver. Yet such attribution is then taken as a fact in the subsequent complex model calibrations of climate sensitivity to CO2.

If, however, an amplifier to solar output does exist, and empirical observations detailed below argue for its existence, the need to attribute the energy input to man-made greenhouse gases would diminish accordingly. So how realistic is the basic model assumption that the tiny - biologically controlled - carbon cycle drives the climate via the passively responding huge water cycle?

Nature tells us that it is the other way around. Surely, the blossoming of plants in the spring is the outcome, not the cause, of the warming sun and abundant rain.

Our atmosphere contains 730 billion tons of carbon as CO2. Each year about 120billion tonnes of carbon are cycled via plants on land and 90billion tonnes via oceans. Human emissions account for about seven billion to 10billion tonnes, or less than 5 per cent, of the annual CO2 flux.

From the point of view of interaction of the water and carbon cycles it is important to realise that for every unit of CO2 sequestered by a plant from the atmosphere almost 1000 units of water must be lifted from the roots to the leaf canopy and eventually evaporated back into the air.

The required huge energy source is the sun. Solar energy drives the water cycle, generating a warmer and wetter climate while invigorating the biological carbon cycle. The sun also warms the oceans that emit their CO2.

Atmospheric CO2 is thus the product and not the cause of the climate, as demonstrated by past records where temperature changes precede changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and fluxes: ice cores, the 1991 Mt Pinatubo volcanic eruption in the Philippines or seasonal oscillations are instructive examples.

But what might be the complementary source of energy that could account for the disputed 1.6W/m2?

Clouds are a mirror that reflects solar radiation back into space. The amount of solar energy reflected by the Earth is about 77W/m2 and the difference between cloudless and cloudy skies is about 28W/m2. Therefore a change of just a few per cent in cloudiness easily can account for the disputed energy discrepancy.

Clouds are an integral part of the sun-driven water cycle; however, formation of water droplets requires seeding and this is where solar amplification likely comes into play. Empirical and experimental results suggest that cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere may generate such initial seeds, particularly over the oceans. While the actual mechanisms are still debated, the correlations between cloudiness and cosmic ray flux already have been published.

The amplifying connection to the sun comes via its electromagnetic envelope, called the heliosphere, and a similar envelope around the Earth, the magnetosphere. These act as shields that screen the lethal cosmic rays from reaching our planet. A less active sun is not only colder but its heliospheric envelope shrinks, allowing more cosmic rays to reach our atmosphere and seed more clouds, and vice versa. Indeed, satellite data for the past decade shows a 25per cent shrinking of the heliosphere that is coincident with the halt, or even decline, in planetary temperature since 1998: a trend at odds with the ever rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

We also have direct evidence for the above scenario. Cosmic rays, when hitting the atmosphere, generate a cascade of cosmogenic nuclides that then rain down to the Earth's surface and can be measured in ice, trees, rocks and minerals. Such records over the past 10,000 years correlate well with the highly variable climate, while the contemporary concentrations of CO2, measured in ice cores, are flat around the low pre-industrial levels of 280ppm with no resemblance to climate trends.

These centennial to millennial correlations, coupled with direct observations of coincidence of cloudiness with cosmic rays and temperature in central Europe since 1978, argue that the sun and its amplifying mechanism must play a leading role in climate control even if the cosmic ray signal proves no more than an indirect measure of solar variability.

The science of climate change continues to evolve and regardless of the outcome of the climate debate, observational data suggests that we may be served well by basing our climate agenda, scientifically and economically, on a broader perspective than that in the IPCC outlined scenarios. Our pollution abatement and energy diversification goals could then be formulated, and likely implemented, with less pain.


The Killers & Kooks of Earth Day

A Rush Limbaugh transcript

Now, we've just honored some great people on Earth Day, but here is a story from some newspaper called The Bulletin. It is an American paper, I guess it's Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Bulletin. "Today is Earth Day, a holiday created to honor the planet and to raise the consciousness of man's effect on the environment. Philadelphia has a very strong tie to this day. One of its native sons, Ira Einhorn, was a co-founder of the environmentalist jubilee. But Mr. Einhorn has another line on his resume. In addition to being a environmental guru, he is the Unicorn Killer. While a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Einhorn dated a Bryn Mawr College graduate by the name of Holly Maddux. When the affair ended in 1977, Mr. Einhorn went into a jealous rage and murdered her." This is a founder of Earth Day.

By the way, the Unabomber was an environmentalist as well. So was the Son of Sam. So is the most recently added name to the FBI's top ten most wanted list an environmentalist. But Mr. Einhorn "concealed his crime for 18 months by stuffing Ms. Maddux's body in a trunk that he kept in his apartment. The foul odor of the decomposing corpse coming from Mr. Einhorn's Powelton Village apartment caused neighbors to complain. In 1979, police found the trunk stored in a closet in Mr. Einhorn's apartment. Ira Einhorn, member of the counterculture pantheon, one of the founders of the environmentalist movement, icon of the liberal intelligentsia, was charged with murder. But it was not just a simple murder, it was a gruesome case of domestic violence. At the bail hearing, Mr. Einhorn was praised by a contingent of luminaries -- all testifying to his character. There were Ivy League professors, an Episcopalian minister and corporate executives who worked with Mr. Einhorn raising funds. They all stated under oath that he was a man of the greatest integrity."

Arlen Specter was Mr. Einhorn's attorney. "He managed to get the bail set at the unheard of amount of $40,000 for the suspected murderer. Only 10 percent was needed to free him. Barbara Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, paid it. Proclaiming his innocence, Mr. Einhorn told all that he was framed. He said it was the CIA or the FBI who committed the murder and they were trying to frame him for it because of his political activities. Some will note that another notorious Philadelphia murderer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, used this defense a few years later. Like Mumia, Mr. Einhorn had no shortage of leftist followers. Mr. Einhorn skipped bail and left Philadelphia in 1981." Founder, environmentalist movement and Earth Day. Just like the Unabomber, murderers, just like the most recent addition to the FBI's top ten most wanted list, a leftist environmentalist. And yet Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, sends out this memo warning of returning veterans who might commit acts of terror in the United States.

I got some e-mails from people who want the rest of the Ira Einhorn story. Here's the rest of the Ira Einhorn story: "More than a decade passed when the DA's office tried Mr. Einhorn in absentia after being unable to locate him. He was convicted in 1993. Several years after the absentia conviction, in 1997, Mr. Einhorn was located. He was living in France with a new girlfriend -- a Swedish woman. The District Attorney's office in Philadelphia immediately asked to have him extradited. However, the humane French refused to extradite Mr. Einhorn. French officals cited the use of capital punishment in Pennsylvania and the conviction in absentia as reasons for their refusal. Mr. Einhorn was able to convince the French courts not to extradite him until he received the promise of a new trial. A Pennsylvania legislator, Dan O'Brien, introduced a bill in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that allowed granting Mr. Einhorn a new trial, if he asked for it, and if the French extradited him. The bill did not vacate the original verdict. When France began extradition, Mr. Einhorn's representatives requested the European Court of Human Rights to review the case. The request was denied. He was extradited to Pennsylvania in July 2001. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison October 17, 2002."

We're talking here, if you just joined us, about the founder of Earth Day. But as the writer, Michael Tremoglie, at the Philadelphia Bulletin says, "There is a little mentioned irony about the Einhorn saga. Ira Einhorn was arrested for murder March 28, 1979, the day the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident occurred. Ira Einhorn, environmentalist, was charged with murder during the same period as one of the greatest environmental accidents in United States history. But the real irony is that more people died in the apartment of Ira Einhorn, co-founder of Earth Day than at Three Mile Island. The environmentalist killed more people than the so-called environmental disaster. Happy Earth Day."

And not to leave this out, Investor's Business Daily, with a great editorial today called, "Save Capitalism," they say, "Wednesday's airwaves, print media, cable news shows and Webosphere will be filled with nonsense about the scourge of capitalism, corporations and humanity. All of it will ignore the real truth. ... Every year Steven Hayward, a scholar at the Pacific Research Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, compiles his Index of Leading Environmental Indicators. And every year, his findings contradict the alarmists' warnings that the world is on the edge of environmental cataclysm. From evidence 'that tropical rain forests may now be expanding faster than they are being cut down' to the improving health of US ocean fisheries to better outdoor air quality in American cities with the worst air pollution, Hayward shows there's more to be optimistic about than there is to be troubled about. The Environmental Protection Agency has also published its own Report on the environment. Last year's report, the most recent, indicates outdoor air quality has improved, there's been a net gain in wetland acreage, public-source drinking-water problems are uncommon and forest land is expanding after declining for a century.

"Of the estimated 1 billion people who will observe Earth Day worldwide this year, few will know about the progress that has been made. Fewer still will know how it was made. The media, uninterested in looking at the real story, will simply credit the environmental movement for the improvements," when in fact it has been capitalism. Greener is richer.



The EU's emissions trading scheme has so far failed to deliver any reductions in CO2 emissions while at the same time strangling energy-efficiency investment in the electricity sector, according to a former European Commission official.

Jørgen Henningsen, a senior adviser at the European Policy Centre, a Brussels think-tank, was addressing a conference organised by the combined heat and power generation sector (CHP) on Tuesday (21 April).

Speaking at the event, Henningsen, who has previously worked as a director at the Commission's environment department and once held a position at DG Energy and Transport, argued that there was "no reason for optimism" in the next few years regarding energy savings from technologies like CHP.

He singled out the EU executive as the biggest obstacle in the way of developing the technology.

The Commission has acknowledged that installing cogeneration capacity in power stations could help the EU to cut down its CO2 emissions significantly. This is because CHP plants operate at a far higher efficiency level than conventional power stations, as they produce both electricity and useful heat at the same time.

However, Henningsen argued that the Commission had based its climate policy overwhelmingly on the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which is not delivering on its original purpose of cutting emissions cost-effectively.

"The Commission has clearly been over-optimistic about the contribution of emissions trading to CO2 reductions. So far, the system has hardly delivered anything and the low CO2 prices at present support the fear that not only the present trading period, but also the 2013-20 period, will be a failure," Henningsen said.



A 110-page report by an international team of climate experts published today by the independent Fraser Institute examines critically-important scientific evidence that has been overlooked or omitted in government reports that blame climate change on carbon dioxide emissions.

The report, Critical Topics in Global Warming, supplements the Fraser Institute's Independent Summary for Policymakers, a 2007 analysis of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

The new peer-reviewed report's seven chapters investigate published scientific literature on issues such as the effects of ocean oscillations and solar variations on climate, historical climate variability, statistical challenges in climate analysis, uncertainties in climate modeling, and quality problems in temperature measurement systems. The report leaves no doubt that the science is far from "settled" on climate change.

The new report reviews published evidence demonstrating such critically important points as:

- Natural oscillations of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans-not increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere-explain 20th century weather changes in the United States, Greenland, and the Arctic, as well as the reduction of Arctic sea ice.

- Arctic air temperatures over the last century correlate better with average incoming solar radiation than levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

- Evidence from around the world reveals climatic conditions in the Medieval era were warmer than the recent era. As the report states: "Late 20th century temperatures are not unprecedented, falling well within the range of natural millennial-scale variability, particularly in comparison to the interval 1,000 years ago when there was 25 per cent less carbon dioxide in the air than there is today."

- The popularized notion that carbon dioxide "traps heat" in the atmosphere, thereby raising temperatures as in a greenhouse, is inaccurate. As the report states: "The atmosphere does not actually work like a greenhouse ...Unlike the greenhouse case, whether or not temperature changes, and how it changes, depends on the details. And the details cannot be determined from first principles."

- Extensive problems in the global weather station network, including urbanization near the thermometers and a sharp loss of monitoring sites in the early 1990s, indicate the likelihood of an upward bias in many published global surface warming trends.

- Climate trend analysis has been skewed by a failure to properly account for long-term persistence. New statistical modeling work has challenged the view that recent trends are outside natural variability.

- Computer-based climate modeling has contributed to our understanding of the climate, but it is insufficient as the basis of global warming theory. Too much emphasis on modeling discourages scientists from pursuing alternative, complementary scientific strategies that are essential for moving ahead.

The complete study can be downloaded at



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


22 April, 2009

Sea level fraud

The Washington Times' front-page story "Rising sea levels in Pacific create wave of migrants" (Page 1, Sunday) outrageously peddles a talking point circulated by activists such as former Vice President Al Gore. The article's claim that human-induced climate change and sea-level rise spawned a migration of refugees from South Pacific island nations was found unsupportable by the only court to examine its merits (Dimmock v. Secretary of State (UK) for Education and Skills, UK High Court, Oct. 10, 2007).

This claim is a rehash of assertions made in Mr. Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." In its Dimmock ruling, the High Court stated: "In scene 20, Mr. Gore states 'that's why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand.' There is no evidence of any such evacuation having yet happened." Even the defendant UK government admitted, "It is not clear that there is any evidence of evacuations in the Pacific due to human-induced climate change." Refugees seeking generous New Zealand and Canadian welfare regimes do exist, but they are not driven by sea-level rise.

This ruling came in late 2007. The rate of sea-level rise - which began after a period known as the Little Ice Age - proceeded steadily from about 1850 until then, without accelerating. Since then, satellite data have affirmed that the rate peaked in 2005 and that levels even have dipped slightly. Sea levels around the Maldives have dropped appreciably in recent decades. Nowhere did The Times acknowledge doubt, let alone these facts.

In short, this reportage perpetuated unsupportable claims made, as the UK High Court put it, "in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of [Mr. Gore's] political thesis." A retraction is warranted.


Save the Humans!

Get ready for a dazzling display of environmental alarmism this week as Washington takes up the evils of modern living.

When it comes to the Earth's demise, no one is innocent. Take, for instance, the recent story about a group of scientists who are wagging their scrawny fingers at our rotund brothers and sisters for contributing to the planet's demise by relentlessly stuffing their pudgy faces. (Eat green; be green!)

You see, eating more means humans must produce more food -- and more carbon dioxide. It means we must raise more soon-to-be juicy steaks that have a tendency to emit greenhouse gases that reek. You might find the thought of regulating food intake and livestock flatulence a bit bizarre, but hey, if it means saving the Earth, why not?

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency bravely moved forward by finding that things such as smokestacks and breathing, or things related to greenhouse gases, endanger public health and welfare. And because the EPA can regulate CO2, it can have a say in nearly everything we do, with little regard for silly distractions, such as economic trade-offs.

We're not talking about your cars or soon-to-be-extinct trucks; we're talking about your scooters and toasters, your dryers and pets (do you really need two dogs? Come to think of it, do you really need two children?), your coffeehouses and Subaru dealerships and organic-produce collectives.

It's not going to be easy. Climate change is the cause of -- and caused by -- everything. Reputable news pieces regularly allege, without any evidence, that climate change is the culprit in hundreds of dreadful events. From the decline of outdoor youth hockey to the scourge of teenage drinking to the massacre in Darfur, you guessed it; global warming is often the boogeyman.

Who knew that a shift of 0.04 degrees Celsius in a decade could be so terrible? [Or a shift of .6 of a degree over the entire 20th century?]

What's worse than the EPA grabbing power over CO2? Well, leading Luddite and congressman Henry Waxman is worse. His proposal sets carbon reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020, 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050 and, with cap and trade, effectively nationalizes energy.

This incremental destruction of prosperity is probably going to have to be modified as soon as citizens get a taste of reality. But how could any reasonable or responsible legislator suggest an 83 percent cut in emissions without any practical or wide-scale alternative to replace it or any plan to pay for it all?

When people are on a crusade, I guess, logic rarely plays a part. And when Waxman and friends hold climate change hearings this week, it will feature more than 50 witnesses, the majority, no doubt, prepared to spin some exceedingly (non) chilling tale to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

I suspect that few of them will mention the recent report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation on cap and trade policy that illustrates all American households would face an annual cost of nearly $144.8 billion per year -- "disproportionately borne by low-income households, those under age 25 and over 75 years … and single parents with dependent children."

Even fewer will mention the new Rasmussen poll that shows that only 1 in 3 voters now believes global warming is caused by human activity -- the lowest number ever. Forty-four percent of likely voters attribute climate change to long-term planetary trends, while 7 percent blame some other reason.

This shift in public opinion may be a blip, or it may be a trend. But if we're ever to enact energy policy that is both environmentally responsible and economically reasonable, we're going to need a rational discussion. We haven't come close yet.



It's a big story in Australia at the moment. Four current articles below

Another nasty one for the Greenies

SEA ice around Antarctica has been increasing since the 1970s. Yet more explaining away to do but the best the Warmist can do is hark back to the failed "ozone hole" theory. And whatever explanation you put on it, there is clearly no danger of a sea level rise emanating from the Antarctic. And since the Antarctic contains 91% of the earth's ice, we can kiss the disastrous sea-level rise scares goodbye

SEA ice around Antarctica has been increasing at a rate of 100,000sq km a decade since the 1970s, according to a landmark study to be published today. The study by the British Antarctic Survey, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says rather than melting as a result of global warming, Antarctica continues to expand.

The fact that Antarctic ice is still growing does not in itself prove that global warming is not happening. But the BAS says increased ice formation can be explained by another environmental concern, the hole in the ozone layer, which is affecting local weather conditions.

But the absence of an ice melt overall does put a further question mark over extreme claims that the world faces precipitous rises in sea levels because of the melting polar ice caps.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has been under fire for suggesting sea levels could rise by 6m as a result of the melting of the Antarctic ice. Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and extensive melting of its ice sheet would be required to raise sea levels substantially.

The Weekend Australian reported on Saturday that the results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicated there was no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica. Drilling in the fast ice, a type of sea ice, off Australia's Davis Station last year showed the ice was 1.9m thick, its densest in 10 years.

The BAS, which discovered the ozone hole in the mid-1980s, has drawn on data from international agencies, including Australia's three Antarctic bases. BAS project leader John Turner told The Australian yesterday that cooling had been recorded at the Australian bases and elsewhere in east Antarctica. He said satellite images indicated the ozone layer had strengthened surface winds around Antarctica, deepening storms in the South Pacific area of the Southern Ocean. This had resulted in a greater flow of cold air over the Ross Sea, leading to more ice production. [But the ozone hole should be gone by now after CFCs were banned 20 years ago, shouldn't it? Surely we are not admitting the now obvious fact that banning CFCs had no effect! Look at the bottom right-hand graph by NASA here and you will see clearly that there has been no trend in the size of the ozone hole since 1989. What a laugh!] While sea ice had been lost to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, sea ice cover over the Ross Sea had increased.

Dr Turner said the research results indicated why the extensive melting of ice in the Arctic was not occurring in Antarctica [Rubbish! Arctic warming is a purely local effect, probably due to the fact that the ice there sits on top of a chain of volcanoes (the Gakkel ridge). Warming episodes in the Arctic have been very uneven and much greater than anywhere else, indicating that their cause is NOT global] "While there is increasing evidence that the loss of sea ice in the Arctic has occurred due to human activity, in the Antarctic, human influence through the ozone hole has had the reverse effect and resulted in more ice," he said. As the ozone hole repaired itself as a result of measures in place to reduce chlorofluorocarbons in the stratosphere [When's that going to happen? There has been no trend in that direction so far], the cooling in Antactica was expected to be reversed. [One day, over the rainbow ...] "We expect ozone levels to recover by the end of the century, and by then there is likely to be around one-third less Antarctic sea ice," Dr Turner said. [A prophet!]

He said that while the expansion of sea ice, the relatively thin ice in Antarctic coastal waters, had been established, debate continued about whether the main mass of the Antarctic ice sheet was growing or shrinking.


Warmists answer facts with abuse and an appeal to authority again

And they call conservatives "authoritarian"! That good old projection again

THERE'S nothing like healthy academic combat. In the corridors of Adelaide University, two respected professors on opposite sides of the climate change debate are pushing their theories on the subject, sparked by a new book that has sceptics rubbing their hands with glee.

Outspoken academic geologist Ian Plimer [above] yesterday launched Heaven and Earth: Global Warming the Missing Science, concluding that scientific modelling had placed too much emphasis on the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming should not be blamed on increased human activity.

Speaking after the launch yesterday, Professor Plimer accused high-profile climate change advocates such as former US vice-president Al Gore of "scaring people witless" with theories about the world ending. He also said 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery pushed a "political line" and had considered only a "small body of evidence" when studying global warming.

Many scientists, he said, had not considered the history of the earth when discussing climate change, or factors including the earth's rotation, changing tides and solar winds. "When you look at the selective evidence, then there's a chance that you might be frightened about the end of the world," Professor Plimer said. "When you look at the comprehensive evidence, it just says the planet changes all the time."

Defending climatologists and thousands of other scientists, Barry Brook, who heads Adelaide University's Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, poured cold water on Professor Plimer's book and said his colleague had only used "selective evidence" when quoting more than 200 scientists and from peer-reviewed papers. [More than 200? There are more than 2,000 scientific references in Plimer's book]

Professor Plimer's "stated view of climate science is that a vast number of extremely well respected scientists and a whole range of specialist disciplines have fallen prey to delusional self-interest and become nothing more than unthinking ideologues", he said. "Plausible to conspiracy theorists, perhaps, but hardly a sane world view, and insulting to all those genuinely committed to real science." Professor Brook, whose office is literally metres from Professor Plimer's base, said his colleague's research was "confusing" because he failed to argue one specific point, and that it was a case study "in how not to be objective". [Mere abuse!]

With the international debate on climate change raging, Professor Plimer yesterday said people were embracing his book because they were frustrated with the one-sided debate on global warming. The presses have started printing the third run of 5000 copies, after the first 10,000 sold in two days. "The average punter out there feels helpless and disenfranchised," he said.



FORD Australia has warned that the Government's emissions trading scheme could add millions of dollars a year to its costs and threaten jobs, six months after Canberra pledged $6.2 billion to rescue the local auto industry. The carmaker's entry into the politically charged debate over the timing and shape of the Government's response to climate change comes amid intense lobbying for a review of next year's start date for the scheme. BlueScope, OneSteel, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Chevron, Woodside Energy and Visy have long pushed for changes or delays to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, citing its impact on jobs at a time of economic crisis.

But Ford Australia's submission to a Senate inquiry into the ETS marks its strongest call yet for caution on the scheme. "It is difficult to precisely quantify the impact, but it would well be in the annual order of many millions of dollars via increased energy costs," it said. "There will be extremely limited opportunity for domestic manufacturers to offset these increased costs with higher prices, particularly as the proposed introduction of the scheme in 2010 will coincide with a drop in the passenger car import tariff from 10 per cent to 5 per cent." Strong competition from imports and dwindling local demand cost 1400 local jobs at Ford's Australian operations over the 15 months to October last year.

The Government's ETS, initiated during an economic boom, is encountering growing resistance from business as their margins shrink. BlueScope Steel and OneSteel, which are reeling from falling sales and prices, said in their submission the damage wrought by the Government's emissions trading model would be second only to the impact of the global recession. The iron and steelmakers have already cut at least 1000 full-time equivalent staff from their combined 20,000-strong workforce. "In the context of the deep economic downturn - globally and in Australia - the cumulative costs of the carbon pollution reduction scheme are intolerable and are very likely to cause a fall in profitability, investment and jobs," their joint submission to the Senate inquiry said.

The 415 submissions to the parliamentary inquiry published so far highlight the difficulties Labor will face in pushing its emissions trading laws through the upper house, where it lacks a majority. The Coalition has slammed the scheme as "reckless" while balance-of-power senators consider it environmentally and economically damaging.

Business, too, is speaking with more than one voice on the issue. Companies such as BP Australia and Shell used the inquiry process to call on the Government to stick with its market-based approach to cutting greenhouse gases and its early implementation plan. "We believe the carbon pollution reduction scheme green paper largely got it right with respect to many of the emissions trading design issue," BP Australia's submission tells the inquiry.

Conservationists also oppose the proposal, but for different reasons. The Australian Conservation Foundation told the Senate inquiry the Government's targets for greenhouse gas cuts were too low and its permits for polluters were too generous.



The National Farmers' Federation has thrown its backing behind controversial climate change dissenter, Professor Ian Plimer, whose new book aims to debunk the theories and dire predictions of some within the scientific fraternity. In Heaven and Earth: Climate change - the real science, Prof Plimer, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide, notes that climatic change is "the norm", sea levels rise and fall all the time, and that climate cycles are driven by massive forces completely unrelated to carbon emissions.

"Climate changes in the past have been far greater and far more rapid than anything measured in the present," he writes. "Not one previous climate change has ever been driven by carbon dioxide. "To talk of carbon pollution shows an appalling ignorance of basic school science. "Carbon dioxide is plant food, without it humans could not exist."

Prof Plimer will be a keynote speaker at the NFF's upcoming National Congress in Brisbane in June. While not explicitly supporting the position Prof Plimer takes, NFF president David Crombie said it was time the climate change debate heard more from those with dissenting opinions. "We've heard ad nauseam from those scientists convinced that climate change will ruin us all and, seemingly, hell-bent on making grim doomsday predictions," Mr Crombie said. "But we've heard precious little from those experts for whom the jury is still out, or, in the case of Professor Plimer, say their research shows extreme climate change predictions are over-stated.

"Now, before I'm carted to a stake for public torching, I'm not saying Professor Plimer is right, nor that his colleagues with differing views are wrong. "Just that it's about time we had a balanced, informed discussion and debate... free from vilification of those who dare to question conventional wisdom."

In his book, Prof Plimer claims that every scientific argument ever used to show that humans change climate is wrong and cites over 2300 scientific references in support of his claims.



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


22 April, 2009

An amusing wail from a Greenie

If only that nasty technology hadn't saved us from starvation! Email below from the misanthropic Peter Salonius [], Research Scientist, Natural Resources Canada

The human footprint reduction that has been called for by Rees, Wackernagel and others has to do with many other excess demands on the global ecosystem besides our carbon containing gas emissions. I have posited in an essay on THEOILDRUM that the overshoot of carrying capacity began as soon as humans began cultivation agriculture because of its associated soil damage. Rees has agreed that the overshoot of carrying capacity ocurred long before the 20th century, but he suggests that he did not want to frighten people with the enormity of our excesses.

The recently published book 'Sustainability or Collapse: An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth', edited by Robert Costanza and several others, deals with the history of past empires and civilizations as they collapsed because of mounting population pressure on such resources as water supplies and soil productive capacity.

"Neither Malthus nor the "new Malthusians" could have foreseen what the substitution of temporary supplies of non renewable geological energy (fossil and nuclear) for sunlight energy, starting in the mid 1800s, would do to non sustainably raise agricultural productivity by:

1. freeing up land formerly used to feed draft animals (horses, oxen etc.) for the production of food for humans,

2. facilitating the mining, long distance transport and manufacture (ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process from natural gas) of fertilizers to replace those soil nutrients lost by cultivation agriculture,

3. allowing the temporarily increased agricultural productivity that resulted from the development of new crop varieties produced by the Green Revolution - that are dependent on irrigation from depleting fossil water supplies, heavy use of fertilizers, and pesticides - all of which are dependent on fossil fuel resources that are now becoming rapidly depleted."

I have maintained, in a 'somewhat well referenced article' posted on THE OILDRUM, October 20, 2008, that economic and population growth, facilitated by the shift from hunter gathering to farming, have been responsible for the environmental destruction that has been escalating for the last 10,000 years. I think you will agree that IF my thesis, which is the culmination of my ~ 42 year investigation into the relationship between humans and their supporting ecosystems, is correct -- then the 'population bomb'/that continues to make natural resource management problematic/exploded a long, long time ago, see 'Agriculture: Unsustainable Resource Depletion Began 10,000 Years Ago'

My 'guesstimate' for sustainable human numbers in the 100s of millions, if true, suggests that the present global population has so far overshot the carrying capacity of its supporting ecosystems that most analyses of the relationship of excessive human numbers to SPECIFIC ASPECTS of environmental damage are simply indulgent academic exercises.

There are more people on the planet (and have been for millennia) than it can sustainably support. Many of us have concluded that even TWO CHILD FAMILIES -- that would only slowly stabilize the human population -- are not an adequate response to this problem; we require the adoption of NO or ONE CHILD PER FAMILY behaviour to orchestrate the Rapid Population DECLINE that is necessary now.


Today's ClimateWire has a story about the debate over the costs of cap and trade:

"From the halls of Congress to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, experts and politicians are hoisting conflicting numbers describing the cost of a cap on greenhouse gases, with amounts from $3,100 to $324 to zero being touted as the annual hit on households. As Congress returns this week, it will find a cloud of numerical discrepancies hovering over climate change legislation."

This is a great example of the consequences of how issues are framed in political debate. If the framing is "costs" of cap and trade legislation, the Republicans will win the political debate, regardless of whose numbers turn out to be right. Of course, the reality is that cap and trade can be designed in any way you'd like with high or low (or zero) costs. But remember that the theoretical basis of cap and trade is that energy prices will increase, so low or zero cost increases will have low or zero effect on emisisons.

The political point is that if the debate hinges on costs, Republicans have the upper hand because if Democrats respond with claims of low or zero costs, and if this turns out to be untrue, then such claims will become a political liability. But if the claims of low costs turn out to be true, they will gut the policy from the standpoint of emissions reductions, and thus become a political liability.

Bottom line: Democrats cannot win the cap and trade debate if the issue is framed as costs to American households.


Earth Day, Then and Now

by John Andrews

“The trouble with the eco-crusader is that his false guilt and his false fears feed endlessly upon each other.” With Earth Day coming up on Wednesday, I remembered this line from an old presidential speech. Can you guess who said it? “From the emotional remorse that we have sinned terribly against nature,” it continues, “there is but a short step to the emotional dread that nature will visit terrible retribution upon us. The eco-crusader becomes, as a result, deaf to reason and science, blind to perspective and priorities, incapable of effective action.”

That’s telling’em, Mr. President. Or it would have been, if Richard Nixon hadn’t let staffers talk him out of giving the Eco-Crusader speech in September 1971.

Fired up by attacks on the “disaster lobby” by Look magazine publisher Thomas Shepard, and uneasy about his own role in establishing the Environmental Protection Agency after the first Earth Day in 1970, Nixon directed me and other speechwriters to produce a warning against ecological extremism that he could deliver as a major address. Our draft died on his desk amid concerns about political backlash. I kept the file as a historical curiosity – the presidential bombshell that wasn’t. Today, four decades into the age of true-believing green religion, Nixon’s undelivered speech reads prophetically.

So does Shepard’s diagnosis that the environmental doomsayers “are basically opposed to the free enterprise system and will do anything to bolster their case for additional government controls.” So does the denunciation by Prof. Peter Drucker, another source we consulted at the time, of the green fallacy “that one can somehow deprive human action of risk.” The battle lines have changed little in 38 years.

I wish now that President Nixon, a gambler in foreign policy, had risked this piece of domestic truth-telling. One politically incorrect speech from the White House couldn’t have halted the tides of earth-worshipping guilt and fear that still engulf us. But it would have been a start. With braver leadership, sooner, America’s voices for environmental common sense might have been less outnumbered today.

Two of those lonely voices were in my state of Colorado last week. Terry Anderson, head of the Montana-based Property & Environment Research Center, and Christopher Horner, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, brought a coolly factual message to deflate some of the new-energy hype and carbon-phobia that Gov. Bill Ritter trades on and President Obama wants to emulate.

Anderson literally wrote the book on free-market environmentalism – a 1991 volume by that title. He told the Independence Institute about PERC’s research on such inconvenient truths as the wildly oversold benefits of green jobs and the grim toll that cap-and-trade legislation to mitigate CO2 will take on our standard of living.

Horner’s current book is “Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.” He told the Centennial Institute, where I work, that a recessionary economy and ten straight years of global cooling make this the worst time for a burdensome new carbon tax that “would not detectably impact climate anyway.”

If the eco-crusaders were serious about cleaner energy, says Horner, they would support nuclear power. They aren’t, so they don’t. And again, we find the battle lines unchanged; the nuclear debate also pervades my 1971 White House file. No, their aim is control, as Thomas Shepard warned. “For a new enemy to unite us, the threat of global warming fits the bill,” gloated the anti-growth Club of Rome in 1991.

Cheerleading mainstream journalists have decided the likes of Horner and Anderson “are not news,” as one bluntly told me – so Coloradans heard little about their visit to Denver. Gov. Ritter letting eco-crusading foundations pay his climate czar’s salary has stirred no media curiosity either. We're supposed to belief a staffer beholden to ideologues at the Hewlett and Energy foundations gives the Guv objective advice? What sheep we are.



When the first Earth Day took place in 1970, American environmentalists had good reason to feel guilty. The nation's affluence and advanced technology seemed so obviously bad for the planet that they were featured in a famous equation developed by the ecologist Paul Ehrlich and the physicist John P. Holdren, who is now President Obama's science adviser. Their equation was I=PAT, which means that environmental impact is equal to population multiplied by affluence multiplied by technology. Protecting the planet seemed to require fewer people, less wealth and simpler technology - the same sort of social transformation and energy revolution that will be advocated at many Earth Day rallies on Wednesday.

But among researchers who analyze environmental data, a lot has changed since the 1970s. With the benefit of their hindsight and improved equations, I'll make a couple of predictions:

1. There will be no green revolution in energy or anything else. No leader or law or treaty will radically change the energy sources for people and industries in the United States or other countries. No recession or depression will make a lasting change in consumers' passions to use energy, make money and buy new technology - and that, believe it or not, is good news, because...

2. The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run.

I realize this second prediction seems hard to believe when you consider the carbon being dumped into the atmosphere today by Americans, and the projections for increasing emissions from India and China as they get richer.

Those projections make it easy to assume that affluence and technology inflict more harm on the environment. But while pollution can increase when a country starts industrializing, as people get wealthier they can afford cleaner water and air. They start using sources of energy that are less carbon-intensive - and not just because they're worried about global warming. The process of "decarbonization" started long before Al Gore was born.

The old wealth-is-bad IPAT theory may have made intuitive sense, but it didn't jibe with the data that has been analyzed since that first Earth Day. By the 1990s, researchers realized that graphs of environmental impact didn't produce a simple upward-sloping line as countries got richer. The line more often rose, flattened out and then reversed so that it sloped downward, forming the shape of a dome or an inverted U - what's called a Kuznets curve. (See for an example.)

In dozens of studies, researchers identified Kuznets curves for a variety of environmental problems. There are exceptions to the trend, especially in countries with inept governments and poor systems of property rights, but in general, richer is eventually greener. As incomes go up, people often focus first on cleaning up their drinking water, and then later on air pollutants like sulfur dioxide.

As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources - from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

"Once you have lots of high-rises filled with computers operating all the time, the energy delivered has to be very clean and compact," said Mr. Ausubel, the director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller. "The long-term trend is toward natural gas and nuclear power, or conceivably solar power. If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070."

But what about all the carbon dioxide being spewed out today by Americans commuting to McMansions? Well, it's true that American suburbanites do emit more greenhouse gases than most other people in the world (although New Yorkers aren't much different from other affluent urbanites).

But the United States and other Western countries seem to be near the top of a Kuznets curve for carbon emissions and ready to start the happy downward slope. The amount of carbon emitted by the average American has remained fairly flat for the past couple of decades, and per capita carbon emissions have started declining in some countries, like France. Some researchers estimate that the turning point might come when a country's per capita income reaches $30,000, but it can vary widely, depending on what fuels are available. Meanwhile, more carbon is being taken out of the atmosphere by the expanding forests in America and other affluent countries.

Deforestation follows a Kuznets curve, too. In poor countries, forests are cleared to provide fuel and farmland, but as people gain wealth and better agricultural technology, the farm fields start reverting to forestland.

Of course, even if rich countries' greenhouse impact declines, there will still be an increase in carbon emissions from China, India and other countries ascending the Kuznets curve. While that prospect has environmentalists lobbying for global restrictions on greenhouse gases, some economists fear that a global treaty could ultimately hurt the atmosphere by slowing economic growth, thereby lengthening the time it takes for poor countries to reach the turning point on the curve.

But then, is there much reason to think that countries at different stages of the Kuznets curve could even agree to enforce tough restrictions? The Kyoto treaty didn't transform Europe's industries or consumers. While some American environmentalists hope that the combination of the economic crisis and a new president can start an era of energy austerity and green power, Mr. Ausubel says they're hoping against history.

Over the past century, he says, nothing has drastically altered the long-term trends in the way Americans produce or use energy - not the Great Depression, not the world wars, not the energy crisis of the 1970s or the grand programs to produce alternative energy. "Energy systems evolve with a particular logic, gradually, and they don't suddenly morph into something different," Mr. Ausubel says. That doesn't make for a rousing speech on Earth Day. But in the long run, a Kuznets curve is more reliable than a revolution.


Talking Climate Change with Anthony Watts

Anyone who regularly tunes into, the popular climate-science blog operated by Anthony Watts, will never make fun of TV weathermen again. Watts - who was a TV meteorologist for 25 years - provides a steady diet of smart, always interesting and sometimes deeply complex scientific information and opinion about global climate change. Watts is also the founder of, a project that for nearly two years has been quality-checking each of the 1,200-plus weather stations of the U. S. Historical Climate Network (USHCN) to see if they are set up and maintained properly. So far, Watts and his volunteers have checked about 820 of the weather stations, which have been in place for about 100 years and are the source for the country's official average annual temperature. Watts has found that temperature data from nearly 70 percent of the stations is of questionable accuracy because the stations do not adhere to the USHCN's own quality-control guidelines. I talked to Watts April 16 by phone from his office in Chico, Calif.

Q: Why do you do your blog WattsUpWithThat?

A: Well, it's just an extension of what my life has been up until the last few years. I was a broadcaster on television - a meteorologist - for 25 years. I look at the blog as really no different. I did a daily broadcast each day in television. A blog is really just a daily broadcast in a different form.

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: I never really thought about a target audience. I took the same philosophy from broadcasting. I made it to reach as broad an audience as possible and the demographics that I get from it tell me I am doing that job successfully. I've got everything from people with high school educations to people that are Ph.Ds who are reading and commentating and sometimes even submitting articles.

Q: Sometimes it gets pretty deep - lots of scientific charts and data.

A: It does. But that is to be expected because of the broad audience we have. My job is to try to make everything understandable, even for people who are not in tune with some of the more technical details of climate.

Q: Have you become more politicized since you began blogging? Or are you primarily still a man of science?

A: Well, my main interest always has been the science. I am still of the belief that you should let the data tell you what the real story is. As far as the blog goes, the only thing I can say that I've become a little more critical of in terms of politics is that we have some people now who should be sticking to science, such as Jim Hansen (head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, going out and advocating things such as civil disobedience (at coal-fired power plants). That concerns me.

Q: What is your basic position on the question of global warming? Are you a believer? A skeptic? Somewhere in between?

A: I would call myself what some people describe as a "lukewarmer" in that the CO2 effect that people have done thousands of studies on is in fact real. However, it is not a crisis. The reason it is not a crisis is because most people do not understand the logarithmic nature of the CO2 response in our atmosphere.

Q: And that means?

A: It's like salting soup. If you have a bowl of soup in front of you and you put a little salt in it to salt it to taste, you say, "Well, maybe it needs just a tad more." So you add some more salt and you think, "Maybe not quite enough." Then you add some more, and all the sudden it's too salty. Now if you were to add additional salt to the soup, you could not determine that it was any more salty than it already was. And if you continue to add salt, you can't tell the difference.

CO2 is much like that in the way that our atmosphere responds to long-wave outgoing radiation, or trapping of heat. At some point when you get to a certain level, like a doubling of CO2, and then you add a second doubling of CO2, the response halves. It's logarithmic. Then it halves again and then halves again after that. So much of the effect that we would expect to see from CO2 -- because of this logarithmic response -- has already happened. In essence, our soup is already fairly well salted and additional salting is not to make a whole lot of difference.

Q: What is the most harmful "fact" - quote unquote - about global warming that everyone believes but which is probably not true or at least uncertain?

A: There is a belief out there that we will get into a runaway condition where at some point a tipping point would occur and that at that point there is no turning back and then the world would destroy itself. That is being pushed in the media a lot and it is flat wrong.

As we go back into history, into past millennia, we can see that our atmosphere has in fact had much more CO2 - up to 6,000 parts per million, compared to the 380 parts per million that we have now - and it has responded and it has settled. Earth didn't destroy itself. It didn't burn up and boil off the oceans. So the comparison that we see with runaway global warming and the turning of Earth into Venus, things of that nature, are probably the most dangerous and wrong ideas that are being pushed.

Q: Are your troubled or annoyed by the way global warming is being discussed or covered by the mainstream media?

A: I am. And mainly because it's getting a free pass for almost every problem that's brought up. There's a Web site in the UK called Number Watch ( that maintains a list of literally thousands of things in the media that are blamed on global warming. It's almost like "The Devil made me do it." The idea here is that, yeah, we have an issue and the issue is that there is some warming of the atmosphere.. That warming however is not catastrophic. It has occurred in the past and the Earth has survived. So the blaming of global warming as a catchall for every problem that we see in our environment is a disservice to science and to the people.

Q: My grandchildren ask me if the polar ice in the Northern Hemisphere is going to disappear?

A: I would say that the polar ice has disappeared in the past. Certainly there seems to be evidence of past climate situations where we may have had virtually no or none during the summertime. In the immediate future, however, I don't think we are going to see that. In fact, we're going through a rebound right now. If you look at the current Arctic ice extent from the Japanese agency which tracks the Arctic ice, you'll find that it is very near normal at this point and it is rebounding well from the last couple years. Antarctic ice is above normal. And the global total amount of sea ice is above normal. So it's not disappearing any time soon.

Q: What's the story with the Sun? It's been described as being asleep or in a state of "slumber" because it has had virtually no sun spots for a long time. What's going on?

A: Well, the Sun is driven by dynamic magnetic cycles. There are 11-year and 22-year cycles that have been identified and there are longer cycles that have been theorized. In every kind of a cycling endeavor there are always lulls and there are giant peaks. We've seen both in the past. We've seen lulls in the Maunder Minimum (1645 to 1715) and the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), when virtually no sun spots appeared. Coincidentally, during those periods the weather and climate on Earth got colder.

The period that we are currently in now is what appears to be the beginning of an extended solar cycle that may now be as long as 12 1/2 years, compared to the normal 11. The current state of the Sun appears to be a similar kind of situation being set up to what it was right before the Dalton Minimum. So the possibility exists that we may find ourselves in a period of cooler weather in the next 20 to 30 years.

The missing link, however, between solar activity and Earth's climate is "What is the amplification factor?" The total solar irradiance, or TSI, has shown to be very small and when you look at the amount of watts per meter that is delivered to the Earth's surface, the amount of change in total solar irradiance doesn't appear to be enough to cause such differences in the climate of the Earth.

However, what people are looking for now is an amplification factor - sort of a climatic transistor, if you will. A transistor takes very small signals and amplifies them so they are audible - which is why radios work. The theory has been bandied about that the same kind of process occurs in Earth's climate. A very small change in signal related to solar activity - and we don't know which signal yet; it could be total solar irradiance, it could be ultraviolent; it could be magnetic; it could be cosmic rays; there are number of things that are being looked at -- gets amplified in Earth's natural processes and changes. That's what needs to be identified before a complete causal relationship is established between changes on the Sun's solar cycle and changes in Earth's climate.

Q: When we know the immense size of the Sun and power of the Sun and relative tininess of Earth, doesn't the Sun just scream out as being the chief culprit of climate change on Earth?

A: On the surface -- on a simple analysis -- one would think that. But again, the missing link is, what is the true causal relationship between changes in the Sun's solar cycle and Earth climate. Where's the amplification factor? Because just the change in the amount of sunlight that occurs doesn't appear to be enough to account for the observed changes in the past. So we are looking for that link.

However, I would say that the Sun really is the Big Kahuna of all the climate on earth. We would not have any climate. We would not have any weather. We would not have any ocean currents. We would not have life. We would have nothing if it were not for the Sun. So the Sun is this central point from which everything on Earth springs. We should not ignore that fact.

Q: Is a period of global cooling coming? And if so, what would you point to as evidence of that?

A: Well, there is a post on my blog today (April 16) about the computer models (of future global average temperatures) starting to diverge from the climate reality. This is something that is really kind of unexpected. The models continue to go up in (global temperature) but the climate reality and the current (global temperature) measurement starts to go down. They are diverging and have been diverging since 2006. There are a number of things that have aligned that make me think that perhaps we are in for a cooling period. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, for example, has shifted from its warm regime to its cold regime last year. NASA JPL certified this. The last time it switched -- in 1978 -- it switched from a cool regime to a warm regime. We've been riding that warm period all the way since then.

Q: Is there a quick way to explain what the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is?

A: It has a larger influence that either El Nina or El Nino. It is a broad swath of water that extends from the Equator up into Alaska that changes the character of the surface temperatures of the Pacific over that broad swath of water. It was discovered by looking into changes in fishery stock by the University of Washington. The fishing stocks were changing and they had no explanation for it. They starting looking for it and they discovered it was linked to the food supply. And the food supply - krill and phytoplankton and all that sort of stuff - was linked to the changes in the temperature of the water. So they discovered this pattern. So it's a broad, wholesale change in the structure of the surface temperature of the Pacific.

Q: That has obvious influences over the whole climate for years afterwards.

A: Particularly the United States, because the weather flows from west to east. And particularly California. California had a fairly cool climate prior to 1978. And during the warmer period from 1978 to last year, agriculture boomed in California. Grapes began to be grown in places they haven't been grown before. The wine industry expanded. Agricultural expanded. And it expanded under a warmer climatic regime. Now that warmer climatic regime is in danger of shrinking again. So we may find growing seasons and growing places reduced back to areas that they were historically at in 1978.

Q: What is the most important, irrefutable truth about the climate of Earth that you wish every schoolchild and every elected official in Washington understood?

A: That the climate has always changed. It has never been static. In the past it has seen extremes hotter and colder than what we experience today. So change is normal.

Q: Since you are a meteorologist, I'll put you on the spot. Ten years from now what will we be talking about, global warming or global cooling?

A: I believe it will be global cooling, based on the fact that there are several things aligning - like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the solar patterns and so forth -- to make it appear that we might be in for a period of global cooling. However, I am also prepared to say that I may be completely wrong.


Greenie secrecy endangering lives

Must protect birds. People don't matter. If people know where there are dangerous flocks of birds that endanger airliners, they might want somebody to shoot those birds and that would never do. That the birds mostly concerned (Canada Geese) are present in pest proportions doesn't matter!

A survivor of the jetliner that ditched in the Hudson River after hitting birds and most other public commenters opposed a government proposal to make secret its data on when and where such bird strikes occur.

Public comments about the Federal Aviation Administration's secrecy proposal ran 5-to-1 against it as the comment period closed Monday. One major group, which some had expected to support the rule, declined to take a position.

The primary trade group for U.S. airports, the Airports Council International-North America, told the FAA that its member airports were split on the issue so it "cannot take a position either supporting or opposing" the secrecy. But it urged the agency "to provide explanatory information to assist the public and media to use the data responsibly" if it decides against imposing secrecy.

Donald C. Jones, of Jacksonville, Fla., who was fished from the Hudson Jan. 15 along with the other 154 people aboard US Airways flight 1549, told the FAA he was "surprised and alarmed" to read its proposal. "This issue needs to be addressed openly, not swept under the rug," Jones said. Six private pilots and an air traffic controller also were among 35 people who objected in writing to the FAA's plan.

The Airline Pilots Association, which represents more than 52,000 professional airline pilots, the city of Portland, Ore., which operates three airports, and helicopter-maker Sikorsky Aircraft were among seven commenters who favored the secrecy.

After the Jan. 15 ditching, The Associated Press requested access to the FAA's bird strike database, which contains more than 100,000 reports of strikes that have been voluntarily submitted since 1990.

While still processing the AP Freedom of Information Act request, the FAA on March 19 quietly published its proposal in the Federal Register and provided 30 days for public comment.

The agency expressed concern that, if the data were released, some airlines and airports would reduce voluntary reporting of bird strikes for fear that the public and news media would misconstrue raw data and "cast unfounded aspersions on the submitter." "Drawing comparisons between airports is difficult because of the unevenness of reporting" from airport to airport and the difference in local bird populations they have to deal with, the FAA said.

But Jones, director of an association of endocrinologists, was among several commenters who suggested the remedy for uneven reporting was to make the reports mandatory, not secret. "Why isn't reporting of strikes by commercial airlines, private aviation and airports mandatory?" Jones asked the FAA. "How can the FAA ignore the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board that reporting strikes be mandatory?" The safety board made that recommendation to the FAA 10 years ago, noting that the database grossly understates the number of strikes.

The FAA says strikes increased from 1,759 in 1990 to 7,666 in 2007.

Opposing the FAA plan, Paul Eschenfelder, president of the aviation consultant Avion Corp. in Spring, Texas, wrote that in 2004 and 2007 a government-industry working group, which was rewriting the FAA's engine design standards for withstanding bird strikes, "agreed that the FAA wildlife database was unusable due to its incompleteness" and paid Boeing Co. "to develop a cogent database that all agreed was superior."

The pilots union, the city of Portland, Sikorsky and even the airports council expressed fear the public might misinterpret the data. "This data is complex and nuanced, and could be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted if disclosed in raw form to the public," wrote Nick Atwell, aviation wildlife manager for the Port of Portland.

Members of the public, however, bridled at that idea. Robert M. McCauley, a Denison, Texas, attorney with a private pilot's certificate, objected to the FAA's "obvious concept that you have been `anointed' to protect the public from itself." McCauley said he was "just as anxious to know the location of high volume bird strike areas as I am of geographical areas that exhibit regular hazardous weather tendencies, each of which may well impact my decisions in planning flights and ultimately, my life."

Roger Maloof, of New Hampshire, who described himself as a mechanical engineer from MIT, wrote that "if we the people know of inadequately protected airports, then we can petition for corrections. Keeping the data secret only protects dangerous airports and endangers the general public. ... This is like hiding which roads are more dangerous in winter to protect the interests of the businesses on those roads."



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


21 April, 2009


Climate change skepticism has soared under Obama's presidency, with only one third of American likely voters now blaming humans for climate change, according to a Rasmussen poll released today. In contrast, 48% believe that long term planetary trends are responsible, 7% blame other non-man-made factors, and 11% aren't sure.

The plummeting support for Al Gore's thesis - the lowest ever - is a complete reversal from one year ago, when 47% blamed humans and only 34% saw long-term planetary trends as the culprits. The rise in climate change scepticism, and decline in pinning the blame on humans, tracks Obama's assumption of power. In December, one month after his defeat of John McCain in the presidential race, the number of Americans who blamed people dropped to 43%. By February, the figure had dropped to 38% and it now rests at 34%

Why has Al Gore's position lost so much credibility with the American public? While the Rasmussen poll does not explore this question, two Obama factors could be at play. First, public hostility toward George Bush and the Republicans likely expressed itself in part as hostility toward global warming scepticism, with which Bush and the Republicans were identified. As soon as the Republicans lost power, many in the public lost their fervour in opposing climate change scepticism.

Second, the recession, combined with proposals from the new Obama administration to start taxing carbon in one form or another, gave the public new reason to question whether carbon dioxide really is the demon that climate change doomsayers claim. Upon investigation, the public would have found little to support the doomsayer case.



After last week's eco-car initiative, Wednesday's Budget will have a green spin. But the Government's low-carbon strategy could be making matters worse, says environment editor Geoffrey Lean

Britain's economic stimulus measures, promoted by Gordon Brown as part of a "global green new deal", will accelerate global warming instead of curbing it, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has established.

The investigation also shows that most of the Prime Minister's vaunted green initiatives have not materialised and, in some cases, are likely to set back his professed strategy for "the creation of a low-carbon economy". It has found that, over the past four years, ministers have launched a staggering 91 consultations relating to the issue, while actually doing little.

The revelations come as the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, prepares to unveil what ministers insist will be a groundbreaking green Budget. Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, told the IoS that it would represent "a massive greening of the Government".

Last year's Budget, however, was similarly trailed in advance as "the greenest ever", but actually led to a slight fall in the revenue coming from green taxes. And though Gordon Brown promised in 1997 to put "the environment at the core of the Government's objectives for the tax system", income from such taxes fell by 22 per cent during his 10 years as Chancellor.

As the IoS exclusively reported last month, green measures form only 6 per cent of the Government's stimulus package, compared to 13 per cent in Germany, 21 per cent in France, 38 per cent in China and 81 per cent in South Korea. And now a new study shows that the British package will increase rather than reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

Carried out for WWF and E3G – a respected environmental group – it found that the harmful effects of new spending on roads, which will increase traffic, far outweighed the contribution of extra expenditure on energy saving and rail infrastructure. And it points out that Britain has "yet to include any investments at all dedicated to renewable energy".

Examination of Mr Brown's hyped green initiatives since becoming Prime minister reveals a similarly sorry picture, as the panel (right) shows. He has repeatedly promised that Britain will increase the proportion of its energy coming from renewable sources to 15 per cent by 2020. But a new study to be published on Tuesday by Cambridge Econometrics is expected to show that, if current policies continue, it will grow from 1 per cent to only 1.5 per cent by then.

The Government has consistently failed to provide incentives that are routine in other countries. Four years ago, it promised to provide £50m to help develop wave and tidal power, an area where Britain has a potential world lead. But the resulting Marine Renewables Deployment Fund has yet to give a penny to support this. Installation of rooftop windmills has been held up through bureaucratic delays over planning issues at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Gordon Brown wrote to one manufacturer last August saying the issue had been resolved, but the hold-up continues.

Homeowners have also been discouraged from installing other renewable energy systems, such as solar electric panels. Just as they were beginning to take off, ministers slashed the level of grants available. They will end such funding for commercial buildings and charities altogether in June.

The Government has promised to introduce "feed-in tariffs", which would pay people for excess energy they produce. But these are not due to come in for a year for electricity and for two years for heat – causing a funding gap that threatens to drive some installers out of business. There is a similar failure to honour an undertaking by Mr Brown last September properly to insulate six million houses over the next three years. In practice, this would involve providing cavity wall insulation to a million homes. The official Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency told the IoS last week that filling cavity walls was running at just 500,000 homes a year.

Mr Brown promised to augment a scheme called the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, under which the big energy companies have to help households save fuel and electricity. But the Government is now threatening to gut the scheme by allowing the companies to get away with simply offering people advice.

He also undertook to tackle fuel poverty. But ministers accept they will fail to meet a legal obligation to end it among vulnerable groups next year, and have cut funds, even as the number of households affected has risen from 4.3 to 5.4 million last year. Last week's heavily publicised promotion of electric cars follows the same pattern, since the cars for which grants will be available will not be on the market for at least two years.

Meanwhile a study by a consulting firm, JDS Associates, has counted 91 separate consultations concerning sustainable energy launched by the governments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff between May 2005 and January 2009.

Last night Greg Barker, the Conservatives' energy spokesman, said the investigation showed ministers and civil servants were locked in "mid-20th-century attitudes to producing energy". Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said the Prime Minister was content to "paint a green picture" without taking practical action.



GORDON BROWN is to risk a clash with the green movement by throwing the government’s weight behind the construction of a new generation of coal-fired power stations. Ministers intend to give power companies permission to construct at least two new coal-fired stations, with more to follow. The move will anger climate change scientists and campaigners because coal produces more CO2 for each unit of energy generated than any other fuel.

Brown and Ed Miliband, his energy secretary, will argue that Britain urgently needs more coal-fired generating plants to prevent future power shortages as old plants are shut down. They will soften the blow by pledging that any new plants will be designed so they can be fitted at a later date with equipment to capture CO2 — a technology that is still unproven. The plan may also be mentioned in Alistair Darling’s budget this week.

The government is understood to want initially to approve 2.5 gigawatts (Gw) of generating capacity. This is equivalent to two fairly large power stations. The proposed plant at Kingsnorth in Kent, seen as the most likely to be approved first, would generate 1.6Gw. The plant has already been the focus of large-scale protests by green activists.

This week Miliband is expected to prepare the ground for the inevitable controversy by announcing a consultation into the technical requirements to be imposed on any new power station, including the licensing system for pumping captured CO2 into underground rock strata. He is also expected to say he wants to expand plans to test “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) technologies by building up to three such plants rather than the single one planned at the moment. He told a recent parliamentary committee that he wanted to put Britain at the forefront of CCS technologies.

The government hopes such pledges will placate its opponents sufficiently so that the new power stations will be approved. “We see new coal generation as having a potentially important role to play in securing Britain’s electricity supply, but we also recognise the need to deal with CO2 emissions,” said a spokesman for the energy and climate change department, run by Miliband.

He is likely to face fierce opposition from other political parties and from groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. They see the proposals as a way of getting coal-fired power stations built on a promise that will not be fulfilled — that their emissions will one day be abated.

In theory, so-called carbon capture could be capable of capturing up to 90% of the CO2 emissions from power plants. It would then be pumped underground for permanent storage. However, no industrial-scale CCS plant has yet been built anywhere in the world and the technology remains unproven.

Britain burns about 63m tons of coal a year, with 84% used to generate power. Coal-fired plants generate about a quarter of the 560m tons of CO2 that Britain produces each year.


Europe is cheating

The European Union is playing "tricks on the atmosphere" when it claims it will reduce its emissions by 20% by 2020, argues Stefan Singer, director for global energy policy at the WWF. Speaking to EurActiv in an interview, he explained how he had calculated that the EU’s own domestic emissions will in fact only amount to "4 to 5%". "What we did was compare the level of ambition that the European Union is pretending to take, compared to what it means in reality. 20% emissions reduction by the EU by the year 2020 on 1990 levels means no more than 4-5% emissions reductions domestically" as from 2009 onwards, he said.

To back his claim, Singer explained that the EU will already achieve an 8% cut, mainly due to de-industrialisation in ex-Soviet states that has taken place since 1990, the base year of the Kyoto Protocol. "So 12% is left," Singer points out. But he says this will not be achieved by emission cuts within Europe’s borders, as the EU plans to allow a large chunk of it -- 60% -- to be achieved via emission offsets in developing countries, using the UN’s clean development mechanism (CDM). "This in principle is not a problem if there were a strong domestic target as well, and if the clean development mechanism would have been shown to be truly additional. But that is not the case."

In fact, he says EU offset projects in developing countries did not truly deliver "because those emissions reductions would have probably occurred anyway" due to policies implemented in countries such as China. As a consequence, Singer says the EU’s 20% target "represents just a 4-5% domestic target" between now and 2020. "It’s a trick on the atmosphere," he claims. "If we want to stay below 2°C global warming, the European Union is pretending to do the 20% cut. And then on top of that they ask developing countries to reduce their emissions 15% to 30%. That’s cheating. That does not help to achieve the 2°C."

US and China 'among the world leaders'

In comparison, Singer says US President Barack Obama has committed to much more aggressive cuts. “The Obama administration is proposing a stabilisation of emissions in the US at 1990 levels by the year 2020. That is a 19% emissions cut in the US from now on, roughly.”

Singer is also keen to counter the argument, often heard in Europe, that emerging economies such as China are not doing enough on climate change. "China has committed to reducing its energy intensity, energy use per GDP, by 20% in just six years between 2005 and 2010, and another 20-30% until 2020. And this is quite substantive if you look at the GDP growth in China. China has a very ambitious renewable energy target, 15-20% renewables by 2020, similar to that of the EU. China has 14 to 16 new pilot projects on coal gasification in the pipeline. We just have one in Europe." "China is definitely one of the world leaders."

According to Singer, one of the biggest uncertainties at the UN climate talks will be the position of Russia. "Experience tells us that Russia always comes in at the eleventh hour with some kind of ridiculous demand. And not just on climate, on all issues, because Russia has the understanding of the UN as a self-service shop." In order to "deal with Russia," he says the global community should start thinking about making trade offs. The trouble, he said is that "no-one knows what is to be traded off against what with Russia, because Russia is very often a black box."

Developing countries doing their bit

On the other hand, he is quick to defend the record of developing countries, whose efforts are "often forgotten", he said. "Brazil has committed before the turn of the year to reducing its emissions in the Amazon by 70%. Indonesia has committed to reducing its emissions by almost 100% in Borneo, which is the largest spot of deforestation. Of course it is not related to industry, but it’s still a big chunk of emissions. So this has changed!" "Developing countries are doing something. They’re committing. We can all say they’re not doing enough, and we need compliance, but they’re doing something."

And in the face of those efforts, Singer says developing countries are getting little in return from the Europeans. "Europe has fundamentally missed out on giving at least a minimum of cash to developing countries. By arrogantly, really arrogantly, saying 'sorry it’s a negotiation, we want to see what the others are doing'." "This is a recipe for disaster. And Europe is going to be slaughtered by the group of developing countries for that."


Reliance on consensus

By consensus I mean extreme majority but not necessarily universal view within some group - as this seems to be its meaning as it is commonly used today.

Someone competent in a field does not have much use for consensus. A mathematician can examine a proof and discover for himself whether it is valid or invalid, without relying on the opinion of other mathematicians. A scientist who doubts a result can reproduce the experiment for himself, without relying on the opinion of other scientists. This is not to say that scientists do not benefit from communication with other scientists, that they do not benefit from a sanity check provided by other scientists. But consensus can be built up in many different ways, many of them more likely to reinforce error than to discover truth, only some of them an improvement on independent thinking. So consensus - be it general, scientific, field-specific, or what have you, is not by itself very good evidence of truth. As was pointed out in the book by that title, to get the "Wisdom of Crowds" phenomenon it's important that people give their independent opinions, thus avoiding an information cascade - a condition that is not all that often fulfilled.

If you rely on consensus you are making yourself into part of the above-mentioned information cascade. We might hope, therefore, that people who rely on the consensus in a field are themselves all outside that field. That is not certain to be the case, which poses a problem for those who would like to rely on consensus.

If you wish to rely on the consensus of the group of people competent to individually judge claims in a given topic for themselves, you also have the problem of defining that group. If you are not yourself competent to judge, how do you know who is competent to judge? If you rely on someone else's definition of that group, how do you know that they are competent to judge? Ultimately you cannot avoid making a decision for yourself - you cannot avoid choosing who to rely on, and therefore you cannot, in the end, avoid relying on your own competence to make the decision. (I happen to think that many people are not competent, and that consequently they rely on false authority - they are the blind led by the blind. So this ultimate reliance on one's own competence is a real problem and not just of academic interest.)

There are some ways for the competent to identify others to delegate judgment to. For example, if you spot check someone's work, and all that you've checked is flawless, then it is reasonable to rely on the rest of his work without checking on it, treating him as an authority. This, however, presupposes your own competence - your own authority. It does not work for the incompetent.

You don't have to have the same kind of competence as the person whose competence you are testing. I don't know many words of Chinese (Mandarin or other dialect) but I can identify authorities on Chinese. There are ways to "bootstrap" competence. But these employ a certain kind of competence. For instance, you need to have the competence to distinguish the cases where a specific kind of bootstrapping succeeds from the cases where it fails. (So the thoroughly incompetent are thoroughly screwed. The competent may, of course, guide them, but so may anyone else.) I happen to think that many people accept authorities without the benefit of proper "bootstrapping" - possibly as a result of tragically mistaken "bootstrapping" based on false signs of competence.

Once you have identified a group of authorities, then relying on consensus, rather than relying on (say) the judgment of selected individuals from this group, may serve the limited function of checking your own tendency to cherry-pick authorities whose judgments coincide with what you want to be true. And it might, additionally, confer a Wisdom of Crowds benefit. But if there is dissent within your identified group of authorities, that is a significant fact. And of course, relying on consensus (as opposed to relying on one specific authority) is only meaningful (will only even potentially give you a different conclusion than relying on a single authority) if there is dissent. So the very occasions on which reliance on consensus might even possibly confer some benefit, are precisely those occasions where the significant fact of the existence of dissent may give you pause.

Thus, the useful function of reliance on consensus is restricted (it checks your own tendency to cherry-pick), and its value is dubious (since what it amounts to is ignoring the existence of dissent among your chosen authorities). Furthermore it completely fails to distinguish convergence by independent experience and thought from convergence by groupthink, which you should be keenly interested in distinguishing.

There is some evidence that the average ______ is incompetent. The linked evidence (the rate of correct answers was worse than random guessing) is for economics but why should this not be generally true? I suspect it is (based in part on my own experiences here and there). So as a rule of thumb, between eighty and 100 percent of accredited members of a field are incompetent and should not be trusted.

Good luck relying on the consensus within a field (as defined by accreditation) if that's the case!

Underlying the popular habit of relying on consensus may lie the consensus theory of truth. Certain philosophical notions are these days deeply embedded in popular thought, and the consensus theory of truth may be one of them.


Bound to Burn

By Peter W. Huber

Like medieval priests, today's carbon brokers will sell you an indulgence that forgives your carbon sins. It will run you about $500 for 5 tons of forgiveness--about how much the typical American needs every year. Or about $2,000 a year for a typical four-person household. Your broker will spend the money on such things as reducing methane emissions from hog farms in Brazil.

But if you really want to make a difference, you must send a check large enough to forgive the carbon emitted by four poor Brazilian households, too--because they're not going to do it themselves. To cover all five households, then, send $4,000. And you probably forgot to send in a check last year, and you might forget again in the future, so you'd best make it an even $40,000, to take care of a decade right now. If you decline to write your own check while insisting that to save the world we must ditch the carbon, you are just burdening your already sooty soul with another ton of self-righteous hypocrisy. And you can't possibly afford what it will cost to forgive that.

If making carbon this personal seems rude, then think globally instead. During the presidential race, Barack Obama was heard to remark that he would bankrupt the coal industry. No one can doubt Washington's power to bankrupt almost anything--in the United States. But China is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. That's another whole United States' worth of coal consumption added every three years, with no stopping point in sight. Much of the rest of the developing world is on a similar path.

Cut to the chase. We rich people can't stop the world's 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can't even make any durable dent in global emissions--because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we're foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

We don't control the global supply of carbon.

Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet's oil reserves--about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion. If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they've got.

Poor countries all around the planet are sitting on a second, even bigger source of carbon--almost a trillion tons of cheap, easily accessible coal. They also control most of the planet's third great carbon reservoir--the rain forests and soil. They will keep squeezing the carbon out of cheap coal, and cheap forest, and cheap soil, because that's all they've got. Unless they can find something even cheaper. But they won't--not any time in the foreseeable future.

We no longer control the demand for carbon, either. The 5 billion poor--the other 80 percent--are already the main problem, not us. Collectively, they emit 20 percent more greenhouse gas than we do. We burn a lot more carbon individually, but they have a lot more children. Their fecundity has eclipsed our gluttony, and the gap is now widening fast. China, not the United States, is now the planet's largest emitter. Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and others are in hot pursuit. And these countries have all made it clear that they aren't interested in spending what money they have on low-carb diets. It is idle to argue, as some have done, that global warming can be solved--decades hence--at a cost of 1 to 2 percent of the global economy. Eighty percent of the global population hasn't signed on to pay more than 0 percent.

Accepting this last, self-evident fact, the Kyoto Protocol divides the world into two groups. The roughly 1.2 billion citizens of industrialized countries are expected to reduce their emissions. The other 5 billion--including both China and India, each of which is about as populous as the entire Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development--aren't. These numbers alone guarantee that humanity isn't going to reduce global emissions at any point in the foreseeable future--unless it does it the old-fashioned way, by getting poorer. But the current recession won't last forever, and the long-term trend is clear. Their populations and per-capita emissions are rising far faster than ours could fall under any remotely plausible carbon-reduction scheme.

Might we simply buy their cooperation? Various plans have circulated for having the rich pay the poor to stop burning down rain forests and to lower greenhouse-gas emissions from primitive agricultural practices. But taking control of what belongs to someone else ultimately means buying it. Over the long term, we would in effect have to buy up a large fraction of all the world's forests, soil, coal, and oil--and then post guards to make sure that poor people didn't sneak in and grab all the carbon anyway. Buying off people just doesn't fly when they outnumber you four to one.

Might we instead manage to give the world something cheaper than carbon? The moon-shot law of economics says yes, of course we can. If we just put our minds to it, it will happen. Atom bomb, moon landing, ultracheap energy--all it takes is a triumph of political will.

Really? For the very poorest, this would mean beating the price of the free rain forest that they burn down to clear land to plant a subsistence crop. For the slightly less poor, it would mean beating the price of coal used to generate electricity at under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

And with one important exception, which we will return to shortly, no carbon-free fuel or technology comes remotely close to being able to do that. Fossil fuels are extremely cheap because geological forces happen to have created large deposits of these dense forms of energy in accessible places. Find a mountain of coal, and you can just shovel gargantuan amounts of energy into the boxcars.

Shoveling wind and sun is much, much harder. Windmills are now 50-story skyscrapers. Yet one windmill generates a piddling 2 to 3 megawatts. A jumbo jet needs 100 megawatts to get off the ground; Google is building 100-megawatt server farms. Meeting New York City's total energy demand would require 13,000 of those skyscrapers spinning at top speed, which would require scattering about 50,000 of them across the state, to make sure that you always hit enough windy spots. To answer the howls of green protest that inevitably greet realistic engineering estimates like these, note that real-world systems must be able to meet peak, not average, demand; that reserve margins are essential; and that converting electric power into liquid or gaseous fuels to power the existing transportation and heating systems would entail substantial losses. What was Mayor Bloomberg thinking when he suggested that he might just tuck windmills into Manhattan? Such thoughts betray a deep ignorance ab! out how difficult it is to get a lot of energy out of sources as thin and dilute as wind and sun.

It's often suggested that technology improvements and mass production will sharply lower the cost of wind and solar. But engineers have pursued these technologies for decades, and while costs of some components have fallen, there is no serious prospect of costs plummeting and performance soaring as they have in our laptops and cell phones. When you replace conventional with renewable energy, everything gets bigger, not smaller--and bigger costs more, not less. Even if solar cells themselves were free, solar power would remain very expensive because of the huge structures and support systems required to extract large amounts of electricity from a source so weak that it takes hours to deliver a tan.

This is why the (few) greens ready to accept engineering and economic reality have suddenly emerged as avid proponents of nuclear power. In the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident--which didn't harm anyone, and wouldn't even have damaged the reactor core if the operators had simply kept their hands off the switches and let the automatic safety systems do their job--ostensibly green antinuclear activists unwittingly boosted U.S. coal consumption by about 400 million tons per year. The United States would be in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol today if we could simply undo their handiwork and conjure back into existence the nuclear plants that were in the pipeline in nuclear power's heyday. Nuclear power is fantastically compact, and--as America's nuclear navy, several commercial U.S. operators, France, Japan, and a handful of other countries have convincingly established--it's both safe and cheap wherever engineers are allowed to get on with it.

But getting on with it briskly is essential, because costs hinge on the huge, up-front capital investment in the power plant. Years of delay between the capital investment and when it starts earning a return are ruinous. Most of the developed world has made nuclear power unaffordable by surrounding it with a regulatory process so sluggish and unpredictable that no one will pour a couple of billion dollars into a new plant, for the good reason that no one knows when (or even if) the investment will be allowed to start making money.

And countries that don't trust nuclear power on their own soil must hesitate to share the technology with countries where you never know who will be in charge next year, or what he might decide to do with his nuclear toys. So much for the possibility that cheap nuclear power might replace carbon-spewing sources of energy in the developing world. Moreover, even India and China, which have mastered nuclear technologies, are deploying far more new coal capacity.

Remember, finally, that most of the cost of carbon-based energy resides not in the fuels but in the gigantic infrastructure of furnaces, turbines, and engines. Those costs are sunk, which means that carbon-free alternatives--with their own huge, attendant, front-end capital costs--must be cheap enough to beat carbon fuels that already have their infrastructure in place. That won't happen in our lifetimes.

Another argument commonly advanced is that getting over carbon will, nevertheless, be comparatively cheap, because it will get us over oil, too--which will impoverish our enemies and save us a bundle at the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. But uranium aside, the most economical substitute for oil is, in fact, electricity generated with coal. Cheap coal-fired electricity has been, is, and will continue to be a substitute for oil, or a substitute for natural gas, which can in turn substitute for oil. By sharply boosting the cost of coal electricity, the war on carbon will make us more dependent on oil, not less.

The first place where coal displaces oil is in the electric power plant itself. When oil prices spiked in the early 1980s, U.S. utilities quickly switched to other fuels, with coal leading the pack; the coal-fired plants now being built in China, India, and other developing countries are displacing diesel generators. More power plants burning coal to produce cheap electricity can also mean less natural gas used to generate electricity. And less used for industrial, commercial, and residential heating, welding, and chemical processing, as these users switch to electrically powered alternatives. The gas that's freed up this way can then substitute for diesel fuel in heavy trucks, delivery vehicles, and buses. And coal-fired electricity will eventually begin displacing gasoline, too, as soon as plug-in hybrid cars start recharging their batteries directly from the grid.

To top it all, using electricity generated in large part by coal to power our passenger cars would lower carbon emissions--even in Indiana, which generates 75 percent of its electricity with coal. Big power plants are so much more efficient than the gasoline engines in our cars that a plug-in hybrid car running on electricity supplied by Indiana's current grid still ends up more carbon-frugal than comparable cars burning gasoline in a conventional engine under the hood. Old-guard energy types have been saying this for decades. In a major report released last March, the World Wildlife Fund finally concluded that they were right all along.

But true carbon zealots won't settle for modest reductions in carbon emissions when fat targets beckon. They see coal-fired electricity as the dragon to slay first. Huge, stationary sources can't run or hide, and the cost of doing without them doesn't get rung up in plain view at the gas pump. California, Pennsylvania, and other greener-than-thou states have made flatlining electricity consumption the linchpin of their war on carbon. That is the one certain way to halt the displacement of foreign oil by cheap, domestic electricity.

The oil-coal economics come down to this. Per unit of energy delivered, coal costs about one-fifth as much as oil--but contains one-third more carbon. High carbon taxes (or tradable permits, or any other economic equivalent) sharply narrow the price gap between oil and the one fuel that can displace it worldwide, here and now. The oil nasties will celebrate the green war on carbon as enthusiastically as the coal industry celebrated the green war on uranium 30 years ago.

The other 5 billion are too poor to deny these economic realities. For them, the price to beat is 3-cent coal-fired electricity. China and India won't trade 3-cent coal for 15-cent wind or 30-cent solar. As for us, if we embrace those economically frivolous alternatives on our own, we will certainly end up doing more harm than good.

By pouring money into anything-but-carbon fuels, we will lower demand for carbon, making it even cheaper for the rest of the world to buy and burn. The rest will use cheaper energy to accelerate their own economic growth. Jobs will go where energy is cheap, just as they go where labor is cheap. Manufacturing and heavy industry require a great deal of energy, and in a global economy, no competitor can survive while paying substantially more for an essential input. The carbon police acknowledge the problem and talk vaguely of using tariffs and such to address it. But carbon is far too deeply embedded in the global economy, and materials, goods, and services move and intermingle far too freely, for the customs agents to track.

Consider your next Google search. As noted in a recent article in Harper's, "Google . . . and its rivals now head abroad for cheaper, often dirtier power." Google itself (the "don't be evil" company) is looking to set up one of its electrically voracious server farms at a site in Lithuania, "disingenuously described as being near a hydroelectric dam." But Lithuania's grid is 0.5 percent hydroelectric and 78 percent nuclear. Perhaps the company's next huge farm will be "near" the Three Gorges Dam in China, built to generate over three times as much power as our own Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. China will be happy to play along, while it quietly plugs another coal plant into its grid a few pylons down the line. All the while, of course, Google will maintain its low-energy headquarters in California, a state that often boasts of the wise regulatory policies--centered, one is told, on efficiency and conservation--that have made it such a frugal energy user. Bu! t in fact, sky-high prices have played the key role, curbing internal demand and propelling the flight from California of power plants, heavy industries, chip fabs, server farms, and much else (see "



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


20 April, 2009

Another nasty one for poor silly old Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman of CEJournal is one of the many purveyors of the recent "Antarctic crackup" story but he portrays himself as a reasonable commentator on climate change, open to all points of view. Therefore, on 18th., I challenged him to put up on his blog the latest report showing that the Antarctic is not melting overall at all. He put up an aggrieved reply on my blog post but has still NOT mentioned the latest report on his blog. He has exposed himself as a fraud.

I am too bored with the "Antarctic ice breaking up" story to post any more on it but if Tom wants to suffer a real crisis of faith, he should read this post. It shows -- complete with screen grabs -- that the Greenies trot out the same old false "crackup" story year after year.

How about it, Tom? Have you accepted that you are a crook yet? Or are you going to read the story?

We're winning!

Rasmussen poll: Only 34% Now Blame Humans for Global Warming. Looks like a lot of people have noted that the world is getting colder even if the Warmists haven't

Just one-out-of-three voters (34%) now believe global warming is caused by human activity, the lowest finding yet in Rasmussen Reports national surveying. However, a plurality (48%) of the Political Class believes humans are to blame. Forty-eight percent (48%) of all likely voters attribute climate change to long-term planetary trends, while seven percent (7%) blame some other reason. Eleven percent (11%) aren’t sure. These numbers reflect a reversal from a year ago when 47% blamed human activity while 34% said long-term planetary trends.

Most Democrats (51%) still say humans are to blame for global warming, the position taken by former Vice President Al Gore and other climate change activists. But 66% of Republicans and 47% of adults not affiliated with either party disagree.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of all Americans believe global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 33% who say it’s Very Serious. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s a not a serious problem. The overall numbers have remained largely the same for several months, but the number who say Very Serious has gone down.

A growing number of Americans (58%) say the United States needs to build more nuclear plants. This is up five points from last month and the highest finding so far this year. Twenty-five percent (25%) oppose the building of nuclear plants.

While the economy remains the top issue for most Americans, 40% believe there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Thirty-one percent 31% see no such conflict, while 29% are not sure.


Humans declared toxic

Andrew Bolt

Humans breathe out carbon dioxide with every breath. It's a byproduct of keeping our bodies alive

The green faith reveals itself in full contempt. Humans are by their living, breathing nature now officially pollutants of this world:

THE US Environmental Protection Agency has shifted course and deemed carbon dioxide a health risk, in a turnabout important to global warming-related regulation.

But what will trees use for food when carbon dioxide is eliminated. Madness is on the hoof.


Science thrown right out the window: "Sea Levels Could Rise 10 Feet in 50 Years"

Even the IPCC forecasts nothing like this. The Fox news writer makes a couple of nice points at the end of the report, though. Really sad but not too unexpected when a reporter has more sense than academic journal editors. "Nature" is a crusading Warmist publication these days

Global sea levels could rise 10 feet in 50 years if the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps rapidly melt, a new study suggests. Analysis of coral beds formed in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula found that during the last warm period between ice ages more than 100,000 years ago, an entire layer of corals suddenly died, only to be replaced decades later by a new, smaller layer.

That indicates that sea levels had risen between 2 and 3 meters (6.6 to 10 feet) fairly rapidly — over 50 to 100 years. And the only thing that could cause that would be a substantial melting of the continental ice sheets.

"Scientists have tended to assume that sea level reached a maximum during the last interglacial very slowly, over several millennia," study leader Paul Blanchon of the National University of Mexico told Agence France-Presse. "What we are saying is 'No, they didn't.'"

The previous interglacial period, the Eemian, lasted from 130,000 to 115,000 years ago. It was warmer than the current interglacial, the Holocene, with hardwood forests well north of the Arctic Circle and, presumably, smaller ice caps.

Blanchon's sudden coral die-off occurred about 121,000 years ago, which means the Eemian may have continued to get warmer as it went on. "The potential for sustained rapid ice loss and catastrophic sea-level rise in the near future is confirmed by our discovery of sea-level instability," he and his co-authors write in Friday's issue of the journal Nature.

Blanchon's work illustrates that sea levels can rise very quickly, but doesn't ascribe a cause for the rising temperatures back then. People skeptical of the theory of man-made global warming could use the paper as evidence the Earth warms up suddenly on its own, without any explanation.

Of course, that would also mean that the planet can rapidly cool down and slide into another ice age — as will likely happen within the next 5,000 years without man-made global warming.


Comment on the above received from Don Easterbrook []:

We seem to be slipping back into the Dark Ages of science--this has got to be one of the dumbest papers I've ever seen. Why Nature would even publish such nonsense is amazing. Consider for example:

1. There is no way to date 120,000 year old corals with an accuracy of 20-50 years. The best you could do would be with a +/- of tens of thousands of years.

2. The average temp in Antarctica is about -55 degrees F below zero. In order to melt any ice at all you would have to raise the temperature 55 + 32 = 87 degrees just to get to the melting point of ice. To do this in 10-50 years is absurd! You would need to raise the temp many degrees above the freezing point at a rate of about 10 degrees per year every year!

3. The volume of ice in Antarctica is estimated to be about 30 million m3 To melt all of this ice in 10 years you would have to melt 3 million m3 per year in a land whose average temp is -55 degrees!

4. At the last glaciation maximum at (~20,000 yrs B.P.), glaciers covered huge areas in mid-latitude North America, northern Europe, and Russian. At the end of glacial maximum, temperatures rose abruptly and the continental glaciers melted at a maximum rate. That produced a sea level rise of about 10 mm per year or 1.0 m per century. Today, these glaciers are all gone and only two ice caps, Antarctica and Greenland, remain, so glacial melting cannot be anywhere near as drastic today as during the end of the maximum deglaciation. Therefore, the value of 10 mm per year (1.0 m in a century) may be used as an absolute maximum possible value for future sea level rise.

Beware green jobs, the new sub-prime

Dominic Lawson

When everybody seems to have the same big idea, you just know it can only mean trouble. Remember sub-prime mort-gages? Now universally excoriated as the spawn of the devil, the proximate cause of the credit crunch and all that followed, a few years back “sub-prime” was everyone’s darling. Financiers loved it because it generated sumptuously high-yielding debt instruments; governments, because it promised to make even the poor into proud property owners.

Now business lobbyists and governments on both sides of the Atlantic have got a new big idea. They call it “green jobs”. Leading the pack is, as you might expect, Barack Obama. The president recently defended a vast package of subsidies for renewable energy on the grounds that it would “create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries”.

In Britain, the business secretary, Lord Mandelson, promises billions in state aid for the same purpose. To add verisimilitude, last week he gave a royal wave from the inside of a prototype electric Mini. Mandelson’s chauffeur was a representative of the lower house: the transport secretary, Geoff Hoon.

The occasion for this photo opportunity was the government’s proposal to offer a £5,000 subsidy to anyone buying an electric car of a type not yet available: exact details to be given in Alistair Darling’s forthcoming budget. The idea is to create a “world-beating” British-based electric-car-manufacturing industry, while also attempting to meet Gordon Brown’s promise to have the nation converted to electric or hybrid cars by 2020.

That remarkable prime ministerial pledge predated the recession; its motive was to demonstrate that Britain was “leading the world in the battle against climate change”. We aren’t, as a matter of fact; but under new Labour we have certainly led the world at claiming to do so. Mandelson expressed this almost satirically last week when he declared that “Britain has taken a world lead in setting ambitious targets for carbon reduction”.

As ever, new Labour confuses announcements and newspaper headlines with real action. Whenever it becomes obvious even to ministers that Britain will not meet its current carbon reduction target, they replace it with a yet tougher target, only with an extended deadline.

It does not yet seem to have occurred to new Labour that this is making it look ridiculous, especially to the environmentalists whose support it is presumably trying to solicit. Or perhaps it has, but it would rather that than lose our “world leadership” in target-setting.

There is something almost comical in the government’s belief that the electric car, dependent as it is on the national grid, is a sort of magic recipe for reducing carbon emissions. Some months ago President Sarkozy of France had an identical idea and commissioned a report on the prospects for turning Renault and Citroën into producers of mass-market electric vehicles. The report concluded that “the traditional combustion engine still offers the most realistic prospect of developing cleaner vehicles simply by improving the performance and efficiency of traditional engines and limiting the top speed to 105mph. The overall cost of an electric car remains unfeasible at about double that of a conventional vehicle. Battery technology is still unsatisfactory, severely limiting performance”.

Note that this crushing verdict came in a country where electricity is for the most part generated by nuclear power, which produces . In this country, more than three-quarters of the grid’s power comes from theno CO2 fossil fuels of gas and coal.

Presumably it is the latter that accounts for the fact that when the London borough of Camden commissioned a study to see whether it should introduce electric vehicles for some of its services, it found that “EVs relying on the average UK mix of energy to charge them were responsible for significantly more particles of soot that lodge deeply in the lungs . . . than the average petrol-powered car”.

If all our electricity were to be generated by wind power, without any fossil-fuel back-up, this criticism would not apply. Then the cars could take days, rather than hours, to recharge (depending on the weather) and would be so expensive to run that driving would become the exclusive preserve of the rich.

A further absurdity is that electric cars are suitable only for short rides within urban areas – precisely where we are being encouraged to abandon cars and use public transport. Ken Livingstone exempted electric cars from his congestion charge as if, in addition to their suppositious environmental benefits, they also had the magical property of being incapable of contributing to congestion. As the Ecologist magazine has reported: “The focus on electric vehicles and the political love they get is totally misguided . . . to have that as the spearhead of government transport carbon-reduction policy is insane.”

The magazine is controlled by Zac Goldsmith, the prospective Conservative candidate for Richmond Park and team Cameron’s environmental guru. Last week his colleague George Osborne took a different tack, observing that the absence of plans for a national network of charging points meant that “the Labour plan is like giving people a grant to buy an internal combustion engine, without bothering to set up any petrol stations”. Osborne had his own suggested grant to create “green jobs”: “We will give every household a new entitlement to £6,500 of energy-saving technologies.”

I’m not sure how the Tories came up with the figure of £6,500. It is pointedly bigger than Labour’s proposed £5,000 electric car subsidy; but all these figures are preposterous. If you multiply £6,500 by the number of households in the land, you get to £160 billion, bigger on its own than the national debt that Osborne has repeatedly told us is unaffordable.

Electoral bribes apart, there is a more serious misconception behind the idea that ploughing subsidies into the “green economy” is a sure-fire way of boosting domestic employment. At best it will move people from one economic activity to another. Labour’s plans would subsidise car production workers to move from making conventional models to electric vehicles, which hardly anyone wants to buy. Osborne’s proposals would subsidise the double-glazing and home insulation industry and suck in many workers gainfully employed (without subsidy) elsewhere.

The key to a successful, wealth-generating economy is productivity. Saving energy is what businesses have done already, because it lowers their production costs. The problem with any form of subsidy is that it makes the consumer (through hidden taxes) pay to keep inherently uneconomic businesses “profitable”. Meanwhile, diversified energy companies such as Shell, with plenty of speculatively acquired wind-farm acreage, are salivating at the plans by Obama to introduce cap-and-trade carbon emissions targets for American industry.

Obama’s energy secretary, Steven Chu, had some soothing words for US manufacturing companies that complained that the new policy will make them even less competitive with Chinese exporters, since the people’s republic has indicated that it has no intention of inflicting a similar increase in energy costs on its own producers. He suggested that America might have to introduce some sort of “car-bon-intensive” tariff on Chinese goods. One of China’s envoys, Li Gao, immediately retorted that such a carbon tariff would be a “disaster”, since it could lead to global trade war.

Actually, Mr Li is right: and this is how an achingly fashionable and well-intentioned plan to create “millions of new green jobs” could instead end up making the global economy even sicker than it is already.


Australia: Green dream ruined by reality

AFTER spending five years raising three small children in what many consider the idyllic South Coast town of Berry, naturopath Amanda Haberecht and designer Stuart Cook couldn't wait to move back to the city.

"Over a bottle of wine one night, we realised that we actually liked art galleries and restaurants and doing nothing on the weekends," she said.

"Life in the country was working all week and then working all weekend to fix fences or build stuff or mow acres."

The Balmain couple say the years in the countryside were great for the children, "who can now deal with spiders and snakes and all those things city kids freak out about", but became a problem as they grew older.

"We spent so much time driving our kids around that we thought it really limited their independence," Ms Haberecht says. "In the city, kids have more opportunities and can get around on their own."

The couple also found it difficult to find enough employment while they lived in Berry and spent much of their time commuting back to Sydney for work.

"It took a real toll on the marriage because one of us was always single-parenting and the other was on the road," Ms Haberecht said.

"And you know what? I really hate gardening. I liked the idea of growing organic vegies, but I hated doing it."



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


19 April, 2009

EPA's Greenhouse Gas Finding Endangers U.S. Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency today formally declared that carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases are pollutants that threaten the public health and welfare.

Heritage Foundation environmental expert Ben Lieberman reacted to the announcement as follows:

"This clears the way for the most expensive and expansive environmental regulation in history. The EPA approach to regulating COs will dramatically affect the lives and day-to-day practices of all Americans... all for a change in the Earth's temperature too small to ever notice.

"The finding opens the door to federal regulation of almost anything that emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That includes virtually everything that moves, from cars, trucks and ships to lawn mowers and tractors. The agency could also go after things that stand still—regulating millions of emissions-producing hospitals, restaurants and other commercial buildings, and perhaps even eying backyard barbeques.

"Even advocates of the finding recognize that a harsh regulatory regime would yield only negligible benefits—reducing greenhouse gases worldwide by less than TK percent. Yet the proposed regulations carry tremendous costs.

"The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis has found that, in just 20 years, the proposed carbon dioxide rules alone would lower gross domestic product by $7 trillion, with single-year GDP losses exceeding $600 billion. Job losses would exceed 800,000 annually for several years. The already-struggling manufacturing sector would be hit especially hard.

"Today's announcement, though expected, is a tremendous disappointment for those seeking policies that will improve the environment without devastating our economy."


Filmmaker vs. Hysterics

The economic consequences of Al Gore


Irish documentary filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have stirred up trouble before by debunking smug liberal hypocrisy. Their latest film, "Not Evil, Just Wrong" takes on the hysteria over global warming and warns that rushing to judgment in combating climate change would threaten the world's poor.

The film reminds us that environmentalists have been wrong in the past, as when they convinced the world to ban the pesticide DDT, costing the lives of countless malaria victims. The ban was finally reversed by the World Health Organization only after decades of debate. The two Irish filmmakers argue that if Al Gore's advice to radically reduce carbon emissions is followed, it would condemn to poverty two billion people in the world who have yet to turn on their first light switch.

Mr. McAleer and Ms. McElhinney have put needles into the pincushions of self-satisfied environmentalists before. In 2007, they produced a documentary called "Mine Your Own Business," which told the story of a poor village in Romania where environmentalists fought plans for a new gold mine. The village, where unemployment tops 70%, desperately needed the $1 billion in new investment and 600 jobs the project would bring. But environmentalists have blocked it, claiming it would pollute a pristine environment. Mr. McAleer, then a journalist with the Financial Times, considers himself an environmentalist. But when he covered the story for his paper, he says, "I found that almost everything the environmentalists were saying about the project was misleading, exaggerated or quite simply false."

The two filmmakers are skilled at using provocative publicity tactics. On April 22, they will hold a public showing of their film at the Rachel Carson Elementary School in the suburbs of Seattle. "Since it was Rachel Carson who touched off the campaign to ban DDT, we thought showing 'Not Evil, Just Wrong' there would be appropriate," says Mr. McAleer.

Local environmentalists will probably not appreciate the gesture and will be appalled that the school agreed to rent out its auditorium to the renegade skeptics. But somebody might point out that it's not evil, just appropriate, to hold a debate about the real-world consequences of acting on global warming fears.


Alternative Fuel Folly

Every so often Washington throws out a controversy that brilliantly illustrates everything wrong with Washington. Consider the brewing outrage over "black liquor." This is the tale of how a supposedly innocuous federal subsidy to encourage "alternative energy" has, in a few short years, ballooned into a huge taxpayer liability and a potential trade dispute, even as it has distorted markets and led to greater fossil-fuel use. Think of it as a harbinger of the unintended consequences that will accompany the Obama energy revolution.

Back in 2005, Congress passed a highway bill. In its wisdom, it created a subsidy that gave some entities a 50-cents-a-gallon tax credit for blending "alternative" fuels with traditional fossil fuels. The law restricted which businesses could apply and limited the credit to use of fuel in motor vehicles.

Not long after, some members of Congress got to wondering if they couldn't tweak this credit in a way that would benefit specific home-state industries. In 2007, Congress expanded the types of alternative fuels that counted for the credit, while also allowing "non-mobile" entities to apply. This meant that Alaskan fish-processing facilities, for instance, which run their boilers off fish oil, might now also claim the credit.

What Congress apparently didn't consider was every other industry that might qualify. Turns out the paper industry has long used something called the "kraft" process to make paper. One byproduct is a sludge called "black liquor," which the industry has used for decades to fuel its plants. Black liquor is cost-effective, makes plants nearly self-sufficient, and, most importantly (at least for this story), definitely falls under Congress's definition of an "alternative fuel."

All of which has allowed the paper industry to start collecting giant federal payments for doing nothing more than what it has done for decades. And in fairness, why not? If Congress is going to lard up the tax code with thousands of complex provisions designed to "encourage" behavior, it shouldn't be surprised when those already practicing said behavior line up for their reward, too.

In March, International Paper announced it had received $71 million from the feds for a one-month period last fall. The company is on track to claim as much as $1 billion in 2009. Verso took in nearly $30 million from the operation of just one mill in one quarter of last year. Other giants are gearing up to realize their own windfalls. Wall Street has gone wild, pushing paper-company stocks up dramatically in recent weeks.

Happy as industry is to have this new federal lifeline in the middle of a recession, it is the only one smiling. Foreign competitors are screaming that the subsidy is unfairly propping up the U.S. industry in tough times. They claim the U.S. industry is ramping up production simply to realize more tax money. Canadian forestry firms are already demanding their government file a trade complaint.

In order to qualify for the credit, alternative fuel must be mixed with a taxable one. (The government might want to encourage alternative fuels, but not to the extent that it loses its gas-tax revenue.) This means that to qualify, the paper industry must mix some diesel with its black liquor. This has sent environmentalists around the bend. They have accused the industry of burning fossil fuels that it didn't used to burn, simply to get the tax dollars. (The industry has not been clear on whether it is, in fact, using more diesel.)

And then there's Congress, which is suddenly looking at billions more in red ink than expected. In 2007 it estimated a 15-month extension of the credit would cost taxpayers $333 million. It has since revised those numbers to take into account black liquor and is now figuring a one-year cost of more than $3 billion. Wall Street analysts are talking $6 billion. Senate Finance Committee bosses Max Baucus and Charles Grassley are reportedly aware of the issue, none too happy, and they are working to bar the paper industry from receiving the credit.

But this, in turn, has tossed up uncomfortable questions. The paper industry argues that if the government is going to be in the business of rewarding good behavior, it ought to do it equally. Is green policy only to be aimed at dirty or economically unviable actors? Is black liquor any less useful than ethanol or biodiesel, and if so why? If not, shouldn't Washington encourage its use? Isn't every green subsidy in fact the basis for a trade dispute? These are questions Congress has no interest in confronting, since it would expose the muddle that is its entire green-energy program.

All of this is highly amusing, if not surprising. Every government attempt to manage energy markets has resulted in similar disarray. Look at the havoc that came from the energy price controls, regulations and subsidies of the 1970s. Or look, more recently, at the ethanol fiasco, and the accompanying soaring food costs. Energy powers the economy. Mess with energy markets, and mess with everything else. When will Washington learn?


The Ethanol Bubble Pops in Iowa

More evidence the fuel makes little economic sense

In September, ethanol giant VeraSun Energy opened a refinery on the outskirts of this eastern Iowa community. Among the largest biofuels facilities in the country, the Dyersville plant could process 39 million bushels of corn and produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually. VeraSun boasted the plant could run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand for home-grown energy.

But the only thing happening 24-7 at the Dyersville plant these days is nothing at all. Its doors are shut and corn deliveries are turned away. Touring the facility recently, I saw dozens of rail cars sitting idle. They've been there through the long, bleak winter. Two months after Dyersville opened, VeraSun filed for bankruptcy, closing many of its 14 plants and laying off hundreds of employees. VeraSun lost $476 million in the third quarter last year.

A town of 4,000, Dyersville is best known as the location of the 1989 film "Field of Dreams." In the film, a voice urges Kevin Costner to create a baseball diamond in a cornfield and the ghosts of baseball past emerge from the ether to play ball. Audiences suspended disbelief as they were charmed by a story that blurred the lines between fantasy and reality.

That's pretty much the story of ethanol. Consumers were asked to suspend disbelief as policy makers blurred the lines between economic reality and a business model built on fantasies of a better environment and energy independence through ethanol. Notwithstanding federal subsidies and mandates that force-feed the biofuel to the driving public, ethanol is proving to be a bust.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, Aventine Renewable Energy, a large ethanol producer, lost $37 million despite selling a company record 278 million gallons of the biofuel. Last week it filed for bankruptcy. California's Pacific Ethanol lost $146 million last year and has defaulted on $250 million in loans. It recently told regulators that it will likely run out of cash by April 30.

How could this be? The federal government gives ethanol producers a generous 51-cent-a-gallon tax credit and mandates that a massive amount of their fuel be blended into the nation's gasoline supplies. And those mandates increase every year. This year the mandate is 11 billion gallons and is on its way to 36 billion gallons in 2022.

To meet this political demand, VeraSun, Pacific Ethanol, Aventine Renewable Energy and others rushed to build ethanol mills. The industry produced just four billion gallons of ethanol in 2005, so it had to add a lot of capacity in a short period of time.

Three years ago, ethanol producers made $2.30 per gallon. But with the global economic slowdown, along with a glut of ethanol on the market, by the end of 2008 ethanol producers were making a mere 25 cents per gallon. That drop forced Dyersville and other facilities to be shuttered. The industry cut more than 20% of its capacity in a few months last year.

What's more, as ethanol producers sucked in a vast amount of corn, prices of milk, eggs and other foods soared. The price of corn shot up, as did the price of products from animals -- chickens and cows -- that eat feed corn.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry reacted by standing with the cattlemen in his state to ask the Environmental Protection Agency last year to suspend part of the ethanol mandates (which it has the power to do under the 2007 energy bill). The EPA turned him down flat. The Consumer Price Index later revealed that retail food prices in 2008 were up 10% over 2006. In Mexico, rising prices led to riots over the cost of tortillas in 2007. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and other international organizations issued reports last year criticizing biofuels for a spike in food prices.

Ethanol is also bad for the environment. Science magazine published an article last year by Timothy Searchinger of Princeton University, among others, that concluded that biofuels cause deforestation, which speeds climate change. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration noted in July 2007 that the ethanol boom rapidly increased the amount of fertilizer polluting the Mississippi River. And this week, University of Minnesota researchers Yi-Wen Chiu, Sangwon Suh and Brian Walseth released a study showing that in California -- a state with a water shortage -- it can take more than 1,000 gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol. They warned that "energy security is being secured at the expense of water security."

For all the pain ethanol has caused, it displaced a mere 3% of our oil usage last year. Even if we plowed under all other crops and dedicated the country's 300 million acres of cropland to ethanol, James Jordan and James Powell of the Polytechnic University of New York estimate we would displace just 15% of our oil demand with biofuels.

But President Barack Obama, an ethanol fan, is leaving current policy in place and has set $6 billion aside in his stimulus package for federal loan guarantees for companies developing innovative energy technologies, including biofuels. It's part of his push to create "green jobs." Archer Daniels Midland and oil refiner Valero are already scavenging the husks of shuttered ethanol plants, looking for facilities on the cheap. One such facility may be the plant in Dyersville, which is for sale. Before we're through, we'll likely see another ethanol bubble.


San Francisco Hearing on Offshore Energy Resources a Kangaroo Court

The kangaroo is back, and with good reason! After an appearance last month in the halls of Congress, a live "kangaroo" appeared today at a federal hearing in San Francisco to protest the "kangaroo court" atmosphere at an important meeting to discuss the future of national energy policy.

Obama Administration Interior Secretary Ken Salazar presided over a public hearing today that only effectively represented one aspect of the debate over offshore energy development. The kangaroo is meant to point out that oil and gas exploration is being largely ignored in favor of promoting wind power along the Pacific coast.

The kangaroo was seen protesting the hearing outside the Robertson Auditorium on the Mission Bay campus of the University of California, San Francisco (1675 Owens Street) between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM Pacific Time.

"Oil and gas exploration could create trillions in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs, but this hearing is likely to overlook this economic stimulus package in favor of dubious green technology," said National Center executive director David W. Almasi. "Right now is the window of opportunity. The government is considering the next five-year plan for energy policy. To ignore drilling today is irresponsible, which is why it is considered a kangaroo court and why participants will find a live, bouncing marsupial there today."

Today's hearing is the third of four being conducted by Salazar and the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service. The hearings follow a report issued by the Obama Administration that says Southern Oregon and Northern California are prime areas for wind-energy development. This is despite the acknowledgement that current technology and the ocean terrain in the region are incompatible and that the region also lacks the transmission infrastructure necessary to accommodate any offshore production of wind energy.

To the contrary, the Point Arena Basin off Mendocino County, California is thought to have a more than 1.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil. The California coastline is already the home to many offshore drilling operations.

A kangaroo visit was already made to a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. on March 31. A similar "kangaroo court" on drought conditions in California was being protested at that time. Before last-minute testimony by area congressmen was added, this hearing was expected to be simply a platform for government officials and environmental radicals to promote further regulation of resources in the name of combating global warming.

"As was seen in yesterday's tea parties against out-of-control government spending and taxation, it's clear that people want their leaders to be more accountable," said The National Center's Almasi. "The same applies to the creation of public policy. When crafting something as important as our nation's energy future, a one-sided hearing just won't do. If they continue in this manner, they can expect to be seeing a lot of this kangaroo."


Planet doomsayers need a cold shower

Comment from Miranda Devine in Australia

The global warming scare campaign is reaching fever pitch. We have had one eminent Australian scientist claim this week to the senate inquiry on climate policy that global warming has already killed people in Australia. We have had another four CSIRO scientists at the inquiry arguing for Australian emissions reduction targets up to six times greater than planned, 90 per cent by 2050, and warning of catastrophic consequences otherwise.

We have also had the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, agree on ABC's Lateline program this month that sea levels would rise as much as six metres due to human-caused global warming this century. Yet even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body dedicated to discovering evidence of human-caused climate change, forecasts less than half a metre rise in the century to 2090.

It seems that when it comes to convincing the Government to take drastic, jobs-killing, economy-crushing and ultimately futile unilateral action on climate change, the ends justify the means. "How we get there matters much less than the fact that [emissions] are very low by 2050," CSIRO's Dr Michael Raupach, told the inquiry.

While debating with a National Party senator the wisdom of imposing reductions of carbon dioxide emissions, the University of Melbourne's Professor David Karoly declared: "Loss of jobs is important but loss of life is really important". True enough, but where is the evidence that climate change has killed a single Australian? More to the point, since Australia accounts for just 1.4 per cent of global emissions, even if we shut down all industry and move into caves, how would any theoretical effect on climate be more than negligible?

There is no doubting the passion and intelligence of these scientists and many of their colleagues in the climate change movement in advocating the cause of eliminating so-called "carbon pollution" to save the planet. But the tactics are not very scientific. As a University of Adelaide geologist, Dr Ian Plimer, writes in his new book, Heaven And Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, scientists are usually "anarchic, bow to no authority and construct conclusions based on evidence … Science is not dogmatic and the science of any phenomenon is never settled."

His dense book, crammed with 2311 footnotes, is a comprehensive scientific refutation of the beliefs underpinning the idea of human-caused climate change. "It is meant to be an overwhelming demolition job," said Plimer on the phone from Adelaide where he is preparing a field trip this weekend to Broken Hill to study rocks. He wrote the book, "for those out there with an open mind wanting to know more about how the planet works. The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it is open".

From the geologist's perspective he says our climate has always changed in cycles, affected by such variables as the orbit of the planet and our distance from the sun, which itself produces variable amounts of radiation. One of the lessons of 500 million years of history, he says, is that there is no relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature.

Plimer's book comes at a crucial time in the debate about whether and by how much human-produced carbon dioxide causes climate change, and, if it does, what are the effects, and can they be stopped. It is a warning to government, as it refines its emissions trading scheme, in the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate Convention next year, not to back itself into the corner of relying on dubious computer models in an attempt to stop climate change by reducing so-called "carbon pollution".

Plimer says the business world would never "make trillion-dollar decisions without a comprehensive and expensive due diligence". "To have government policy based on propaganda is very dangerous."

Yet our Government has already promised to reduce emissions by 5 to 15 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, and 60 per cent by 2050, and is trying to construct a carbon trading scheme by July. A Senate report into this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, tabled on Thursday, demonstrated the difficulty of consensus, containing, as it did, three dissenting reports.

Meanwhile, the coal industry has warned that at least two NSW coalmines will have to close under climate legislation already planned. Those power outages in Sydney lately will be just a small taste of things to come. The consequences are everywhere, with cost of living surges ultimately borne by individuals.

And for what? Plimer says that if government had read the fine print of "the crucial Chapter 5" of the IPCC's 2007 report "Humans Responsible for Climate Change" they would have realised that it is "based on the opinions of just five independent scientists". "Governments are planning to structurally change their nations' economies where most people will suffer from increased taxes and costs … based on the opinion of the fabulous five whose computer models have not been able to accurately predict the cooling that has occurred since 1998," Plimer says.

Plimer, 62, has spent much of his life working in Broken Hill, in the real world of rocks and soil, far enough from the social pressure of academia to think for himself. Such independent scientific dissenters have been demonised, their evidence marginalised, as climate change has become a quasi-religious belief. But you cannot stop one side from debating what is the biggest policy decision of our era. Plimer's book, accessible as it is to the layperson, will help redress the power imbalance between those who claim to own the knowledge and the rest of us.



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


18 April, 2009

Pesky! Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking

Greenies shriek about the bits of ice that break off but ignore the overall picture. I noted just such an instance of Greenie bias on 6th., when I referred to a Green/Left blog post as "an amusing exercise in unbalanced reporting". The author of the post, Tom Yulsman of CEJournal, was outraged and said he was just doing his best to set out what was happening. See the comments he left on my blog post. I hereby challenge him to report the findings below. That should show what he really is

All the Warmist agonizing about the Antarctic is just an attempt to con the gullible anyhow. The average temperature of the Antarctic is around minus 40 degrees C from memory so the few degrees of warming that even Greenie extremists predict are not going to bring that temperature anywhere near the melting point (zero degrees) where ice turns to water. But the Warmists have GOT to get that ice to melt in order to have the sea level rise that they crave -- so basic physics is totally ignored and the scientific ignorance of the general public is relied upon instead

ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap. The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month. However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia. East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".

Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica. "Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said.

The melting of sea ice -- fast ice and pack ice -- does not cause sea levels to rise because the ice is in the water. Sea levels may rise with losses from freshwater ice sheets on the polar caps. In Antarctica, these losses are in the form of icebergs calved from ice shelves formed by glacial movements on the mainland.

Last week, federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said experts predicted sea level rises of up to 6m from Antarctic melting by 2100, but the worst case scenario foreshadowed by the SCAR report was a 1.25m rise. Mr Garrett insisted global warming was causing ice losses throughout Antarctica. "I don't think there's any doubt it is contributing to what we've seen both on the Wilkins shelf and more generally in Antarctica," he said.

Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. "The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west," he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual. "Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off -- I'm talking 100km or 200km long -- every 10 or 20 or 50 years."

Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.



An email from Dr. Gerhard Loebert [], Munich, Physicist and Recipient of The Needle of Honor of German Aeronautics, who focuses on the rarely-noted point that the earth does NOT rotate at an even speed

In my opinion the researchers in climatology should put aside their present work for a moment and focus their attention on the central and decisive subject of climatology. This is the extremely close correlation between the changes in the mean surface temperature and the small changes in the rotational velocity of the Earth in the past 150 years (see Fig. 2.2 here), which has been ignored by mainstream climatologists. Almost everything in climatology follows from this one central phenomenon.

Note that temperature lags rotation by about 6 years.

Since temperature is lagging rotation it cannot be influencing the latter. On the other hand, it cannot be envisaged how rotation should influence temperature. Hence, a third agent must be driving the two. The solution is given here. There it is shown that small-amplitude vacuum density waves generated by the motion of the supermassive objects located in the center of the Galaxy are constantly acting on the Sun and the Earth and are thereby producing a series of correlated physical reactions within these celestial bodies.

Remember: Almost everything in climatology follows from this one central phenomenon.

New prediction: global cooling to start in 2023!

Another theory that focuses on gravitation variations -- possibly compatible with Loebert's observations noted above

Various theories are being propounded about the global warming phenomenon due to rise in green house gas emissions, coal, pollution, animal waste. But now a new research done by David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillation does not blame the earth or the any of these causes for the rising temperature. It is is earth’s natural satellite – the moon.

Due to the significance of these finds, Meteorologist and climate researcher David Dilley has offered his book, "Global Warming-Global Cooling, Natural Cause Found” for download free of cost at

His book is written in non technical language so everyone from middle school to college professors can understand these important findings concerning the earth's natural cycles. Mr. Dilley, says the gravitational cycles act like a magnet by pulling the atmosphere's high pressure systems northward or southward by as much as 4 degrees of latitude (approximately 380 kilometers - 240 miles) from their normal seasonal positions. As the current gravitational cycle declines, global temperatures began cooling in 2008-09 and there will be dramatic cooling by 2023.

Research illustrated within the book links the Moon's recurring gravitational cycles as the primary driving force causing 2200 global warming events during the past half million years, including the earth's current warming cycle which is now ending. It also links these natural cycles to the 50 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels seen during the past 8 thousand years, not just the past 150 years.

Mr. Dilley says the gravitational cycles act like a magnet by pulling the atmosphere's high pressure systems northward or southward by as much as 4 degrees of latitude from their normal seasonal positions, and thus causing dramatic changes within the oceans and the earth's atmosphere. With the current gravitational cycle now declining, global temperatures began cooling in 2008-09, and by around the year 2023 there will be dramatic cooling with temperatures becoming similar to those experienced in the 1800's.

David Dilley utilizes nearly a half million years of data linking very specific long term gravitational cycles of the moon as the primary cause for the present global warming, rises in carbon dioxide levels, and for 2200 global warming cycles during the past half million years. The book illustrates seven different types of recurring gravitational cycles ranging from the very warm 460,000 year cycle down to a 230 year recurring global warming cycle. All of these gravitational cycles coincide nearly 100 percent with 2200 global warming events during the past half million years. This includes the earth's current warming cycle which began around the year 1900, and the first stage of global cooling beginning in 2008-09.


Loony logic: Warming will HARM trees?

A warmer, steamier climate would make forests more LUSH! Have any of these anus-talkers ever been to the tropics?

FORESTS that today soak up a quarter of carbon pollution spewed into the atmosphere could soon become a net source of CO2 if Earth's surface warms by another two degrees Celsius, cautions a report to be presented today at the UN. Plants both absorb and exhale carbon dioxide, but healthy forests - especially those in the tropics - take up far more of the greenhouse gas than they give off. When they are damaged, get sick or die, that stored carbon is released.

“We normally think of forests as putting the brakes on global warming,” said Risto Seppala, a professor at the Finnish Forest Research Institute and head of the expert panel that produced the report. “But in fact over the next few decades, damage induced by climate change could cause forests to release huge quantities of carbon and create a situation in which they do more to accelerate warming than slow it down.”

Authored by 35 of the world's top forestry scientists, the study provides the first global assessment of the ability of forests to adapt to climate change. Manmade warming to date - about 0.7 C since the mid-19th century - has already slowed regeneration of tropical forests, and made them more vulnerable to fire, disease and insect infestations. Increasingly violent and frequent storms have added to the destruction.

If temperatures climb even further, the consequences could be devastating, according to the report by the Vienna-based International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO). “The current carbon-regulating functions of forests are at risk of being lost entirely unless carbon emissions are reduced drastically,” said Alexander Buck, IUFRO's deputy director and coordinator of the report. “With a global warming of 2.5 C compared to pre-industrial times, the forest ecosystems would begin to turn into a net source of carbon, adding significantly to emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation,” he told AFP by phone.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in 2007 that average global temperatures would go up before 2100 by 1.1 C to 6.4 C, depending on efforts to curb the gases that drive global warming. Any increase of more than 2.0 C, the panel said, would unleash a maelstrom of human misery, including drought, famine, disease and forced migration. Since the IPCC report, however, a growing number of climate scientists have said that this threshold is likely to be crossed no matter what actions are taken.

The forest assessment did contain what appears to be some good news: cold-clime boreal forests stretching across vast expanses of Russia, northern Europe, Canada and Alaska are set to expand rapidly as climate change kicks in. But while this may be a boon for the timber industry, it is not likely to help curb global warming, it said. “One might assume with the increasing growth in boreal forests that more carbon would be taken up by forest ecosystems and removed from the atmosphere,” said Buck. “But these positive effects will be clearly outweighed by the negative impacts on forest ecosystems.”

The report urged international negotiators trying to hammer out a new global climate change treaty before the end of the year to take into account the potential impact of warming on forests. Up to now, discussions on forests at the UN climate talks have focused almost exclusively on the impact of deforestation.

The destruction of vegetation straddling the equator - some 130,000 square kilometers disappear every year - accounts for nearly 20 per cent of total carbon emissions. “But it is also important to keep in mind that those forests that remain will be affected by climate change to a degree that might exceed their capacity to adapt,” Buck cautioned.


Lovelock's Last Gasp: Gaia Theorist Says We're Doomed

By Alan Caruba

It is the height of vanity to think the Earth will come to an end shortly after one’s mortal life ends. Some people think that, without them, the Earth cannot survive and we call these idiots environmentalists and, sometimes, megalomaniacs.

A perfect example of this is James Lovelock, the man credited with coming up with the Gaia Theory that says the Earth is a living creature and, of course, that humans are some kind of horrid cockroach infestation that is destroying it.

Now in his 90s, Lovelock has written “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warming.” This book is an extension of all the other astonishingly bad “science” that has brought fame and fortune to Lovelock as he and other alleged scientists began warning that “global heating may all but eliminate people from the Earth.”

Like Al Gore and James Hansen, two other prominent “global warming” charlatans, Lovelock continues to say that the Earth is warming while, for the past ten years, the meteorological satellites and other measurement instruments have reported a distinct cooling trend. At the same time, the Sun which is the primary instrument of the Earth’s climate cycles, has gone “quiet.” It is currently into one of its well known cycles of low to no sunspot activity.

At the heart of all environmentalist propaganda is the view that humans are causing “global warming” and destroying the Earth by doing things like raising crops and animal stocks to eat, using the abundant oil, natural gas, and coal sources as energy for transportation and the maintenance of our lives and industries, and generally fouling everything we touch from our rivers, oceans, land areas, and other species.

“Simply cutting back fossil-fuel burning, energy use, and the destruction of natural forests will not be a sufficient answer to global heating,” says Lovelock, oblivious to the reality of a cooling planet; one that is on the cusp of a predictable ice age since we are now about 11,500 years into an interglacial period since the last one.

Why anyone credits Lovelock with having any special knowledge or insight is beyond my understanding. He made his early reputation for his discoveries in the transfer of infectious disease and advances in the measurement of trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The man is not a climatologist or meteorologist.

Lovelock and others keep telling people that carbon dioxide will be the death of all of us, claiming erroneously that it is critical to the amount of heat that exists in the Earth’s atmosphere, but CO2 is barely 0.038 percent of the atmosphere, a very minor player that shows up in increased amounts 800 or more years after any major climate change.

Moreover, there have been periods in the Earth’s past when there was a lot more CO2 and, not surprisingly, forests, jungles, and all manner of vegetation were even more abundant than now. Dinosaurs grew to huge sizes thanks to the rich diet available or by dining off of the herbivores. And then they went extinct. No one suggests they died from an excess of CO2 in the environment.

The essential problem with Lovelock’s theories about carbon dioxide and global warming is that they lack any scientific merit. The other problem is that environmentalists and politicians worldwide have latched onto them as a means to exert total control over the lives of everyone on Earth.

If Lovelock were just an obscure scientist raving about the end of the world in some English pub, we could happily ignore him, but he is one of the founders of the movement that has been taken up by the United Nations and implemented in various ways by nations that have wasted billions on so-called “clean energy” such as wind and solar energy, biofuels like ethanol, and the set-aside of vast areas of America to ensure that millions of tons of coal can be mined, nor billions of barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas tapped for our use.

Always, at the heart of Lovelock’s and environmentalist programs is the view that humans are to blame for the Earth’s extraordinary, chaotic, and uncontrollable climate systems.

Lovelock despairs that “No voluntary human act can reduce our numbers fast enough even to slow climate change. Merely by existing, people and their dependent animals are responsible for more than ten times the greenhouse gas emissions of all the airline travel in the world.”

Lovelock thinks it was “brave” for ten thousand people to make the long journey to Bali, the site of the last United Nations climate control conference, but says that “As we hold our meetings and talk of stewardship, Gaia still moves step by step toward the hot state…” No, Jim, Gaia—Earth—is cooling, not heating. That invalidates all the rest of the gibberish in his latest book and the lies President Obama and others keep telling about global warming.

When it comes to the Earth, Lovelock says that it has “not evolved solely for our benefit, and any changes we make to it are at our own risk. That way of thinking makes clear that we have no special human rights; we are merely one of the partner species in the great enterprise of Gaia. We are creatures of Darwinian evolution, a transient species with a limited lifespan, as were all our numerous distant ancestors.”

Unlike other “transient species”, however, the human one has organized itself into complex societies that permit it to use energy sources to build vast cities, developed transportation that move millions around the globe every day, have communications systems that allow people to address all manner of needs and problems, created agricultural systems that feed six billion people every day, discovered how to eliminate or cure diseases that threaten our lives, and also found time to create music, drama, and literature that enhances our lives.

All this has occurred in the very brief period of about ten thousand years from the days the first humans stood upright, banded together in families, tribes, and nations, and about five thousand years ago began to devote most of our time to looting, pillaging and killing one another with greater efficiency.

Lovelock is now closing in on his own mortality and the odds are that he will join the many other prophets of doom who despise their own species while worshipping an Earth that constantly reminds us all with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, droughts, ice ages, and other natural calamities that we are not in charge of anything.


Big climate backdown coming in Australia? Might be best to dump ETS, says Green guru

Professor Ross Garnaut says it's lineball whether the scheme in its current form is worth doing. He urged senators to make substantial changes during a committee hearing today. Prof Garnaut, an economist, was hired by the federal and state governments to advise them on what to do about climate change.

"If there were no changes at all it would be a lineball call whether it was better to push ahead or say ... we'll have another crack at it and do a better one when time is right,'' Prof Garnaut said. He set out the three major changes he wants to the scheme, which is the main way to tackle climate change and is due to start next year.

Prof Garnaut wants a deeper cut to greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme will cut emissions by five to 15 per cent by 2020; Prof Garnaut wants the upper limit increased to 25 per cent, conditional on other countries taking similar steps.

He wants the Government to commit more money for new, green technologies. And he's worried the ETS gives too many free permits to industry. He wants an escape clause which would make it easier to stop the free permits.

Prof Garnaut said he was agonising over whether it was better to bring in an imperfect scheme or hold off and try for a better one later. The global recession meant "it is not a good time for good policy''.



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


17 April, 2009


The rumours spreading here in France now seem to be confirmed. Claude Allègre, a former socialist minister of research and an avid climate sceptic is on his way back, this time possibly back into government under the conservative Francois Fillon. Allegre has published several climate-critical texts. In a recently held television show he even called my boss and official IPCC French envoy, Jean Jouzel, a "tricheur" ("deceiver").

His contacts with Sarkozy appear to have intensified in recent times. Today, a fax was sent to all institutes of the IPSL (a group of laboratories located in Paris which work on climate issues) that Allègre is being considered as a successor of French environment minister Jean Luis Borloo. Allègre nomination, many think, is probably linked to a general shift in French climate policy. Some of my colleagues here at IPSL fear this may also have an influence on the part of the budget which deals with the funding of climate research. As usual, there have already been calls for strikes and demonstrations. [transl. BJP]


NOTE from Benny Peiser: Despite the conspicuous date of the above story, the blog rumours are no April fool's joke. In recent days, the French media have been reporting that President Nicholas Sarkozy is considering a cabinet reshuffle after the European Elections in June and that Claude Allègre is considered a possible ministerial candidate who may replace environment minister Jean Luis Borloo. See here. Allègre is France's most eminent climate sceptic. The very fact that he is a serious contender for the post of environment minister in itself is a clear signal that climate policies and politics in Europe are changing rapidly.

Amazing: Giscard a skeptic too. Will France be the first to break ranks? They are independent-minded enough to do so

An email from Christian Gerondeau []

Please find below the translation of the preface to my book "CO2: un mythe planétaire". The Preface was written by the former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, a highly esteemed European personality. As you can see, you can now count President Giscard d'Estaing among the "climate sceptics".

The great advantage of a scientific mind is that it reasons in an objective and inventive manner. This is true of the renowned engineer Christian Gerondeau, who has given much thought to one of the dominant concerns of our times, climate change.

Mr Gerondeau begins with an original line of thought, leading to a series of fundamental questions. He believes that we are on the wrong track as it is not realistic to try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In his view, the only way of doing so would be to stop extracting fossil energy resources or at least to set a ceiling on them. However, we are doing exactly the opposite by encouraging oil exploration, developing natural gas transport networks and by opening new coal mines. Once these fossil energies have been extracted, they will naturally be consumed and will produce carbon dioxide emissions. If we do not extract them, other countries will, thus producing the same volume of carbon dioxide emissions. The only solution would be to limit the extraction of oil, natural gas and coal, but there is no global consensus to propose this.

Christian Gerondeau puts forward another original idea, indicating that there will probably be little harm done to the planet as he shows, like other scientists, that no definite relationship has been established between the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and possible changes in the climate. The latter are due to far more complex evolutions which doubtless find their origin well beyond the atmosphere.

Mr Gerondeau also deduces that the considerable sums of money that different countries throughout the world believe to be devoting to "saving the planet" will be completely wasted, like those serving to cover France with wind turbines, which disfigure our landscapes and for which we have no need in terms of energy supplies. The result is poor use of public funds for an ineffective production of electricity.

This book has the virtue of helping us question generally accepted ideas and perhaps discover more realistic solutions for the future.

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing


An email from Bob Ferguson [], President, Science and Public Policy Institute []

The most recent issue of SPPI ScareWatch has been posted. Excerpt follows:

The scare: For years, scientists, politicians, journalists, academics, and schoolteachers have been fabricating lurid and imaginative disaster stories about the supposed environmental impact of anthropogenic "global warming". There have been apocalyptic predictions about soaring temperatures, Arctic ice-melt, sea-level rise, hurricanes, extreme-weather events of all kinds, species extinction, etc., etc. These scare stories have little basis in scientific reality: they are pure inventions, usually designed to attract funding or increase circulation.

The truth: For years, the Science and Public Policy Institute has been drawing public attention to the flimsiness of the alarmist case, both in its popular Scarewatch series and, more recently, in its authoritative and influential Monthly CO2 Reports, which have revealed that the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is half the UN's central estimate...

Full paper can be read here.

Also, the following new papers have been recently posted:

A Farmer's View of Carbon Credits -- by Farmer Steve

Global Warming - A Classic Case of Alarmism -- by David Evans

Your "Carbon Legacy" -- by Sherwood, Keith and Craig Isdo

Catastrophic droughts in Africa are the norm, claim scientists

Catastrophic droughts in Africa such as the those which devastated the Continent in the late 20th century are the norm and not due to human activity, claim scientists. Researchers believe the drought that struck parts of Northern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions more, may have been the result of a natural climate cycle.

In the past, many scientists thought the drought in the Sahel zone – a band that runs just below the Sahara – was caused by humans overusing natural resources in the region. But a new study in the journal Science shows that they are a natural part of weather pattern of the area for the last 3,000 years. If anything the droughts were less severe than those seen historically, with previous periods without rain lasting more than a century.

The earlier dry spells dwarfed the well-documented drought that plagued West Africa in the late-20th century, and as the planet warms, the study's authors believe the region's rainfall patterns will have an even greater impact.

During the 1970s and 1980s the drought pushed the Sahara desert south, destroying farmland. It had a major impact on many countries including Nigeria, Niger and Mali. Clearly, much of West Africa is already on the edge of sustainability and the situation could become much more dire in the future with increased global warming," said Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona.

The findings emerged from sediments that lie at the bottom of Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana, deposits of soil and organic matter that contain annual bands of light (winter) and dark (summer) layers that stretch back more than three millennia. The study shows regular periods of dryness, particularly droughts in the 30-40 year range. Some have even lasted centuries.

The team, which reported its findings in Science, believe the arid periods correspond with fluctuations in sea surface temperatures, a pattern called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

Previous researchers produced a computer model that included ocean surface temperature, the amount of moisture in the soil, and loss of vegetation. With all those conditions, the computer model behaved just like the Sahel drought – producing a long period of dry, cool weather. "What's disconcerting about this record is that it suggests the most recent drought was relatively minor in the context of the West African drought history," said co-author Timothy Shanahan, of the University of Texas,

"If we were to switch into one of these century-scale patterns of drought, it would be a lot more severe, and it would be very difficult for people to adjust to the change."



More background on the courageous Sir John

A good prophet is hard to find, and we've lost one of the best with the death of John Maddox, the former editor of Nature. My colleague William Grimes describes his career well, telling how he transformed Nature and was not shy when it came to fighting for the scientific principles he held dear.

I spoke with Dr. Maddox about prophecy in 1994, on the 25th anniversary of the landing on the Moon, when I reviewed some of the prophecies made a quarter century earlier. The moon landing tended to inspire either technological rhapsodies (forecasts of colonies on the moon by 2000) or ecological nightmares about the destruction of "Spaceship Earth," but Dr. Maddox didn't succumb to either extreme.

He debunked the catastrophists, most notably in his 1972 book, "The Doomsday Syndrome," in which he argued that Spaceship Earth had more carrying capacity and ecological resilience than environmentalists realized. His book was denounced at the time by John P. Holdren, who is today the White House science advisor. In a 1972 article in the Times of London, Dr. Holdren and his frequent collaborator, the ecologist Paul Ehrlich, dismissed Dr. Maddox as "uninformed" and clearly unable to understand "simple concepts" of population theory. They wrote:
"The most serious of Maddox's many demographic errors is his invocation of a "demographic transition" as the cure for population growth in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He expects that birth rates there will drop as they did in developed countries following the industrial revolution. Since most underdeveloped countries are unlikely to have an industrial revolution, this seems somewhat optimistic at best. But even if those nations should follow that course, starting immediately, their population growth would continue for well over a century-perhaps producing by the year 2100 a world population of twenty thousand million."
Well, contrary to Drs. Holdren and Ehrlich, the industrial revolution and the demographic transition did indeed arrive in developing countries.

And their projection for 2100 - that even a best-case scenario would produce a world with 20 billion people - looks way off to today's demographers, whose projections tend to be only about half as large. Perhaps Dr. Maddox really did understand some of those "simple concepts" of population.

Dr. Maddox was also skeptical of the dramatic predictions for space travel, and during the Apollo program he criticized the moon missions as an extravagance that would lead nowhere. In 1994, that prediction was also looking as accurate as some of his environmental forecasts, and I asked him to look ahead another quarter century. Here's how I summarized the predictions of Dr. Maddox for 2019:
On this planet, he expects a continuation of the technological changes that have been gradually increasing the food supply, income and life expectancy of the average human. And away from this planet, he doesn't expect much of anything for the average human.

"This business of carting people around the solar system is going to remain enormously difficult," he said, "and for the foreseeable future there's no worthwhile purpose for it." He can imagine humans someday scanning for dangerous earthbound asteroids from an observatory on the moon, or perhaps a satellite of Jupiter, but not until much better spaceships are available - which he does not expect soon.
"I hope this won't make me sound too crusty," he said, "but my guess is that this sort of space travel is 250 years down the road."

I hope he's wrong about space travel - not 250 years! - but it would be nice if he were right about humans coping well on this planet. I'll leave you with a remark of his on global warming, made after attending a conference of climate skeptics in London in 2005. (Hat tip: CCNet.) David Adam, the science correspondent for the Guardian, reported from the meeting:
"Bob May, the president of the Royal Society, said the sceptics were a "denial lobby" similar to those who refused to accept that smoking caused cancer.

But John Maddox, a former editor of the journal Nature, who attended yesterday's meeting, said the sceptics might have a point.

He did not dispute that carbon dioxide emissions could drive global warming, but said: "The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is monolithic and complacent, and it is conceivable that they are exaggerating the speed of change."

Any predictions on whether he's right about the future of the environment or space travel? Or any thoughts on his many accomplishments?


Australia: Climate plan to close coal mines

A CONFIDENTIAL industry briefing to Federal MPs warned at least two NSW coal mines would close under planned climate change laws. Mining giant Xstrata Australia's chairman Peter Coates said the Emissions Trading Scheme would make some mines unprofitable and cut new investment. His warnings, regarded as extremely sensitive in the industry, added to concerns the Government's ETS, to start in July 2010, would cost thousands of jobs.

They were revealed ahead of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's bid to downplay the fears by launching a "think tank" on cleaning up the coal industry. Mr Rudd will today open the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute in Canberra, to examine ways to reduce and divert emissions.

In briefings in recent weeks in his role as Minerals Council of Australia climate change committee chairman, Mr Coates gave two case studies - an Illawarra mine and one in the Hunter. He said that the Illawarra mine produced 1.5 million tonnes a year of gassy coking coal, costing an extra $27 million a year to buy a permit for its carbon emissions under the ETS. The Hunter mine's 1.8 million tonnes a year of gassy thermal coal would add $39 million to its costs. Mr Coates' study found both mines and others will close, leading to 5000 to 10,000 job losses in the coal industry nationally.

He did not identify the mines and Xstrata does not have an Illawarra operation. An Xstrata spokesman yesterday told The Daily Telegraph the company would not name mines that might be threatened because it would alarm workers, saying only that "marginal, gassy mines" would be most at risk.



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


16 April, 2009


Sir John has just passed away. The report below is from Science News, 102:24, December 1972, written by Kendrick Frazier. It recalls the time when "Nature" magazine was rigorously devoted to science. It is sad to note that the hysteria and pseudoscience that Maddox attacked has got worse rather than better :

In the United States, in 1972, one ventures a criticism of the environmental movement with the trepidation of those who in past years might have questioned the concept of motherhood or the virtues of apple pie. He is sure to be misunderstood or maligned.

Environmentalism (notice how the movement has even added another "-ism" to our vocabulary) has become the issue that every right-minded citizen seemingly can support. In this social context then, one can hardly imagine a book addressing a more fashionable subject while taking a less fashionable point of view than John Maddox's The Doomsday Syndrome (McGraw-Hill, $6.95).

Maddox's arguments, however, deserve the thoughtful attention of all who profess concern about the environment and the future of planet earth. Maddox is the editor of the respected British journal NATURE, and what he has put together is an attack not on the environmental movement itself but on some of the more extreme elements of the movement or, as he puts it, an attack on pessimism. In fact the word "attack" is perhaps ill advised, for one of his main goals is to substitute calm, scientific analysis for some of the more strident emotional rhetoric surrounding environmental issues. In this sense, his work espouses moderation. I do not agree with everything Maddox says, but as one who is annoyed by exaggeration and overstatement, especially on important subjects having scientific content, I found myself frequently cheering him on as I read.

In the past decade, he notes, the peoples of North America and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe have been "assailed by prophecies of calamity." Population growth, pollution, overconsumption of resources, genetic engineering, economic growth all, say the doomsayers, spell danger to the human race. They even talk "of the possibility that the temper of modern science may undermine the structure of modern society."

Says Maddox: "Although these prophecies are founded in science, they are at best pseudoscience. Their most common error is to suppose that the worst will always happen. And to the extent that they are based on assumptions as to how people will behave, they ignore the ways in which social institutions and humane aspirations can conspire to solve the most daunting problems."

Maddox notes that his is not a tract in favor of population growth or of pollution. "One of the distressing features of the present debate about the environment is the way in which it is supposed to be an argument between farsighted people with the interests of humanity at heart and others who care not a tuppence for the future.... This false dichotomy conceals a host of important issues." And, he continues, "The doomsday cause would be more telling if it were more securely grounded in facts, better informed by a sense of history and an awareness of economics and less cataclysmic in temper. .. Too often, reality is oversimplified or even ignored, so that there is a danger that much of this gloomy foreboding about the immediate future will accomplish the opposite of what its authors intend. Instead of alerting people to important problems, it may seriously undermine the capacity of the human race to look out for its survival. The doomsday syndrome may be in itself as much a hazard as any of the conundrums which society has created for itself."

The message is not that everything is all right with the world, but that to remedy what is wrong we need cool heads, accurate, undistorted information, and rational unemotional analysis. I think Maddox somewhat underestimates the positive aspects of the environmental movement in the United States. (Are not the recent clean air and clean water acts the result of "social institutions" conspiring "to solve the most daunting problems"?) The environmental movement has made major achievements. But the intangible costs of some of the excessive rhetoric are yet to be summed up. (High among those costs would be the at-least-partially misguided recent negativism toward science and technology and a lessened faith in society's ability to engage in any enlightened progress.)

Perhaps, now that it has long since gained everyone's attention, the environmental cause can now move into a more mature phase in which scare tactics and "either-or" doomsaying can be supplanted by hard analytical thinking and well-informed realistic action on the whole range of difficult choices to be made.


Incredible: America imports engineers and computer programmers, but trains people in "counseling" and "early childhood development" - where they can work at Wal Mart and answer phones, and now America is training people for "green jobs"

I just love this. College students are flocking to "green" fields of study. They're listening to the siren call of Barack Obama and the environmental crowd and they're using their parent's money and four or five years of their lives to prepare themselves for "green" jobs. I can see this one coming. In about eight years these fools will be out there handing shopping carts to Wal-Mart shoppers and wondering where the hell their "green job" is. This is going to be wonderful stuff. They'll show up at some job interview somewhere and they'll be asked "What was your major at State U?" "Green studies!" they'll answer .. .and the interview will be over. You just have to love this. Resumes with "green studies" entries on them being tossed in the trash cans. Oh man, this is gonna be great!


Kyoto's successor may die on the vine

Comment from a Greenie

Any chance the US may have had in taking a leadership role in forming a new international climate protocol diminished today with news from President Barack Obama's energy czar that the White House is taking a wait-and-see approach to regulating CO2 emissions.

For the US to lead on the issue of climate change – and get developing countries to follow – it has to act, and act quickly. The next major international climate summit, the Copenhagen Climate Convention, is in December. And if the US wants any role in shaping the successor of the Kyoto protocol, a global agreement that ends in 2012, its delegates must arrive in Denmark with firm plans on how it will regulate CO2 emissions at home.

The US can pass regulations in one of two ways: through Congressional legislation or in terms dictated by the White House via the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act. The former would likely result in regulations that are more palatable to a larger segment of the US population, since members of Congress from each state would have a say in shaping the legislation. But it's widely believed that Congress won't move on its own, unless it believes the Obama Administration is about to dictate the terms of regulations itself.

I was, therefore, sad to hear today that the White House is tipping its hand on its plans just as Congress takes its first serious look at a cap-and-trade system, in which emitters will be charged for the carbon dioxide they put into the air. "It is the strong preference of this administration that we secure [Congressional] legislation," said Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change, at a clean energy summit on Monday at MIT. Browner added she was "very confident that Congress will act," and is "very, very encouraged by the schedule of commitment" she has seen from legislators in the House and Senate.

Congressional legislation, and all the give and take it entails, is likely the best approach to creating a lasting carbon-reduction scheme in the US. But even if the Obama Administration "strongly prefers" such a route, I wish it would rattle its regulatory sabre enough to ensure that the US gets to the table in Copenhagen.


Obama's Climate Suicide Threat

Comment from a moderate Green/Leftist

This morning brought more bad news for supporters of cap and trade climate legislation. It came in the form of an appearance by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) on PBS' Tavis Smiley. When asked how cap and trade would create technology innovation, Waxman said:
When we raise the price of energy, which will happen if we reduce the amount of carbon emissions, and industries have to figure out how to live in a carbon-constrained environment, they are going to have to figure it out because it is in their profitable interest to figure it out.
Waxman's call for raising energy prices comes after a month of setbacks for cap and trade proponents. In March, the White House floated the idea of passing cap and trade and health care bills as part of the budget in order to avoid reaching the 60 votes needed to avoid filibuster. Moderate Senate Democrats led by Evan Bayh (D-IN), whose state is over 92 percent dependent on coal electricity, joined Republicans in opposing passing cap and trade as a budget resolution.

Then, on March 31, the day after Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced their climate legislation, the Senate passed a resolution 89-8 saying that the Senate will not pass climate legislation that raises energy prices -- a direct contradiction of what Waxman says his bill will do. The following day, the Senate passed a resolution 98-0 that effectively defined cap and trade as a tax. Unless the Senate can manage to do a cap and trade that does something different than what its sponsor say it will do, historians will likely look back on these resolutions as the moment that cap and trade was buried in the Senate.

If there is a strategy coming from the White House, it's not obvious what it is. Waxman-Markey left enough details unanswered in their legislation that the sponsors could still potentially create a huge, pork-filled bill to buy off moderate Dems and Republicans. But there is no obvious strategy to deal with the problem created in the Senate, where the chamber has said it will not allow cap and trade to raise energy prices. Given the recent turn of events, climate czar Carol Browner's statement at MIT yesterday that she believes cap and trade will pass Congress by December is either extremely bold or delusional.

Stung by the Senate moderates who publicly sided with Republicans against passing cap and trade budget resolution, the White House seems either paralyzed about what to do or focused on its many higher priorities: Afghanistan, Pakistan, the banking crisis, and the auto crisis. Last Friday Times' John Broder noted that the Obama administration would use the possibility of EPA regulating carbon dioxide as a club to move Republicans and moderate Dems to pass legislation.

But Roger Pielke makes the point that such a strategy is certain to backfire on Democrats.
Republicans must be drooling over the possibility that EPA will take extensive regulatory action on climate change. Why? Because the resulting political fallout associated with any actual or perceived downsides (e.g., like higher energy prices) will fall entirely on Democrats and the Obama Administration. Far from being an incentive for Congress to act on its own, the looming possibility that EPA will take regulatory action is a strong incentive for Republicans to stalemate Congressional action and a nightmare scenario for Democrats.
In other words, the White House "threat" to Republicans and moderate Democrats to regulate carbon is the equivalent of threatening your enemy with suicide. ("Don't make me raise energy prices! You'll really be in trouble with your voters when I raise their energy prices!")

The White House and Congressional Democrats are now in a lose-lose situation. They can either pass cap and trade legislation which does not rise energy prices -- which would thus not, according to Waxman, result in any innovation -- or it could continue to try to raise energy prices, handing Republican consultants a powerful political advertisement for restoring bi-partisan balance to Congress as a check on a too liberal White House.

Signs of disarray and division among greens and Democrats are everywhere. Friends of the Earth released a scathing critique of cap and trade just before Waxman introduced climate legislation, warning of "carbon derivatives" markets that could be as dangerous to the economy as credit default swaps. The New York Times' green columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a column last week saying that environmental groups were lousy spokespersons for climate legislation, and then in a Newsweek interview blamed Al Gore for why increasing numbers of Americans are telling Gallup that they think global warming is being exaggerated. And a substantial portion of grassroots environmentalists including author Bill McKibben and Middlebury's Jon Isham, endorsed Rep. Van Hollen's legislation instead of Waxman-Markey.

Gore has been notably silent during the cap and trade debate, with his "We Campaign" reduced to asking members to send letters to the editor which explain that cap and trade won't raise energy prices as much as Republicans say it will. This is part of the larger blame-the-media strategy pioneered by Joe Romm of Climate Progress, who attributes the increase in voters telling Gallup that they believe that news of global warming is being exaggerated to the media, and not to Gore, Friedman, himself, and other greens who routinely use apocalyptic language when describing climate impacts.

Environmental groups are quiet, too. They are not running advertisements, releasing reports, or sending much in the way of email to their members. Into the vacuum has rushed Rep. Waxman and Thomas Friedman, who keep insisting to large television and other audiences that the key to developing clean energy is raising fossil fuel prices -- a claim that has been contradicted by large evaluations of the evidence by the International Energy Agency, McKinsey, Stern and others, who all point to the need for direct government investment in technology.

Another legislative loss on cap and trade would be very hard on green groups. It would come under a Democratic president and Democratic Congress, and would thus force greens to ask themselves a hard question about cap and trade: if it can't pass under those legislative conditions, when can it pass? Even more devastating for greens will be if Republicans can use cap and trade to take back one or both houses of Congress in 2010. If that occurs, greens will be viewed increasingly skeptically on the Hill. And it could undermine the ideological consensus on the Hill among Democrats that cap and trade is the only or the best way to deal with climate change. Moderates who refuse to raise electricity and gasoline prices on their constituents will find common cause with liberal members who favor greater government spending on energy technology, infrastructure and education.


We mustn’t warm to this myth

Comment from England

EVERY totalitarian regime needs its defining myth. With the Nazis, it was the “Aryan” fantasy of racial purity. With the USSR, it was the dictatorship of the proletariat. With secularised, semi-pagan Western societies in historic decline, it is global warming.

Sometimes comparisons among these are alarming. For example, Ed Miliband, the climate change minister, has said that opposing wind farms is “socially unacceptable”. How long before global warming denial becomes an offence, like holocaust denial? The Government seizes approvingly on outrageous remarks by such as Dr James Hansen, who wrote in a national newspaper: “The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”

What I find bewildering is that the Greens, who claim to care for the environment, are so strongly in favour of wind farms, which are a kind of pollution of the countryside. What’s more, they don’t work very efficiently. So why ruin the countryside for the sake of obsessed environmentalists’ gesture politics? Millions of British people enjoy our glorious countryside as a natural environment which provides an antidote to the stress of urban life. It is nothing short of wickedness to foul this delight with useless wind farms.

To their credit, some governments are coming to see the uselessness of the wind turbines. Germany and Spain are losing their enthusiasm for wind power because, as reported by The Scientific Alliance, “...of the need to run back-up conventional power stations”.

It is meteorologists and other scientists who point out that settled spells of either very hot or very cold weather – the weather that creates the greatest demand for electrical power – occur when there is no wind. So, when electricity demand is at its peak, wind turbines are static and produce nothing.

Global warming is not indisputable. Thousands of highly qualified and experienced scientists question it. But the problem is that global warming is not being treated as a theory, a possibility, but as a truth of nature on a par with the law of gravity. It is the unassailable myth of the new totalitarians.

I wouldn’t want you to think this is just Mullen shooting from the hip. I have been avidly reading scientific papers and reports and, while there are those who believe global warming is taking place, there are thousands of reputable scientists who deny it.

This is entirely as it should be. Rigorous examination of hypotheses is the very basis of science. And this is what is being asked for by, among other intelligent sources, The Scientific Alliance. I quote: “The whole juggernaut of global warming is based on a framework which accepts the International Panel on Climate Change’s view of the enhanced greenhouse effect as indisputable truth. Hence the refusal to concede that any degree of scepticism or a different interpretation of evidence is legitimate.

So it is even more important for critical points to be raised and debate encouraged. Scientific understanding will benefit from this: and the better the understanding, the better any necessary response can be formulated.” This is the reasonable approach and a long way from Ed Miliband’s dark words about what is “socially acceptable” and the disgraceful invocation of “death trains”.


Beware the climate of conformity

Comment from Australia

What I am about to write questions much of what I have written in this space, in numerous columns, over the past five years. Perhaps what I have written can withstand this questioning. Perhaps not. The greater question is, am I - and you - capable of questioning our own orthodoxies and intellectual habits? Let's see.

The subject of this column is not small. It is a book entitled Heaven And Earth, which will be published tomorrow. It has been written by one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists, Professor Ian Plimer. He is a confronting sort of individual, polite but gruff, courteous but combative. He can write extremely well, and Heaven And Earth is a brilliantly argued book by someone not intimidated by hostile majorities or intellectual fashions.

The book's 500 pages and 230,000 words and 2311 footnotes are the product of 40 years' research and a depth and breadth of scholarship. As Plimer writes: "An understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history."

The most important point to remember about Plimer is that he is Australia's most eminent geologist. As such, he thinks about time very differently from most of us. He takes the long, long view. He looks at climate over geological, archaeological, historical and modern time. He writes: "Past climate changes, sea-level changes and catastrophes are written in stone."

Much of what we have read about climate change, he argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modelling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive". Errors and distortions in computer modelling will be exposed in time. (As if on cue, the United Nations' peak scientific body on climate change was obliged to make an embarrassing admission last week that some of its computers models were wrong.)

Plimer does not dispute the dramatic flux of climate change - and this column is not about Australia's water debate - but he fundamentally disputes most of the assumptions and projections being made about the current causes, mostly led by atmospheric scientists, who have a different perspective on time. "It is little wonder that catastrophist views of the future of the planet fall on fertile pastures. The history of time shows us that depopulation, social disruption, extinctions, disease and catastrophic droughts take place in cold times . and life blossoms and economies boom in warm times. Planet Earth is dynamic. It always changes and evolves. It is currently in an ice age."

If we look at the last 6 million years, the Earth was warmer than it is now for 3 million years. The ice caps of the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland are geologically unusual. Polar ice has only been present for less than 20 per cent of geological time. What follows is an intense compression of the book's 500 pages and all their provocative arguments and conclusions:

Is dangerous warming occurring? No. Is the temperature range observed in the 20th century outside the range of normal variability? No.

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

"To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable - human-induced CO2 - is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science."

Over time, the history of CO2 content in the atmosphere has been far higher than at present for most of time. Atmospheric CO2 follows temperature rise. It does not create a temperature rise. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and longer life.

The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology. "But evidence no longer matters. And any contrary work published in peer-reviewed journals is just ignored. We are told that the science on human-induced global warming is settled. Yet the claim by some scientists that the threat of human-induced global warming is 90 per cent certain (or even 99 per cent) is a figure of speech. It has no mathematical or evidential basis."

Observations in nature differ markedly from the results generated by nearly two dozen computer-generated climate models. These climate models exaggerate the effects of human CO2 emissions into the atmosphere because few of the natural variables are considered. Natural systems are far more complex than computer models.

The setting up by the UN of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988 gave an opportunity to make global warming the main theme of environmental groups. "The IPCC process is related to environmental activism, politics and opportunism. It is unrelated to science. Current zeal around human-induced climate change is comparable to the certainty professed by Creationists or religious fundamentalists."

Ian Plimer is not some isolated gadfly. He is a prize-winning scientist and professor. The back cover of Heaven And Earth carries a glowing endorsement from the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, who now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. Numerous rigorous scientists have joined Plimer in dissenting from the prevailing orthodoxy. Heaven And Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence.



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


15 April, 2009

Skeptic gets it right but you would not know it from Wikipedia

An email from Nigel Calder [] to Benny Peiser. Since global warming DID stop almost exactly at the year 2000, as Calder predicted, he should have been acclaimed. Unlike the Warmists, his prophecy came true

It's one thing to be held to account for daring predictions made nearly 30 years ago, another to have them perversely rated. Last year a blogger on the Vanity Fair website, Jim Windolf, reported that he had found in a junk shop "a worn-out copy of The Book of Predictions, a compendium of '4,000 exclusive predictions' edited by the family team of David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, and Irving Wallace". Among the gems from 1980 for his readers to chortle about, Windolf picked out the following:

"British science journalist Nigel Calder wrote that, by 2000, 'the much-advertised heating of the earth by the man-made carbon-dioxide 'greenhouse' fails to occur; instead, there is renewed concern about cooling and an impending ice age."

A thought policeman who uses Wikipedia to promote the man-made global warming hypothesis has now added that quote to my biography, with the comment: "After his prediction was proven wrong, Calder participated in the polemic documentary film The Great Global Warming Swindle. He also co-authored The Chilling Stars."

Proven wrong, forsooth! As 20-year forecasts go, mine was rather good, wouldn't you say? "Global warming" did indeed come to a halt in the 1990s, as I first pointed out on German TV in 2002. Only a few of us talked about a cooling at that time, and I must admit that back in 1980 I failed to foresee the extraordinary intervention into climate physics, by governments and gullible media. It made most people unobservant about the changing trend. But "renewed concern about cooling" is now commonplace, which moderates any forecasting error in that respect. An example this month here

As for the impending ice age, it ranks with your next NEO impact - without human intervention it's bound to happen. We don't know when, but if anyone needs reminding that the next glaciation could in principle begin any time soon, concern is still freely aired in Russia, which has been relatively immune to IPCC brainwashing: e.g. here

Just because I'm a sceptic, Wikipedia elects to focus on the 10% of my writing that happens to deal with the climate. In my accounts of general relativity, astrophysics, particle physics and solid-Earth geophysics (for example) I show my readers what real physics looks like. It's all very different from the computer games of the climate modellers.

But we know about the Wiki Witch of the West, don't we, Benny? "Peisers [sic] crap shouldn't be in here," said William Connelley, as Lawrence Solomon reported last year. See here.

Except about the incipient cooling, I'm an incorrigible optimist. Perhaps the popularity and generally benign intentions of Wikipedia will work in our favour, if hopeful readers and hard-working editors alike rebel against its corruption by the prejudice of one administrator. In The Wizard of Oz, if I remember rightly, Dorothy's solution was a bucket of water.


An email from Bob Ferguson [], President of the Science and Public Policy Institute []

On March 25th, Christopher Monckton gave testimony before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce. That testimony gave rise to a letter to both Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Joe Barton, members of the committee. The letter has been formatted and posted at SPPI here.

As context, the Committee held a hearing on the desirability of, and opportunities for, adapting to anthropogenic "global warming". Congressman Joe Barton introduced Monckton to the Committee as "the world's most knowledgeable climate skeptic." His opening statement concentrated on three scientific graphs and an economic graph. The scientific graphs (each featured in SPPI's Monthly CO2 Report, here) showed that global temperature had been falling for seven years; that CO2 concentration had been rising at about half the UN's central estimate, requiring its warming projections to be halved and rendering them harmless; and that 20 years of satellite observations of changes in outgoing long-wave radiation had demonstrated conclusively that the UN had exaggerated the effect of CO2 on temperature by a factor of 7-10. The economic graph showed the cost of adapting to "global warming" (if and when it resumed) as being many times cheaper than the cost of attempting to mitigate it.

These graphs aroused considerable interest. Provoked by Congressman Markey's alarm at hearing real science, Mr. Tom Karl, the Director of the US National Climatic Data Center, a Democrat witness, disputed the temperature graph on the insubstantial ground that Monckton had compiled it by inappropriately combining two satellite and two surface temperature datasets; disputed the CO2 graph on the ground that carbon emissions were rising far faster than the UN had predicted; and disputed the satellite data on outgoing long-wave radiation on the ground that all satellites are prone to orbital degradation.

Monckton replied that each of the four temperature datasets individually demonstrated that global temperatures had been falling for fully seven years; that it is not CO2 emissions but CO2 concentrations remaining in the atmosphere that matter, and the concentrations, while rising, were doing so far more slowly than even the lowest of the UN's projections; and that the analysis of the satellite data that he had displayed had been confirmed - precisely because the results were so surprising to those who believed the UN's exaggerated estimates of climate sensitivity - by at least four further scientific papers.

Congressman Barton said it was essential that the Committee should know who was telling the truth, and he invited Mr. Karl and Lord Monckton to write to the committee, giving further and better particulars in support of what they each had said.

No, we don't need five planets

Bjorn Lomborg

ACCORDING to conventional wisdom, we are voraciously using the world's resources and living way beyond Earth's means. This narrative of decline and pessimism underlies much of today's environmental discourse and is often formulated in a simple fashion: by 2030, we will need two planets to sustain us, owing to higher living standards and population growth. If everyone managed to live at American living standards today, we would need almost five planets. But this received wisdom is fundamentally wrong.

Environmental campaigners use the so-called ecological footprint - how much area each one of us requires from the planet - to make their point. We obviously use crop land, grazing land, forests and fishing grounds to produce our food, fibre and timber, and we need space for our houses, roads and cities. Moreover, we require areas to absorb the waste emitted by our energy use. Translating all these demands into a common unit of physical area gives us an opportunity to compare it with Earth's productive area, and thus to get a sense of how sustainable we are.

For more than a decade, the WWF and several other conservation organisations have performed complicated calculations to determine individual footprints on the planet. Their numbers show that each American uses 9.4ha of the globe, each European 4.7ha, and those in low-income countries just 1ha. Adding it all up, we collectively use 17.5 billion hectares.

Unfortunately, there are only 13.4billion hectares available. So the WWF points out that we are already living beyond Earth's means, using about 30 per cent too much. And it will get worse. It tells us that the recent financial crisis "pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch", which could presage "a large-scale ecosystem collapse".

This message is being seared into the public consciousness. The British newspaper The Observer used the headline "Wanted: New Earth by 2050"; according to the BBC, Earth is "on course for eco-crunch"; and The Washington Post, horrified by the four extra planets needed, urges us to use more canvas shopping bags and energy-saving light bulbs.

The message has been received loud and clear. We are using up too much of the planet's area.

But wait a minute. How can we do that? How can we actually use more area than there is on Earth?

Obviously, any measure that tries to aggregate many different aspects of human behaviour will have to simplify the inputs; the ecological footprint is no different. For example, when we talk about American lifestyles needing five planets, we assume that technology is frozen, whereas it is likely that worldwide land-use productivity will increase dramatically. Likewise, organic farming leaves a larger footprint than its conventional cousin.

Yet, despite such shortcomings, it is clear that areas we use for roads cannot be used for growing food and that areas we use to build our houses take away from forests. This part of the ecological footprint is a convenient measure of our literal footprint on Earth. Here, we live far inside the available area, using about 60per cent of the world's available space, and this proportion is likely to drop, because the rate at which the world's population is increasing is now slowing, while technological progress continues. So no ecological collapse here.

There is just one factor that keeps increasing: our carbon emissions. It is not at all obvious to anybody how to convert CO2 to area. The WWF and some researchers choose to get around this by defining the area of emissions as the area of forest needed to soak up the extra CO2. This now makes up more than 50 per cent of the ecological footprint and will grow to three quarters before mid-century.

In essence, we are being told that we ought to cut emissions to zero, and to plant trees to achieve that, meaning that we would have to plant forests today on 30 per cent more than all of the available land, and plant forests on almost two planets by 2030. This is unreasonable.

Is it really necessary for us to cut all emissions? Just cutting about half of all emissions would reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the medium term. More important, planting forests is one of the least area-efficient, technology-intensive ways to cut carbon. Solar cells and wind turbines require less than 1per cent of the area of forests to reduce CO2, they become increasingly efficient, and they can often be placed on non-productive land (such as wind turbines at sea and solar panels in deserts). Measured this way, the scary eco-crunch disappears.

Due to technology, the individual demand on the planet has already dropped by 35per cent over the past half decade, and the collective requirement will reach its upper limit before 2020 without any overdraft.

Translating CO2 into an illogical and inefficient measure of forest cover seems intended mainly to ensure that an alarming message results.

In the scientific literature, a leading modeller acknowledges that most modellers regard this method as "hard to defend". Two other research teams have pointed out that the ecological footprint "itself is nothing more than an important attention-grabbing device" and that "it is less a scientific measure than one designed to raise public awareness and influence politics".

When we really examine the ecological footprint calculations, we discover that the only thing the world is running out of is space to plant a colossal amount of imaginary forest that we wouldn't have planted anyway, to avoid CO2 emissions that we can prevent through much smarter and cheaper means.

That our profligate consumption requires five planets is a catchy story, but it is wrong. The planet we have is more than enough.


Green Bubbles Bursting

The delusions of renewables and the realities of nuclear power


With the selling of President Obama’s economic agenda now in full gear, this is a good time to take stock of his energy plans against the background of energy trends worldwide. Alas, even a brief glimpse reveals that Obama’s focus on renewable energy and the introduction of a cap-and-trade regime runs counter to both economic rationality and current energy trends to the point of guaranteeing its inevitable failure, which will result in serious economic harm to the United States.

The president is imposing his green agenda on America, even as the renewable-energy bubbles of the Left are bursting, and the world is witnessing the astounding comeback of the kind of energy Obama scrupulously avoids mentioning: nuclear power. To understand this surprising reality, the best place to start is to look at the record of the three countries Obama specifically mentioned in his address to Congress as leading the United States in the renewable-energy revolution: China, Japan, and Germany.

China, he said, “has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient.” True enough, but that effort has nothing to do with renewable energy, and it’s not even clear that it’s working. To the Chinese, energy efficiency means more efficient coal-burning equipment, co-generation, coal liquefaction, and other improvements of their primarily coal-based energy industry. Despite marginal improvements in this area, China is now the largest carbon-dioxide emitter in the world and can, at best, slow down but not stop carbon-emissions growth for the foreseeable future. As far as renewable energy proper is concerned, its share of total energy production not only is minuscule, but has actually declined over the past two years, according to Beijing’s State Electricity Council. There is, however, one clean-energy sector in which China is making a lot of progress and has even more ambitious plans for the future: nuclear power.

What about Japan? It does produce a lot of solar panels for export and subsidizes rooftop solar installation, but its renewable-energy production target for 2010 is only 3 percent. Instead, Tokyo plans to boost the share of nuclear power to 41 percent from the current 30 percent in less than a decade.

This leaves Germany as a model for our green future. At first glance, it is a renewable-energy success story and, to no one’s surprise, it has become the poster child of the green fantasy universe. In just a few years, the country has become the world’s powerhouse of green energy, currently generating nearly 15 percent of its electricity from wind power and solar energy, which already exceeds the EU target of a 12.5 percent renewable share for 2010. A heartwarming story, it seems — until one starts asking questions as to how a country that has neither much sun, nor much wind, got there; how much it cost; and where it is going from here.

The reality, of course, is that it doesn’t matter how much sun or wind there is as long as the government provides huge subsidies at the expense of the taxpayer and of the economy’s future prospects. In Germany, through a scheme innocuously called “feed-in tariff,” this has meant guaranteeing solar producers, for instance, a price seven times higher than the wholesale rate for 20 years. No wonder every entrepreneur-for-the-dole promptly lined up to feed at the public trough and created an artificial industry overnight. Yet, with Germany’s electricity bill going up by 38 percent in just one year (2007 over 2006), this is hardly a sustainable proposition.

If that’s not enough, several years of operational experience have proven what experts have known or feared for a long time: that renewable energy is not only very expensive but also highly inefficient and unreliable. Solar panels, for example, seldom convert more than 25 percent of sun energy into electricity, while wind power’s “load factor” — i.e., electricity produced per installed capacity — seldom exceeds 20 percent in Germany. The intermittent nature of both of these sources makes them completely unsuitable for baseload-grid consideration, meaning that they have to be backed up by conventional energy — which, of course, defeats the purpose of green energy as an alternative.

Nor does the German and overall European experience with cap-and-trade provide any reason to be optimistic about the prospects of Obama’s plan to raise $646 billion through a similar scheme. Four years after its introduction, the EU carbon-trading scheme has failed to create a functioning emissions-permit market, to generate revenues, or to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as promised, even as it led to large electricity-rate increases and windfall profits for some of the worst polluters on the Continent.

The bottom line is that for the foreseeable future renewable energy will remain a pie-in-the-sky green fantasy, not feasible economically without huge public subsidies.

Engaging in such economically irrational policies may have been understandable on the part of politically correct Western elites seeking to appease their hysterical environmental lobbies, especially when the stakes were small, energy prices were skyrocketing, and economic prosperity seemed assured. But those days are now gone and probably won’t be back for quite some time. Instead, under the perfect storm of collapsing energy prices, the worst economic crisis in decades, a severe credit crunch, and mass unemployment, the green-energy bubble has burst. Around the world, Germany included, green subsidies are being slashed, renewable-energy projects are being canceled or postponed, private capital and credit institutions have abandoned the sector, and many of the once high-flying green companies are on the brink of bankruptcy. Green energy, long touted as our salvation from environmental doom, now appears doomed itself.

This should be a cause for celebration, for out of the ruins of this irrational fantasy, a new, powerful trend toward clean, inexpensive, and reliable power is gathering steam, and it may finally bring some economic rationality to energy policy worldwide. It has taken the form of a remarkable economic comeback–cum–political rehabilitation of the much-maligned nuclear-power industry. Though Americans will hear neither their president nor his devoted claque in the “mainstream” media discuss this, it is already a powerful reality that may yet make the 21st century the century of nuclear power.

What is most remarkable about the nuclear-power revival is that it is a worldwide phenomenon that includes Western countries that until recently were staunch fellow travelers in the anti-nuclear bandwagon. Italy and Sweden, both of which had moratoriums on building nuclear reactors dating back to the 1980s, have now reversed course, and Germany will almost certainly follow shortly. Italy now plans to get 25 percent of its future electricity needs from eight new nuclear plants and has already contracted with a French company for the construction of the first four. Great Britain envisages not only refurbishing eight aging reactors, but also building ten new ones.

France, which never succumbed to the anti-nuclear frenzy and already derives 80 percent of its electricity from 58 reactors, has become a world leader in nuclear technology — eclipsing the U.S. — and is aggressively moving forward with third-generation reactors at home and abroad. Farther east, Ukraine, despite its Chernobyl legacy, plans eleven new reactors by 2030, while Russia, an exporter of nuclear technology, wants to double its electricity output from nuclear power by 2020. Not to be left behind, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania are either planning or already building new nuclear plants. In short, Europe, until recently a citadel of anti-nuclear fervor, is being transformed into a gigantic nuclear-power construction site.

Elsewhere, the nuclear-power steamroller is making even more impressive inroads. India and China, likely economic superpowers of the future alongside the U.S., have both opted for nuclear energy in a decisive way. India, which today produces a meager 4,100 megawatts, or 3 percent of its electricity, from nuclear power, aims to boost that 15-fold, to 63,000 MWs, with 40 new reactors by 2032. It is already constructing five new plants and has just signed a contract with the French company Areva for up to six more third-generation reactors. China, which currently has a nuclear-generating capacity of 9,000 MWs, plans to increase that to 40,000 MWs by 2020 and 63,000 MWs ten years later. Finally, Japan, which alongside France is a world leader in nuclear-electricity technology, is fully committed to nuclear power and intends to double its share of electricity production from the current 30 percent by mid-century.

So where does this leave the U.S., and President Obama’s energy agenda? It leaves us in the unenviable position of being the only major economic power led by a president dogmatically wedded to yesterday’s make-believe universe of green energy that has already been debunked by reality in the rest of the world. Much as in Europe, renewable energy in America is in a dire predicament. By the end of 2008, American solar- and wind-power stocks had lost some four-fifths of their value — twice the loss rates of the general market — inflicting catastrophic losses on investors who had bought into the green hype. Investment and credit have both dried up and, despite the brave rhetoric of President Obama, there isn’t enough government money to make much difference in the absence of private capital. In just one example of the parlous state of renewable affairs, California, where sunlight is nearly as abundant as lack of environmental common sense, produces but 0.2 percent of its electricity from solar power after three decades of heavy subsidies.

Worse may be in store. If Obama’s dubious energy agenda is rammed through Congress, as seems likely, not only are Americans going to be saddled with a crushing tax burden, courtesy of the bogus cap-and-trade scheme, but the country’s economic competitiveness could suffer lasting if not irreparable damage. Such are the wages of our renewable delusions.


Why "cap and trade" will be an unmitigated disaster

On top of this disastrous fiscal policy [of huge government deficits], the Democrats seem determined to push through a so-called "cap and trade" plan to tax carbon emissions...

What most people don't realize about this plan is it's actually the largest tax increase in American history. Says Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, "It's the most significant revenue-gathering proposal of all time." Current estimates show a cap and trade regime will add $500 billion to $1 trillion to the government's annual revenues - an amount equal to roughly 50%-100% of all the income taxes collected each year!

Taxing electricity at these rates, plus mandating that 25% of all electricity come from "alternative sources," (which doesn't include nuclear power), plus regulating all home appliances, plus making it against the law to trade in incandescent light bulbs... It's insanity. These new taxes and regulations will destroy our economy. I'd bet less than 10 senators understand the incredibly important role electricity plays in our economy: There's a perfect correlation between electricity production and economic growth. Watching the government bankrupt itself with unprecedented new debts, while at the same time shooting our economy in the face with a huge new tax on electricity, should scare the crap out of every American.

And these fears ought to apply equally to Democrats or Republicans. If you were trying to devise a political plan to destroy the country, this is the route you'd take: make it harder than ever before to produce anything, devalue the currency, and raise taxes by 50%.


What is "normal" climate?

"In the midst of all the public discussion about climate change, people lose sight of the simple, fundamental question: What is "normal" climate? Here in Saskatchewan we aren't even sure what "normal" weather is". -- Comment by Brian Pratt, P.Geo., a sedimentologist and palaeontologist at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan

There is no such thing as one single global climate, and measuring the heat flux of the entire Earth is no simple matter. Every geoscientist knows that climate is never static: it has always been changing and always will be. Here in Saskatchewan, the last of the Pleistocene ice sheets only melted back 10,000 years ago. A hundred million years before then, dinosaurs strolled through lush jungles under a canopy of cypress trees.

We live in extraordinary times. In less than two centuries, first coal then petroleum fuelled unimaginable technical and scientific advances that have taken us to the point where information transmittal is instantaneous around the globe. Yet, even though everyone takes advantage of this technology, the level of scientific literacy among the general population is so abject that it makes the power of suggestion just about as strong as it was in the Dark Ages. Add a dash of guilt and fear of the apocalypse, and how can the citizenry resist the call to "save the planet"?

But when you stop and think about it, the apocalyptic predictions don't quite make sense scientifically. Alongside the enormity of the sun and what we know of the scale and power of natural processes, to imagine humans being able to make any difference to global climate would seem like the most preposterous conceit.

Fact and Fiction

Even though I consider myself a dedicated environmentalist, I cannot accept the claims of anthropogenic -humancaused- global warming. My research involves deducing climate back in what we call "Deep Time" - geological eras of millions and billions of years ago - so I think I have enough background to understand the evidence. I know that the factors controlling climate work as an extremely complex, integrated system that cannot be resolved by debate and exchange of opinion. Therefore the suspicions of any scientist should be aroused by glib assertions like "the science is settled" or "there is a consensus," because this is not how scientists and engineers operate.

Al Gore's movie and books are so appallingly riddled with mistakes and outlandish exaggerations that they would be laughable if they weren't taken so seriously by so many. Legislators have even passed laws declaring CO2 to be a pollutant, seemingly unaware of photosynthesis, respiration and biodegradation. Should I feel guilty that my beer gave off CO2 during fermentation and when I opened it? I need something to cry into when I hear of the measures planned to reduce "carbon emissions", because of the threat these pose to our already economically fragile society.

Here are the facts, as I understand them: solar heat varies cyclically at different frequencies, from the decades to the hundreds of thousands of years. Atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature are linked, but rather than the former driving the latter, it is the other way around and there is a nearly thousand-year lag in the response.

The oceans are the great sink for CO2. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is not uniform around the globe and regional variations are tied to sea-surface temperature because CO2 dissolves in colder sea water while it degasses from warmer sea water. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, yes, but it absorbs only a very small portion of the infrared spectrum and its capacity to do so declines exponentially with concentration. It's a fact of physics that the CO2 molecule radiates almost none of the heat it can absorb. Moreover, it is such a trace gas that this effect is negligible, and even less so at the low pressures and cold temperatures high in the atmosphere.

All of this explains why, when CO2 concentration is thought to have been much higher in Deep Time such as during the Paleozoic, the surface of the globe did not overheat and the polar regions were still cold. Water vapour is what insulates the Earth and CO2 concentration has nothing to do with cloud generation. Why, then, have anthropogenic global warming promoters seized upon CO2 as the culprit?

Beyond the Science

Climate change has now become so highly politicized that one wonders whom or what to trust. It turns out that the legitimate science in the successive UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports was laundered to such a degree by a very small and select group of experts and bureaucrats charged with preparing the "summaries for policymakers" that they are often contradictory-indeed, some of the scientific contributors have since distanced themselves from these reports. There has grown a whole industry of taxpayer-funded climate modellers whose equations can't reproduce last week's weather let alone past climate change at all, but whose crystal balls universally forecast impending disaster (and of course the urgent need for more research money).

Why haven't physicists pointed out the basic mistakes in the science? Why haven't more geoscientists stood up to correct the misconceptions about natural, long-term climate change? Some have, but precious few. Barring a few notable exceptions, journalists have suspended their neutrality and taken up the cudgel to help enforce obedience to the anthropogenic global warming mantra. All manner of things from hurricanes to frog population decline to the sagging of gingerbread houses are blamed on it.

Moreover, the zealotry of many adherents is frighteningly reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition, fascism and other movements designed to take control and silence dissent. Vicious personal attacks on those who raise valid scientific questions infect the blogosphere, including likening them to Holocaust deniers. Even NASA's James Hansen, a very vocal promoter of anthropogenic global warming, has been allowed to get away with all sorts of very unscientific and virulent statements, such as demanding that oil company executives be tried for "crimes against humanity and nature".

Science is Never "Settled"

Globally averaged temperature data - imprecise, it must be admitted- show that temperature has not risen in the past 10 years: we are not in the midst of global warming at all. The famous "hockey-stick" graph wielded by Al Gore and the IPCC reports that claimed to show a dramatic rise in global temperature in the latter 20th century turns out to be a methodological and statistical chimera. Some have even suggested that it was a deliberate fraud. Temperature fluctuations and regional variations in the last few decades do not track rising atmospheric CO2 concentration.

So, if anthropogenic CO2 is not driving climate change, why do most Western governments -with the notable exception of Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic- continue to fall over themselves in support of the belief of anthropogenic global warming, and try to best each other in promising to cap CO2 production, designing carbon taxes and cap-and-trade legislation, and throwing huge sums of money at alternative energy schemes, CO2 sequestration projects and climatological research?

Sure, certain individuals stand to make a lot of money out of these measures, but some of them arguably will amount to economic suicide. Well, what politicians do "passeth all understanding" for most of us in the trenches, but it does illustrate the power of the green lobby and, in my opinion, a dearth of real leadership. The recent meeting of President Barack Obama and PrimeMinister Stephen Harper pledged a soothingly green approach to continental relations. Some of this will be beneficial: enhanced oil recovery by CO2 injection, more use of solar and geothermal heating, and improved energy efficiency. Other measures will cost a fortune and will make no difference whatsoever to climate or the weather.

As James Hutton said in 1795, the Earth has "no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end" and this holds true for climate change. Does reducing our dependence on fossil fuels justify promulgating scientific lies? I don't think so. But it is inescapable that coal, oil and natural gas are finite natural resources and when they are burned up they are gone. Period. Profligacy with these precious commodities is what needs to change.



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


14 April, 2009

"N*gger-hating" Greenie?

David Attenborough argues the planet cannot handle more people and wants births reduced. Since almost all the countries with positive population growth are in Africa, the target of this guy's ill-will would seem obvious. European birthrates are already half what is required for replacement of deaths

SIR David Attenborough has become a patron of an organisation that campaigns to limit the number of people in the world, arguing that the growth in global population is frightening. The television presenter and naturalist said the increase in population was having devastating effects on ecology, pollution and food production. "There are three times as many people in the world as when I started making television programs only a mere 56 years ago," Sir David, who has two children, said after becoming a patron of the Optimum Population Trust think-tank. [It's not a think-tank. It's just the successor to the old "people are pollution" ZPG movement. Calling it a hate-tank would be more accurate]

"It is frightening in the sense that we can't go on as we have been. We are seeing the consequences in terms of ecology, atmospheric pollution and in terms of the space and food production. "I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more. Population is reaching its optimum and the world cannot hold an infinite number of people." The OPT counts among its patrons the environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and the academic Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. However, Sir David's appointment has already been criticised.

Austin Williams, author of The Enemies of Progress, said: "Experts can still be stupid when they speak on subjects of which they know little. Sir David may know a sight more than I do about remote species but that does not give him the intelligence to speak on global politics. "I have a problem with the line that people are a problem. More people are a good thing. People are the source of creativity, intelligence, analysis and problem-solving. "If we see people as just simple things that consume and excrete carbon, then the OPT may have a point, but people are more than this and they will be the ones to find the solutions."

Sir David said the OPT was drawing attention to the issue of population and being a patron seemed a worthwhile thing to do. Roger Martin, the chairman of the trust, said the appointment would put pressure on organisations to face up to what he said was the taboo issue of population. "The environmental movement will not confront the fact that there is not a single problem that they deal with which would not be easier with fewer people."

The trust campaigns for global access to family planning and for couples to be encouraged to stop having more than two children. In Britain it wants to stabilise the population by bringing immigration into balance with emigration and making greater efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Mr Martin said the UK population must be reduced to a sustainable level because Britain was already the most overcrowded country in Europe. He said the world could not increase production to meet the needs of a growing population. "We can't feed ourselves with some of the most intensive agriculture in the world - we're only 70 per cent self-sufficient." Mr Martin said that Britain could not rely on the world food market because, when food runs short, exporters do not export it. "It's completely cuckoo to imagine that these globalised economies are going to keep us fed when we can't do it ourselves," he said.


No SUVs Around During the Roman Global Warming ‘Crisis’

Self-hating humans need to relax and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

Ah, spring, when the earth slowly wakes from its winter slumber, a warming welcomed by nearly every living thing. Hard to believe some silly people are deathly afraid of warming weather — worried sick because the earth has warmed a degree or two over the last 150 years.

Make no mistake — the earth has warmed. Unfortunately for the climate-change catastrophists, warming periods have occurred throughout recorded history, long before the Industrial Revolution and SUVs began spitting man-made carbon into the atmosphere. And as might be expected, these warm periods have invariably proven a blessing for humanity. Consider:

Around the 3rd century B.C., the planet emerged from a long cold spell. The warm period which followed lasted about 700 years, and since it coincided with the rise of Pax Romana, it is known as the Roman Warming.

In the 5th century A.D., the earth’s climate became cooler. Cold and drought pushed the tribes of northern Europe south against the Roman frontier. Rome was sacked, and the Dark Ages commenced. And it was a dark age, both metaphorically and literally — the sun’s light dimmed and gave little warmth; harvest seasons grew shorter and yielded less. Life expectancy and literacy plummeted. The plague appeared and decimated whole populations.

Then, inexplicably, about 900 A.D. things began to warm. This warming trend would last almost 400 years, a well documented era known as the Medieval Warm Period. Once again, as temperatures rose harvests and populations grew. Vineyards made their way into Northern Europe, including Britain. Art and science flourished in what we now know as the Renaissance.

Then around 1300 A.D. things cooled drastically. This cold spell would last almost 500 years, a severe climate event known as the Little Ice Age. Millions died in famine as glaciers advanced all over the world. The plague returned. In Greenland, the Norse colony that had been established during the Medieval Warming froze and starved. Arctic pack ice descended south, pushing Inuit peoples to the shores of Scotland. People ice skated on the Thames; they walked from Staten Island to Manhattan over a frozen New York Harbor. The year 1816 was remembered as the year without a summer, with some portions of the Northern Hemisphere seeing snowfall in June.

But around 1850 the planet began to warm up yet again. Glaciers retreated. Temperatures rose. This is the warming period which we are still enjoying today. And once again, the warmth brought bounty: The last 150 years have seen an explosion in life expectancy, population, and scientific progress like never before.

Of course, even before the appearance of humans, the earth alternated throughout its history between extremes of heat and cold: 700 million years ago the planet was covered entirely in ice; 55 million years ago, a swampy greenhouse.

Why? What drives these ancient cycles? There are a lot of theories. The waxing and waning of solar output; cosmic rays and their role in cloud formation; the earth moving through plumes of galactic dust as it travels up and down through the arm of the Milky Way; plate tectonics redirecting the ocean currents; vulcanism. Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things. Perhaps it is something as yet undiscovered. One thing for sure that it’s not: SUVs.

Why, then, do otherwise sensible people believe that we are both causing the current warming and that the warmth is a bad thing? To me it seems some grotesque combination of narcissism and self-loathing, a mentality that says at once “I am so important that my behavior is causing this” and “I am so inherently tainted that it must be bad.” For these self-hating humans who want us to cut our carbs (carbons, not carbohydrates), I say relax and enjoy the warmth while it lasts. Because it won’t. No matter what we do, the ice and the cold and the dark will come again. That should be our worry.


More than 100 campaigners arrested over British 'power station plot'

More than 100 people are in custody after police smashed a major plot to sabotage one of Britain's biggest power-stations. Officers swooped on environmental protesters as they prepared a mass raid that could have disrupted supplies to tens of thousands of homes. The demonstrators are thought to have gathered at night in readiness to move on Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, Nottinghamshire.

They were rounded up shortly after midnight on Sunday at the Bakersfield Community Centre in Sneinton, Notts, by scores of officers. Detectives later revealed they recovered specialist equipment that suggested the group represented a "serious threat" to the station's safety.

Supt Mike Manley, of the Nottinghamshire force, said 114 men and women from across the UK were detained during the dramatic swoop. They were being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage at Ratcliffe-on-Soar. Supt Manley said: "In view of specialist equipment recovered by police, those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site. "This was a significant operation, with large-scale arrests. There were no injuries during the arrests, and the police investigation is ongoing."

Witnesses told how officers in more than 20 police vans descended on the plotters' apparent rendezvous point in the early hours. Tess Rearden, who lives near the scene, said: "We were woken up by the sound of doors slamming and saw all these police vans and riot vans.... One resident told how the protesters did not fight with officers during the swoop but signalled their defiance as they were being led away. She said: "The police jumped out of their vans and ran behind the community centre. The people they brought out were singing: 'We'll be back again.'"

It is thought detectives had prior knowledge of the plot but chose to wait till the demonstrators were together in one place before moving in. Local city councillor David Mellen added: "I understand there was some kind of gathering of people here in connection with the power-station. "If the police had information that there was a danger to the power supply in the East Midlands then obviously they had to take action."

The Derbyshire and Leicestershire forces helped in the operation and later provided additional custody facilities for some of those arrested. Ratcliffe-on-Soar has been the target of a number of protests in the past, including one two years ago in which protesters tried to shut down the plant. Environmentalists who stormed the site on that occasion later failed in a landmark legal bid to prove they were acting in the interests of humanity.

Climate-change campaigners admitted they attempted to force the site's closure by chaining themselves to conveyor belts and filtration systems. But they argued that, because they were saving the planet from global warming, their actions were legal under the so-called "defence of necessity". Had they won their case they would have paved the way for campaigners around the country to stage similar protests without fear of prosecution.

At the time Eastside Climate Action, the group involved, said the break-in reflected "the threat climate change poses to the human population". A spokesman said: "We argue that the threat to human life is so serious that it is a proportionate and reasonable response to take direct action."

Giving evidence at the court hearing, station manager Raymond Smith told how production at the site was threatened during the incident. He said: "People chained themselves to the conveyor system and the filtration system. They were non-violent, but none had permission to be on the site. "If the protest had continued to the extent that the power station ran out of coal we would have had to shut it down. But we called the police."

Eastside denied any involvement in yesterday's events - thought to be linked to plans for a new coal-fired power-station in Kingsthorpe, Kent. E.on, the power giant behind Kingsthorpe, owns Ratcliffe-on-Soar - allegedly Britain's second-largest producer of carbon-dioxide emissions. An E.on spokesman said: "While we understand everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things. "We will be assisting police in their investigations into what could have been a very dangerous attempt to disrupt an operational power-plant."


Climate bill could trigger lawsuit landslide

Allows action from those 'expected to suffer'

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who "expect to suffer" from it - from beachfront property owners to asthmatics - for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill.

Environmentalists say the measure was narrowly crafted to give citizens the unusual standing to sue the U.S. government as a way to force action on curbing emissions. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees a new cottage industry for lawyers. "You could be spawning lawsuits at almost any place [climate-change modeling] computers place at harm's risk," said Bill Kovacs, energy lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The bill was written by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat. Both lawmakers declined repeated requests for comment. The Waxman-Markey blueprint, including the lawsuit provision, has just been released, and the Senate is drafting its own energy bill. But Mr. Waxman has set an accelerated schedule for passing the bill through his committee by Memorial Day and President Obama lists an energy overhaul bill as one of his top priorities.

David Doniger, senior counsel with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the measure is similar to a landmark environmental ruling from the Supreme Court allowing states to sue the federal government for damages from climate change - largely on the basis of lost shorelines from rising sea levels - but did not set grounds for people to file lawsuits. "The [Chamber of Commerce] is trying to say the global-warming legislation is scarier than global warming itself," Mr. Doniger said. "It's part of a menu of scare tactics they are compiling."

Under the House bill, if a judge rules against the government, new rules would have to be drafted to alleviate the problems associated with climate change. If a judge rules against a company, the company would have to purchase additional "carbon emission allowances" through a cap-and-trade program that is to be created by Congress.

The measure sets grounds for anyone "who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part," to government inaction to file a "citizen suit." The term "harm" is broadly defined as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring."

It would allow citizens to seek up to $75,000 in damages from the government each year, but would cap the total amount paid out each year at $1.5 million, committee staff said. It is unclear whether the provision would actually cap damages at $75,000 per person, because the U.S. law referenced does not establish payouts by the government. The $1.5 million cap reflects a compromise reached with House Republicans in a 2007 version of the measure introduced by Mr. Waxman, committee staff said. Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey wrote the measure into a broader climate plan introduced last week, although it was left out of a bill summary that committee staff provided at the time.

Republican committee staff said the measure has the potential to muddle the judicial system. "Perhaps a more accurate title of the bill would be 'The Lawyer Full-Employment and As-Seen-on-TV Global Warming Act of 2009,' " said Larry Neal, deputy Republican staff director for the House committee.

Democratic staffers said the measure provides guidance to the courts on how to apply existing Clean Air Act provisions. Private citizens can sue the government based on harm caused by pollutants currently regulated under the Clean Air Act - including nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide - but they lack standing to sue for damages resulting from climate change.

Regulating carbon dioxide has been a hard slog for environmentalists, and some energy analysts say that the Waxman-Markey bill and parallel efforts by the Obama administration constitute a multifaceted attempt to achieve the goal by regulation if legislative attempts fail.

The "citizen suit" would allow people to force government action on climate change, seemingly a redundancy in a bill that would achieve that goal if passed. But environmentalists have been cautious in their tack, arguing that many environmental protections on the books were not vigorously enforced under the Bush administration.

Environmental lawyers played down the significance of the provision. The measure would not guarantee payouts from the government or successful lawsuits, Mr. Doniger said, but would set the bar for people seeking to force the government to act on climate change. He likened the measure to tort laws regarding cigarette smoke or cancer-causing chemicals, in which the harmful effects are not seen for decades. "If this pollution isn't curbed, it isn't just today or tomorrow you have problems, it's also 20 to 30 years from now," Mr. Doniger said.

Expansion of the Clean Air Act to allow "citizen suits" on climate change has been a goal among environmental groups and moderate to liberal Democrats for many years - although the measure has never succeeded. But amending the Clean Air Act is "potentially a big gamble" because it opens other sections of the act to modification during the bill-drafting process, said a Democratic energy lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ties to committee members.


India Rejects Calls For Emission Cuts

Officials Say Growth Will Be Compromised

Days after the Obama administration unveiled a push to combat climate change, Indian officials said it was unlikely to prompt them to agree to binding emission cuts, a position among emerging economies that many say derails effective action. "If the question is whether India will take on binding emission reduction commitments, the answer is no. It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce when 40 percent of Indians do not have access to electricity," said a member of the Indian delegation to the recently concluded U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, which is a prelude to a Copenhagen summit in December on climate change. "Of course, everybody wants to go solar, but costs are very, very high."

India's position goes to the heart of the vexing international debate over how quickly nations should try to phase out carbon-spewing fuels such as coal and switch to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. In India, the debate has been cast as a choice between pursuing urgently needed economic growth to reduce poverty and addressing climate change.

More than 60 percent of India's power is generated from coal. As India rapidly climbs the list of global polluters, analysts say coal will continue to fuel the economic demands of the country's 1.1 billion people for two decades. But India has repeatedly said that it will not compromise on growth by committing to emission reduction goals set by developed nations, which it deems bigger culprits when it comes to pollution.

President Obama's promise of a leading U.S. role in combating climate change is a clear departure from the stance of his predecessor, George W. Bush. A climate bill recently introduced by Democrats in the House calls for a 20 percent cut in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, along with a substantial increase in renewable-energy use. "I am reasonably optimistic. But it is not entirely upon President Obama. He has to carry the Congress and the Senate with him," said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He added that India is "very unlikely" to change its official position.

In a policy document released in January, India calls for industrialized countries to commit to significant emission reduction targets while aiding sustainable development in developing nations with funds and technology. "But it was informally made very clear to us by the developed countries that there will be no money available for developing countries because of the global economic slump," said the Indian delegate to the Bonn meeting. About 2.5 percent of India's gross domestic product is spent on measures to address climate change, including introduction of cleaner technologies, energy-efficient consumer products and renewable energy.

Indian officials say it is unfair to group their country with the major emitters because, per capita, India's emissions are a tenth of those in the United States. Last week, India's special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran, told reporters in Bonn that he opposed any attempt by the European Union and the United States to impose "carbon tariffs" on exports of Indian goods produced in energy-intensive industries such as steel, aluminum, cement and fertilizer.

Another issue raised was the controversial carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS. The expensive, unproven and environmentally contentious technique is intended to help combat climate change by injecting carbon dioxide emissions into deep underground reservoirs. The United States recently committed money to the technology in its economic stimulus package, and more funding may be proposed in the climate bill expected to be debated later this year. In January, India joined a handful of nations gingerly experimenting with CCS.

Scientists at India's National Geophysical Research Institute released preliminary findings from ongoing government-funded research that seeks to inject carbon dioxide into the basalt rock formation called the Deccan Traps, which is about 60 million years old. S. Nirmal Charan, a senior scientist at the institute, said researchers wanted to determine whether carbon dioxide can be trapped for tens of thousands of years within the basalt. He said more simulated laboratory tests are underway, but initial results show the process to be "environmentally benign."

Critics say it is a gimmick that allows carbon-spewing industries to carry on with business as usual. "The idea of CCS allows our addiction to coal to remain. It ensures that we keep burning coal," said Chandra Bhushan, associate director of the Center for Science and Environment. "Who will monitor whether there are carbon dioxide leaks from underground storage?"

Norway and Canada have begun implementing various carbon-storage initiatives. Last week, Germany approved a draft law to develop the technology, and China has identified two sites for storage. India has not formally committed to conducting CCS field experiments. But an official in the Power Ministry said it has the "potential to be an extremely important technology." "But we are unsure about how it will work," the official said. "Let the world first demonstrate. We will learn from them."


Australian energy industry warns of blackouts

CONSUMERS face possible blackouts and power stations could go broke unless the Rudd Government offers an extra $6billion worth of free permits under its planned emissions trading scheme, the energy sector has warned.

If the extra assistance is not forthcoming, the sector, responsible for about 70 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions, will ask the Government for a Rudd Bank-style financing facility to help raise the capital.

A survey by the Energy Supply Association of Australia has found the sector will need to find $100 billion over the next five years for refinancing, essential upgrades and new investments in low-emission generation to comply with the emissions trading scheme and new renewable energy targets.

The industry says it is facing a "perfect storm" of a credit squeeze caused by the financial crisis and the Rudd Government's bank guarantee, inadequate compensation under the carbon pollution reduction scheme, and a decision by the Australian Energy Regulator that could reduce the profitability of energy network providers.

The Government has offered the electricity industry $3.9billion in free pollution permits to compensate for the "most probable and most extreme" writedowns in power station asset values because of the carbon pollution reduction scheme - an acknowledgement that the scheme will cause upheaval in the sector as it shuts down some high-polluting power plants early and invests in new low-polluting generation.

The ESAA said this amount must be increased to at least $10billion, to be delivered over the first five years of the scheme.

"If the Government does not increase the level of compensation, we will have no choice but to go to them asking for another finance facility for our sector," association chief executive Clare Savage said.

"What is at stake here is the future of the energy market. If nothing is done, power stations are likely to be bankrupted, and if they closed, then there would be problems with electricity supply, or more likely governments would have to step in to take them over, and that would unravel the last 10 years' hard work to set up a national electricity market."

An ESAA survey found the energy sector would need to find $50billion for refinancing over the next five years, $6.3 billion for planned spending on existing assets, $12 billion for new lower-emission generation and $31billion for investments in the electricity networks.

The sector needs to fight for access to that capital in a market where banks and state governments have received federal government guarantees and where the carbon pollution reduction scheme means asset values are being written down.

The $40 billion energy distribution industry is facing a large reduction in its returns if the Australian Energy Regulator confirms a recent draft decision at the same time as it is being asked to fund billions of dollars in new network investments as the industry shifts to new types of generation.

According to the Energy Networks Association, the draft decision would reduce returns to the industry by more than 10 per cent.

"When you combine the effects of these decisions with the debt guarantees being offered to other sectors, it is tantamount to tying one hand behind the industry's back while it fights for capital in the midst of a global financial crisis," Ms Savage said.

"To help ensure these assets remain in service to support the transition to lower-emission technologies and give new investors in the energy supply sector confidence that when the Government institutes major policy change that has the potential to strand long-lived infrastructure assets, the value of these assets must be adequately recognised."

The Government says the revenue it will raise from auctioning permits under the carbon pollution reduction scheme is already fully allocated in compensation to industry and households, meaning any increase in compensation to one sector would require taking something away from another.



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13 April, 2009

Debate continues on Earth climate change and global warming

Carbon footprint. Go green. These are a few phrases that recently have become part of our vernacular. We hear them every day. The president says them. School teachers use them. Tele-vision shows play them. Each of these phrases has a connection to one problem many believe every person on the plant shares: Global warming.

However, there is a large community of scientists who do not agree with this theory on global warming. While everyone knows what global warming is, many do not know there is a rebuttal out there.

According to, “The premise of global warming is that industrial growth coupled with non-structured methods we as humans use to sustain ourselves has created a situation where our planet is getting hotter by the minute. We have seemingly negatively affected our environment by a cycle of harmful processes that now seem to be feeding upon themselves to exponentially increase damage to our ecosystem.”

Edward F. Blick was once a professor at the University of Oklahoma in the School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the School of Meteorology, the College of Medicine and the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Blick holds an M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering and a Ph.D. in engineering science. He has served as an Air Force weatherman, has worked for Lockheed Missile and Space Co. and McDonnell Aircraft Corp., and has consulted for several corporations and government agencies such as NASA and the Air Force.

In a phone interview Blick explained global warming as follows: “What they say is that as man has started using fossil fuels in the middle 1800s ... these fossil fuels have carbon in them. When the fuel is used up ... and comes out as exhaust, it comes out as H2O, which is water, and CO2, which is carbon dioxide.”

Global warming, also called anthropogenic global warming, which means global warming caused by man, is said to be a result of the exhaust made by the burning of fossil fuels. “The thing is, the CO2 goes up into our atmosphere and increases the CO2, which is there naturally, producing the greenhouse effect,” said Blick. describes the greenhouse effect as occurring when “solar radiation either bounces off of or is radiated forth from the Earth and instead of passing through our atmosphere and outward into space, is absorbed by all kinds of extra amounts and extraneous gases and particles ... from there the process repeats itself until we have a global version of a car with the windows rolled up parked in the noonday sun.”

On Feb. 25 William Happer, Cyrus Bogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University spoke before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Without greenhouse warming, the Earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life,” said Happer. “However, at least 90 percent of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player.”

Happer went on to say there is little argument within the scientific community that “a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the Earth’s temperature — on the order of one degree.”

Scientists may agree twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would only raise the Earth’s temperature one degree, but what if man more than doubles the amount of CO2? “Burning all our remaining fossil fuels cannot double the CO2, but only increase it by 20 percent,” said Blick.

“But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about?” said Happer. “In a word, they are wildly exaggerated.”

Even though the Earth’s temperature was rising slowly beginning about 200 years ago until recently, many experts say, “So what?” “Climate is changing, always has and most likely always will until that thermonuclear engine in the sky, the sun, goes out,” said Gary England, chief meteorologist for KWTV news Channel 9. “That’s what climate does. It changes.”

Happer and Blick both said the recent warming period began around 1800. “(It began) at the end of the little ice age, long before there was an appreciable increase of CO2,” said Happer. “There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels.”

Happer, Blick and England all said over the past 10 years there has been a consistent global cooling, not warming.

Blick said it is mostly politicians who are warning the world of impending global warming. “How many scientists are involved? Probably very few,” said Blick. Blick said several natural forces appear to be lining up to bring a period of very cold weather to the planet. One of those natural forces is sunspots. “We’re in what is called sunspot cycle 23,” said Blick.

During a part of the sunspot cycle when there are few sunspots, the weather gets colder. “The sun has had few sunspots the past year or so,” said England. “The sun is quiet. The last time this went on for years we ended up with the little ice age for many years.” “The evidence is that right now, the sunspot measurements are so low, they haven’t been this low in about 100 years,” said Blick.

Blick said if a cold period is coming, people should be aware and preparing for it. “Cold kills,” said Blick. “And yet our politicians are telling us it’s going to get hot. They’re preparing for the wrong battle.”

Even though these and other experts say it’s getting colder, people are still hearing the polar ice caps are melting. “More recently ... people found a big problem with the data from a satellite that is used to estimate Arctic ice coverage,” said England. “It was a 500,000 square kilometer error ... in reality, we find now that ice coverage is not collapsing.”

England said the same researchers also discovered a large number of rural weather stations around the world were shut down. If only urban temperatures are reported, it might seem the average temperature went up even if it didn’t because urban areas always are warmer than rural areas.

These experts do not believe we currently are in a warming period, but they also do not believe that we can create enough CO2 to do any damage. In fact, they say an increase in CO2 could be a good thing. “Increased CO2 actually increases crop production,” said England. “When CO2 drops to less than 150 (parts per million) plants will commence failing. If the plants die, then the livestock die and then guess who is next?”

“CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison,” said Happer. “Plants and our own primate ancestors evolved when the levels of atmospheric CO2 were about 1,000 ppm, a level that we will probably not reach by burning fossil fuels, and far above our current level of about 380 ppm.”

Happer said human exhaled breath contains a CO2 level of 40,000 ppm, a much higher level than is in the atmosphere. Happer also said it has been said CO2 is a cause of increased heat. “(Former Vice President) Al Gore likes to display graphs of temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past million years or so, showing that when CO2 rises, the temperature also rises,” said Happer. “If you look carefully at these records, you find that first the temperature goes up, and then the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere goes up. There is a delay between a temperature increase and a CO2 increase of about 800 years.”

An example of a rise in temperature causing a rise in CO2 is the ocean. When the temperature rises, more ocean water evaporates, causing more of the water vapor and, as Happer said, 90 percent of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds, not CO2.

Blick said Gore travels around giving presentations and has even written books about global warming, even though he has no academic training in science. “Al Gore will not debate anybody. He says the debate is over,” said Blick. “I would love to debate Al Gore ... I’d be glad to go to court in defense of no global warming. I’d win easily.”

Most likely Blick won’t get his opportunity to debate Gore, or to go to court in opposition to anthropogenic global warming. The debate is likely to continue.

“With respect to the discussion on global warming, I say there are no simple answers to such an extremely complex issue,” said England. “No matter how many models they wave in the air and no matter how dire their predictions about our impending doom, they don’t know.”

Happer said there are more important things to focus on than a global crisis that may not even exist. “I regret that the climate change issue has become confused with serious problems like secure energy supplies, protecting our environment and figuring out where future generations will get energy supplies after we have burned all the fossil fuel we can find,” said Happer. “We should not confuse these laudable goals with hysterics about carbon footprints.”

England said controlling climate is not something the human race can accomplish with ease. “The following numbers are approximate,” said England. “The Earth spins at the equator at 1,038 mph; the Earth moves around the sun at 67,000 mph; our solar system travels around our galaxy at 558,000 mph and our galaxy is moving through the universe at 666,000 mph. So, right now you may be moving at 1,292,000 mph, and Washington, D.C., says they’re going to control our climate. I don’t think so.”


When the Inmates are in Charge

By Alan Caruba

If you ever wondered what it would be like if seriously deranged people were close to the seat of power in America, you can stop wondering. In January, the Competitive Enterprise Institute issued a three-page memorandum. William Yeatman, the author of the memorandum, had serious concerns about the nomination of Dr. John P. Holdren to be the White House Science Adviser. This position heads the Office of Science and Technology Policy which, in official lingo, “serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government.”

“John Holdren’s 40-year record of outlandish scientific assertions, consistently wrong predictions, and dangerous public policy choices make him unfit to serve as White House Science Adviser,” warned Yeatman.

Just how crazy is Holdren? On April 8, according to the Associated Press, Holdren said that “global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air.” Holdren suggested that one option includes “shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays.”

The last time anything of this nature was discussed, it was called “a nuclear winter” in which the debris from a nuclear war would fill the atmosphere and keep the Sun’s warming and nourishing rays from getting through.

According to Holdren, “It’s got to be looked at. We don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.” Holdren believes that the Earth is in the grip of global warming, but the difference between belief and science is that the latter demands proof. Take, for example, the data our weather satellites have been sending back since 1998 all of which points to a cooling Earth.

Twice during the interview, Holdren compared global warming to being “in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in a fog.” The truth, however, is that Holdren is a genuine cuckoo who probably checks under the bed every night to make sure the bogyman isn’t there.

Yeatman described him more charitably as a “chronic alarmist”, citing just a few of his paranoid fantasies. In 1971, Holdren predicted that “some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century.” We are now safely into a new century and the only catastrophe is the Obama administration.

The really neat thing about making catastrophic predictions is that they always take place way into a future. In 1986, Holdren was predicting that global warming would cause the deaths of one billion people by 2020. This is eight years beyond 2012 when devotees of the ancient Mayan calendar predict the end of the world will occur. Neither are likely to occur.

In 1998 Holdren warned that we just can’t go on using energy fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal that represent nearly one hundred percent of everything we and everyone else uses now and will into the future. These days we hear President Obama blathering away about “clean energy”, but there is reality and there is the increasingly weird world of the White House.

In a recent article, Robert Bryce, one of the nation’s leading authorities on energy, pointed out that “Oil now provides nearly 40 percent of America’s total primary energy use. It also provides nearly all of the energy needed for the transportation sector. Coal and natural gas together provide about 50 percent of America’s primary needs.”

That leaves “clean energy”, solar and wind power, “but together,” Bryce notes, “these sources currently provide about 0.16 percent of Americans total needs.” It should also be pointed out that solar, wind, and ethanol production would not exist were it not for huge government subsidies and mandates for their use.

Both President Obama and Holdren think “clean energy” should receive billions of dollars while the White House does everything in its power to destroy the nation’s oil and coal industries.

The Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, recently said that windmills off the East Coast “could generate one million megawatts of power, roughly the equivalent of 3,000 medium coal-fired power plants, or nearly five times the number of coal plants now in the United States.”

The reality, however, is that there aren’t 3,000 coal fired plants operating. There isn’t even half that number. The Institute for Energy Research estimates that, to achieve Salazar’s insane goal, there would have to be 309,587 giant 3.15 megawatt wind turbines spread over 1,800 miles of coastline or about 172 turbines per mile of coastline. And, of course, the wind would have to blow 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Are these people crazy? You bet! Are the inmates in charge of the asylum? Yes, indeed.

They aren’t the only ones. The American Meteorological Society and several other otherwise respected science groups have completely lost their wits. The AMS wants to explore “geoengineering’s potential to understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment.”

Geoengineering? Remember that Star Trek movie that featured the “Genesis” machine that could convert a dead planet into one with grass and trees, rivers and oceans? When the AMS starts talking about geoengineering, it is strictly into cloud cuckoo land.

Absolutely nothing humans can or should do to mess with the unimaginably huge forces that determine the Earth’s atmosphere should even be contemplated. It is insane! It’s beyond science fiction. It is global genocide. Holdren has been urging “population control measures” since the 1960s.

In 1969, Holdren wrote that it was necessary “to convince society and its leaders that there is no alternative but the cessation of our irresponsible, all-demanding, and all-consuming population growth.” This is another way of saying that there are too many people sharing the planet with Holdren and he has been thinking about that “problem” for a very long time.

So have others in the Obama White House and, in terms of energy use, their “solution” is to make energy so expensive that people will stop driving, starting using mass transit, or just telecommute without going anywhere ever again. Forget about air conditioning and other aspects of modern life.

They intend to achieve this by scaring everyone with global warming talk and by claiming carbon dioxide is a “pollutant”. Then they intend to have the Environmental Protection Agency regulate it. Then they will tax it in the form of cap-and-trade “carbon credits” that must be purchased by all forms of industry and business in America. The costs will be passed along to consumers.

Billions would flow to a government that already is spending trillions in a mad scheme to fix the financial crisis.

What ever happened to just doing nothing? Sometimes when there is no problem, doing nothing is the most brilliant answer. There is no global warming. And, left alone, the financial crisis would correct itself in time. Everything the government is currently doing was tried in the 1930s and it just prolonged the Depression and made it worse!

In the meantime, loonies like Dr. John Holdren will be whispering into Obama’s ear about “shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays.”


What's the Carbon Footprint of a Pizza?

For President Obama, quite a lot higher than the average American.
When you're the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do - even if that means flying a chef 860 miles. Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.

He had apparently been handpicked after the President had tasted his pizzas on the campaign trail last autumn.

'It's surreal, it's a huge honour,' said Mr Sommers, who owns Pi restaurant in St Louis. 'It will be a casual lunch and hopefully we'll have a chance to say hello to the president.'

Mr Somers was accompanied by this business parnter Ryan Mangilardo who will help prepare the dinner for 140 this evening. It will feature his signature dishes - ten deep dish and ten thin crust creations.

He is also planning a pizza especially for the president - the Hyde Park topped with chicken and hot sauce.
Exit question: Who paid for the trip and how is this different than CEOs flying to D.C. on their private jets for hearings?


Obama trying to stop investment in conventional sources of power

Hello blackouts up ahead!

Businesses must not sink money into high-carbon infrastructure unless they are willing to lose their investments within a few years, the US lead negotiator on climate change has warned.

In the Obama administration’s starkest rebuke yet to industry over global warming, Todd Stern, special envoy for climate change at the state department, said “high-carbon goods and services will become untenable” as the world negotiates a new agreement to cut carbon emissions.

Investors should take note, he warned, that high emissions must be curbed, which would hurt businesses that failed to embark now on a low-carbon path. “How good will the business judgment of companies that make high-carbon choices now look in five, 10, 20 years, when it becomes clear that heavily polluting infrastructure has become deadly and must be phased out before the end of its useful life?”

Companies investing in such goods and services – such as coal-fired power plants and gas-guzzling cars – could start to incur heavy economic penalties for their greenhouse gas output. These could include buying carbon permits under a US cap-and-trade system, for which the administration of President Barack Obama is currently attempting to gather support in Congress.

If this stalls, other systems for pricing companies’ carbon output could be brought into play, including regulations on efficiency for cars, buildings and electrical equipment; agreements by which the big emitters in certain sectors are bound to tighten emissions limits; or tax rises.

Cap-and-trade is the White House’s favoured route, and Mr Stern noted that an international market in carbon would “doubtless” have to be part of a new global climate settlement. But he said it was too early to say which other instruments and incentives could be used. “There will need to be a lot of creative thinking, a lot of interaction with the private sector,” he said.

Mr Stern is attending talks in Bonn on a climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto protocol when its current provisions expire in 2012. The talks are the first at which the US has participated as an enthusiastic supporter of a successor.

Mr Stern, in an interview with the Financial Times, said a new treaty – which he insisted could be negotiated this year, at a United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December – must include developing countries. Under the 1997 Kyoto protocol, emerging economies such as China and India were spared the obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But their output has grown rapidly since, with China overtaking the US as the world’s biggest emitter.

Mr Stern said the main developing countries would need to take steps to curb the growth of emissions, though this could fall short of absolute cuts. “Exactly what form those [commitments] take is unclear, but there will need to be substantial action on the part of leading developing countries if we are going to have any chance of getting in the vicinity of what the science says we need to do,” he said.

One of the possible breaking points for any agreement is over financing. Poor countries want the rich world to commit to providing aid for them to cut their emissions. But so far rich countries have failed to come up with any figures, or a mechanism for achieving the large finance flows necessary.

Mr Stern said: “We are in the middle of trying to work through how a financing package might be constructed ... There might be some that comes from public monies, appropriated monies, but I do not think that will be the core of it. We will doubtless need to use carbon markets in one fashion or another.”

Loan guarantees to private sector companies might be another alternative, he said.



Can't say I'm surprised

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro says that climate change is more serious than the international economic crisis that is the main subject of Thursday's G-20 summit in London. "The financial crisis is not the only problem. There's another worse one, because it has to do not with the means of production and distribution but with our very existence. I'm referring to climate change. Both are here and will be discussed simultaneously," Castro said in the latest of his commentaries on current events.

In his column, he analyzed the prospects for the G-20 summit and the imminent negotiations about climate change in Bonn, with quotes from international news agencies and the media in other countries, after in an earlier article he lamented the fact that the Cuban media - all under state control - were neglecting the London conference....

Regarding climate change, Castro recalled that at the Bonn meeting, which will begin on Sunday, Washington will announce a new position and U.S. President Barack Obama has called a forum on energy and the climate for the end of the month.

"Strong contradictions exist regarding the contribution that the economies should make," Castro said, referring to arguments between the rich world and emerging powers such as China and India, whose leaders say the brunt of the cost of reducing greenhouse emissions should be borne by Europe and the United States. He added that while the Antarctic ice cap is melting at a faster rate, the skeptics are crying that "the scientists are exaggerating" and continue to dream "such feeble hopes."


Australia: Kids' competition 'is climate change propaganda'

LIBERAL Senator Cory Bernardi has accused Climate Change Minister Penny Wong of pushing "extreme propaganda" on the nation's schoolchildren. Senator Bernardi, who does not disguise his view that man-made climate change is a myth, has attacked a new climate change awareness competition for schoolchildren launched by Senator Wong yesterday.

The competition "Think Climate, Think Change," asks students in years 3 to 9 to use short stories, poems and art work to answer the question "what does climate change mean to me?" First prize is a trip for two to Canberra (the winner and a parent), a Nintendo Wii console, sports kit and Wii Fit pack, and books for the winner's school.

Senator Bernardi slammed the competition. "Encouraging children to look after the environment is laudable aim but this seems to have more in common with the ministry of propaganda than the balanced education of our children," he told AdelaideNow.

"One can only guess that the only children eligible to win this competition will be those who conform to the Rudd Government and Minister Wong's extreme political propaganda about climate change.

"I doubt the competition materials will include any discussion of how the Rudd Government ETS (emissions trading scheme) will export Australian industry overseas and result in hundreds of thousands of job losses for Australian workers."

Ms Wong said the competition came about because children are naturally concerned about the environment and their future. "Schoolchildren from all over Australia have written to me asking about climate change and sharing their ideas," she said. "Young Australians are very well informed when it comes to the issue of climate change - they understand that we need to take action now."

The national competition will open on Tuesday April 24 and close two months later on June 24. Senator Wong said the winner would be invited to pass on their ideas to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other senior ministers when they are flown to Canberra.



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


12 April, 2009

Nuclear Engineering Prof. Takes on Global Warming Alarmism

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stunned those of us here at the Heartland Institute April 5 when it published a letter from Heartland friend James Rust, a retired Georgia Tech nuclear engineering professor with more than 50 years experience teaching and research in areas related to energy policy.

In running Jim’s letter, the AJC opened its door just a crack to allow a dissenting voice to its steady drumbeat of global-warming alarmism. Jim’s letter was so remarkable, for its brevity as well as its ability to slip by the AJC censors, that we reprint it here in full:
Dear Editor:

Sunday, March 29 AJC’s Other Opinions page (A19) allowed three quarters of the page to writings of climate alarmist journalists Thomas Friedman ("Mother Nature needs a rescue package") and Chris Mooney ("Follow the lead of sciences: Don’t play loose with facts"). Both writers maintain there is overwhelming scientific consensus carbon dioxide from human activity is producing catastrophic global warming (AGW). Thus we need to rapidly reduce use of fossil fuels by adopting alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.

There is no consensus on AGW. The computer models used to predict global warming can not duplicate actual conditions in the atmosphere. While carbon dioxide has been increasing at the rate of about one part per million annually the past century, global temperatures have risen, fallen, risen, and now falling the past ten years. Before rushing into wind and solar energy as replacements for fossil fuels, it might be prudent to look at the experience Great Britain is having with wind energy. Ultimately we probably will need to replace fossil fuels with practical alternatives. But don’t use AGW as an excuse to add further ruin to our economy by rushing into energy technologies that are impractical and uneconomical.

The Real Climate Deniers

For at least a decade, intimately connected with energy use, have been claims on climate change. Richard Lindzen, arguably the world's most renowned climate scientist, describes our understanding of the science of climate as "primitive." Yet many in the media persist in treating alarmist "climate experts" as "all-knowing." But then the same media have a long history of taking up "end is nigh" scaremongering. It's good for ratings. We have had a litany of warnings that "billions could die" when AIDS, Avian flu, SARS, Ebola, mad cow disease, the millennium bug -- the list is endless -- hit the headlines. When they didn't of course, media alarmists shrugged, claimed they "simply report the facts" and moved on to warn about the next looming disaster.

Since man set foot on the earth, however, nothing has quite gripped the angst-ridden imagination like the weather gods visiting their fury at human behavior and life, so much connected with the use of fossil fuel energy. Media editors know this. Where once we banished such "end is nigh" eccentrics to the limits of society, today, they are fêted for spinning prediction as science and conducting publicly funded research to "save the planet." Their messages are aided by apocalyptic video game scenarios passing for media news reports.

Nowhere has this been thrown into more graphic relief than in two international climate conferences held in March this year. The "expert" conclusions of each could not have been more starkly divergent. But it is in the aims, nature and public pronouncements of each conference that we discern where the real science of climate understanding lays, and thus who are the real "climate deniers." All of which has profound implications for the future of energy, energy policy and energy investment.

The Alarmist Conference

The climate alarmist conference met in Copenhagen March 10-12 and was attended by over 2,000 activists, mostly non-scientists. It was billed as an "emergency summit" ahead of next December's UN global climate summit to be held in the same city. Such is the panic among climate/political activists that world governments will use the economic crisis as an excuse to avoid committing to binding national carbon targets come December, it was felt vital to up the political ante. If you thought that would mean scientists pointing to the latest accruing scientific evidence of impending disaster, however, you would be wrong. Far from presenting any new (or old) actual evidence, the conference majored on politicians doling out the media's headlines based on the latest apocalyptic computer-modeled predictions.

The conference duly warned of even higher sea levels and even higher global temperatures all presaging even greater catastrophes. Apparently warnings of temperature rises of 2 to 3 degrees C. clearly were not shocking us enough. Now they could be as high as 4 or 5 degrees C. The London Times reported the conference as claiming the "ice sheets are melting" and that increased global warming would lead to other "impacts," including more hurricanes, floods, and starvation.And just to show how previous prevarication by world leaders has already cost us, we learned that "two years ago it was widely thought that holding temperature increases to a maximum of 2C was achievable if governments made the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. It is now recognised that an 80 percent cut is needed."

To sum up, the alarmist conference in Copenhagen was not about science, it was about politics and prophecy. For the actual science, including the latest scientific evidence and trends, observers in Copenhagen would have had to travel to New York.

The Non-Alarmist Conference

Seven hundred climate "skeptics," many of them scientists, including Richard Lindzen of MIT, attended the Second International Conference on Climate Change, "Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?" The conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute, was held in New York on March 8-10. This was a wholly different kind of affair. It focused on the empirical science of climate, the latest scientific data and climate trends. As such, in dealing with the gritty reality of climate science, it duly got almost zero mass media coverage. Most journalists, it seems, do not like dealing with real science and allaying public scares is just bad for business.

In complete contrast to Copenhagen, the New York conference was addressed by a who's who of distinguished climate scientists. As well as hearing from Professor Lindzen, the conference was addressed by Professor Syun-Ichi Akasofu, former director of the International Arctic Research Center, Professor Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute, and Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to name but a few. These eminent scientists are the very ones the media likes to smear as "crackpots" and "climate deniers." What the conference received was the fruit of real research and study that showed sea levels, far from experiencing dramatic rise, are seeing the same level of rise they have been seeing for over 200 years. Professor S. Fred Singer, highlighting the claim of one alarmist who warned a rise of even 18 cm over a century would be "catastrophic," pointed out that the gentleman concerned is "apparently unaware that 18cm a century is the ongoing rate of rise -- which implies no additional rise in sea levels. In other words, the human influence is zero."

Alarmist claims over the "melting of the Western Antarctic ice sheet" also got short shrift as it was revealed the long-term melting of the Western ice sheet has been known about for decades. Far more significant was the data that confirmed how the Antarctic is not melting at all except for one tiny corner, the Antarctic Peninsula. The lack of scientific evidence that global ice was in meltdown was tied in with the fact that key computer-modeled temperature predictions -- upon which the whole alarmist edifice stands -- assume a linear rise in temperatures as carbon emissions rise. But such computer predictions were shown to have proven consistently and hopelessly inept. Far from following the linear rise anticipated by the alarmists, the actual satellite-measured global temperature data reveals that global temperatures have flattened out in recent years and, more recently, dropped. On the plain scientific data, if the present trend continues, the world will in fact be 1.1 degree C. cooler by 2100. In short, the world's ice is not in meltdown.

Similarly, claims that hurricane activity was rising was refuted by the scientific data showing hurricane activity, currently, is at a 30-year low. Much more could be said, but reading the New York presentations (linked below) one can only be impressed by the standard of empirical scientific study and debate and, in Copenhagen, the distinct lack of it. The juxtaposition of these two conferences is thus iconic of the entire climate debate -- or rather the mass media's collusive and shameful closing down of it. Unfortunately, many political leaders have simply bought the media-dominating alarmist line.

Vaclav Klaus, keynote speaker at the New York conference and current president of the European Union, lamented that, "the minds of world leaders are firmly shut to anything but the fantasies of the scaremongers." Yet it's those same leaders who are about to consider diverting vast economic and energy resources at the current G20 and at December's "Kyoto II." Frightening, when you consider they will do so based on an agenda propagated by a highly anti-intellectual, exclusively prophetic, anti-science 'faith' movement -- the real climate deniers.


NASA: Clean-air regs, not CO2, are melting the ice cap

Acid-rain countermeasures could drown London

New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.

Dr Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies has led a new study which indicates that much of the general upward trend in temperatures since the 1970s - particularly in the Arctic - may have resulted from changes in levels of solid "aerosol" particles in the atmosphere, rather than elevated CO2. Arctic temperatures are of particular concern to those worried about the effects of global warming, as a melting of the ice cap could lead to disastrous rises in sea level - of a sort which might burst the Thames Barrier and flood London, for instance.

Shindell's research indicates that, ironically, much of the rise in polar temperature seen over the last few decades may have resulted from US and European restrictions on sulphur emissions. According to NASA:
Sulfates, which come primarily from the burning of coal and oil, scatter incoming solar radiation and have a net cooling effect on climate. Over the past three decades, the United States and European countries have passed a series of laws that have reduced sulfate emissions by 50 percent. While improving air quality and aiding public health, the result has been less atmospheric cooling from sulfates.
Meanwhile, levels of black-carbon aerosols (soot, in other words) have been rising, largely driven by greater industrialisation in Asia. Soot, rather than reflecting heat as sulphates do, traps solar energy in the atmosphere and warms things up.

The Arctic is especially subject to aerosol effects, says Shindell, because the planet's main industrialised areas are all in the northern hemisphere and because there's not much precipitation to wash the air clean.

"Right now, in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere and in the Arctic, the impact of aerosols is just as strong as that of the greenhouse gases," says Shindell.


Science by opinion poll

Global warming is likely to overshoot a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) rise seen by the European Union and many developing nations as a trigger for "dangerous" change, a Reuters poll of scientists showed on Tuesday.

Nine of 11 experts, who were among authors of the final summary by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 (IPCC), also said the evidence that mankind was to blame for climate change had grown stronger in the past two years.

Giving personal views of recent research, most projected on average a faster melt of summer ice in the Arctic and a quicker rise in sea levels than estimated in the 2007 report, the most authoritative overview to date drawing on work by 2,500 experts. "A lot of the impacts we're seeing are running ahead of our expectations," said William Hare of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Ten of 11 experts said it was at best "unlikely" -- or less than a one-third chance -- that the world would manage to limit warming to a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) rise above pre-industrial levels. "Scientifically it can be done. But it's unlikely given the level of political will," said Salemeel Huq at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.

And David Karoly, of the University of Melbourne, said the world was "very unlikely" to reach the goal. "The concentration of long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already enough to cause warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, and we are continuing to emit more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," he said.


Britain: Fined £75, the man who pinned up a sign and 'harmed a living tree'

After losing two of his prized paintings, Anton Cataldo decided to make a direct appeal to the public. The 28-year-old artist, who specialises in pet portraits, made posters of his missing paintings and pinned them to half a dozen trees in his local park. He included his phone number and email address as well as the offer of a £100 reward for their safe return.

But the only message he received was from a council official who took exception to Mr Cataldo's use of the local fauna - and fined him £75 for harming the 'living' trees. The email said the council had been made aware of the artist's decision to search for his lost property and said: 'Some of these posters had been stapled to trees. You appear to have little understanding that trees are living things. 'Wounding the bark of a tree in any way can lead to attack by airborne fungal spores which, in the worst-case scenario, could lead to the loss of the tree.'

The email, from a Brighton and Hove City Council enforcement officer, went on to inform Mr Cataldo that while several of his posters had already been taken down by the council, he should make every effort to remove the rest himself. It read: 'Whilst we accept that the subject matter of these posters has sentimental value to you, we simply can not allow every person who loses property to resort to the kind of actions as taken by yourself. 'The city council will, on occasions, permit residents or charities to attach posters to its property in cases, for example, where pets go missing or to raise funds, but, as I have said, not for the purpose of trying to locate lost property.' The email ended: 'We genuinely hope that the paintings are found and returned to yourself.'

Mr Cataldo, a Brighton resident whose artistic endeavours supplement his income as a part-time carer, painted the portraits of his parents' labradors, Oscar and Sam, last October and said they had added sentimental value after 17-year-old Sam later died. He then gave the 8in by 12in wood-framed pictures to his parents - Mario, a 56-year-old IT consultant, and Dwenda, 58 - to put up in their home in Uckfield, East Sussex. He later borrowed them to take to a job interview as part of his portfolio. It was on his return that they went missing.

He said: 'I put them on my car roof while I unlocked the door outside my studio in Brighton but then drove off with them still on the roof. 'I feel really stupid. The paintings obviously slid off on the way to my parents house about 20 miles away but there is no way of knowing where. I did everything I could think of to find them. I put adverts on websites, left flyers in pubs and put up posters. I really had no idea I might be doing anything wrong.

'I found the council email quite patronising. I'm not an expert but I doubt very much that a staple could cause so much damage to a tree that it would actually die.' He continued: 'I'm quite a considerate person and I would never knowingly do anything to harm a tree. I didn't realise there was a law about putting posters up, as you often see them around.

Mr Cataldo complained to the council about the fine, which has since been cancelled. A council spokesman said: 'This was probably a case of an officer who was a little bit over-zealous.'


Failure to get connected means "renewable" British electricity projects may never be turned on

Energy companies are having to shelve projects that would help Britain to meet its 2020 renewables target because they cannot connect them to the national grid. With waits of several years, and in one case almost a decade, before connections can be built, several wind farm projects might have to be put in abeyance.

Delays for land-based turbines caused by grid connection dates are a longstanding grievance of the on-shore wind industry and now threaten to affect the off-shore sector. To avoid a repeat of the delays on land the national grid has called for the off-shore sector to be split into regions to allow for a strategic approach. Under the present system a tender to connect off-shore wind farms is put out for each project, which executives at National Grid plc believe puts costs up and discourages potential investors.

Dividing the off-shore developments into regions would allow for strategic planning that could consider which part of the seas to concentrate on rather than skip back and forth between individual projects hundreds of miles apart. “There is a lack of joined-up thinking, particularly in the current economic climate,” Stewart Larque, of National Grid, said. “Having transmission regions would allow better economies of scale, which is good in the current climate for raising financing. It is generally a much better way to ensure we are best placed to meet the country’s renewables targets.”

Attempts are also under way to introduce a strategic approach on land after pressure from renewable energy companies frustrated at costly delays. Talks between National Grid, renewables companies, the Government and the regulator have identified several wind farm projects that could have their grid connection dates brought forward. Among them is a scheme by Renewable Energy Systems to build 21 wind turbines at Drummuire, Caithness, which has been given a grid connection date of 2016 despite having been given planning permission in 2005.

Richard Ford, grid connections manager for RES, is awaiting a final decision but said it appeared that some progress was being made. Nevertheless, another project that the company is planning in Scotland has been given a connection date of 2018 and it is thought likely that it will slip back to at least 2020. Mr Ford said: “If we really believe there is no prospect of better, whether or not we get planning approaval, we have to question whether it is appropriate to put it through planning.”

National Grid is responsible for organising grid connections and for deciding when they can be put in. Delays inherent in the planning system have been among the biggest problems, with the connections being subject to the same rules as the projects, often attracting intense local opposition.



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


11 April, 2009

"Climate Change Leads To Major Decrease In Carbon Dioxide Storage"

Decode of the politically correct presentation below follows the article

The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the Earth’s tools to offset natural carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the ‘carbon sink’ in the North Atlantic is the primary gate for carbon dioxide (CO2) entering the global ocean and stores it for about 1500 years. The oceans have removed nearly 30 per cent of anthropogenic (man-made) emissions over the last 250 years. However, several recent studies show a dramatic decline in the North Atlantic Ocean's carbon sink.

Concerned by this decline, a group of international scientists, including Helmuth Thomas, professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University, spent the last two years investigating the world’s largest carbon sink. They weren’t sure what was causing the decrease, whether it was man-made or natural reasons. “There were massive changes in the coastal carbon cycle, and it was similar throughout the ocean,” says Dr. Thomas, who wrote about the study in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Recent observational studies found that the North Atlantic carbon uptake has decreased by 50 per cent over the last ten years. While many are quick to blame anthropogenic climate change, Dr. Thomas and his colleagues found different results.

They believe the decrease is a natural phenomenon as a result of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which causes weather patterns to change. “The next phase should once again increase in carbon uptake,” says Dr. Thomas. These natural phenomenons have the potential to mask the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

These findings are crucial in understanding how this natural system is reacting to climate change and dealing with increased man-made carbon emissions. Dr. Thomas says more research must be done; including enhanced observational efforts and developing models for analysis to fully understand the long-term effects, such as how the oceanic sink will deal with increased carbon emissions from humans. However, he hopes the study, reported on in the March edition of Nature, will help all climate change scientists with their research.

“This research is the foundation for research in ocean acidification which has implications on marine life and corals,” explains Dr. Thomas. He also cautions against misinterpreting the findings. “There are natural systems that deal with and react to natural climate change. We have to understand these to assess how anthropogenic climate change is affecting them.”


A short analysis of the above article received by email from Richard S. Courtney []

Firstly, the title could be misleading to those who do not read the text. The title says, 'Climate Change Leads to Major Decrease in CO2 Storage'. But the article reports that the climate changes and the decreased CO2 storage are natural, thus not anthropogenic. Specifically, it says:
“There were massive changes in the coastal carbon cycle, and it was similar throughout the ocean,” says Dr. Thomas, who wrote about the study in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Recent observational studies found that the North Atlantic carbon uptake has decreased by 50 per cent over the last ten years. While many are quick to blame anthropogenic climate change, Dr. Thomas and his colleagues found different results.

They believe the decrease is a natural phenomenon as a result of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which causes weather patterns to change."
The article makes PC 'nods' towards man-made emissions and their effects when it says: "These findings are crucial in understanding how this natural system is reacting to climate change and dealing with increased man-made carbon emissions." And "He also cautions against misinterpreting the findings. “There are natural systems that deal with and react to natural climate change. We have to understand these to assess how anthropogenic climate change is affecting them.”

But these 'nods' are not relevant to the findings. The findings are that a significant part - and possibly all - of the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the last ten years is a result of changed ocean chemistry induced by variation of the NAO.

These findings are consistent with my view - repeatedly stated - that the recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is a result of natural variation to the chemical composition of the ocean surface layer. In my view the carbon cycle is constantly seeking equilibrium, and I strongly assert that the IPCC uses a model of the carbon cycle that is wrong because it assumes the carbon cycle acts like a simple plumbing system that has fixed 'sources', 'sinks' and flows. The findings of Thomas et al. support my view and are yet more strong evidence that the IPCC model is wrong.

Medieval Warm Period rediscovered

I have already commented on this study but the presentation below is much more detailed -- JR

A recent article in the journal Science has provided a new, detailed climate record for the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), also know as the Medieval Warm Period. It was the most recent pre-industrial warm period, noted in Europe and elsewhere around the globe. The researchers present a 947-year-long multi-decadal North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction and find a persistent positive NAO during the MCA. The interesting thing is that the MCA had basically been removed from the climate record by Michael Mann's infamous “hockey stick” history graph that was adopted by the IPCC a decade ago.

More interesting, Trouet et al., based their work in part on a tree-ring–based drought reconstruction for Morocco (1049–2002) and a millennial-length speleothem-based precipitation proxy for Scotland (900–1993), a methodology similar to Mann's work. Unlike Mann, these researchers found significant climate warming during the MCA. According to the report: “The Morocco and Scotland reconstructions contain substantial multi-decadal variability that is characterized by antiphase oscillatory behavior over the last millennium.” Their reconstruction can be seen in the figure from the article seen below.

The figure shows a proxy-derived long-term NAO reconstruction. (Top) Reconstructed winter precipitation for Scotland and February-to-June Palmer Drought Severity Index for Morocco. Records were normalized over the common period (1049–1995) and smoothed with the use of a 30-year cubic spline. The bottom graph shows a winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction (black curve). The gray area is the estimated uncertainty. The researchers' conclusions?
The persistent positive phase reconstructed for the MCA appears to be associated with prevailing La Niña–like conditions possibly initiated by enhanced solar irradiance and/or reduced volcanic activity and amplified and prolonged by enhanced AMOC. The relaxation from this particular ocean-atmosphere state into the LIA appears to be globally contemporaneous and suggests a notable and persistent reorganization of large-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns.
Here AMOC stands for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (i.e. the ocean conveyer belt) and LIA for Little Ice Age, the period of global cooling that followed the Medeival Warm Period and lasted until the mid 1800s. What they are saying is that both the MCA and the LIA were real and had identifiable root causes. This result stands in stark contrast with the hocky stick result where the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age almost disappeared, replaced by a largely benign, slight cooling trend that lasted until ~1900.

This is just the latest in a series of reports that quietly contradict some of the more outlandish untruths spread by the anthropogenic global warming extremists of the IPCC. Another recent Science article, by Brierly et al., addresses the Pliocene warm interval, a period of warm climate conditions that preceded the current Pleistocene Ice Age. Occurring some 4 million years ago, the Pliocene warm interval has been difficult to explain.

The early Pliocene epoch from 5.3 to about 3 million years ago was much warmer than today. The early Pliocene climate was very much like preindustrial conditions during the Holocene (our current interglacial warm period). Similarities include the amount of solar radiation Earth received, the concentration of atmospheric CO2, and a nearly identical geographic environment. But there were also significant differences. For example, there was no permanent ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere, and global sea level was 80 feet (25 m) higher. Why is our climate today so different? Quoting from the article:
Our reconstruction shows that the meridional temperature gradient between the equator and subtropics was greatly reduced, implying a vast poleward expansion of the ocean tropical warm pool. Corroborating evidence indicates that the Pacific temperature contrast between the equator and 32°N has evolved from ~2°C 4 million years ago to ~8°C today. The meridional warm pool expansion evidently had enormous impacts on the Pliocene climate, including a slowdown of the atmospheric Hadley circulation and El Niño–like conditions in the equatorial region. Ultimately, sustaining a climate state with weak tropical sea surface temperature gradients may require additional mechanisms of ocean heat uptake (such as enhanced ocean vertical mixing).
This says that the difference in ocean temperatures between the equator and higher latitudes is much more pronounced today. The tropics were not warmer but the temperate zones were. Because of this, the researchers found a significant decrease in the heat transport by the atmosphere, along with an implied increase in ocean heat transport. This result contradicts studies using ocean general circulation models (GCM) with low vertical diffusion. Such models, heavily used by climate scientists to try and predict the future course of global warming, suggest that a permanent El Niño should be associated with reduced heat transport by the ocean. When simulating Earth's climate with current GCM, the ocean typically gains a large amount of heat over the tropical Pacific cold tongue.

The region of the tropical Pacific that scientists call the “equatorial cold tongue,” is a band of cool water that extends along the equator from the coast of South America to the central Pacific Ocean. Departures from average of sea surface temperatures in this region are critically important in determining major shifts in the pattern of tropical rainfall, which influence the jet streams and patterns of temperature and precipitation around the world. Attempts to simulate the Pliocene climate with coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM have not succeeded in replicating the collapse of the sea surface temperature (SST) gradient along the equator, possibly because of this issue.

In summary the researchers conclude: “[I]t may be necessary to incorporate additional mechanisms for increased ocean heat uptake when simulating the early Pliocene climate and, potentially, the response of the tropics to contemporary global warming. The enormous impacts of changes in the warm pool (such as shifts in global precipitation patterns and cloud cover), as well as tentative evidence that the tropical belt has been expanding poleward over the past few decades, make our findings especially relevant to current discussions about global warming.”

The bottom line? Once again the climate models used by the IPCC and other climate catastrophists are shown to be inaccurate, incomplete and not up to the job of predicting future climatic conditions. What does the IPCC have to say about all of this? Here is a quote from Paleoclimate, chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC report:
Palaeoclimate science has made significant advances since the 1970s, when a primary focus was on the origin of the ice ages, the possibility of an imminent future ice age, and the first explorations of the so-called Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. Even in the first IPCC assessment (IPCC, 1990), many climatic variations prior to the instrumental record were not that well known or understood. Fifteen years later, understanding is much improved, more quantitative and better integrated with respect to observations and modelling.
Meaning all of the earlier IPCC predictions were wrong because they really didn't know what they were doing. Of course that didn't prevent them from predicting a coming climate catastrophe with great confidence. The thing that they don't tell us is that their current “improved” predictions, which are also based on computer models, simply can not be considered accurate either. If the Holocene truly marks the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age and a return to the conditions that prevailed during the Pliocene, parking your SUV and buying carbon credits won't do a thing to stop it.

On the bright side, ocean temperatures were much warmer then and distributed differently than today, so climate change still has a way to go before real global warming kicks in. The eventual rise in sea level will play havoc with oceanfront property around the world, but that will happen if the ice age is over regardless of what we mortals do. If the Pleistocene hasn't come to an end the ice will eventually return and all the current “runaway global warming” will only be a fondly remembered historical age—much like the Medieval Warm Period.

As always, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.


Cow farts may REDUCE "greenhouse" gases

By Gerrit J. van der Lingen, geologist/paleoclimatologist, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, New Zealand

I hope that other readers can make sense of Hocking's letter, because, frankly, I can't. My original article argued that cattle and sheep do not contribute to an increase in greenhouse gases but, to the contrary, are carbon sinks. Hocking seems to agree with most of what I am saying. So what is he arguing about?

New Zealand so far is the only country that wants to include agriculture in an emissions trading scheme. This contrasts with the United States, where farmers can claim carbon credits from growing grass (which was one of the elements of the carbon loop in figure 1 in my original article-see above).

From reading Hocking's two letters, he seems to believe in catastrophic man-made global warming. It is difficult to counter beliefs with factual arguments. However, there are a few points in Hocking's letter that warrant some comments.

Hocking uses some of the usual hoary old chestnuts trotted out by global warming alarmists against so-called climate sceptics. One is to cast aspersions on the credibility and qualifications of anyone who dares to doubt the apocalyptic climate dogma. Hocking queries whether I am a climate scientist. He even asks me to list my publication record. Apart from finding this rather insulting, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of my original article. But I don't want to be a spoilsport.

I am willing to provide a list of my publications. I am even willing to provide a list of the many formal paleoclimate papers I have presented at national and international conferences. I am also willing to provide a list of climate-related papers published by members of my small paleoclimate research group (GRAINZ - Geoscience Research and Investigations New Zealand), which I have led for 11 years. To top it up, I also can provide a video I edited of a four-week expedition to the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean on the German research ship SONNE in 1998, in which I and Dr Kerry Swanson, another GRAINZ scientist, were invited to take part. Two ocean sediment cores for paleoclimate research were collected for my research group in the Tasman Sea.

` I will do all that on one condition. As Hocking brought this up, he should first provide his own list of climate publications, plus similar lists for former US Vice-President Al Gore and for the Chairman of the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri (a railway engineer).

The other chestnut is the claim that (catastrophic) man-made climate change is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recently, 31,478 American scientists, 9,029 PhDs among them, signed a petition to the US Congress. It stated, among others, that "there is no convincing evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate" (

Marc Morano of the US Congress has put together a list of more than 700 well-qualified scientists from all over the world who disagree with the IPCC hypothesis. They are all listed by name and qualifications. Earlier this month (March) the second International Conference on Climate Change was held in New York. Seven hundred scientists, economists and politicians attended, among them Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, present President of the EU, and author of the excellent book "Blue Planet in Green Shackles".

It was a conference of people critical of the alarmist man-made global warming hype. Several top climate scientists explained the lack of scientific evidence for catastrophic man-made global warming and explained that natural causes have always changed the climate and always will. Not surprisingly, the media totally ignored this conference.

Hocking asks on what I base my statement that the earth may continue to cool. That is based on two observations (not computer models). Point one: during the present transition from Solar Cycle 23 to 24 the sun has been unusually quiet. Most days there are few or no sunspots. We know from history that during the coldest periods of the Little Ice Age there were few or no sunspots. Based on analyses of past sunspot cycles some astrophysicists are predicting that we may be entering a cooling period that could last up to 30 years (see peer-reviewed paper by Clilverd et al, 2006: Predicting Solar Cycle 24 and beyond. Space Weather, vol. 4).

Point two: The oceanic Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has alternating warm and cool periods, lasting on average 20 to 30 years. After a 25-year warm period it has now entered a cooling period.

Finally, if I understand Hocking's letters correctly, he is in favour of carbon-taxing sheep and cattle farmers. Nice one.


Anti-Global-Warming Activist Marc Morano Gets Cold Shoulder in NYT

In the usual Leftist way, the NYT tries to discredit anti-global-warming activist Marc Morano, not by addressing any of his arguments but by abuse -- by linking him to some of their favorite villains: Exxon, the Swift Boat Veterans, and Richard Mellon Scaife

On Friday, reporter Leslie Kaufman profiled anti-climate-change activist Marc Morano in "Dissenter on Warming Expands His Campaign -- A Thorn in Climate Changers' Side." In contrast to Times profiles of liberal activists who want enormous political and lifestyle changes to combat global warming, Kaufman had nothing flattering to say about Morano. Mocking his personal appearance; Kaufman wrote that Morano "fills out his suit like a bulldog in a restraining jacket." She also hinted Morano is less than truthful about some of his confrontations, something the Times would never challenge a liberal on.
Marc Morano does not think global warming is anything to worry about, and he brags about his confrontations with those who do.

For example, Mr. Morano said he once spotted former Vice President Al Gore on an airplane returning from a climate conference in Bali. Mr. Gore was posing for photos with well-wishers, and Mr. Morano said he had asked if he, too, could have his picture taken with Mr. Gore.

He refused, Mr. Morano said.

“You attack me all the time,” Mr. Gore said, according to Mr. Morano.

“Yes, we do,” Mr. Morano said he had replied.

Mr. Gore’s office said Mr. Gore had no memory of the encounter. Mr. Morano does not care. He tells the story anyway.
Kaufman explained that Morano, once a spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe known for his e-mails to journalists debunking climate change, has started his own Web site,
In his work with Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Morano, whose thick build fills out his suit like a bulldog in a restraining jacket, did not hesitate to go after journalists he saw as biased. He promoted any study or statement that could be construed as cutting against the prevailing view that heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide contribute to global warming. Peter Dykstra, a former executive producer for CNN’s science, environment and technology unit, recently called him the “drum major of the denial parade.”

Mr. Morano may be best known for compiling a report listing hundreds of scientists whose work he says undermines the consensus on global warming.

But environmental advocates and bloggers say that many of those listed as scientists have no scientific credentials and that their work persuaded no one not already ideologically committed.
Kaufman uncovered Morano connections to two of the Times' favorite scary monsters: conservative cause financier Richard Mellon Scaife and energy titan Exxon.
Mr. Morano’s new Web site is being financed by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues....Public tax filings for 2003-7 -- the last five years for which documents are available -- show that the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the ExxonMobil Foundation and from foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime financer of conservative causes best known for its efforts to have President Bill Clinton impeached.
Kaufman then tried to discredit Morano by linking him to another Times villain, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who questioned John Kerry's record in Vietnam during the 2004 presidential campaign.
He then jumped to Cyber News Service, where he was the first to publish accusations from Vietnam Swift-boat veterans that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, then the Democratic presidential nominee, had glorified his war record. Many of the accusations later proved unfounded.
Actually, despite what Times reporters like Kate Zernike desperately want people to believe, none of the accusations made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were ever "proved unfounded." In fact, the Times and other media organizations never bothered to investigate the charges, simply assuming the Swifties were liars and Kerry was telling the truth, despite convincing evidence to the contrary -- for instance, Kerry wasn't in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968, as he had long claimed.

Kaufman attempted some shrug-worthy debunking of a couple of the names on the list. For instance, she argued that a weather director in Kentucky is listed as a meteorologist on the report, even though he has no degree in meteorology. As Noel Sheppard writes at NewsBusters even negative articles like this one are unacceptable for some purveyors of climate panic.


Hot Air on Wind Energy

Don't expect wind power to replace coal as the nation's main source of electric power, whatever Obama's interior secretary said.

Interior Secretary Salazar said that the amount of "developable" wind power off the East Coast could produce more energy than all the coal-fired electric plants in the U.S., and that wind's potential to replace most of our coal power "is a very real possibility." We find his claims to be wildly optimistic, to say the least.

It's true that government studies show there's enough offshore wind to generate far more than coal plans currently do – in theory. But converting that wind to enough electricity to replace what's now produced by coal won't happen anytime in the foreseeable future. The Interior Department itself made clear its offshore wind estimate was a gross figure of potential resources only, saying in a report that there are several obstacles to achieving that.

We calculate that converting wind to enough electricity to replace all U.S. coal-fired plants would require building 3,540 offshore wind farms as big as the world's largest, which is off the coast of Denmark. So far the U.S. has built exactly zero offshore wind farms.

Another government study last year concluded that to supply just 20 percent of U.S. electricity with wind turbines would require land-based equipment taking up an area "slightly less than the area of Rhode Island," plus scores of offshore wind farms.

A Salazar spokesman says the secretary did not mean to say that replacing coal power with offshore wind power was a realistic goal, but was only trying to draw attention to its potential.


A Dangerous New Global Warming Law

By Alan Caruba

Let us begin by understanding that the entire basis for declaring the second most vital gas on Earth, carbon dioxide, a “pollutant” that requires regulation and is the object of a proposed elaborate “cap-and-trade” scheme is the generation of enormous amounts of money for the government while allowing it to exercise complete control over the use of any energy for any purpose.

Carbon dioxide is said to be the chief cause of “global warming”, but there is NO global warming. The Earth continues to COOL—ten years since the completely natural cycle began in 1998.

Nor is the Earth running out of energy sources such as oil, natural gas or coal. Here in the United States, however, Americans have long since run out of access to the extraction of the vast amounts that reside under the states and the offshore continental shelf.

Since around the 1970s, America has been systematically starved for access to its own energy reserves and forced to rely on imports, most notably of oil. Politicians and Greens who keep calling for “energy independence” are lying through their teeth. No nation on Earth is energy independent,

When you control energy, you control people’s lives and the entire economy. Simple example; a blizzard causes power lines to fail. All of a sudden people served by those lines are at risk of freezing to death. Another example, power fails during a heat wave. The elderly and ill are at risk of death for lack of air conditioning or even an electric fan. In 1995, a heat wave in Chicago killed over 600 people.

So, when House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, conjure up an energy/climate bill designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions alleged to be causing “global warming”, they are perpetrating a massive fraud on Americans.

When that bill includes a provision that would permit anyone, absolutely anyone, to sue the government as victims of global warming and in anticipation of suffering as the result of global warming, Waxman-Markey have opened the door wide to a deluge of lawsuits that have no merit whatever in scientific fact or truth.

As reported in The Washington Times, “The measure sets grounds for anyone ‘who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable in whole or in part’ to government inaction to file a ‘citizen suit.’ The term ‘harm’ is broadly defined as ‘any effect of air pollution (including climate change) occurring or at risk of occurring.’”

In practical terms, this means everyone with shorefront property can sue the government for a predicted loss due to rising sea levels. The fact that they have been rising naturally at a rate of a few insignificant millimeters a year for centuries will surely be ignored.

The law as currently written—but subject to change as it goes through the standard legislative practice when the two houses of Congress seek to achieve agreement—would allow citizens to seek up to $75,000 in damages from the government each year, but would cap the total amount paid out each year at $1.5 million.

It is a little known fact that many environmental organizations reap vast amounts of money suing the government over the enforcement of various laws affecting clean air, clean water, and endangered species.

The Western Environmental Law Center is just one example. It just sent “an urgent letter to Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, asking her to “speed issuance of regulations aimed at restricting greenhouse pollution to include black carbon, or soot, among climate forcing agents to be regulated.” Soot!

The Greens are now prattling about “unmanageable and calamitous disruption of the climate system.”

Can anyone cite a single example of how human activity could possibly cause or prevent “unmanageable and calamitous disruption of the climate system”?

As this is written, Mount Redoubt in Alaska is threatening a huge volcanic explosion and there is nothing the good citizens of Alaska can do about it. In Italy, whole villages were wiped out by a recent earthquake and there was nothing they could do about it. A tsunami hit Indonesia some years ago, killing thousands, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

At the White House, the new science advisor to the President is proposing an utterly crazed scheme to shoot “pollution” into the Earth’s atmosphere to reflect back the Sun’s rays to stave off global warming. The Sun, meanwhile, has gone scarily “quiet” for several years with virtually no magnetic storms (sunspots), thus reducing its production of solar energy to warm the Earth.

Yet there is a new law making its way through Congress that posits that the federal government can do something about a “global warming” that is not occurring and permits any one of the 310 million Americans to sue the government for failing to take action.

The end result of the Waxman-Markey law would be to vastly enrich the many environmental organizations that would be filing hundreds of thousands of suits and ultimately collecting millions, if not billions, of dollars on the basis of something that is not occurring and the alleged inaction of the government to stop it!

Only the collected stupidity and indifference of the American people will permit this new law to reach the desk of the President who will surely sign it. It is a death warrant for our lives, our economy, and our nation.



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


10 April, 2009


An email from geologist Paul Driessen []

Regarding the recent AP story about UN climate talks stalling over emission cuts by rich countries:

I am astonished at how casually activists, bureaucrats and politicians toss out these carbon dioxide reduction targets – as though cutting US (or EU, Canadian, Australian, et cetera) emissions by some essentially random amount by 2020 or 2050 is actually within the realm of possibility. Unless we assume major technological advancements … and even if we accept the risk of widespread social and economic upheaval … these targets land somewhere along the spectrum of fanciful, absurd, irresponsible and disastrous.

The group of 130 developing countries wants a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2020. A faction of this group wants a 45% cut by 2020. President Obama wants to slash US CO2 emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Earlier congressional proposals talked about 60% cuts by 2050. Greenpeace and other Climate Armageddonites insist that the world must get global CO2 levels well below 450 ppm (0.045% of the Earth’s atmosphere) by 2050 or earlier, despite expanding emissions from China and India – which means “guilty” developed nations must slash their emissions by some 90% by that date.

To illustrate the absurdity of these demands, one need only look at US carbon dioxide emissions data assembled by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for the years 1800 through 2004. The following summary shows how far back in time the United States would have to travel, to achieve these various emission targets.

40% below 1990 levels = CO2 emission levels last seen in 1957

45% below 1990 = 1951

60% below 1990 = 1929 or 1940 (emissions fell during the intervening years of the Great Depression)

80% below 1990 = 1905

90% below 1990 = 1897

Barring major technological breakthroughs, a massive shift to nuclear power – or blanketing America’s wild, scenic, desert, grassland, agricultural and coastal areas with hundreds of thousands of wind turbines and solar arrays – the only way I see to achieve these goals is via enormous reductions in industrial output, air and auto transportation, food production, internet server use, heating and air conditioning, and living standards. (Right now, the United States is 85% dependent on hydrocarbon energy, and twenty states get 60-98% of their electricity from coal. The repercussions of cutting off access to that energy – or pricing it out of reach of poor families, small businesses and manufacturers – would be intolerable and immoral. And let’s not forget that every wind and solar “farm” needs CO2-producing natural gas-fired generators for backup.)

Perhaps millions of Americans would be willing to go part way along this route if Al Gore, James Hansen, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John and Teresa Kerry, Henry Waxman, Nick Rahall and every warming alarmist environmental group would lead the way – beginning right now – by slashing their (private) jet travel, limousines, mansions, 78-degree White House offices, Bali and Bonn excursions, and big-carbon-footprint eco-lobbying offices. And perhaps millions of Africans would be content to continue living in poverty and deprivation – when elite eco-activists move into their own electricity-free, disease-ridden huts. But until then, I don’t foresee a citizens’ stampede to the lifestyles of 50 to 110 years ago.

As my grandmother always told me, “The only good thing about the ‘good old days’ is that they’re gone.” She grew up doing backbreaking labor on a Wisconsin farmstead, and didn’t have running water, indoor bathrooms or electricity until after she was married. I think her perspective is much more valuable than that of the climate alarm activists just mentioned.

Somehow I don’t see any of them adopting the lifestyle of the deprived and unfamous. They have no business imposing it on anyone else, especially by telling impoverished Africans (et cetera) that they must continue living “indigenous” lifestyles, to save the planet.

This is where the hysteria about “runaway global warming” and “catastrophic sea level rise” has taken us.

Before we head any further down this path, we (and our putative leaders) need to take a long, cold, honest look at scientific, energy and economic realities … our planet’s history of climate change … the absence of global warming over the past decade, even as CO2 levels continued to climb … the views and findings of 700-plus climate scientists who do not agree with the IPCC Summaries for Policy Makers … the enormous adverse impacts associated with biofuels … the speculative worst-case scenarios conjured up by abjectly unreliable computer models … the allegations, headlines and special effects that substitute for actual evidence in many circles … and the unwillingness of too many climate alarmists to engage in debate or even valid peer review with climate realists and skeptics.

Only then will we have anything remotely approaching ethical, responsible, reality-based policies on energy, economic, health, living standards and developmental issues that right now are governed far too much by an unsupported assumption that catastrophic, anthropogenic, CO2-driven global warming threatens our planet.


An email from Prof. Cliff Ollier [], School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia

ELECTRIC POWER is used for different purposes at different times, and we have to distinguish between average load and peak demand. Sometimes the peak demand occurs in winter evenings (heating loads) and sometimes in the middle of summer (air-conditioning loads).

The Capacity factor is used to compare the relative merits of different types of power supply. It is the ratio of the average load to the peak demand.


There are basically three types of generating plant:

a) Base load that operates ~90% of the time generating efficient low-cost electricity. Coal and nuclear plants are prime examples.

b) Mid-range plants that are often shut down in the early hours of morning and generate maximum power during the day and during peak demand periods. Hydropower and gas-fired stations, are examples.

c) Peak load stations that operate for between 1% and 20% of the time during peak demand periods. Gas turbines, hydropower stations and pumped storage hydropower are examples.

All these plants can be relied upon to operate when needed - unless they break down or fail to start, which can also happen in alternative energy production. Most conventional power systems have a capacity factor of between 50% and 70%.


The currently popular renewable energy technologies add to the problems of operating a power system because they are unpredictable and their output changes rapidly.

Wind power. A change in the output of 50% in a few minutes is not unusual. Attempts to predict the output of wind farms more than an hour ahead have not been successful. Capacity factors vary from 18% to 37%. Wind power costs about US$2200 per KW. This transfers to a cost of 8 -10c /kWh.

Solar power. The output varies predictably every day and unpredictably every time a cloud passes over the sun. A cloud can drop the output by as much as 60%. The capacity factor is around 20%. The capital cost is in excess of $5000 per KW. This transfers to a cost of around 40 c/kWh.

Marine power. Suggestions for using marine power come in many forms but all are very expensive to build, more or less unpredictable, and in most reliability is likely to be low. Operation and maintenance costs are unknown but likely to be very high. The much-touted Pelamis wave power generator project off the coast of Portugal has been abandoned because of financing and technical problems. In the UK the Severn Barrier project to use tidal forces is on hold. It would be the most expensive alternative energy project, and makes a barrier to shipping and fish migration. The tides are reliable, but occur at a different time every day.

None of these renewable energy technologies would exist without grants and massive subsidies.


Two further considerations are essential in power supply, though they are almost always ignored.

Frequency keeping . Power systems have a need for frequency keeping because the amount of electricity generated must always match the demand exactly. Generating plant must be available that can increase or decrease its output very rapidly to avoid system collapse. This is necessary if there is a sudden large change in load -- the beginning and end of a popular TV programme is a classic example. Frequency keeping stations are designed to cope with these fluctuations.

Energy storage. Renewable energy like wind or solar is not produced when needed, so storage is needed, and this is expensive. All the promoters of renewable energy ignore the need for storage.

What is needed is a large-scale, efficient, low-cost technology that can store huge amounts of electrical energy for weeks or months. No suitable technology exists or has even been contemplated. Hydro-pumped storage is the best we have. It is expensive - at least $1500 /kW – and requires two very large storage lakes not far from each other and with one lake something like 700 m higher than the other. The losses are 25%. The cost, the losses, and the difficulty of finding a suitable site are insuperable barriers to large-scale adoption of hydro-pumped storage.

So people who tell us that it is possible to run modern power systems from wind power, solar power and marine energy are not telling the truth.


The world’s wealthiest nations failed to offer more ambitious carbon-dioxide cuts, stalling United Nations climate talks as developing countries called for funding help and technology to combat global warming.

“Progress has been very slow in Bonn,” Amjad Abdulla, director-general of the Maldives Environment Ministry, said today as 10 days of UN climate talks wrapped up. “Developed countries have been very reluctant to put numbers on the table” for emissions cuts and financial aid to poorer nations.

Delegates from 175 countries in Bonn were working to reach an agreement on a new climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. With two more meetings already scheduled before then, negotiators agreed to add sessions in August and October to enable both sides to work out their differences.

Countries are divided over the scale of emissions cuts necessary to avert dangerous effects of warming temperatures, and the Maldives was among 43 low-lying nations demanding that the U.S., Japan and other wealthier countries slash emissions at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

“The industrialized countries have not yet shown the necessary leadership,” Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard said. “Not leadership when it comes to reduction commitments. Not leadership when it comes to finance.” …

“Numbers are still a significant distance from that range so more ambitious targets are needed from industrialized countries,” UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said today.

The other issue that developing countries want to see progress on is how wealthier nations will help them to develop clean technology and adapt to the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and decreased rainfall.

“The progress achieved so far has been disappointing,” India’s Saran told reporters. “There is still no clarity over the scale of financial and technological resources that would be available to developing countries.”

In order to give negotiators more time to iron out differences, delegates this week agreed to hold additional talks from Aug. 10-14 in Bonn and from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 at a location yet to be decided. That’s on top of already-scheduled meetings in Bonn in June and in Bangkok for late September.

A final debate concerns how to draw together the two negotiating forums in Copenhagen. Dovland and his counterpart Michael Zammit Cutajar, who chairs the wider group that includes the U.S., both said they intend to produce negotiating texts by the next meeting in June.

It’s even possible Copenhagen won’t result in a single treaty, Cutajar told reporters.



At the start of the United Nations climate talks here 12 days ago, the Obama administration’s chief climate negotiator, Todd Stern, received a round of rowdy applause. It was the first appearance of the new negotiating team at any global meeting.

But by Wednesday, as the meetings drew to a close, some delegates — and even some United Nations officials — were grumbling that the United States was not moving fast enough to take action on global warming.

On Wednesday, Mr. Stern’s team offered the first broad hints of a new international climate policy for the United States, noting that more details would be submitted in a proposal to the United Nations later this month. But even in its broadest brush strokes, the American proposal differs significantly from other plans to curb carbon dioxide emissions enacted by the United Nations and the European Union.

The Obama administration’s plan would require all countries, including developing nations like China and India, to curb greenhouse gas emissions, said Jonathan Pershing, the deputy special envoy for climate change, at a news conference. The plan’s main focus is on long-range goals — as distant as 2050 — for greenhouse gas reduction.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, initial emission-reduction targets for the developed nations that signed the agreement were set for 2012. And most other proposals to lower emissions, including the plan in use in the European Union, focus on 2020 as an initial target. Though he praised Europe’s efforts, Mr. Pershing said, “U.S. policy is something we’re developing at home, according to what we see as the science and political capacity.”

But many officials here were clearly impatient. “We are still waiting for the U.S. to put its position on the table,” said Michael Zammit-Cutajar, a top official of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “They have asked us to keep the door open, and it is,” he said.



Tinkering with Earth's climate to chill runaway global warming — a radical idea once dismissed out of hand — is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president's new science adviser said Wednesday. That's because global warming is happening so rapidly, John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month.

The concept of using technology to purposely cool the climate is called geoengineering. One option raised by Holdren and proposed by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays.

Using such an experimental measure is only being thought of as a last resort, Holdren said. "It's got to be looked at," he said. "We don't have the luxury ... of ruling any approach off the table."

His concern is that the United States and other nations won't slow global warming fast enough and that several "tipping points" could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of "really intolerable consequences," he said….

While the idea could strike some people as too risky, the Obama administration could get unusual support on the idea from groups that have often denied the harm of global warming in the past.

The conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute has its own geoengineering project, saying it could be "feasible and cost-effective." And Cato Institute scholar Jerry Taylor said Wednesday: "Very few people would rule out geoengineering on its face."

Holdren didn't spell out under what circumstances such extreme measures might ever be called for. And he emphasized they are not something to rely on. "It would be preferable by far," he said, "to solve this problem by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases."

Yet there is already significant opposition building to the House Democratic leaders' bill aimed at achieving President Barack Obama's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.



There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).

Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that “Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram,” and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

Indeed, recent academic research shows that wind power may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions in some cases, depending on the carbon-intensity of back-up generation required because of its intermittent character. On the negative side of the environmental ledger are adverse impacts of industrial wind turbines on birdlife and other forms of wildlife, farm animals, wetlands and viewsheds.



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


9 April, 2009

We're getting to them!

The latest paper on climate in New Scientist (below) acknowledges the claim that warming stopped in 1998 and tries to pooh pooh it. They ignore that there has been no statistically significant temperature variation since at least 1975. Lack of statistical significance means that the observed variations could have arisen by chance alone. They also fail to look at the pattern over the entire 20th century, which is one of oscillating rises and falls. Combine that with the fact that the warming across the entire 20th century was a totally trivial .6 of one degree (approx.) and all indicators show that we are in fact in the midst of a period of unusual climate stability -- with just random ups and downs occurring from time to time. Ignoring that, the "New Scientists" once again put their faith in guesswork: "models"

According to some records of past temperatures there has been no significant surface warming between 1998 and 2008. "Now the world is COOLING!" the bloggers scream. As if this means we can all stop worrying about global warming.

I am not sure how anyone who takes even a brief look at records of past surface air temperatures for themselves can jump to such conclusions. It's blindingly obvious that even when there's a long-term warming trend, over shorter periods temperatures may fall.

There was also no significant warming trend from between 1977 and 1985, or between 1981 and 1989 - and those periods certainly weren't the end of global warming. Now, as if more evidence were needed, two climate scientists have produced more data showing that the current lull in no way contradicts the fact that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing long-term warming.

David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina and Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley in California looked at both at observed temperature records and at climate model predictions for the 20th and 21st centuries. Their paper is in press in Geophysical Research Letters. Their conclusion?

"We show that the climate over the 21st century can and likely will produce periods of a decade or two where the globally averaged surface air temperature shows no trend or even slight cooling in the presence of longer-term warming."

It'd be nice to think their contribution would make a difference. But I doubt it will change the minds of those who dismiss the idea of climate change despite the key evidence from physics and chemistry, despite the evidence from past climate changes and despite dramatic changes such as collapsing ice shelves in Antarctica, the shrinking of summer sea ice in the Arctic and the retreat of glaciers all around the world.

I suspect that claims such as "Global warming stopped in 1998" will give way to claims such as "Global warming stopped in 2017" and "Global warming stopped in 2033", even as the long-term warming trend becomes ever clearer


New finding: Correlation of sunspots and sea level

Click to zoom in. Did they ever fit together? Most ridiculous thing I ever heard. :-)

I find this graph by David Archibald stunning. Relevant posts at climate realist websites:
Watts: Archibald posts this graph
Climate Audit: Holgate on sea level
Watts: Sea level and Jason data
The graph shows a remarkably accurate correlation between the number of sun spots - following the approximately 11-year solar cycle - and the annual sea level rise in millimeters.

See pages in Colorado to download the sea level data from satellite altimeters etc. and a previous posting about the sun spots for links to the solar data.

To draw it, Archibald had to calculate the "derivative" of the usual graphs showing the sea level itself, as a function of time (years).

In the real climate, the solar activity seems to influence the sea level rise.

I would bet that such a tight correlation simply cannot be a coincidence. There's no independent reason for such an accurate "11-year" cycle in the sea levels that would moreover happen to be synchronized with the sun spots. If you know about an alternative explanation of the 11-year cycles in the sea level rise, let me know: I am very curious.

My explanation suggested by the picture is the obvious:
  1. a higher solar activity increases the global temperature, probably by shielding the Earth from the cosmic rays that would otherwise create additional cooling clouds
  2. the number of cooling clouds is therefore decreasing when the number of sun spots is high, and vice versa; the temperature behaves in the same way with the opposite sign
  3. the sea level is the most accurate proxy for the global mean temperature - and especially the non-meteorological and "external" drivers and of it - that we can get; it may automatically subtract some local, internal, meteorological effects such as ENSO; it automatically chooses the right altitudes where the temperature should be measured and averaged, and so on
  4. the sea level therefore responds much like the temperature that behaves as explained above
  5. its increase therefore directly reflects the solar activity, with almost no lag
  6. the additional underlying linear warming trend evident from the rising sea level is caused by much slower effects, especially the glaciation cycles and the enhanced greenhouse effect
This theory seems to make perfect sense to me. But we will have to wait for some time to see whether the correlation and synchronization survives.

At any rate, the Sun seems to have a huge effect. The graph suggests that solar activity changes the annual sea level rise from a minimum around 0 millimeters per year to a maximum around 5 millimeters per year.

The average trend, around 2.5 millimeters per year in the time interval of the graph, is caused by slower effects - including the Milankovitch cycles and the enhanced greenhouse effect. But you can see that the solar activity is as big as all these effects combined.

What I mean by the previous sentence is that if the solar activity drops to zero or near zero, e.g. for two decades, the sea level rise will also be zero or slightly negative, indicating a modest global cooling - regardless of the origin of the slow, currently warming underlying trend.

Needless to say, after some time, the underlying slow processes will switch to cooling, too.

In a few millenia or so, the Earth will naturally begin to return to another ice age. Recall that between 15,000 and 5,000 years ago, the sea level was increasing by more than 1 meter per century (about 100 meters during the period), much faster than today, and a comparable decrease of the sea level may be expected in the opposite parts of the cycles.

When we look at these long-term developments, one must realize that while the sea level may be a great proxy for the global temperature, measuring the external drivers only, the coefficient relating the warming/cooling and the sea level rise is changing after millenia. When there were many more continental glaciers, the sea level arguably responded to the changes of the temperature much more intensely than today - because there was a lot of continental ice ready to melt or grow.

For the most recent 6,000 years or so, essentially only Greenland and Antarctica contributed to the sea level rise by ice melting. The heat expansion of water in the oceans is a contribution to the coefficient that doesn't change much.

Let me say that I do believe that the increasing CO2 concentration does contribute to the slower underlying trend. But it is clearly not the only (or dominant) contribution because the sea levels have been changing equally or more rapidly than they are today, long before we were producing lots of CO2.


Back to basics

It's one of the first things I remember learning in second grade science class: People breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants "breathe" in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. It seems that some scientists and journalists missed that day of class:
The phenomenon has been discovered in a variety of flora, ranging from tropical rainforests to British sugar beet crops.

It means they are soaking up at least some of the billions of tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans that would otherwise be accelerating the rate of climate change.

Plants survive by extracting CO2 from the air and using sunlight to convert it into proteins and sugars.

Since 1750 the concentration in the air has risen from of CO2 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 380 ppm, making it easier for plants to acquire the CO2 needed for rapid growth.
Plants are getting bigger and stronger, taking in more CO2 and, I presume, sending out more O2. Could it be that a little extra CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than spelling out doom for every living thing on the planet, is...a good thing? Could it be that increased CO2 will mean stronger plants, and thusly more and better crops? Could it be that efforts to stem the tide of the increase in CO2 will lead to decreases in food production and food shortages across the globe?

Lawrence Solomon, author of The Deniers, wrote about this very phenomenon last June in the Financial Post, in a column called "In Praise of CO2."
Doubling the jeopardy for Earth is man. Unlike the many scientists who welcome CO2 for its benefits, many other scientists and most governments believe carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant that must be removed from the atmosphere at all costs. Governments around the world are now enacting massive programs in an effort to remove as much as 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

If these governments are right, they will have done us all a service. If they are wrong, the service could be all ill, with food production dropping world wide, and the countless ecological niches on which living creatures depend stressed. The second order effects could be dire, too. To bolster food production, humans will likely turn to energy intensive manufactured fertilizers, depleting our store of non-renewable resources. Techniques to remove carbon from the atmosphere also sound alarms. Carbon sequestration, a darling of many who would mitigate climate change, could become a top inducer of earthquakes, according to Christian Klose, a geohazards researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Because the carbon sequestration schemes tend to be located near cities, he notes, carbon-sequestration-caused earthquakes could exact an unusually high toll.

Amazingly, although the risks of action are arguably at least as real as the risks of inaction, Canada and other countries are rushing into Earth-altering carbon schemes with nary a doubt. Environmentalists, who ordinarily would demand a full-fledged environmental assessment before a highway or a power plant can be built, are silent on the need to question proponents or examine alternatives.
Everywhere you look, there's another hole in the theory of Global Warming. Even a second grader could tell you that.


Harvard Astrophysicist says global cooling may prompt rethink of man-made warming theory

"The Sun is the all encompassing energy giver to life on planet Earth," said Dr. Willie Soon, an Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. And these days the sun is getting a lot of attention from scientists. "The Sun is just slightly dimmer and has been for about the last 18 months," said Dr. Soon. "And that is because there are very few sunspots."

Sunspots are giant islands of magnetism on the Sun and the appearance of sunspots runs in 11 year cycles. When sunspots are abundant during the cycle, it is called the "solar maximum" and when there are few sunspots, it is considered to be the "solar minimum." "Right now we are in the deepest solar minimum of the entire Space Age," stated Dr. Soon. "In fact, this is the quietest (fewest sunspots) Sun we have had in almost a century."

And those lack of sunspots have a link to our climate. "When you have a lot of sunspots, there is a lot more light energy coming from the Sun and that tends to warm the Earth," added Dr. Soon."When the Sun produces less sunspots, it essentially gives up less energy to the Earth's climate system." And less energy means a cooler planet.

"There were very few sunspots in 2008 and by all measures, 2008 was a cold year," said Dr. Soon. And that link between temperatures on Earth and sunspot activity can be picked out many times from past history.

"For example, from 1645 to 1715 there were no sunspots and it was a very, very cold period for our planet. Most call it the "Little Ice Age," said Dr. Soon. "Based on my research, I tend to be in support of a very, very strong role by the Sun's energy input as a climate driver. If you were to ask me about the role of CO2, I would say its very, very small," he added.

In fact, Dr. Soon sees this historic solar minimum as an opportunity to reframe our understanding of Earth's climate system. "If this deep solar minimum continues and our planet cools while CO2 levels continue to rise, thinking needs to change. This will be a very telling time and it's very, very useful in terms of science and society in my opinion," concluded Dr. Soon.


'Nightly News' Brings Alarmism Back

NBC chief environmental affairs correspondent alleges melting ice is 'a situation made worse by manmade global warming that now needs a manmade solution.'

Between the very cold winter in many places and everyone including Vanity Fair focused on the economic downturn, many in the news media took a vacation from global warming alarmism. But on April 6, NBC brought the hype back with yet another story about the threat of melting ice caps. Anchor Brian Williams introduced an “Our Planet” segment by reminding viewers that the Obama administration was remaining active on the issue of climate change.

“The Obama administration is calling for greater protection of the earth’s polar regions, including limits on tourism,” Williams said. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the proposals at a global summit in Washington. Coincidentally, it comes two days after a crucial ice bridge collapsed at the South Pole, effectively changing the map of that part of the world.”

Then chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson went back to the well for an old standby – that polar bears and penguins were threatened by the thinning ice attributed to no other than climate change.

“From polar bears in the north to penguins in the south, thinning ice at the poles means more climate trouble for the planet,” Thompson said. “In the Arctic Ocean a government report out today shows ice cover this winter was the fifth smallest on record, and the ice that's there was the thinnest ever. Ice accumulated over the years – the thick stuff marked in red on this map – makes up a record low 10 percent of the ice cover. The orange area is first year ice, thin ice, the vast majority of this winter's ice cover and most susceptible to summer melting.”

And, as Thompson pointed out in keeping with the tradition of her one-sided climate change alarmist reporting, this could affect the weather for everyone all over the planet. “It's a crisis that may seem far away, but the poles are like thermostats for the planet,” Thompson said. “And changes there could affect the weather everywhere people live.”

And what global warming segment would be complete without an activist from an environmental organization that wants urgent action to be taken to stop global warming? NBC’s story featured Neil Hamilton of the World Wildlife Fund who said, “The science is telling us that we are actually in a much worse situation than we would think we would otherwise be.”

Thompson agreed and blamed man for shifts in climate saying, “A situation made worse by manmade global warming that now needs a manmade solution.” Her report didn’t include any voice of dissent, though many exist.

A report recently updated by the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee includes more than 700 international scientists that dispute Thompson’s claim – that global warming is a manmade phenomenon.


The state wants to ban your big-screen TV

They are coming for your television. As first reported by the Orange County Register, the California Energy Commission is considering banning the sale of big-screen TV sets that don’t meet new, higher energy efficiency standards.

The proposed regulations will make many big-screen sets illegal. By 2011, the commission wants all large-screen TVs to use 33 percent less power. By 2013, sets must consume 49 percent less power. The bureaucrats say the regulations will reduce global warming and save consumers $18 to $30 a year.

If the law was enacted today, the Consumer Electronics Association says about 25 percent of TVs would be non-compliant, most of those being sets with screens of 40-inches or more. Considering that most manufacturers already work to meet voluntary Energy Star standards, it is questionable how much more state agencies can demand from manufacturers without forcing them to pass on these added costs to consumers, which means more expensive TVs.

There is also a huge question about how such a law would be enforced. Many California consumers would simply choose to purchase non-compliant TVs on the Internet, or drive to stores in nearby Nevada, Arizona or Oregon. As a result, local California-based retailers, who provide jobs and income to state residents, stand to lose the most from the ban.

The Energy Commission insists that it is not “banning” big screen TVs, but simply setting higher efficiency standards. But setting standards that few, if anyone, can actually meet is really just prohibition by another name.

The energy commissioners are really concerned about our prosperity. They fret that too many people are buying bigger TVs, hooking them up to Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), cable boxes, computers and digital cameras. We simply can’t have that. These home electronics now consume about 10 percent of household electricity, according to PG&E. So here comes the state’s nanny to tell taxpayers how they should be using electricity and to tell us we are using too much of it watching big screen TVs.

Ironically, these nanny-state tactics are unnecessary. Bureaucrats don’t have to browbeat consumers into saving energy. The cost of power isn’t getting any less expensive. You don’t have to buy into the global warming doctrine to want to lower your electricity bills.

Many television manufacturers, well aware that their customers want to save money, are developing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) televisions that are much more power efficient than today’s sets.

And Wired magazine points out “most of the TVs that would be banned by the proposal would be larger TVs that are already losing steam in the market anyway… consumers are already ahead of the game here. No matter what happens with the proposal, energy-hogging TVs will be gone within two years.”

As usual, customers and companies are ahead of the bureaucrats. To cover the added $18 to $30 yearly cost of that big screen TV, people might choose to turn down the air conditioner, do a better job turning off the lights around the house, or waiting until the dishwasher is full before running it. People can find plenty of ways to be economical when they have to. They might even choose compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Just as the commission seeks to ban big televisions, the state legislature tried a similar tactic with attempts to ban incandescent light bulbs. But the legislature wisely stopped short of an outright ban in favor of a list of requirements that light bulbs must meet in the future. That list, however, was intentionally malleable so businesses and consumers would have some flexibility. Legislators, unlike the energy commissioners, are elected officials and need to be somewhat sensitive to what voters want.

If the energy commission moves to ban big screens, I suspect the commissioners will learn Californians take their televisions very seriously.



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


8 April, 2009


An email below from geophysicist Norm Kalmanovitch []

With no new coal fired power plants constructed in the USA since the hysteria over global warming started, the only competition for oil was wind power and the price of a barrel of oil skyrocketed to $147/bbl until the economic collapse sent the price down to $34/bbl.

In China, which was politically excluded from the Kyoto Protocol, coal fired power plants were being constructed at a rate of two a week, and unlike the power plants in the USA which capture virtually all of the pollutants, (CO2 is not a pollutant) these plants in China have no such pollution controls making the power even cheaper. (But create a serious pollution problem)

The net effect of this is that China was powering its economy at less than 2cents/kWh while the USA was attempting to compete with power costs at least five times greater because of global warming advocacy.

Add to this the high cost of oil that caused a doubling of transportation costs in two years, and with the financial institutions and investment houses operating without any fiscal constraints on either mortgages or market speculations; you have all the makings for economic collapse.

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of “global warming advocacy energy initiatives” is biofuels, and the effect that this had on food prices that were already high because of the increased transportation costs. With high oil prices, crops that produced the feedstock for biofuels became highly lucrative especially when government incentives were given. Biofuel crops were now unfairly competing with basic food staple crops, doubling the cost of food and quite literally starving the poor who can no longer afford these basic food staples.

Simply put, the economy is primarily controlled by the financial institutions and the markets, but it is powered by energy, and unless energy is bailed out, the trillion dollar bailouts of the economy will not succeed in reversing the economic decline.

Unlike the financial bailouts, there is no cost to the taxpayer to bail out energy; but there is a great political cost that none of the leaders seem to be willing to pay. All that has to be done is to demand that the IPCC make public the facts that there has been no global warming for over a decade, that the world has been cooling since 2002, and all this has occurred while CO2 emissions continue to rise demonstrating that there is no possible causal relationship between CO2 emissions and global temperature. For good measure the leaders can also demand that the IPCC “come clean” and admit there never actually was any evidence that supported the AGW hypothesis, and that all their publications were designed to convince the world of a non existent impending danger for the sole purpose of supporting their misguided political agenda.

This is all that remains to be done to fix the economy of the USA, which will fix the rest of the world’s economies that are ultimately affected by the state of the US economy. Unfortunately politicians have, by political necessity, committed their political futures to pursuing the initiatives of the IPCC, and in order not to jeopardize their positions, they are willing to spend taxpayers money on financial bailouts, but are afraid and unwilling to confront the IPCC even though it won’t cost the taxpayer anything and will help the lower income citizens who have been most seriously affected by this crumbling economy.

The false statements of the IPCC are the only rational for the entire vilification of CO2, so if the IPCC is forced to admit that there is no physical basis for reducing CO2, all of the ridiculous and costly CO2 initiatives can stop being subsidized, and this money put into clean coal (in the true sense of the word and not the environmentalist’s bastardized version) and nuclear power developments that will reduce the cost of power and give industry a fighting chance.

The economy cannot support the wildly fluctuating oil price of the last two years and there is also a simple way around this problem if the IPCC is relegated to oblivion. In the past year, the USA consumed 19.485million barrels of oil per day (mmbbls/d) but produced only 8.508mmbbls/d; importing the deficit of 10.977mmbbls/d at rates that jumped between $147/bbl down to $34/bbl. Even as the economy deteriorates, the oil price is rising from the low of $34/bbl to over $52/bbl today, because the OPEC oil cartel is cutting back production to raise the price. This $18/bbl increase in the price of oil equates to an additional $4.6billion leaving the economy each month, because an outside cartel is controlling the price.

The economies of Canada and Mexico are so intertwined with that of the USA that the portion of this money that comes from Canadian and Mexican oil imports, stays within the North American economy. Collectively North America consumed 23.975million barrels of oil per day, but produced 15.058million barrels of oil per day. This leaves a deficit of 8.917mmbbls/d.

There is enough potential production in the Canadian Oil Sands, the Bakkan formation, and “oil from coal” production, coupled with intelligent use of oil (i.e. conservation) to completely remove this deficit; but none of these oil producing initiatives can be undertaken unless there is a long term stable oil price of around $60/bbl. All that the USA has to do is to set a fixed North American Oil price of $60/bbl that is guaranteed for the long term future. This is the only way that the heavy capital investment for these projects can be undertaken. There is enough oil in these three reserves to keep North America oil independent for at least the next century by which time someone will have figured out how to harness energy from nuclear fusion making oil irrelevant as an energy source.

As well, this initiative does not cost the taxpayer anything; but it goes against the dictates of the environmentalists because these resources produce CO2, and even though there is no actual increase in fossil fuel usage, facilities such as the Canadian Oil Sands have already been made environmental targets and the politicians are unwilling to risk political futures upsetting environmentalists if they undertake these common sense energy initiatives.

It is not a coincidence that when the Chinese overtook the USA in CO2 emissions in 2006, that the economy of China also increased dramatically while the US economy was starting to stagnate because of the limited and costly energy supply.

Renewables are listed as “wood, black liquor, other wood waste, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural by products, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic, and wind” and collectively these produced 2.21% of the US electrical power in 1997. (The year Kyoto was signed) Coal produced 52.83% of the electricity in 1997.

After all the rhetoric and cost and ten years of no global warming, by 2008 these renewables were increased to supplying 2.74% of the power; coal was reduced to supplying 48.61% of the power, and the difference was made up with natural gas which also is a fossil fuel and produces CO2.

In the last decade the cost of power went up and the emissions increased by 24%, and now instead of getting rid of this environmentalist blight on the economy, the government now wants to tax the poor even further with carbon taxes and cripple the economy by replacing cheap energy with energy that costs five times as much; all because they are more afraid of the environmentalists than the economic collapse that this will cause.

How many more years of global cooling with increased CO2 emissions will it take before common sense kicks in and the false doctrine of the IPCC is exposed? Tomorrow would not be soon enough!!


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch

Please note my error in "COMMON SENSE ENERGY". A watt is a unit of power and a kilowatt hour is a unit of energy; I inadvertently had them reversed. (Some clarification!!)

Global Warming: A Classic Case of Alarmism

The big temperature picture. Graph and insight from Dr Syun Akasofu

(2009 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 2009).

The global temperature has been rising at a steady trend rate of 0.5°C per century since the end of the little ice age in the 1700s (when the Thames River would freeze over every winter). On top of the trend are oscillations that last about thirty years in each direction:

1882 – 1910 Cooling
1910 – 1944 Warming
1944 – 1975 Cooling
1975 – 2001 Warming

In 2009 we are where the green arrow points, with temperature leveling off. The pattern suggests that the world has entered a period of slight cooling until about 2030.

There was a cooling scare in the early 1970s at the end of the last cooling phase. The current global warming alarm is based on the last warming oscillation, from 1975 to 2001. The IPCC predictions simply extrapolated the last warming as if it would last forever, a textbook case of alarmism. However the last warming period ended after the usual thirty years or so, and the global temperature is now definitely tracking below the IPCC predictions.

The IPCC blames human emissions of carbon dioxide for the last warming. But by general consensus human emissions of carbon dioxide have only been large enough to be significant since 1940—yet the warming trend was in place for well over a century before that. And there was a cooling period from 1940 to 1975, despite human emissions of carbon dioxide. And there has been no warming since 2001, despite record human emissions of carbon dioxide.

There is no actual evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming. Note that computer models are just concatenations of calculations you could do on a hand-held calculator, so they are theoretical and cannot be part of any evidence. Although the models contain some well-established science, they also contain a myriad of implicit and explicit assumptions, guesses, and gross approximations—mistakes in any of which can invalidate the model outputs.

The pattern suggests that the world has entered a period of slight cooling until about 2030

Furthermore, the missing hotspot in the atmospheric warming pattern observed during the last warming period proves that (1) the IPCC climate theory is fundamentally broken, and (2) to the extent that their theory correctly predicts the warming signature of increased carbon dioxide, we know that carbon dioxide definitely did not cause the recent warming (see here for my full explanation of the missing hotspot). The alarmists keep very quiet about the missing hotspot.

No one knows for sure what caused the little ice age or for how many more centuries the slow warming trend will continue. It has been warmer than the present for much of the 10 thousand years since the last big ice age: it was a little warmer for a few centuries in the medieval warm period around 1100 (when Greenland was settled for grazing) and also during the Roman-Climate Optimum at the time of the Roman Empire (when grapes grew in Scotland), and at least 1°C warmer for much of the Holocene Climate Optimum (4 to 8 thousand years ago).


Measuring the global temperature is only reliably done by satellites, which circle the world 24/7 measuring the temperature over large swathes of land and ocean. But satellite temperature records only go back to 1979. Before that, the further back you go the more unreliable the temperature record gets. We have decent land thermometer records back to 1880, and some thermometer records back to the middle of the 1700s. Prior to that we rely on temperature proxies, such as ice cores, tree rings, ocean sediments, or snow lines.

The powerpoint and audio from Dr Akasofu’s presentation at The International Climate Change Conference 2009 can be downloaded here.

Dr Akasofu published a paper explaining the above graph last week (thank you to Rick Werme).

SOURCE. (H/T David Evans)

Scientist Links Melting Polar Ice to Greenhouse Effect but His Group's Own Research Shows Otherwise

A scientist who tracks levels of ice and snow in the Arctic Ocean told Monday that there is a “correlation” between the receding ice in the Arctic Sea and man-made global warming caused by the greenhouse effect.

But Dr. Walter Meier, a cryosphere scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., admits he can’t prove that the link is cause-and-effect. “The thing that’s very clear is that the sea ice changes that we are seeing go hand in hand with the warming temperature that we’ve seen, particularly in the Arctic and around the globe,” Meier told

Meier and a group of scientists from NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- announced Monday that this winter had the fifth lowest maximum ice extent on record. “The maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, reached on Feb. 28, was 5.85 million square miles,” according to researchers at the NSDIC. “That is 278,000 square miles less than the average extent for 1979 to 2000.”

According to NASA, the NSDIC team used two years worth of data from NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) to make his observations. They found that seasonal ice averages about 6 feet in thickness, while ice that had lasted through more than one summer averages about 9 feet, though it can “grow much thicker in some locations near the coast.” posed a question to Meier: “Given the fact that Arctic sea ice has changed many times in the past, how is it possible to know scientifically whether the melting is due to so-called man-made ‘global warming’ or to a natural cyclical phenomenon?”

Meier said he thinks there is a link between higher temperatures and increased greenhouse gases. But he admitted that sea ice has changed a lot through time and his understanding of long-term ice change is limited “somewhat” to century-old data. “How it (Arctic sea ice) varied before our satellite record, which started in 1979, which is relatively short, is harder to say,” Meier told, “although we have fairly good records at least back to the 1950s and somewhat that’s good through the early 1900s.”

But a veteran climatologist who questions the global warming idea, told that NSIDC'’s own data refute Meier’s claim – and point to “solar activity” as a prime cause for the melting ice pack. Dr. Joe D’Aleo, executive director of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project [ICECAP], said the depletion of sea ice in the Arctic is part of the Earth’s cycles – and “solar activity”. “The Arctic temperatures undergo a cyclical change every 60 to 70 years tied to cycles on the sun and in the oceans,” said D’Aleo, who was the first director of meteorology at The Weather Channel. “You can see very warm temperatures in the 1930s then cooling and another warming in the last few decades in close correlation with solar activity,” he added, “but with a poor correlation with CO2.”

D’Aleo said that NSIDC’s own research put a spotlight on the correlation between melting Arctic ice sheets and solar activity back in 2007. “One prominent researcher, Igor Polyakov at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, pointed out that ‘pulses of unusually warm water have been entering the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic, which several years later are seen in the ocean north of Siberia,’” D’Aleo said. “These pulses of water are helping to heat the upper Arctic Ocean, contributing to summer ice melt and helping to reduce winter ice growth.”

Evolution of the Arctic

Regardless of its origin, the NASA and NSDIC scientists pointed out that melting sea ice is having profound effects on the Arctic. According to Ronald Kwok, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, older, thicker ice is disappearing and is being substituted by newer, thinner ice that is susceptible to the summer melt. “Thin seasonal ice – ice that melts and re-freezes every year – makes up about 70 percent of the Arctic sea in wintertime, up from 40 to 50 percent in the 1980s and 1990s,” according to the NASA scientist. "Thicker ice, which survives two or more years, now comprises 10 percent of wintertime ice cover, down 30 to 40 percent,” said another NASA researcher, Thomas Wagner.

The thinning ice is a problem for the Arctic’s wildlife and the people who reside there, Meier said. “Of course there are also ramifications within the Arctic on wildlife that rely on the sea ice, such as polar bears, and seals, and walrus; and people that live in the Arctic that rely on the ice for transportation, for hunting, where the ice is really part of their culture,” he added.

Ironically, however, the scientists say the Arctic sea ice melt may uncover new ocean routes, new terrain for natural resources exploration, and change geographical ownership, according to the observations by NASA and the NSIDC. “As this ice goes away, we’re going to have new trade routes, new opportunities to explore for natural resources, and it will completely change the geo-political landscape,” said NASA’s Wagner.

Wagner added that change in landscape may involve “everything from the potential for security issues for the U.S. to think about to how to respond to other nations that are making claims to the Arctic.”


Skeptics From Around the Globe: SWEDEN

Dr. Wibjorn Karlen Emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, says:

"Newspapers should think about the damage they are doing to many persons, particularly young kids, by spreading the exaggerated views of a human impact on climate .... As far as I can see the IPCC 'Global Temperature' is wrong. Temperature is fluctuating but it is still most places cooler than in the 1930s and 1940s ... it will take about 800 years before the water level has increased by one meter"

"Changes in solar irradiation have been the dominant causes of changes in climate. Volcanic eruptions can have caused some cooling events and greenhouse gases may have contributed to the increase in temperature over the last decades. However, the influence of solar variability has been the major forcing factor and will probably also remain so in the future."



Which makes the pact toothless -- but the UN guy is trying to put the best face on it

India and China have told the United Nations a climate change agreement that slows down their economic growth and locks them into poverty is unacceptable to them. The UN's climate change boss said Monday the two Asian giants have taken a series of "ambitious" domestic actions to combat climate change but want to draw the line at anything that would upset their economic growth strategies. "Both of those countries are increasingly taking action - at home - not waiting for an agreement," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

India and China are among 190 countries that are trying to agree a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by the end of the year in Copenhagen. The protocol, which runs out in 2012, lays down the percentages by which countries have to reduce (from a 1990 base) their emissions of greenhouse gases that are leading to climate change. These gases are common by-products of industrial activity.

But major developing countries are excluded from binding commitments under the 'polluter pays' principle, according to which countries that are chiefly responsible for causing climate change - the rich industrialised countries - must set an example for the rest of the world.

Mr. De Boer said India and China are "participating very constructively in these negotiations, while at the same time pointing out that their overriding concern is economic growth and poverty eradication and that any climate change agreement that's adopted in Copenhagen must be in line with that dual role. "That's why for me this whole notion of clean growth is so important," Mr. De Boer told reporters. "A climate change response that strangles world economic growth and locks countries into poverty is not the way we need to be moving forward."

De Boer said India and China had implemented steps - "if only out of self-interest" - to tackle the impact of climate change in the areas of food and water security. "And that was translated in the case of India and China into ambitious national strategies to tackle climate change, both mitigation and to limit the growth of emissions." He said green growth, including climate-friendly activities, are at the core of China's economic recovery strategy. "China is already the leading investor worldwide into renewable sources of energy. China has a huge ambition in terms of industrial energy efficiency improvements in terms of creating sustainable cities," he added.



The Dutch Government is to scrap from July 1 its air passenger ticket tax, first dubbed the ‘eco’ tax when it was introduced against major opposition by aviation and local industry last year. The controversial departure tax, which ranges from 11 to 45 euros, is blamed for a steep decline in passenger traffic at the main Dutch airports, particularly at Amsterdam Schiphol. The move was welcomed by airlines, particularly those from the low-cost sector, who called for similar taxes to be abandoned in Italy, Ireland and the UK.

The tax was expected to raise around €300 million ($395m) a year but a commissioned report concluded that it would cost the Dutch economy €1.3 billion ($1.7bn) in lost revenue. At a time when the Government was trying to underpin the economy, reports, the Dutch transport ministry, backed by the aviation industry, business, tourism and right-wing parties, won the day against the environment ministry that had fought to keep the tax.

Schiphol Group, which operates Amsterdam Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Lelystad airports, said it had been hit by a strong decline in traffic and increasing international competition, and recently announced cuts in its work force of 10-25% by the end of next year. Schiphol Airport, Europe’s fifth biggest in terms of passenger enplanements, recorded a drop of 430,000 passengers in February, a 13.7% fall against the same month a year ago. The number of locally boarding passengers fell by 17.7%. The number of transfer passengers, who were exempted from the tax, declined by 8.5%.

The airport operator along with Dutch carrier KLM had previously warned that potential passengers would try to avoid the tax by flying from airports across the border in Belgium or Germany. The Belgian Government has already abandoned a proposal to introduce a similar tax.

The European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) welcomed the “enlightened” decision to lift the tax, claiming it was discriminatory in that it was only levied on passengers starting their journey in the Netherlands and exempted cargo flights and transfer passengers. It urged the governments of Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom to follow the Dutch lead in dropping airline passenger taxes.

Major low-cost operators including Ryanair, easyJet and Flybe voiced similar sentiments. “Ryanair has campaigned against high airport taxes and so called ‘eco’ taxes, which deter visitors and has cost the Dutch tourism industry millions in lost revenue,” said a spokesman for the carrier.



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


7 April, 2009

Sea levels rising?

Crooked German professor ignores recent data recently downgraded the rate of rise from 3.3mm/year to 3.2mm/year... Not a big thing, but it has been going down now for 3 years...

It is really not that big a deal except when you google sea levels in the news. Right at the top you'll read this.
Global Warming Accelerates

As sea levels rise faster than expected, political and social catastrophes loom. Sea levels are rising much faster than expected—perhaps by three feet or more by 2100, according to climate scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago in February.

Scientists there also announced that global warming is increasing at a greater rate than the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in its 2007 Fourth Assessment report.

For the last 15 years, sea levels, measured by satellite and by gauges in the ocean, rose twice as fast as in the past half century. And Stefan Rahmstorf, an oceanographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change, notes that between 1961 and 2003, sea level has risen 50 percent faster than computer models predicted. Given these results, he said new modeling can’t yet be done “with any confidence......”

Now I can look at the graph:

Notice Professor Rahmstorf failed to mention the fact that since 2003 it is an entirely different story. Either he has information that is not available on the above chart or he is flat out being deceitful. I suspect it is the latter, Do you see the deceit of these people? Scary.

I invite you to click on the new link I have posted called "The Greatest Lie Ever?" It is information put out by Nils-Axel Mörner. Who is an expert, retired and has nothing to gain by exposing this, except trying to maintain scientific integrity in the field he loves.

The question you should ask yourself is this; If sea level rise on the official sea level site are being down graded, how can scientist claim they are accelerating? What is their motive? certainly it cannot be science.

More HERE. (See the original for links)

Lobotomized Science

Back when consensus science was that lobotomies were a good way to treat mental disorders, they had one thing going for them that the current consensus on global warming does not, their misguided theory showed results.

After all if you cut out a portion of a person’s brain you are bound to change the persons personality, and lobotomies achieved that goal.

On the other hand the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming relies on the premise that added CO2 in the atmosphere (man made only of course, preferably from Western Countries the evil US being the main culprit) will cause a chain reaction of events, all of them predictable and all of them bad.

First the minor warming of the atmosphere by minuscule portion of man-made carbon dioxide will cause evaporation of water vapor into the atmosphere (the primary greenhouse gas). This will in turn set off a chain reaction of increased warming which will only end when most of the world’s species are extinct, survivors of the now impotent human race are racked with kidney stones partaking in cannibalism while kayaking through the streets of New York.

From the IPCC Charter

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

I like objectivity, how about you? It is, I would venture, a key ingredient, if not the key to good science. I must admit that I am not objective when it comes to the IPCC or much of anything they do or say, but then again I'm just a dumb old carpenter with absolutely no training in science. But in my defense, I do have a mind and I can read and reason deductively. I have also been around long enough to deduce a good snow job when I see one, wow maybe I do have meteorological training.

The question I put before you today, or until I change blog entries is this. Is the climate science community, led by the IPCC, objective? Is this even important?

I would say yes whether you believe in global warming or not. The climate science's objectivity, their pronouncements, their recommendations have had a direct impact in the shaping of political, economic and societal changes throughout the world. These changes and recommendations are growing more extreme and infecting the body politic of the world like a cancer. If in fact we are nearing a disaster of Biblical proportions, isn't objectivity more important than ever?

Here is a summary that came out of the recent all soo important meeting of the climate science community in Copenhagen, from this oh so humble headline article in the UK Guardian, Six ways to save the world: scientists compile list of climate change clinchers which in part says

...The congress was conceived as an update of the science of global warming ahead of the UN summit in December. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in 2007 is now three to four years out of date.
Climatic trends

Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario projections (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.

So what is the scientific basis for these pronouncements? There is no doubt that atmospheric CO2 is increasing, here is a graph from one of those doomsday web sites

Are atmospheric CO2 concentrations accelerating since the last IPCC report in 2007? Nope.

Here are The WMO (the IPCC) official temperatures going back to 2003.

2003******* 58.037
2004******* 57.999
2005******* 58.055
2006******* 57.960
2007******* 57.913
2008******* 57.740

And here is the last thirty years of Satellite Temperatures.

Larger View

Are temperatures accelerating at an alarming rate? Nope.

Here is the official Sea Level graph from CSU as taken from Jason Satellite measurements.

Are sea levels rising? Nope.

I will not even get into the Ocean Acid crapola for now.

As of this writing global sea ice is basically at the same level as the average it has been measured at since 1979.

Are extreme climatic events occurring? Who knows? Where is the proof? There are all kind of studies of the impact for future events based on increased global temperatures, but you have to have the first (global warming) before you can have the second (increased climate events) maybe. But that's the scare right?

Now we have this so called scientific community telling us that even if you have decades of cooling, it is all part of the theory. Even if the Greenland Ice sheets stop melting, it is all part of the theory. If you have record floods caused by the melting of record snow, it's all part of the theory. We are now even told, that the effects of global warming will be regional in nature. In other words one side of a continent can be colder than normal while the other half is warmer than normal and this is all global warming. How in the world can that be called global? I call that normal.

The so called science of Anthropogenic Global Warming is primarily based upon computer modeling or what I affectionately call CYBER WAG. Let me put this as bluntly as I can. A bunch of greenie nerds with computers have found themselves with power beyond their wildest dreams. The power not only to project the future on their computer simulations, but the power to shape public policy based on this semi-fantasy world they have created in order to scare the world into submission to their view of Utopia.

The irony is that the very tools they use to create their fantasy world are a product of human advancement only made possible by the very industrial and technological growth they so condemn and would tear down by their CYBER WAG theories.

We (mankind) may indeed descend into a new dark age of primal survival, but it will not be because human achievement has destroyed our planet. Rather it will be that human achievement has developed a class of elitist nincompoops who are incapable of seeing the forest for the trees.

SOURCE. (A big thanks to Weather Underground for the above post. Excellent work)

Green Jobs: Making Society Poorer (Basic math can show interesting things)

A key element of the current administration’s approach to recovery from our current economic and financial crises is a fundamental reorientation of the kinds of work performed in our economy. But a proposed shift to “green” jobs in the name of well-paying, high-impact employment that cannot be outsourced overlooks the essential nature of how human labor fosters economic well-being.

Simply put, the key to prosperity is high productivity per worker. There is simply no other way to be rich unless you sit on top of a gold mine (or oil well) and have few mouths that need to feed off that source of wealth.

Discarding the vain hope that a nation of 300 million can live well off a raw materials-based economy, we are left with productivity as the wellspring of affluence. If work is productive then it adds value to the raw materials and machinery used, whether these are oil molecules, computer keyboards, wind currents, or trainloads of corn.

The more value each worker can add to the raw materials, the more productive that worker is and the better off society will become as a result. In the energy business, productivity means that the value of converted energy products – electricity, refined oil products, natural gas – is greater than the cost of the labor, machinery and primary energy used to produce that converted product.

So the belief, or hope, of the proponents of prosperity through green jobs must rest on the determination that those working at “green” jobs add significant value to the input raw materials and machinery that is used to convert corn, wood, wind or sunlight to a usable (and salable) energy product. Suppliers of such energy can hire workers, buy machinery and generally participate in a virtuous economic cycle that permits continued employment and investment. Society will extract its claims on this productive cycle through the tax system, used to pay for public goods. Such a system is self-sustaining and can last for a long time.

On the other hand, if value added is negative (value-subtraction in economics jargon), then the value of the usable energy will require additional resources in order to induce consumers to purchase it. The system is not self-sustaining, since it can exist only with a continued injection of outside resources, gathered, presumably, from more productive sectors of the economy.

A Simple Proof

This is a testable hypothesis. We can compare the value added by a worker in energy with the cost of the labor, machinery and materials used to produce usable energy. If value added to the primary energy is positive, then the market value of output will be greater than the cost of producing the usable energy.

The average productivity of labor in electric power generation in US = 6024 MWh annually. This means that each worker in the power generation sector produces electricity worth roughly $300,000, based on a generation cost of $50/MWh ($0.05/KWh). This sum covers the cost of fuel, generating equipment and emissions control/waste disposal. The companies generating this electricity are normally profitable, meaning that all costs are covered and there is a residual profit that is returned to the owners at each stage of the process – fuel production, fuel transportation/transmission, machinery manufacturing, and operation of the equipment.

According to industry studies, the average worker in power generation earns about $68,000 per year. These workers pay taxes and contribute to pension plans and social security, so the “loaded” cost of a utility worker is probably closer to $75,000-80,000 per year. Indeed, workers in all stages of the electricity supply chain pay taxes, as do their employers, and economic value is created for the rest of the economy, permitting jobs to be created throughout the economy, including government. Since consumers purchase this electricity willingly, and government subsidies are a negligible proportion of the bill for conventional electricity supply, at just 0.5% of the average cost of supply, it is safe to conclude that conventional electricity generation is a value-adding, and therefore self-sustaining activity for the US economy.

Wind and solar, on the contrary, receive subsidies that average $24/MWh currently. If we assume that all of the excess costs of wind and solar occur in the equipment fabrication stage (probably not true) and that electric utility workers can produce the same number of MWh per employee per year, then the excess cost of renewable energy works out to $154,080 annually per employee. The money to fund these subsidies, the equivalent of two average utility jobs, has to come from somewhere. Without recourse to the tooth fairy, it must be the case that funding such green energy must come from taxes on other segments of the economy where value continues to be added to raw materials and machinery, not subtracted.


The arithmetic or green jobs is ineluctable and grim. For each utility worker who moves from conventional electricity generation to renewable generation, two jobs at a similar rate of pay must be foregone elsewhere in the economy, otherwise the funds to pay for the excess costs of renewable generation cannot be provided. Moreover, by raising costs throughout the economy, high cost green energy will reduce the competitiveness of US exporters, thereby destroying (presumably well-paying) jobs in such industries.

The job-destroying nature of renewable energy is not unique to the US. A recent study in Spain, where both conventional generation costs and wind subsidies are higher than in the US, found that each new job in green industries in that country cost $774,000 and led to the loss of at least 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the country’s economy.

There is another way to fund the excess costs of renewable energy, and that is to pay less to those engaged in its supply. According to a recent study at the University of Massachusetts, workers in “green” occupations earned an average of $41,114 annually, less than two thirds what a conventional utility employee earns and less than one half the average earnings of oil industry “roughnecks.”

So we can have our green energy, with fewer jobs and higher taxes, or we can have our green energy with more jobs at lower wages, but we cannot have our green energy with higher wages and lower taxes. If workers are not engaged in activities that produce true value for the economy then there is simply no way to pay for lots of them without producing problems elsewhere in our system.

Once again, the promise of a free lunch is unmasked by examining the true costs that someone has to pay to put food on the table.



The $1.1 trillion stimulus package agreed by G20 leaders yesterday risks locking the world into a high-carbon economy in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, environmental groups have warned.

Campaigners agreed that the summit's biggest loser was the fight against climate change, despite a positive response from global financial markets to the announcement of financial aid. At the summit, prime minister Gordon Brown reiterated support for low-carbon economic growth and tackling climate change.

"In mobilising the world's economies to fight back against recession we are resolved to ... promote low-carbon growth and to create the green jobs on which our future prosperity depends," he said. "We are committed to ... working together to seek agreement on a post-2012 climate change regime at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December."

"Once again world leaders have short-changed people and the planet," said Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins. "The economic system and the global environment are on a devastating collision course - but despite pledging to build an inclusive, green and sustainable recovery little has been done to change direction."

British government officials lost the battle to include a commitment to spend a substantial share of the economic stimulus on low-carbon recovery projects. The economist Lord Nicholas Stern has recommended that 20% of fiscal stimulus spending should be on projects to address climate change.

The communique's comments on the low-carbon economy and climate change negotiations were limited to two paragraphs at the end, and made no specific commitments.



As if by magic, a trillion pounds has been shaved off the estimated cost of Global Warming regulation in the UK overnight. Parliament has yet to be informed of this numerical feat.

When MPs and Lords passed the Climate Change Act late last year - see Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate - they did so without so much as a back-of-an-envelope calculation from the departmental Sir Humphreys to go on. That didn't seem to bother them, however.

Politicians were so keen to appear virtuous, they queued up to show their support for raising the carbon reduction target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent. But how much would all this virtue cost?

It was only after the bill became law did some numbers trickle out. The government isn't really supposed to do this; BERR is obliged to provide "Impact assessments". So we learned that the potential costs of £205bn were twice the estimated maximum benefits, of £110bn. But overnight, the "benefits" have blossomed tenfold. While the cost estimate now ranges from £324bn to £404bn, the "benefits" are estimated to top £1tn.

"I congratulate on [sic] finding nearly £1 trillion of benefits which had previously escaped your notice," writes Peter Lilley in a letter to Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband. Lilley was just one of just five elected members out of 653 to oppose the Climate Change Act.

"As so often in the debate on Global Warming - when the facts don't fit the theory they change the facts," he adds. Lilley says he welcomes sensible CO2 reduction, but wants the costs - around £20,000 per household - discussed in Parliament.

In a footnote to the Miliband letter, Lilley notes that the cost excludes "transitional costs" of about one per cent of GDP per annum. This alone dwarves the top range estimate, since the UK's annual GDP is over £2tn. Also missing was the cost of UK businesses moving abroad to less virtuous countries - something even the Ministry admits is likely.

But we should salute this impressive feat of statistical inventiveness. Creativity with numbers seems to be a benefit when "fighting climate change", but creativity on this scale could make our economic problems vanish at the stroke of a pen-pusher's biro


See also Christopher Booker's story in the Sunday Telegraph: Yet more mind-boggling figures on global warming.

Newsweak asks: What Else Are We Wrong About?

Excerpt from the magazine issue dated Apr 13, 2009

A lot of premises have turned out to be wrong lately. I'm not talking about evanescent bits of conventional wisdom, but about overarching assumptions that were widely shared across the political spectrum. For instance, before 1989, virtually all Sovietologists agreed the U.S.S.R. was highly stable. Before 2001, few Middle East scholars worried that America was vulnerable to a major terrorist attack. Before 2003, neocon hawks and French lefties agreed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Before 2008, few economists doubted the fundamental soundness of the U.S. financial system.

So at a moment when everything we once assumed is suddenly up for discussion, it's worth asking: what other big stuff could we be wrong about? I'm looking for issues where the received wisdom may be entirely correct—but merits a stronger dose of skepticism than it usually gets.

Nuclear proliferation is bad.

It seems self-evident that countries joining the nuclear club—India, Pakistan, North Korea, maybe Iran—create a greater risk of catastrophic war or accidental launch. But in an influential paper, the political scientist Kenneth Waltz argued that nuclear rivalries help keep the peace because "they discourage states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons." In this view, nukes are inherently defensive—and the countries that want them do so for good reason. Waltz argues that possessing nukes induces restraint and caution, causing irresponsible regimes to behave more responsibly. His argument is buttressed by another: you can't stop proliferation even if you try.

Climate change will be catastrophic.

We all know civilization is doomed if we don't reduce carbon emissions, right? The physicist Freeman Dyson disagrees. Dyson doesn't dispute that human activity is causing warming. But he challenges the consensus that warming will be catastrophic. In a New York Review of Books essay, Dyson wrote that warming "is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter." Carbon emissions could make the earth more fertile and prevent harm from global cooling, which isn't caused by humans. And if it really turns out that there is a serious problem, genetically engineered carbon-eating trees might fix it. (Might.)

China is stable.

Twenty years after Tiananmen Square, the Chinese Communist Party apparatus shows every sign of being in control. The economy has continued to grow at 9 percent a year since 1978, fueling China's rise as a global power. There's little sign of opposition. But rising living standards tend to produce political discontent and have driven the democratic change throughout most of the rest of East Asia. Samuel Huntington, the late political scientist, argued that regimes become vulnerable at a level of per capita income that China is fast approaching.



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


6 April, 2009

Antarctic glaciers retreating more quickly than expected?

As you read the amusing exercise in unbalanced reporting below, keep in mind Cryosphere's latest graph (below) of the Antarctic ice cover -- which shows that the overall Antarctic ice extent is very nearly 1 million square KM above the 20 year normal... Mustn't laugh! Only a Warmist would pretend not to know that as bits of the Antarctic ice break off, other bits grow. There's nothing static in nature

Retreat of glaciers in Antarctica due to climate change is happening more rapidly than expected, according a report by the USGS and the British Antarctic Survey release last Friday. The findings come on the heels of a study published last week in Geophysical Research Letters finding that Arctic sea ice could be completely gone in September by the late 2020’s — three times more quickly than previous estimates. (See this post in CEJournal for more information about that study.)

USGS geologist Jane Ferrigno and her colleagues are using satellite images, aerial photography and other data in an ongoing effort to map coastal areas of Antarctica. Their report, the first of several, examines Antarctica’s Larsen and Wordie Ice Shelves, and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula.

A total of 7,264 individual measurements on 174 changing ice coastlines using data from 1940 to 2005 reveals dramatic changes: 82 percent of the ice coastlines studied have been in retreat, ranging from hundreds of meters to kilometers in extent. Only 18 percent have been static or have advanced.

In addition, Ferrigno and her colleagues documented for the first time that the Wordie Ice Shelf has completely disappeared. They also report that the Jones Ice Shelf has vanished, and the Mueller Ice Shelf is in retreat.

The most dramatic changes, however, have been the calving of an iceberg measuring more than 6,000 square kilometers from the Larsen C Ice Shelf; the rapid retreat between 1986 and 2000 of the Larsen B Ice Shelf; and the quick breakup of the remaining northern part of Larsen “B” in 2002.

The researchers pin the blame on dramatically rising temperatures. They cite research showing that the Antarctic Peninsula has been warming at a rate of 3.7~1.6°C per century, which is “an order of magnitude larger than the global mean warming rate of 0.6~0.2°C.”

“This continued and often significant glacier retreat is a wakeup call that change is happening in our Earth system and we need to be prepared,” Ferrigno, lead author on the study, said in a statement released by the USGS. “Antarctica is of special interest because it holds an estimated 91 percent of the Earth’s glacier volume, and change anywhere in the ice sheet poses significant hazards to society.”

The retreat of ice shelves is a possible precursor to the deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the researchers say. If that were to happen, sea level could rise 5 meters with catastrophic consequences for coastal areas around the world that are home to many tens of millions of people.

Ice shelves are believed to hold back glaciers, thereby slowing their march to the sea. So the worry is that with their disintegration, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could begin to collapse. Indeed, the researchers on the report point out that after the collapse of adjacent ice shelves, many tributary glaciers began flowing to the sea faster, and the glacier surface began to drop, “confirming the buttressing role of the ice shelves.”

A paper published recently in Nature said the process could actually take a thousand or more years. So it will be interesting to see how the observations described in the USGS/BAS report square with the modeling in the Nature paper. (See this post in CEJournal for an analysis of news coverage of the Nature paper.)

The researchers conclude with one of the most astonishing warnings I have read in a paper of this kind: “The map portrays one of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth, and the changes in the map area are widely regarded as among the most profound, unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming on Earth"


Plants and trees are growing faster because of rising carbon dioxide levels

This may well be true and I hope it is but it is also irrelevant -- because although CO2 levels are rising, temperatures are not, sadly for the Warmists. Reality is busting their most central belief

Plants and trees are growing faster because of rising carbon dioxide levels, potentially buying Earth more time to address global warming, according to scientists. The phenomenon has been discovered in a variety of flora, ranging from tropical rainforests to British sugar beet crops. It means they are soaking up at least some of the billions of tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans that would otherwise be accelerating the rate of climate change.

Plants survive by extracting CO2 from the air and using sunlight to convert it into proteins and sugars.Since 1750 the concentration in the air has risen from of CO2 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 380 ppm, making it easier for plants to acquire the CO2 needed for rapid growth. A study by the University of Leeds, published in the science journal Nature, measured the girth of 70,000 trees across 10 African countries and compared them with similar records made four decades ago. On average, the trees were getting bigger faster and researchers found that each hectare of African forest was trapping an extra 0.6 tons of CO2 a year compared with the 1960s. If this is replicated across the world's tropical rainforests they would be removing nearly 5 billion tons of CO2 a year from the atmosphere.

Scientists have been looking for a similar impact on crop yields and the experiments generally suggest that raised CO2 levels would boost the yields of mainstream crops, such as maize, rice and soy, by about 13 per cent.

Professor Martin Parry, head of plant science at Rothamsted Research, Britain's leading crop institute, said: "There is no doubt that the enrichment of the air with CO2 is increasing plant growth rates in many areas."The problem is that humans are releasing so much that plants can remove only a fraction of it," he said. Humans are believed to generate about 50 billion tons of the gas each year.

However, scientists have warned against drawing false comfort from such findings. They point out that although levels will boost plant growth, other factors associated with climate change, such as rising temperatures and drought [Drought?? Then what's all that thunderous rainfall I keep hearing outside my window?], are likely to have a negative effect. Fred Pearce, environment consultant for New Scientist, said: "We know that trees do absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and about half is taken up from nature and half of that is by forests. But it doesn't change the story greenhouse gases are accumulating more than 2 per cent a year. It won't buy us much time as humans are releasing much more CO2 into the air, but it is useful information if it helps to protect existing forests."


No Wonder Climate Alarmists Refuse to Debate

When you hear the names Al Gore and James Hansen in the same sentence you immediately assume the subject to be manmade global warming panic. But there’s another distinction which links these two – they both steadfastly refuse to defend their positions in formal debate. And a recent performance by one of their own in just such a venue reminds us why.

Roll Call TV has just posted video of the March 27th debate they hosted between Marc Morano, former communications director for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), and Climate Progress's Joe Romm. Part one begins here at about the 3:45 mark and Part two begins here directly. The two philosophical adversaries arguing the heated subject of “Green Politics” makes for a fabulous show -- a must-see for all, particularly those still unsure why it is that the overwhelming majority of climate alarmists always find some excuse not to directly confront opposing opinion. And Romm wasted no time leaving no doubt, issuing these clumsily over the top words almost out of the gate: [my emphasis]

“On our current emissions path we are going to warm the United States 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and sea level rise will be 5 feet or higher and a third of the planet will be desert.”

And just moments after grossly exaggerating the already hyped predictions of his fellow climate hysterics, he actually summoned the insolence to say that “the thing you have to understand about Marc Morano is that he basically makes stuff up and misrepresents science.” An accusation he’d later repeat and broaden to include Morano’s ex-boss and, ultimately, anyone else not buying the hype Romm and his accomplices have been selling door-to-door these many years.

Granted, self-reflection has never been an inherent trait amongst climate alarmists, but consider Romm’s own blatant fabrications and misrepresentations in the three predictions of his opening salvo.

Even the overly venerated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) predicted that climate sensitivity (change in mean global temperatures resulting from a sustained doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration) would likely range between 2 and 4.5°C, and would most probably border on 3°C.

Based on his syntax, Romm implies future warming -- which translates to a 90 year period. Yet to achieve Romm’s lowest warming figure of 10°F (5.8°C) even at AR4’s highest sensitivity figure of 4.5°C, would require more than doubling the current level of 386ppm in just 9 decades, which is beyond absurd. Keep in mind that in the 50 years between 1958 and 2008, atmospheric carbon dioxide, as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, rose only 70ppm.

Sure, Romm repeated his Bizzaro World claim that the politically-motivated IPCC predictions are actually “watered-down.” But does he really believe there’ll be a greater than fivefold greenhouse gas acceleration in less than a century, even after all that capping-and-trading Europeans have selflessly suffered through to save the planet? And yet – he charges -- it’s people like Marc Morano who simply make stuff up.

And from what sci-fi flick did Romm draw his assertion of a 5 foot or higher sea level rise? Referring again to AR4, even the IPCC’s intentionally alarm-biased models only projected figures running from 0.18 to 0.59 meters by 2100. But people like Marc Morano misrepresent science in order to spread their bogus gospel.

Now we come to the final eight words of Romm’s fantastic sentence. A third of the planet will be desert. This one is either intentionally vague, just plain dumb, or both. For starters, only one-third of the planet is landmass, and that’s before much of it is drenched by Romm’s fantasy waves of runaway sea elevation. Is he suggesting that in a mere 90 years the entire landmass of the planet will be an arid, hostile, lizard infested wasteland?

On the other hand, perhaps I’m being unfair and misunderstanding his meaning. Perhaps he actually meant that one-third of dry land will be reduced to desert by 2100. Of course, that would still be horrible news because ……. Wait a minute, according to the US Geological Survey, approximately one-third of the Earth's land surface already is desert. So Romm is either predicting no change whatsoever or a complete Terradeformation in a time-span even Star-Trek engineers would be proud of. Unless, of course, he hasn’t given it much thought at all but hopes the media and most citizens will continue to ignore what truth hides beneath the shocking imagery.

Morano couldn’t help laughing at Romm’s unrelentingly silly exaggerations. Indeed, after coming out hurling pejoratives and 41 words of utter nonsense early in the opening round, you’d expect Romm to drop the hyperbole and smug manner and put up his intellectual dukes once Morano began scoring point after rational point. But while Marc calmly cited contrarian scientists and the perils of fraudulently inspired policy, Joe continued to make extraordinary claims, including that wind power produces more new jobs than coal mining, as though oblivious that they fuel 2 versus 50 percent of America’s energy, respectively.

And so it went -- virtually every cogent point made by Morano was met not with reasoned retort but rather polemical blather and name calling. And from Dr. Joseph J. Romm -- one the alarmists’ most revered minds.

Watching them squabble, it’s impossible to ignore just how many times Romm put his hysterical size 10 in his mouth as Morano calmly cleaned his clock. But let’s give the guy kudos for showing up – for that alone distinguishes him as unique to his breed.

Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Marlo Lewis once noted: “The alarmists claim all the evidence supports their theory, but the only way they can prove that is to actually show up for a debate and win. If they are afraid to publicly debate and scientifically defend their assertions, it is a good indication who they fear will win the debate.”

Exactly the reason that Gore and Hansen have both declined invitation after invitation to defend their imminent climate catastrophe assertions. And a decade of zero-discernable warming, recent reliable predictions of multi-decadal cooling and Joe Romm’s gutsy but clumsy losing performance will surely do little to persuade them otherwise.

But will the public abide additional financial hardships based on projections by so-called experts and policy makers who insist that “the debate is over” yet have never actually managed to win a single one? Last week’s heavily bi-partisan Senate vote to deny Obama’s carbon tax plan fast-track status suggests that most lawmakers don’t believe they will. And as public acceptance gradually fades, which polls continue to assert, so do the specters of both national and America-constrained international cap-and-trade. Of course, many will find that debatable.



Top Chinese negotiator Tuesday urged developed countries to give more commitments and support to developing countries in fighting climate change. Su Wei, Chinese delegation chief to the UN climate change talks in Bonn, made the call in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. The Bonn conference, which started on March 29 and will last till April 8, is the first of a series of UN climate change talks this year, which is aimed to pave the way for an ambitious and effective international climate change deal to be reached in Copenhagen in December.

Su said the success of the Copenhagen summit lies in whether or not the developed countries would make "substantial arrangements" for transferring climate-friendly technologies to and providing funds for developing countries. Su noted the establishment of three international "mechanisms" is very important among the "substantial arrangements." "The first is to set up an international mechanism on climate-friendly technology development and transfer, to eliminate barriers hindering technology transfer, so that developing countries can get access to such technologies," he said.

"Secondly, we should set up an effective financing mechanism to ensure the developed countries provide adequate funds for developing countries in their bid to cut emissions and fight climate change," he added.

Thirdly, Su said an "effective supervision mechanism" should beset up to monitor the above-mentioned technology transfer and funding.

Su said the time for the UN climate change talks is "pressing" as the Copenhagen conference is just eight months away. According to Su, the Copenhagen conference has two tasks. One is to set the mid-term emission reduction targets for developed countries, that is, developed countries as a whole should commit to making 25-40 percent cuts below 1990 levels by 2020. The other is to make substantial arrangements for the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in accordance with the Bali Roadmap.

Su said during the past two centuries, developed countries have made unbridled emissions of green-house gas, a major cause of global climate change, and developing countries are major victims of climate change. Hence, developed countries have the duties and responsibilities to cut emissions and offer help to developing countries, he said, noting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has notified the responsibilities of developed countries, but they failed to make progress in the implementation over the past decade. Su also pointed out the key to striking a deal in Copenhagen lies in the "political will" of developed countries.

During the current talks in Bonn, the U.S. delegation had presented the position of the Obama administration on climate change, promising to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by roughly 15 percent from current levels by 2020. "It is an encouragement and we welcome it. This means substantial policy change on climate change by the new U.S. administration," said Su. However, Su said the targets set by the White House is still far shy of the goals set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which asks the United States to reduce the emissions to the 1990 levels by 2000. Su also said the positions of the European Union (EU) and Japan were "positive" in the Bonn talks.

As for China, Su said the Chinese government attaches vital importance to fighting climate change and a series of substantial measures have been put into practice. In 2007, a national leading group on climate change, headed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, was set up to oversee all issues relevant to climate change. On the same year, the Chinese government issued the National Climate Change Program, the first of its kind ever issued by China, which works out the strategies and measures to tackle climate change. "The Chinese government has actively participated in international talks on climate change and we have presented our own proposals on nearly every relevant issue," Su said. "China has played and is playing a positive and constructive role in international talks on climate change," Su added.


Benny Peiser comments:

I'm afraid Obama’s climate policy is likely to turn into an extremely damaging lose-lose situation for the U.S. – both in terms of economic and political liabilities. Why? Because unless the U.S. is prepared to transfer $100 billion or more in cap-and-trade revenues to the developing world (p.a.), neither China nor India will agree to join any climate treaty. No matter what unilateral climate targets the U.S. Senate is ready to approve, the developing world will never give up on its demand for recompense, hard cash and free technology. Why? Because Western governments, by hyping up a global warming frenzy, have fully accepted their historical culpability and the “carbon debt” they owe the rest of the world. If, on the other hand, the Obama administration rebuffs developing countries and refuses to pay up, the U.S. is almost certain to further erode its international standing and influence.

Let me repeat what I wrote a year ago about the inevitable consequence of this self-destructive entanglement: “As a result of promoting environmental alarmism, Western governments find themselves trapped in a perilous, yet largely self-constructed catch. As long as climate change is elevated as the principal liability of industrial countries, as long as Western CO2 emissions are blamed for exacerbating natural disasters, death and destruction around the globe, green pressure groups and officials from the developing world will continue to insist that the West is liable to recompense its exorbitant carbon debt by way of wealth transfer and financial compensation. Ultimately, there is now a growing risk that the whole global-warming scare is creating more anti-Western hostility and further loss of influence on the international stage.”

Auntie’s Tall Tale Of Daddy Long Legs

It’s always fun to trace the chain of Chinese whispers between primary research and scary news stories about the ravages of climate change. Many BBC science stories are particularly easy to trace back to source, based as they are on a single scientific paper, from which they are separated by only a single press release. But even when the whisper chain is a short one, there is plenty of room for the distortion of sobre science to alarmist headline, especially when the press release contains everything you need for the job. So it was with the BBC’s ‘Bid to aid daddy longlegs numbers’ published on Thursday:

Climate change is killing off cranefly and in turn threatening the survival of upland wild bird species that feed on them, RSPB Scotland has warned.

The Telegraph also reported the story:

Daddy longlegs decline could spell extinction for golden plover

So did the Daily Mail, which isn’t even supposed to believe in this new-fangled climate change business:

Warmer summers ‘killing off daddy long legs and beloved British birds’

And Science Daily:

Drop In Daddy Long Legs Is Devastating Bird Populations

All the stories drew entirely from a press release issued by RSPB Scotland, which they have simply condensed and bolted on their own introduction and headline. (Science Daily also spliced in an extra quote from a co-author of the research paper). Here’s the headline of the presser:

Warmer weather pummels plovers

Craneflies - better known in the UK, at least, as daddy longlegs - are gangly insects that appear en masse in temperate regions for a few weeks in spring, providing a bonanza food source for breeding birds and other predators. Judging by the news stories, climate change is killing them off by drying out the soil in which their larvae live, which is in turn killing off the birds that rely on them.

But according to the research paper, published in the journal Global Change Biology, it is far from clear that golden plovers are even declining, let alone being ‘killed off’, ‘pummeled’ or ‘devastated’, as shown in the paper’s Figure 5:

The data represent just a single, small population. But neither is there much evidence that golden plovers are undergoing a national, European or global decline. Lead author of the paper, Dr James Pearce-Higgins of RSPB Scotland, confirmed this when we spoke to him on the phone.

The population studied by Pearce-Higgins and his colleagues sits on the southern edge of the species’ range in the English Peak District. This was by design, in that the intention was to examine how global temperature rises might affect species distributions. While evidence is accumulating that many species expand their ranges northwards in response to a warming trend (in the Northern Hemisphere), evidence for predicted contractions at the southern limit of species’ ranges is sparse. But even in what might be expected to be a particularly sensitive population, there is no downward trend in plover numbers over the last 35 years, despite a local rise in mean August temperatures of 1.9C over that period.

That is not to say, however, that temperature rises are not having an effect on the population. Pearce-Higgins et al have developed a model that does seem to explain much of the variation in plover numbers over the 35-year period. The model integrates previous work by the group, which found that plover mortality rises in cold winters, with new data showing that high August temperatures kill off cranefly larvae leading to fewer adults emerging the following spring when the birds are feeding their chicks. So, rising temperatures are a double-edged sword for plovers. Mild winters increase survival, but hot summers reduce breeding success. The model suggests that there might have been a switch in the relative importance of these two effects in recent years, with spring food availability becoming a more important determinant than winter temperature of population size.

There remains, of course, a lot of unexplained variability in the system, and Pearce-Higgins is reticent to attribute any short-term population fluctuations to specific effects:

From about the mid-’90s to mid-2000s, when the time series stops, there’s actually - although we don’t put this in the paper - there’s actually a significant decline in golden plover numbers [...] I guess I was being cautious really, in terms of attributing the decline to what’s going on, particularly as, if you look across the whole of the UK, there isn’t much evidence of a golden plover population decline, and I’m very well aware that lots of other factors are affecting their population [...] If you take the trend from the mid-90s through to when we finish about 2005, there is a decline there, but obviously that’s an arbitrary cut-off.

So, all the news stories - and, indeed, the RSPB’s own press release - are wrong to suggest that climate change is reducing plover populations. While they all treat the issue in the present tense, as if golden plovers are being devastated by climate change in the here and now, the only evidence of population decline presented by paper comes from the application of the model to future population trends.

The researchers take the 1.9C local temperature rise over the past 35 years and extrapolate it over the next 100 years. The resulting rise of 5.2C above the 1971-2005 mean would, according to their model, result in a 96% chance of extinction of the population. A 1.9C local rise in August mean temperatures would seem very large, however, when global temperatures have increased by 1C over the past century, and it’s certainly much bigger than the rise in temperature experienced by central England over the same period.

The researchers also apply their model to a range of other temperature scenarios:

In other words, things have to get pretty warm before even a small population on the edge of the species’ range starts to feel the heat. And yet it is only the extrapolation of the 1.9C rise that makes it into the press release and, therefore, the news stories.

Not only have news reports confused current declines with possible declines in the future, but they deal only with an apparently unrepresentative worst-case scenario, and they apply data from a single population at the southern extremity of the species’ range to the species as a whole to announce that a species that isn’t even declining is being driven to extinction.

Given that all the news coverage of the paper was based almost verbatim on the press release, it is perhaps surprising that Pearce-Higgins is happy with how the RSPB presented the research:

I don’t think the press release is particularly misleading really

‘That’s the challenge’ he says,

to try to get across what is quite a complicated message, but with an important underlying message, in a way that is acceptable to the media, but that also does justice to the science.

Readers can make up their own minds whether the RSPB press release does justice to the science. But it certainly seems to have been acceptable to the media, who didn’t need to look any further to get their alarmist climate stories. One particular quote in the RSPB press release proved particularly attractive, being used by the BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail. It’s from Pearce-Higgins:

This is the most worrying development that I have found in my scientific career to date.

Perhaps that’s what he means by the ‘important underlying message’.



Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary satirically defined electricity as the power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. This definition seems apt for California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32, which mandates shifting to much costlier forms of green energy, is not about Global Warming or Green Power at all. It would not have a chance of success in greenie California without its environmental mythology.

What AB 32 is all about is passing along the costs of cleaning the air in California by restructuring the regional political economy of western Red versus Blue states and creating new government energy enterprises similar to Fannie Mae and Indy-Mac Bank in the financial sector.

The provisions of AB 32 are broad and include creating a carbon market with a cap and trade scheme. Additionally it mandates that public and municipal utilities must gradually ramp up to provide a third or more of their energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal power rather than imported coal-fired power.

AB 32 has nothing to do with "global warming" contrary to both its proponents and opponents. To understand what AB 32 really is one must go back in time to understand air quality regulation in California . For air quality has been the apparent driver of many of California 's environmental and electricity regulatory disasters, such as the contamination groundwater with the chemical MTBE and the Electricity Crisis of 2001.

We Were Running Out of Sky, Not Energy

In the 1960's, smog was so bad in Southern California that you couldn't even see the mountains from the foothills on a hot August day. Home builders knew they eventually couldn't sell new tract homes in the future in places like Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga , which were regional cul-de-sacs for regional smog, unless air quality was improved.

In 1960, the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board was established. In 1963, the Federal Clean Air Act was enacted providing grants, and de facto control, over pollution control districts.

In 1966, auto tailpipe standards were established for the first time in the nation. In 1967, the Federal Air Quality Act was adopted and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was created by merger of other departments. 1970 heralded the first Earth Day and the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments granting statutory authority to control air pollution. Most importantly, in 1972 California 's Air Quality Implementation Plan was rejected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Oil Embargo of 1973 brought about smaller, more efficient cars and relatively lower air emissions. By 1975, catalytic converters were mandated on all vehicles.

In 1974, the Southern California Edison Company and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California bought 5000-acres of the ocean floor off the former oil field at Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach to jointly build a nuclear power plant and water desalting plant on a man-made island. The project was abruptly abandoned due to the reaction of the newly growing environmental movement. NIMBY ocean views and wetlands became more important than electricity, water, or oil extraction. Is it any surprise that California periodically has energy and water crises as everything must pay homage to the clean air god. Like the ancient religion of the Roman Empire, it is how the elites, the professionals and the specialists stay in power.

In order to meet air quality standards in the mid 1980's, many cities in Southern California shut down or downsized old fossil fuel power plants and shifted to reliance on imported electricity from out of state coal and gas-fired power plants. Much of that natural gas was supplied from gas fields and pipelines from Texas . The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, together with other cities (Pasadena , Glendale , Burbank , Anaheim , etc.) facilitated the construction of the Intermountain Power Coal-Fired Power Plant in Utah . This outsourced power production shifted air pollution elsewhere. The price of improving the air quality was the outsourcing of money, jobs and air pollution to surrounding (mostly Red) states.

In 1984, Smog Check went into place on most vehicles.

All importantly, in 1996, the Clinton-run EPA mandated that California clean up smog by no later than 2001, or it would cut-off Federal funds for highways, schools, etc. to the state.

California had only one real option available to meet the 2001 EPA clean air deadline: mothball old polluting fossil fuel power plants or sell off old plants and allow new investors to retrofit them with cleaner natural gas power. However, the mortgages (bonds) on the old power plants now had no way of being paid off. This triggered so-called electricity deregulation as a scheme to pay off the stranded debt.

In the year 2000, Southern California had for the first time in ten years only one Stage 1 Smog Alert. As a result of the shut down of old polluting power plants, the mountains became visible for the first time in a decade.

CARB mandated in 1999 that a chemical, MTBE, be added to gasoline to reduce automobile emissions and improve air quality. MTBE leaked from underground gas tanks and contaminated groundwater supplies resulting in costly clean ups and the mothballing of old independent gas stations until double-walled gas tanks could be installed. As of April 1, 2009, CARB is threatening to shut down independent gas stations again. This time it is for failure to install new low vapor emitting nozzles at a cost of $8,000 per nozzle!

In 2001 California experienced an historical electricity crisis involving rolling blackouts and sky rocketing electricity rates. Finally, new Governor Schwarzenegger rolled the stranded debts on the bonds of the old decommissioned power plants into a $40 billion bond issue to be paid from the revenue stream of over-market prices on long-term electricity contracts. Enron was scapegoated as the cause of the 2001 energy crisis originally caused by air quality regulation in response to public demand to eliminate smog.

The Global Warming Solutions Act

By 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger had signed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Today, public and municipal utilities are scrambling to enter contracts with wind and solar farms and geothermal power plants to meet the AB 32 deadlines. Most of these new sources of power are located within California.

Clean hydropower and nuclear power, and relatively clean natural gas, were not considered Green Power under AB 32 because that would mean out-of-state power producers could simply shift from dirty coal power to cleaner sources of power to export electricity to California. And California could not tolerate having clean and cheaper conventional sources of power qualify as Green Power because that would not stop the hemorrhaging of money and jobs to nearby (Red) western states.

What AB 32 is all about is the restructuring of the electricity market in Blue-State California so that it is no longer as dependent on cheap imported sources of energy from Red States ( Utah , Arizona , Oregon , Idaho , Nevada , Texas , etc.).



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


5 April, 2009


by Jeffrey A. Glassman, PhD

Some critics of the science of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) urge that its reliance on a consensus of scientists is false, while others simply point out that regardless, science is never decided by consensus. Some critics rely on fresh analyses of radiosonde and satellite data to conclude that water vapor feedback is negative, contrary to its representation in Global Climate Models (GCMs). Some argue that the AGW model must be false because the climate has cooled over the last decade while atmospheric CO2 continued its rise. Researchers discovered an error in the reduction of data, the widely publicized Hockey Stick Effect, that led to a false conclusion that the Little Ice Age was not global. Some argue that polar ice is not disappearing, that polar bears are thriving, and that sea level is not rising any significant amount.

To the public, these arguments cast a pall over AGW claims. But in a last analysis, they merely weigh indirectly against published positions, weigh against the art of data reduction, or rely on short-term data trends in a long-term forecast. Such charges cannot prevail against the weight of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and its network of associated specialists in the field, principally climatologists, should they ever choose to respond categorically. Moreover, these proponents can support their positions with hundreds running into thousands of published, peer-reviewed papers, plus the official IPCC publications, to weigh against tissue-paper-thin arguments, many published online with at best informal and on-going peer review.

On the other hand, what can carry the day are the errors and omissions included in the AGW model with respect to real and demonstrable processes that affect Earth's climate. Here is a list of eight major modeling faults for which IPCC should be held to account.

1. IPCC errs to add manmade effects to natural effects. In choosing radiative forcing to model climate, IPCC computes a manmade climate change, implicitly adding manmade effects to the natural background. Because IPCC models are admittedly nonlinear (Third Assessment Report, ¶1.3.2), the response of the models to the sum of manmade and background forces is not equal to the sum of the background response and the response to manmade forces.

A computer run, for example, that assumes the natural forces are in equilibrium, and then calculates the effects of a slug of manmade CO2 that dissolves over the years is not valid. The run needs to be made with the natural outgassing process and anthropogenic emissions entering the atmosphere simultaneously to be circulated and absorbed through the process of the solubility of CO2 in water.

2. IPCC errs to discard on-going natural processes at initialization. IPCC initializes its GCMs to year 1750 in an assumed state of equilibrium. At this time, Earth is warming and CO2, while lagging the warming, is increasing, both at near maximum rates. This initialization causes the models to attribute natural increases in temperature and CO2 to man. The error occurs not because the models fail to reproduce the on-going natural effects. It occurs because subsequent measurements of temperature and CO2 concentration, to which IPCC fits its modeled AGW response, necessarily include both natural and manmade effects.

Earth is currently about 2ºC to 4ºC below the historic peak in temperature seen in the Vostok record covering the four previous warm epochs. IPCC models turn off the natural warming, then calculate a rise attributed to man over the next century of 3.5ºC.

3. IPCC errs to model the surface layer of the ocean in equilibrium. IPCC models the surface layer of the ocean in equilibrium. It is not. It is thermally active, absorbing heat from the Sun and exchanging heat as well as water with the atmosphere. It is mixed with vertical and horizontal currents, stirred by winds and waves, roiling with entrained air, active in marine life, and undulating in depth.

This assumption of equilibrium in the surface layer leads IPCC to model CO2 as accumulating in the atmosphere in contradiction to Henry's Law of solubility. This causes its model of ACO2 uptake by the ocean to slow to the rate of sequestration in deep water, with time constants ranging into many millennia. A consequence of Henry's Law instead is that the surface ocean is a reservoir of molecular CO2 for atmospheric and ocean processes, and causes it to be in disequilibrium.

Assuming the surface layer to be in equilibrium leads IPCC to conclude that the measured increase in CO2 is from man's emissions, without increases due to background effects or warming of the ocean. It also supports IPCC's conclusion that atmospheric CO2 is well-mixed, contradicting its own observations of CO2 gradients in latitude and longitude. This false assumption allows IPCC to use the MLO record to represent global CO2, and falsely calibrate CO2 measurements from other sources to make them all agree.

4. IPCC errs to erase the global pattern of atmospheric CO2 concentration from its model. IPCC admits that East-West CO2 gradients are observable, and that North-South gradients are an order of magnitude greater. IPCC ignores that MLO lies in the high concentration plume from massive CO2 outgassing in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. At the same time, IPCC ignores that ice core data are collected in low CO2 concentrations caused by the polar sinks where the ocean uptakes CO2. These features show that CO2 spirals around the globe, starting at the equator and heading toward the poles, and diminishing in concentration as the surface layer cools. The concentration of CO2 should be maximal at MLO, and minimal at the poles, but IPCC makes them contiguous or overlapping through arbitrary calibrations.

5. IPCC errs to model climate without the full dynamic exchange of OC2 between the atmosphere and the ocean. IPCC ignores the planetary flows of CO2 through the atmosphere and across and through the surface layer of the ocean, and then into and out of the Thermohaline Circulation. CO2 is absorbed near 0ºC at the poles, and returned about one millennium later to the atmosphere at the prevailing tropical temperature. IPCC does not model this temperature-dependent exchange of about 90 gigatons of carbon per year, even though it swamps the anthropogenic emission of about 6 gigatons per year.

The outgassing is a positive feedback that confounds the IPCC model for the carbon cycle.

6. IPCC errs to model different absorption rates for natural and manmade CO2 without justification. IPCC considers the ocean to absorb ACO2 at a few gigatons per year, half its emission rate. It reports natural CO2 outgassed from the ocean as being exchanged with the atmosphere at about 90 gigatons per year, 100% of the emission rate. IPCC offers no explanation for the accumulation of ACO2 but not natural CO2.

Thus IPCC models Earth's carbon cycle differently according to its source, without its dynamic patterns in the atmosphere and the ocean, without its ready dissolution and accumulation in the surface ocean, and without the feedback of its dynamic outgassing from the ocean.

As a result, IPCC's conclusions are wrong that CO2 is long-lived, that it is well-mixed, that it accumulates in the atmosphere, and that it is a forcing, meaning that it is not a feedback.

7. IPCC errs to model climate without its first order behavior. IPCC does not model Earth's climate as it exists, alternating between two stable states, cold as in an ice age and warm much like the present, switched with some regularity by unexplained forces.

In the cold state, the atmosphere is dry, minimizing any greenhouse effect. Extensive ice and snow minimize the absorption of solar radiation, locking the surface at a temperature determined primarily by Earth's internal heat.

In the warm state, the atmosphere is a humid, partially reflective blanket and Earth's surface is on average dark and absorbent due primarily to the ocean. The Sun provides the dominant source of heat, with its insolation regulated by the negative feedback of cloud albedo, which varies with cloud cover and surface temperature.

As Earth's atmosphere is a by-product of the ocean, Earth's climate is regulated by albedo. These are hydrological processes, dynamic feedbacks not modeled by IPCC but producing the first order climate effects and the natural background which mask any effects due to man. IPCC global climate models do not model the hydrological cycle faithfully. They do reproduce neither dynamic specific humidity nor dynamic cloud cover. They are unable to predict climate reliably, nor to separate natural effects meaningfully from any conjectures about at most second order effects attributed to man.

8. IPCC errs to model climate as regulated by greenhouse gases instead of by albedo. IPCC rejects the published cosmic ray model for cloud cover, preferring to model cloud cover as constant. It does so in spite of the strong correlation of cloud cover to cosmic ray intensity, and the correlation of cosmic ray intensity to global surface temperature. Consequently, IPCC does not model the dominant regulator of Earth's climate, the negative feedback of cloud albedo, powerful because it shutters the Sun.

By omitting dynamic cloud albedo, IPCC overestimates the greenhouse effect by about an order of magnitude (computation pending publication), and fails to understand that Earth's climate today is regulated by cloud albedo and not the greenhouse effect, much less by CO2.


Marc Morano and Joe Romm debate the politics of climate change

Marc Morano, former Republican director of communications for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Joe Romm, environmentalist blogger and author, just debated the politics of climate change on Roll Call TV.

"It was funny to hear Romm citing how many governments support the AGW [anthropogenic global warming] claims," Marc wrote to me afterwards. "Romm used that point to 'prove' the 'science' was settled. Very alarming."

I've corresponded with Marc via email on several occasions. Each time, I've been impressed with his grasp of the science surrounding climate change. In this debate, he pretty much nails cap-and-trade, the "wealthy white politics" of the climate lobby and the flaws in the IPCC process.

There's a superb analysis of the debate over at Newsbusters - including a response from Romm. For some reason, I've been unable to embed the videos, so you'll have to watch them there or over at Planet Gore.


Yet more mind-boggling figures on global warming

Are we really to believe that the benefits gained from the Climate Change Act will amount to £1,024 billion, wonders Christopher Booker

Last October the House of Commons passed, by 463 votes to three, the most expensive piece of legislation ever put through Parliament. The only MP to question the cost of the Climate Change Act, requiring Britain to cut its CO2 emissions by 80 per cent within 40 years, was Peter Lilley. It was also Mr Lilley who, just before the MPs voted to stop runaway global warming, drew the House’s attention to the fact that, outside, London was experiencing its first October snow for 74 years.

What made the MPs’ lack of interest in the cost of this Act even more curious was that the Government’s own “impact assessment” showed that, whereas its benefits were estimated at £110 billion, its costs were £205 billion. The MPs thus happily voted for something that would be twice as costly as any benefit.

But these figures were based on the Government’s original plan to cut CO2 emissions by only 60 per cent. A last-minute amendment had this to 80 per cent (a target which can only be achieved by closing down most of Britain’s economy), so our “climate change minister”, Ed Miliband, was obliged to produce new figures. These he has now belatedly slipped out via the Department of Energy and Climate Change website – no thought of reporting them to Parliament – and truly mind-boggling they are. The cost of the Act has nearly doubled, to £404 billion, or £18.3 billion for every year between now and 2050. However, the supposed benefits are given, astonishingly, as £1,024 billion, an increase of 1,000 per cent.

How on earth were such unbelievable figures calculated? Peter Lilley has written a trenchant letter to Mr Miliband, asking this and a series of other highly pertinent questions. But pending any reply, last week I posed this question to DECC myself. I was assured that the new figures had been worked out by “a method used by the independent Committee on Climate Change, and peer-reviewed by Simon Deitz, an expert in carbon pricing from the London School of Economics”. Dr Deitz’s website shows that last year he carried out “research for the UK Committee on Climate Change”.

So this independent expert was asked to peer review the method used by an “independent” committee (which he had already been working for) to produce figures that seem rather to have been plucked from the thin air of which only 0.04 per cent – one 2,500th – consists of the self-same carbon dioxide which we are now expected to believe we will benefit by £1 trillion from not emitting. Truly we are governed these days by stark, raving lunacy – and no one is meant to notice.


Cap-And-Trade = Smoke-And-Mirrors

First, the Euphemism of the Day: as quoted in the Washington Post this morning:
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) called cap-and-trade “the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time,” and said it would be difficult to pass without reconciliation because Democrats would be forced to accommodate a handful of Republicans as they did in the debate over the president's stimulus package.
Translated into English, “the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time” is, of course, the biggest tax increase of our time. And being “forced to accommodate a” at least some of the opposition is not a bad working description of how a democratic legislative process is supposed to work, a process which our hope-and-change Democrats increasingly resent.

But to return to cap-and-trade, as Robert Zubrin explains so chillingly,
cap-and-trade is not just a tax, as its mechanism contains features not included in a conventional taxation system.... It is worse than a tax. It is a modern version of tax farming.
Tax farming? What’s that, you ask? Here’s Zubrin:
Tax farming was a practice followed by the Persian and various other ancient empires. Here’s how it would work. Let’s say the king needed some money to finance a war, a monument to himself, or similar worthy endeavor. Rather than fuss with the administration needed to collect taxes directly, he would sell the right to tax a given province to some wealthy crony. This public-spirited individual would then deploy his gangs of hired thugs to loot the people of the province in question. The king would get ready cash for his project, while through the exercise of unrestrained rapacity, the tax-farmer crony would generally obtain an excellent return on his investment. Thus, everyone who counted would be happy.

In essence, the cap-and-trade system works the same way. Initially carbon emission permits would be bought by utilities and industries, which need them in order to engage in their business. Such fees paid to the government for carbon permits are simply direct taxation. However, the carbon permits would be sold at auction, and many of them would be bought by financiers, not for their own use, but for the purpose of resale at profit. Provided that the government kept its issuance and sale of new carbon permits limited, which it must and therefore would in order for the system to function as desired, the resale mark up on privately held carbon permits could be very steep, allowing those with the ready cash to buy such permits in advance to tax the real economy at will. The utilities hit by these inflated costs would then pass them on to consumers, while those with the lowest incomes would be hit the hardest....

The Obama administration says that it hopes to raise some $650 billion in revenue for Uncle Sam through the sale of cap- and-trade carbon permits, and there is no reason to doubt this figure. However, that is only the government’s piece of the action. Because of the tax farming feature built into the system, the cost to the public is likely to be far greater.
You’ll have to read Zubrin’s entire (but short) article to see why cap-and-trade a) will do nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil; b) will do nothing to reduce global warming but c) will actually lead to an increase in global warming by d) increasing the cost of American manufactured goods, making them less competitive, thus leading to d) increased market share for Chinese goods, so that:
Since an even larger fraction of Chinese electricity and industrial process heat comes from coal than does American, the net effect of the cap-and-trade system will therefore be to increase the total carbon emissions released into the Earth’s atmosphere, not decrease it. However not only will Chinese industrialists obtain a larger market share for their products, they will be able to charge more for them, since their competition will be priced even higher. Thus the big losers overall will not only be American manufacturers and workers, but the world’s poor.
This change you can believe in, even if it’s not what you hoped for.


New Study: Black Carbon Responsible for Half of Arctic Warming

An article published this week in Nature Geoscience shows that black carbon is responsible for 50 percent, or almost 1°C of the total 1.9°C increased Arctic warming from 1890 to 2007. The paper by Drew Shindell of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space (GISS) and Greg Faluvegi of Columbia University also notes that most of the Arctic warming – 1.48°C of the 1.9°C – occurred from 1976 to 2007. The study is the first to quantify the Arctic’s sensitivity to black carbon emissions from various latitudes, and concludes that the Arctic responds strongly to black carbon emissions from the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, where the emissions and the forcing are greatest.

Black carbon is an aerosol produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass and is estimated to be the second or third largest contributor to climate change. Its emissions cause damage in two ways: while in the atmosphere, the dark particulates absorb sunlight and emit it as heat; when it falls back to earth it can darken snow and ice, reducing their reflectivity and accelerating melting.

Arctic warming is more than twice the observed global average surface warming of 0.78°C above pre-industrial levels. According to another study published by Lenton, et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, this increased warming may soon lead to the disappearance of the Arctic summer ice, which would in turn accelerate Arctic warming by exposing darker heat-absorbing water now covered by heat reflecting ice. This would also increase the risk of releasing methane and other greenhouse gases from permafrost and from methane hydrates in the ocean, which could lead to a runaway feedback process.

“Climate conditions in the Arctic are rapidly deteriorating,” said Rafe Pomerance, president of Clean Air - Cool Planet. “This study reinforces the opportunity to control short-lived forcers of global warming including black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone in order to slow the rate of warming in the Arctic. We cannot afford to allow the shrinkage of the Greenland ice sheet to accelerate.”

Because black carbon only remains in the atmosphere for several days to weeks, reducing it can bring about almost immediate mitigation of warming, whereas decreases in temperature lag reductions in CO2 by 1,000 years or more.

“We need to broaden climate policy to include reductions in black carbon, given its critical rolein Arctic warming and overall global warming,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Black carbon is part of a package of fast-action strategies that can achieve mitigation in the near term and slow Arctic warming, including targeting short-lived, non-CO2 climate forcers such as HFCs, methane, and tropospheric ozone, as well as increasing carbon sequestration through forest protection and production of biochar.”


US Navy Physicist warns of possibly 'several decades of crushing cold temperatures and global famine'?

Changes happening in the sun tell us that there are two paths ahead; each marked with a “Danger” signpost

By James A. Marusek

The sun has gone very quiet as it transitions to Solar Cycle 24. The Ap index is a proxy measurement for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the geomagnetic field on Earth. Anthony Watts (meteorologist) referred to it as the common yardstick for solar magnetic activity. The Ap index for February and for March is "5" a slight uptick from the three consecutive months of "4's" (November 2008 - January 2009). An Ap index of "4" is the lowest recorded number since measurements began in January 1932. This solar minimum has a long ways to go before it can be declared officially over. As of the end of March, the cumulative number of spotless days (days without sunspots) is now at 586 days.

The transitions into Solar Cycles (SC16-23), referred to as recent solar cycles minimums, averaged 362 cumulative spotless days. Those minimums ranged from 227 - 568 spotless days. Since the current transition now exceeds 568 spotless days, it is becoming clear that sun has undergone a state change. It is now evident that the Grand Maxima state that has persisted during most of the 20th century has come to an abrupt end.

The old solar cycles (SC 10-15) averaged 797 spotless days, over twice that of the recent solar cycles. Those solar minimums ranged from 406 - 1028 spotless days. An increase in the number of cumulative spotless days during a solar minimum correlates to a reduction in the number of sunspots over the entire solar cycle. The old solar cycles overall produced 38% fewer sunspots than the recent solar cycles.

We are now at a crossroad. Two paths lie before us. Both are marked with a signpost that reads "Danger"! Down one path lies monstrous solar storms. Down the other path lies several decades of crushing cold temperatures and global famine. If either of these threats materializes, this nation will be hit blind-sighted. Both are related to the current state of the sun. The sun has been in a "Grand Maxima" for most of the past century. This has accounted for much of the natural warming the earth has experienced.

But as evident in this solar minimum, the sun is changing states. It might (1) revert to the old solar cycles or (2) the sun might go even quieter into a "Dalton Minimum" or a Grand Minima such as the "Maunder Minimum". It is still a little early to predict which way it will swing. Each of these two possibilities holds a great threat to our nation.

(1) Reverting to the "Old" Cycles (Solar Cycles 10-15) Since the old solar cycles produced fewer sunspots, one might draw the conclusion that we will be entering a period of reduced solar storms. But this is not true. It is quite the opposite. The old solar cycles produced very intense solar storms. The greatest solar storm in modern time known as the Carrington flare of 1-2 September 1859 occurred in Solar Cycle 10. In addition to the Carrington flare, several other massive solar storms occurred during the old solar cycles. These massive solar storms occurred on 12 October 1859, 4 February 1872, 17-18 November 1882, 30 March 1894, 31 October 1903, 25 September 1909 and 13-16 May Impact 2009 1921.

How can this be? This is because the old solar cycles produced massive sunspots. It was like the magnetic field energy was still there and had to still be released but during a shorter time interval, so the sunspots exploded in size and power. If a solar storm of the magnitude of the Carrington flare were to occur today, the effect on our modern technologically dependent society would be grave. Of these, the greatest threat would lie in the loss of stable electrical power. A massive solar storm could destroy many of the large custom Extra High Voltage (EHV) power transformer in the United States. These items are unique, costly (around $10 million each) and have manufacture lead time of a year or more for replacement.

In 2007, I described the effects from a massive solar storm in Solar Storm Threat Analysis. I also laid out a civil defense plan for major solar storms called The Solar Storm Disaster Preparedness Plan. In 2008, the National Research Council took up the subject holding a public workshop to define the solar storm threat. Their findings (which mirrored mine) were published in a report titled Severe Space Weather Events - Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts.

In their findings, their bottom line was if a massive solar storm struck the United States today "it would result in large-scale blackouts affecting more than 130 million people and would expose more than 350 major transformers to the risk of permanent damage". Imagine the effect of a total power blackout for months/years on 100 million people in the U.S. along with many millions across the globe. The report then goes on to say "Historically large storms have a potential to cause power grid blackouts and transformer damage of unprecedented proportions, long-term blackouts, and lengthy restoration times, and chronic shortages for multiple years are possible."

(2) The Sun slipping quietly towards a Dalton Minimum or even a Grand Minima such as a Maunder Minimum. Climate change is primarily driven by nature. It has been true in the days of my father and his father and all those that came before us. Because of science, not junk science, we have slowly uncovered some of the fundamental mysteries of nature. Our Milky Way galaxy is awash with cosmic rays. These are high speed charged particles that originate from exploding stars. Because they are charged, their travel is strongly influenced by magnetic fields. Our sun produces a magnetic field wrapped in the solar winds that extends to the edges of our solar system. This field deflects many of the cosmic rays away from Earth. But when the sun goes quiet (minimal sunspots), this field collapses inward allowing high energy cosmic rays to penetrate deeper into our solar system.

As a result, far greater numbers collide with Earth and penetrate down into the lower atmosphere where they ionize small particles of moisture (humidity) forming them into water droplets that become clouds. Low level clouds reflect sunlight back into space. An increase in Earth's cloud cover produce a global drop in temperature. If the sun becomes quieter than the old solar cycles, producing more than 1028 spotless days, then we might slip into a Dalton Minimum or maybe even a Grand Minima such as the Maunder Minimum. This solar state will last for decades.

Several solar scientists have predicted this will begin in Solar Cycle 25, about a decade from now. But a few have predicted this will occur now in Solar Cycle 24. A quiet sun will cause temperatures globally to take a nose-dive. We will experience temperatures that we have not seen in over 200 years, during the time of the early pioneers. Temperatures are already falling. Satellites provide generally the most accurate atmospheric temperature measurements covering the entire globe. From the peak year 1998, the lower Troposphere temperatures globally have fallen around 1/2 degree Celsius due to the quiet sun.

This is despite the fact that during that same time period, atmospheric carbon dioxide (at Mauna Loa) has risen 5% from 367 ppm to 386 ppm. The main threat from a "Dalton Minimum" or "Maunder Minimum" event is famine and starvation (affecting millions or hundreds of millions worldwide) due to shortened growing seasons and harsher weather. In the past, in addition to great famines, this cold harsh weather has also lead to major epidemics....

During the Maunder Minimum

During the Great Frost of (1683-1684) in England, the River Thames was completely frozen for two months, the ice was 11 inches thick at London. Sea ice was reported along the coasts of southeast England, and ice prevented the use of many harbors. The sea froze, so that ice formed for a time between Dover and Calais, joining England and France. The Thames was recorded to have frozen over at London during the years: 1649, 1655, 1663, 1666, 1667, 1684, 1695, 1709, and 1716. During the Little Ice Age, growing seasons in England and Continental Europe generally became short and unreliable, which led to shortages and famine.

These hardships were nothing compared to the more northerly countries: Glaciers advanced rapidly in Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and North America, making vast tracts of land uninhabitable. The Arctic pack ice extended so far south that several reports describe Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland.

Finland's population fell by one-third, Iceland's by half, the Viking colonies in Greenland were abandoned altogether, as were many Inuit communities.


Harsh winter leads to fish kills in Minneapolis

Spring walks around some Minneapolis lakes might come with a whiff of fish because those lakes are experiencing a fish kill after a harsh winter. The Minneapolis parks department is warning on Friday of fish kills on Diamond Lake, Grass Lake, Loring Pond, Powderhorn Lake and Lake Hiawatha.

A department manager says occasional winter kills are a natural part of life in shallow Minnesota lakes and are more likely after winters with deep ice and snow cover. The winter kills rarely result in the loss of the all the fish, and fish populations rebound on their own.

On the up side, the winter kills tend to thin out the population of carp in the lakes. With fewer of the bottom feeders, the water clarity in the lake tends to improve.



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


4 April, 2009


Looks like denial is fading -- to be replaced by attempts to make it sound insignificant. Michael Mann and his bristlecone pines no longer cut it apparently. This is the latest attempt to prove that the MWP was a merely local phenomenenon. A local phenomenon that lasted 300 years? But recent discoveries of contemporaneous warming in New Zealand and Argentina blow the pretence off the map, of course. See here and here. Amusing that they call it an anomaly rather than a warm period, though. That rather sounds like prejudging the case. (Yes. I know that "anomaly" is climate-speak for "deviation" but I think the point still holds)

During the Medieval Climate Anomaly (approximately 800 to 1300 A.D.) temperatures in Europe were generally warmer than immediately before or after. The source of that warmth is hotly debated. Trouet et al. (p. 78) present a reconstruction of the North Atlantic Oscillation--the dominant mode of atmospheric circulation variability in the North Atlantic region--that extends back to the middle of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, based on data from Moroccan tree rings and a Scottish stalagmite. The North Atlantic Oscillation, it seems, was in a persistently positive state during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. The authors suggest that prevailing La Niña-like conditions during medieval times was initiated by high levels of irradiance and amplified by enhanced Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.


Persistent Positive North Atlantic Oscillation Mode Dominated the Medieval Climate Anomaly

By Valerie Trouet et al.


The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) was the most recent pre-industrial era warm interval of European climate, yet its driving mechanisms remain uncertain. We present here a 947-year-long multidecadal North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction and find a persistent positive NAO during the MCA. Supplementary reconstructions based on climate model results and proxy data indicate a clear shift to weaker NAO conditions into the Little Ice Age (LIA). Globally distributed proxy data suggest that this NAO shift is one aspect of a global MCA-LIA climate transition that probably was coupled to prevailing La Niña–like conditions amplified by an intensified Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the MCA

Science 3 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5923, pp. 78 - 80

The usual selective reporting

Wordie Ice Shelf gone, Larsen Ice Shelf next -- but it is common for some parts of the Antarctic to warm while other parts cool

ONE Antarctic ice shelf has quickly vanished, another is disappearing and glaciers are melting faster than anyone thought due to climate change, US and British government researchers said. The Wordie Ice Shelf, which had been disintegrating since the 1960s, is gone and the northern part of the Larsen Ice Shelf no longer exists. More than 8300 sq km have broken off from the Larsen shelf since 1986.

Climate change is to blame, according to the report from the US Geological Survey and the British Antarctic Survey, available here

"The rapid retreat of glaciers there demonstrates once again the profound effects our planet is already experiencing - more rapidly than previously known - as a consequence of climate change," US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "This continued and often significant glacier retreat is a wakeup call that change is happening ... and we need to be prepared," USGS glaciologist Jane Ferrigno, who led the Antarctica study, said.

"Antarctica is of special interest because it holds an estimated 91 percent of the Earth's glacier volume, and change anywhere in the ice sheet poses significant hazards to society," she said.

In another report published in the journal Geophysical Letters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that ice is melting much more rapidly than expected in the Arctic as well, based on new computer analyses and recent ice measurements.

The UN Climate Panel projects that world atmospheric temperature will rise by between 1.8C and 4.0C because of emissions of greenhouse gases that could bring floods, droughts, heat waves and more powerful storms. As glaciers and ice sheets melt, they can raise overall ocean levels and swamp low-lying areas.


'Zero chance' of imminent change on US climate legislation

Article from: The Australian

THERE is "zero chance" of climate change legislation being signed by the US before the UN Copenhagen summit in December, according to sources close to the Obama administration.

Despite the emergence of an ambitious draft bill in the US Congress this week, which was seized upon by the Greens and environmental lobby groups in Australia as proof the Rudd Government was not going far enough in its own climate change legislation, significant doubts remain about the progress of any legislation in the US.

The bill, introduced by chairman of the energy and commerce committee Henry Waxman, stunned climate change proponents with its aggressive call for carbon emissions to be cut by 20 per cent by 2020, from 2005 levels. But it is seen by many in Washington as simply an ambit claim in US climate change legislation stakes.

Moves towards a comprehensive cap and trade system are being blasted by Republicans as a tax increase and senior Democrats and moderate Republicans have been pouring cold water this week on expectations of anything happening this year.

While Australian Greens senator Christine Milne characterised the Waxman bill this week as a sign the US had seized the leadership role and was surpassing countries such as Australia, the reality is very different in the US capital. The signals publicly - and more emphatically privately - are that the best President Barack Obama can hope for going into Copenhagen is, in the words of one source, "something credible to point to". This means at best legislation that is still likely to be working its way through the Senate. Even Nancy Pelosi, the liberal leader of the House of Representatives in Washington, called the bill introduced by her colleague Mr Waxman this week a "start".

And cap and trade supporter senator Dick Durbin, a key ally of Mr Obama, said there was no chance of passing any climate legislation any time soon, saying the momentum was more geared towards healthcare reform. "We still have a long way to go (on climate legislation), but we hope we can get to it," Senator Durbin told US media.

Lost in the Greens' and the environment lobby's enthusiasm in Australia over the Waxman bill was an indicative vote in the US Senate earlier this week to give Senate committees the flexibility to design a cap and trade carbon system. The vote was made as non-controversial as possible by adding the clause that it would be a system that did not increase "the overall burden on consumers". But not one Republican supported the innocuous amendment that was attached to a budget bill.

At least three Republicans would be needed in any future vote on climate change to get a bill passed in the US Senate. The three who broke ranks to help the Obama administration pass the $US787billion economic stimulus bill were Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter. "It's a complicated issue to tackle at a time when the economy is weak," Senator Collins said this week of climate change, while Senator Snowe was similarly dour. And Senator Specter is facing a likely challenge to his seat from another Republican and is showing signs of moving more to the Right to save his political skin.

While the legislative process is always messy in the US, getting a vote through the US Congress at a time of deep economic distress is doubly difficult - not one Republican in the house even voted for the stimulus package.

And the scare campaign from Republicans on cap and trade is only just starting. "The Democrats' plan to raise energy taxes in the midst of a serious recession is the wrong thing to do and the worst possible time to do it," said Republican leader of the house John Boehner.



A worthy follow-up to the very successful Thune amendment

U.S. Senator Kit Bond today won a critical victory for workers in Missouri, across the Midwest and the nation. Bond succeeded in passing his amendment to the budget resolution to protect workers from losing their jobs as a result of a costly energy tax that would come from climate change legislation.

"As many hard-hit communities across the country know, manufacturing workers are already suffering. It is critical that we protect these workers and families from job-killing proposals," said Bond.

Bond's amendment to protect workers passed with a vote of 54 to 44. The Senator's provision requires that any climate legislation passed by the Senate this year does not cause significant job loss, especially in the Midwest, Great Plains and South. Bond has long-stressed his support for cutting carbon emissions and putting our nation on the road to a clean energy future, but insists that Congress not pass proposals that will cut family budgets and worker payrolls.


Global cooling hits Minnesota

Brutal winter forces massive school cancellations ...'I don't think I have ever closed school quite this many times'?

Long, harsh winter means fewer days for learning. A high number of school cancellations has forced districts to condense curriculum and put a greater emphasis on study outside the classroom. Makeup days, a thing of the past, might return

Many students across the Northland got an extra week of vacation this school year, thanks to the weather. “I have been doing this a long time, and I don’t think I have ever closed school quite this many times,” Lake Superior Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said. Minkkinen has been a superintendent for about 17 years. “This is definitely not the norm.”

A snowstorm that dumped more than 10 inches on the North Shore closed the Lake Superior school district Wednesday for the fifth time this year. Students also were let out early on Tuesday. Lake Superior is not alone. Students in Duluth, Proctor and Hermantown also have had an above-average number of days canceled because of weather — five in Duluth.

Teachers say the increased disruptions take a toll on learning and some parents say they can create logistical nightmares. Still, Minnesota state law doesn’t require school districts to make up snow days. According to Christine Dufour, deputy communications director for the Minnesota Department of Education, it’s up to local school boards to determine if enough school has been missed to warrant makeup days. So far, area schools aren’t going there.

Duluth plans to tighten curriculum for the rest of the year and possibly eliminate some field trips to keep kids in classes. If the weather wreaks havoc again, though, the plan could change, said Joe Hill, assistant superintendent for the Duluth school district. “Hopefully, we can stick to the calendar we have in place, but it’s hard to predict the weather,” Hill said.


CFL Replacement Available — Only $119.95

By Bob McCarty

During his radio show Monday, Rush Limbaugh mentioned some of the problems faced by people who’ve opted to give compact fluorescent light bulbs a try: They didn’t work, didn’t fit and didn’t last nearly as long as promised. In addition, he noted how CFLs deliver environmental headaches to those who break them.

But fear not! A replacement for the problematic CFL, a “green” product that likely caused at least a few Americans to become unwitting participants in Earth Hour Saturday night, is finally available — and just in time!

It is the GeoBulb™ LED Light Bulb, a product described by its manufacturer, C.Crane, as follows:

The first 60-watt direct replacement, Premium Quality High Brightness (PQ-HB) bulb that uses less than 8 watts. The GeoBulb is the same size as a conventional incandescent bulb suitable for direct replacement in any indoor open fixture. It puts out more light than a standard 60-watt bulb but uses less than 8 watts. LED bulbs last 3 years of continuous use or 10 years at about 8 hours per day. Every part of the GeoBulb™ is built for long lasting durability. The GeoBulb is the first bulb built to withstand 10 years of use.

While almost everything about the GeoBulb — including the fact that it’s available in three versions (”soft white,” “cool white” and “warm white”) — appears favorable, one nagging question remains:

Will people be willing to part with $119.95 per GeoBulb — or $113.95 each when they buy a six-pack — without first having confidence that it will live up to the promises? As for me and my house, call us laggers. Until the GeoBulb proves its worth the money, we will probably revert back to candles.



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


3 April, 2009


An email from Kenneth Green []:

The irrationality of the claim that developed countries have a responsibility to act first in reducing greenhouse gases never ceases to amaze me. Here's why this claim is completely absurd:

1) Climate change is, according to the scientists of the IPCC, a problem that will run its course over many hundreds, possibly thousands of years, based on the atmospheric persistence of certain gases.

2) The developed world did indeed "go first," emitting "greenhouse" gases *they thought harmless* as a by-product of development. And, we do indeed have a responsibility to fix it if those emissions cause harm to others who did not benefit from our development.

3) At the same time, the developed world positively ripped through its development cycle over about 100 years, while their populations were quite small. They made difficult choices to erect democratic-capitalist institutions that led to the rapid development of technologies that were more efficient, and easier on the environment, such that in the last 40 years, developed countries have eliminated most environmental threats of significance in their borders. They created social welfare programs funded by surpluses generated by capitalism, rather than having large families as a social safety net. These were very hard choices, and several wars were fought defending democratic capitalism against fascism and communism. Many died defending democratic capitalism, the only proven institution of rapid development with inherent rewards for efficiency, and which generates wealth surpluses that enable environmental protection to rise as a social value.

4) The developing countries, by contrast, were not willing to muster the political will to adopt democratic capitalist institutions, even as they could witness the superiority of democratic capitalism in the then-developing world, of the 1900s, when information flow was global, first via newspapers, and later by radio and television. The leaders of developing countries, chose, with the tacit (or overt) agreement of their populations, communitarian, facist, dictatorial, or other social institutions all of which lead to social arrangements where success in youth, and security in old age depend on having large families rather than in having a social safety net funded by the proceeds of capitalism and development.

5) In the thousand-year scheme of things that is climate change, the developing countries, by deferring development until their populations were vastly larger than those of the developed world will have a correspondingly vast footprint on the world's ecology, and, (if GHGs really are potent climate forcings), the world's climate. Looking back even 200 years from now, the initial "pulse" of greenhouse gases from the developed world will look trivial in comparison to the titanic flux of GHGs that the developing world will have emitted as it developed. And they're doing it with the full knowledge that these pollutants may harm others. If anyone has harmed anyone, the developing countries, through their inability or unwillingness to adopt capitalist institutions will inflict massive harms on the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those in the developed world, not only through GHGs, but through conventional pollution as well.

So how is it, if the developed world is "responsible" for going first, that the developing world isn't "responsible" for dallying in development, and creating this population bomb? How is it that if the developed world is responsible for the environmental harms of capitalism the developing countries aren't responsible for foregoing the environmental benefits of capitalism? How is it that the developed world gets no credit for sacrificing many of its own children to protect capitalism-- the only social system that speeds development while rewarding efficiency--and the developing world gets no blame for attempting to hinder that system in every way that it could, embracing elements of it (in China) only in the last few decades?

In my opinion, the "you went first" argument is not only rubbish; it obscures the reality that the developing countries are the ones who will ultimately harm others through environmental degradation. And the idea that everyone has a "per-capita" right to the environment is also rubbish, as it's a fundamentally communist notion that perpetuates the very thinking that retards development. Does everyone have a per-capita right to space on the moon, if a private company or only one country develops it? Does everyone have a per-capita right to plasma televisions? Do I have a per-capita right to Ming vases? If China discovers a new diamond mine, do I have a per-capita right to a share? Do I get a per-capita piece of Bollywood? One has a "right" not to be harmed by another, one does not have a "right" to a share in everything the universe offers, regardless of the choices one makes as one lives one's life.


An email from Bryan Leyland []:

In case it is useful, here is some basic information on power systems and renewable energy technologies.

Most power systems have a capacity factor of between 50% and 70%. (Capacity factor is the ratio of the average load to the peak demand in MW.) In some countries the peak demand occurs in winter evenings (heating loads) and other countries in the middle of summer (air-conditioning loads).

There are basically three types of generating plant. a) Base load that operates ~90% of the time generating efficient low-cost electricity. Coal and nuclear plants are prime examples. b) Mid-range plants that are often shut down in the early hours of morning and generate maximum power during the day and during peak demand periods. Hydropower and gas-fired stations, are examples. c) Peak load stations that operate for between 1% and 20% of the time during peak demand periods. Open cycle gas turbines, hydropower stations and pumped storage hydropower are common examples. All these plants can be relied upon to operate when needed - unless they break down or fail to start which occurs about 2% of the time.

Power systems also have a need for "frequency keeping" because the amount of electricity generated must always match the demand exactly. So if there is a sudden large change in load -- the beginning and end of a popular TV programme is a classic example -- generating plant must be available that can increase its output very rapidly -- or decrease its output - very rapidly.

If there is a sudden loss of a large amount of generating capacity then it is sometimes necessary to shed some of the load to avoid a system collapse. Frequency keeping stations are designed to cope with these fluctuations.

The much touted new renewable energy technologies add to the problems of operating a power system because they are unpredictable and their output changes rapidly. In the case of wind power, a change in the output of 50% in a few minutes is not all that unusual. Attempts to predict the output of wind farms more than an hour or so ahead have not been successful. Capacity factors vary from 18% to 37%. Wind power costs about US$2200 per KW. This transfers to a cost of 8 -10c /kWh.

In the case of solar power, the capacity factor is around 20%. The output varies predictably every day and unpredictably every time a cloud passes over the sun. A cloud can drop the output by as much as 60%. The capital cost is in excess of $5000 per KW. The unit cost in around 40 cents. Various forms of marine power are also expensive, more or less unpredictable and have high capital costs. Operation and maintenance costs are unknown but likely to be very high. Reliability is likely to be low. The much touted Pelamis wave power generator project off the coast of Portugal has been abandoned because of financing and technical problems.

None of these renewable energy technologies would exist without grants and massive subsidies.

I had just done a theoretical study based on a notional power system supplied by nuclear power supplemented by pumped storage or by wind power also supplemented by part storage. The system has a load of 10,000 MW at a capacity factor of 60%. The nuclear power option as an installed capacity of about 12,000 MW and the cost of generation is about 8 cents per unit.

Assuming a wind power capacity factor of 25%, the alternative system needs 52,000 MW of installed capacity and the total cost of power is about 25 cents. These figures appear to be incredible but, as far as I can see, they are realistic.

The energy generated from wind has to be sufficient to meet the load and, in addition, to meet the 25% losses from the pumped storage. This requires 32,000 MW of wind power. As the system load is no more than 10,000 MW, something like 20,000 MW of pumped storage capacity is needed to absorb the surplus wind energy when the wind is blowing and store it until it is needed. So we finish up with 52,000 MW of capacity to supply 10,000 MW of load. Hence the electricity is very expensive.

All the promoters of renewable energy ignore the need for storage. What is needed is a large scale, efficient low-cost technology that can store huge amounts of electrical energy for weeks or months. No suitable technology exists or has even been contemplated. Hydro pumped storage is the best we have. It is expensive -- at least $1500 /kW -- and requires two very large storage lakes not far from each other end with one lake something like 700 m higher than the other. The losses are 25%. The cost, the losses, and the difficulty of finding a suitable site are insuperable barriers to the large scale adoption.

So people who tell us that it is possible to run modern power systems almost entirely from wind power, and solar and marine energy are not telling the truth.


Attempt to bypass open debate defeated. See what was proposed here

The Senate is making it tougher to pass the cap-and-trade legislation President Barack Obama wants as part of an effort to reduce global warming.

Lawmakers voted 67-31 on Wednesday to deny the legislation a filibuster-proof path through the Senate. That means 60 votes instead of a simple majority will be needed to pass the cap-and-trade proposal.


Shock! New study finds warming may have 'negligible effect on pathogens or even reduce their ranges'

Recent research has predicted that climate change may expand the scope of human infectious diseases. A new review, however, argues that climate change may have a negligible effect on pathogens or even reduce their ranges. The paper has sparked debate in the ecological community.

In a forum in the April issue of Ecology, Kevin Lafferty of the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Centre suggests that instead of a net expansion in the global range of diseases, climate change may cause poleward range shifts in the areas suitable for diseases as higher latitudes become warmer and regions near the equator become too hot.

The newly suitable areas for diseases will tend to be in more affluent regions where medicines are in widespread use and can more readily combat the diseases, Lafferty says. He cites model estimations that the most dangerous kind of malaria will gain 23 million human hosts outside of its current range by the year 2050, but will lose 25 million in its current range. 'The dramatic contraction of malaria during a century of warming suggests that economic forces might be just as important as climate in determining pathogen ranges,' Lafferty says.

Mercedes Pascual of the University of Michigan sees the situation very differently. Pascual is the lead author of one of five Forum papers published in response to Lafferty. Although she agrees that disease expansion in some areas could be accompanied by retraction in others, she emphasises that disease range does not always correlate with the number of humans infected. In regions of Africa and South America, for example, humans have historically settled in high latitudes and altitudes. If climate change makes these areas more fit for mosquito breeding and for pathogen development, she writes, then a number of infections could expand. She notes that scientists are already seeing evidence of this pattern.

'It would be very unfortunate if the conclusions in Lafferty's paper were taken as evidence that climate change does not matter to infectious diseases,' Pascual says. 'Range shifts will matter and should be better understood.'

Lafferty agrees that range shifts mean there will be winners and losers among human populations. Knowing how disease ranges will shift, instead of assuming a global expansion of diseases, will be the key to distributing resources effectively, he says.

Scientists have used the fact that infectious diseases are most prevalent in the tropics to argue that warmer, wetter conditions that might occur under climate change would lead to an increase in infectious disease transmission. However, Lafferty points out that climate change isn't making the whole world warmer and wetter: Warming trends over the last 60 years have led instead to an increase in hot, dry, desert-like climates.

Further, he says, infectious diseases don't all increase during warm, wet weather. Meningitis peaks during the tropical dry season, for example, and influenza is an obvious staple of winter weather in temperate climes.

Pascual argues, however, that humans have a history of altering the landscape to suit their needs and thus might unintentionally create better habitat for disease carriers. For example, humans seldom leave accessible arid areas alone; instead, they irrigate them for use as farmlands. According to Pascual, the creation of water sources could provide havens for mosquitoes, and thus malaria parasites, to remain in areas that would otherwise dry out.

'We live in a world in which urban and rural areas are increasingly interfacing with each other,' says Pascual. 'This underscores the challenges for predicting the Earth's changing environment.'

Lafferty agrees that climate isn't the only issue that affects disease ecology, and maintains that climate may play only a small part in determining disease ranges. 'If we over-emphasise the role of climate, which we have little control over, at the expense of other factors that drive disease dynamics, we may be missing the forest for the trees,' he says.


A Cooling Trend Toward Global Warming

Over the past several years, it appeared that our society was doomed to succumb to what Weather Channel founder John Coleman has described as "the greatest scam in history": anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). For two decades there has been an incessant drumbeat of propaganda attributing every weather-related event to an increase in carbon dioxide caused by the burning of fossil fuels. With the election of a president who is solidly in the global-warming-alarmist camp - and with many high-level appointees who are bona fide climate-change alarmists - coupled with a Democratic legislature anxious to please their environmentalist and media benefactors, the passage of legislation causing some form of economy-crippling energy taxation seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

But then came the unexpected: a recession brought on and exacerbated by the heavy hand of government, and a second consecutive severe winter. Indeed, we may look back and see that our current financial crisis and Mother Nature were the saviors of free-market capitalism. They may have slowed the statist steamroller long enough for the proponents of climate realism to make such socialistic schemes as "cap and trade" understood for what they are and what they are not. They are not about anything to do with global warming or climate change. They are instead a massive transfer of wealth from the productive to those who will not adopt free markets.

While the primary promoters of the warming hoax have not "broken and run" yet, there is much evidence that there is an increasing tide of defectors and that climate catastrophists have completely run out of dry powder.

Temperatures Stopped Increasing

Satellite data from NASA shows no increase in average global temperature since 1998, a year when El Ni¤o caused a worldwide spike having nothing to do with carbon dioxide. Alarmists contend this is just a pause in a continuous rise in temperatures and that it will begin to increase again. Ironically that is the same argument that the warming skeptics have been using for years. There was warming for the first 40 years of the 20th century - until the very time CO2 began to climb significantly - and then came cooling, which sparked concerns in the '70s about a looming Ice Age. Then rising temperatures resumed until 1998 and now we're back on a cooling trend. This fits well with a general planetary warm up, but is in conflict with climate forcing by CO2 that calls for a continuous upward temperature movement.

Unfortunately for the alarmists, nothing seems sacred these days. It has long been known that the disintegration of the Soviet Union ended temperature data from large parts of that country, especially Siberia. Without massive re-calculations to exclude temperature readings from these stations during the Soviet era, a significant increase in global temperatures would be seen from the absence of this data during the post-Soviet period. From available literature there is no indication that any meteorological body went to such trouble. But what about the weather data from the United States - the "best in the world"?

In his presentation at the International 2009 Conference on Climate Change, 25-year veteran meteorologist Anthony Watts showed alarming data for the global-warming alarmists. But first we should note that the global temperature rise that we are supposed to be concerned over was less than 1øC for the entire 20th century, meaning minor errors in measurements can contribute significantly to an apparent warming trend. Watts was certainly aware of the "urban island" effect that causes cities like Tucson to have temperature increases three times those of surrounding rural measurement stations. But how have reporting stations, "urbanized" by a spreading population, been affected? With 650 volunteers, more than 860 of the National Weather Service's 1,221 climate-monitoring stations were inspected and photographically documented. Of these, 89 percent did not meet the Weather Service's own requirement of being 30 meters away from artificial heating or reflecting sources such as pavements or building.

Public Opinion Is Shifting

According to a January Rasmussen poll, 44 percent of U.S. voters now say "long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming - up from 35 percent two years ago, while only 41 percent blame it on human activity, down from 47 percent. The remainder either attribute global warming to some other reason or are unsure. This means that only about 4 in 10 of the polled "expected voters" are still falling for the "greatest scam."

For the alarmists to pass their "cap and trade" or "carbon tax" legislation - the purpose of all this turmoil - they must do so before the awakened voters reach the 70-percent level, at which point some political analysts believe that even many liberal Democrats will abandon a sinking ship.

When people are more informed on the issue, the tide swings dramatically away from the alarmist position. In the Czech Republic where President Vaclav Klaus, a speaker at the climate-change conference and current president of the European Union, is educating his countrymen on the climate debate, a mere 11 percent believe in anthropogenic global warming. The more informed people are, the less likely they are to be in the alarmist camp.

This was evidenced by a 2007 Oxford-style debate in New York sponsored by National Public Radio, a more difficult venue being hard to imagine for warming skeptics, or "deniers" as they were popularly referred to. The issue under debate was "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis." Prior to the debate about 30 percent of the audience agreed with the motion, and 57 percent were against, with 13 percent undecided. After the debate 46 percent agreed, while 42 percent were opposed with 12 percent apparently still unsure, a swing of 19 percent of those with an opinion toward the climate-realist position.

More and more scientists are also publicly coming out against the anthropogenic global-warming hypothesis. On March 21, 59 additional scientists from NASA, the EPA, the Navy, the Air Force, the Defense and Energy Departments, and major universities joined the previous 650 who disagree with this hypothesis, according to Senator James Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Goodbye CO2, Here Comes the Sun

Because of undeniable properties of the spectral properties of atmospheric gases and the wavelengths of solar radiation and terrestrial re-radiation, all climate predictive models have a "hot spot" in the atmosphere at a height of 8 to 10 kilometers above the equatorial regions. Sought after for years as proof of CO2-induced warming, thousands of radiosonde (balloon) and satellite measurements have failed to find this critical signature or "fingerprint" of CO2 as a climate-forcing agent. Lack of such evidence caused the defection of Dr. David Evans from his post with the Australian Greenhouse Office. But there is other evidence of this disconnect presented by none other than Al Gore in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Featured in the video is a large graph with two lines of data, one being temperature as calculated by the thoroughly discredited and phony "Hockey Stick" graph, while another plots the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The data are separated for a reason: if you put them together, it is evident that a rise in temperature precedes the increase in CO2, as if the oceans give up the gas when they are heated. Which they do.

On the other hand, the controversy has brought to light a correlation that seems to have been lost in history: temperature change versus solar activity, not only solar irradiance that can account for only a small change in temperature, but activity that includes solar winds and magnetic fields.

Let us take two end points: first the coldest temperatures of which we have a historical record, the depth of the Little Ice Age from about 1645 to 1715, and the second being today's global temperatures. Next to this we plot the lowest sunspot activity, a period known as the Maunder Minimum where there were no sunspots for five decades, and then the solar activity that occurred at the end of the 1900s, estimated to be the highest in the last 11,000 years.

It is interesting that the lowest temperature is associated with the Maunder Minimum while the highest is found in the late 1900s temperatures. Unfortunately while this may bring thinking people to discount the warming hoax, there is a possible downside for the human race. In the last two years there have been almost no new sunspots while scores, if not hundreds, were expected in a new solar cycle. Not wanting to sound like an alarmist, nonetheless, this condition bodes ill for a continued warming trend and is likely the precursor of significant cooling - the real problem for the human race.

One can imagine a scene 10 years hence when government has shut down coal-fired power plants while global temperatures are plunging toward those last seen in the mid 1800s.

Alarmist Leaders Avoid Questions

The two most vocal and quoted leaders in the campaign to convince the public that global warming is both caused by human activity and is a threat to mankind are former Vice President Al Gore and NASA employee James Hansen. Both were invited to speak at the March 8-10 Conference on Climate Change. Neither accepted.

In his closing address to the conference, producer of the informative DVD Apocalypse, NO!, Lord Christopher Monckton remarked: "Gore's speaking contract stipulates that he will not debate, he will not answer unscripted questions, and he will not be interviewed except by journalists acceptable to him. Which journalists are they? The dim ones that don't know any science, and the prejudiced ones that don't care. Just about all of them."

Gore appeared before the U.S. Senate a few weeks ago in a "public" hearing, except the public was not invited. The former V.P. showed "science slides" to the senators. Would you like to know what they were about? Me too. Sorry, but they are secret, and the Senate is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Fancy that.

Meanwhile Chief Alarmist James Hansen wasn't too busy to lend a hand at a March 2 demonstration, self-proclaimed as "Mass Civil Disobedience at the Coal-Fired Capitol Power Plant in Washington D.C." The nation anxiously awaited Capitol Climate Action's report proclaiming: "Courageous activists have now occupied three of five gates at the Capitol Power Plant. The march of thousands is continuing to circle the plant." The report didn't mention that the plant no longer generates electricity and is already slated to be changed over to natural gas.

At this point the entire cabal of global-warming alarmists must realize that all it would take is a single mainstream news organization to opt for truth, and their entire house of cards would come tumbling down. Through public pressure on our legislators and through letters to the editor, we can hasten this glorious day.


Margaret Thatcher: A Free Market Environmentalist

Thatcher's environmental views from a new perspective

By Iain Murray

Tracy Mehan's account of Margaret Thatcher's approach to the environment reminds us that this remarkable lady was both concerned and informed about the issues. Yet Mehan's concentration on speeches in 1988-90 means that a wider context is missing.

In my view, Lady Thatcher's approach to the environment is as deeply connected to her belief in the importance of the free market as it is to her belief in tradition and our shared inheritance. She has been consistent in her belief that when the two come into conflict, we should not be blinded by our love of the latter into sacrificing the former. This became all the more apparent to her as she realized the real motives of some of her initial allies.

As Thatcher explains in her autobiography's first volume, The Downing Street Years (1993), she "always drew a clear distinction" between different sorts of environmental concerns (638-39). Many were primarily local concerns that she believed could be addressed through the privatization of badly run municipal services. She also inherited state-run programs that she saw through to success, including the cleanup of Britain's rivers (although the hugely successful private cleanup of London's River Wandle shows that those programs could well have been run privately).

Then came concerns about land use and overdevelopment. On this subject she stood close behind one of her chief political allies, her secretary of state for the environment, Nicholas Ridley. As she summed up the issue: "If people were to be able to afford houses there must be sufficient amounts of building land available. Tighter planning meant less development land and fewer opportunities for home ownership" (638). (She also supported Ridley against what she called the "romantics and cranks" of the "environmental lobby" [758].)

Yet Thatcher saw traditional environmental concerns as very different from "the quite separate question of atmospheric pollution." There her background as the only major world leader to be a trained scientist drove her approach. As she said: "There had always to be a sound scientific base on which to build--and of course a clear estimation of the cost in terms of public expenditure and economic growth foregone--if one was not going to be thrust into the kind of a "green socialism' which the Left were eager to promote" (639).

This issue was complicated by the nature of British science funding. Prior to Thatcher's intervention, most government science funding supported industry, which engaged in extensive lobbying. But she thought that industry should pay for research and development, and directed government science funds to universities and scientific institutes.

In her latest book, Statecraft (2002, 449-58), Thatcher devotes ten pages to the subject of "Hot Air and Global Warming." Thatcher is quite clear that she feels things have gone in the wrong direction since former British ambassador to the United Nations-turned-global-warming- campaigner Sir Crispin Tickell convinced her to tell the Royal Society, "it is possible . . . we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself." She notes that the doomsters' favorite subject today is climate change, which "provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism" (449).

Thatcher's critics might claim that she has--to use a fashionable term--flip-flopped on the issue, but that is not necessarily the case.

First, she stresses that she was initially skeptical of the arguments about global warming, although she thought they deserved to be treated seriously. She points out that there was "rather little scientific advice available to political leaders from those experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis" (451). However, by 1990, she had begun to recognize that the issue was being used as a Trojan horse by anti-capitalist forces. That is why she took pains in her Royal Society speech in 1990 to state: "Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment" (452). In fact, Thatcher makes it clear that she regards global warming less as an "environmental" threat and more as a challenge to human ingenuity that should be grouped with challenges such as AIDS, animal health, and genetically modified foods. In her estimation,

All require first-rate research, mature evaluation and then the appropriate response. But no more than these does climate change mean the end of the world; and it must not either mean the end of free-enterprise capitalism. (457)

As Tracy Mehan implies, Thatcher's environmentalism is founded on Edmund Burke's conservative view of our inheritance as being worth defending. Yet that view is tempered by her classical liberal belief that human wealth and progress are crucial. That is why Lady Thatcher can be described as a true free market environmentalist.



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


2 April, 2009


Sent by Peter Lilley [], a British Conservative Party Member of Parliament

You recently slipped out, without notifying Parliament, a massive revision of the estimated costs and benefits of the Climate Change Act. I hope that on consideration, you will agree that changes amounting to nearly £1 trillion require both discussion in, and explanation to, Parliament. This is particularly important given the extraordinary way the government treated its own original estimates of the costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill during the Bill’s passage through Parliament.

You will recall that your original estimates of costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill showed that its potential costs (1) at some £205 billion were almost twice the maximum benefits of £110 billion. This was embarrassing for you because the reason governments are required to publish an Impact Assessment giving estimates of costs and benefits of any Bill is to enable Parliament to “determine whether the benefits justify the costs” (2).

In this case, on the basis of your figures, they clearly did not. Moreover, your initial calculations were based on the original target of reducing emissions by 60%, which was increased to 80% during the passage of the Bill. Normally each extra percentage reduction will require increasing marginal costs and generate declining marginal benefits. So the higher target was likely to make the disparity between costs and benefits even worse. You nonetheless ignored your own department’s figures, refused to discuss them and proceeded to drive the Bill through – surely the first time any government has recommended Parliament to vote for a Bill which its own Assessment showed could cost far more than the maximum benefits?

However, you promised to produce revised estimates though, rather bizarrely, not in time for Parliament to consider them but after Royal Assent. Five months have passed since then. Inevitably such a lengthy delay arouses suspicions – aggravated by the scale of the changes – that the figures have had to be heavily massaged to remove the original embarrassment. The new figures for both costs and benefits have indeed been changed dramatically. As so often in the debate on Global Warming – when the facts don’t fit the theory they change the facts.

As recently as your last departmental question time on 5th March your Minister of State, Joan Ruddock, suggested to me that the original estimate of potential costs of up to £205 billion might be too high. She said “We are likely to find that the costs, which covered a very large range, were exaggerated…” Yet despite correcting for any previous downward bias the revised figures you have now published are not lower but substantially higher. The bottom of the new range for costs is in fact £324 billion – nearly 60% higher than the highest figure I have been quoting. And the top of the range is now £404 billion. In other words the government now estimates that the Climate Change Act will cost every household in the country between £16,000 and £20,000 each.

When it comes to your revised estimates of the benefits, however, we enter Alice in Wonderland territory. Even though costs have broadly doubled, the embarrassment of them exceeding your own estimate of the maximum benefits has been eliminated. The benefits have been dramatically increased tenfold from £105 billion to over £1 trillion. I congratulate on finding nearly £1 trillion of benefits which had previously escaped your notice.

But surely such an astounding discovery merits explanation? The one element of the revision which is mentioned appears, of itself, to justify doubling estimates based on the previous methodology. But where did the rest of the newly discovered benefits arise from?

As you know, having studied physics at Cambridge, I do not dispute the existence of a greenhouse effect, though I am sceptical about the model building which seeks to amplify it. I support sensible measures to reduce CO2 emissions, economise on hydrocarbon use and help the poorest countries adapt to adverse climate change whatever it cause – as long as the measures we adopt are sensible and cost effective. But we cannot judge what is sensible and cost effective if we do not have reliable figures, and subject them to proper parliamentary scrutiny.

When the Department slips out figures which it appears to be unable to explain, unwilling to debate and which are so flaky they vary by a factor of ten - it can only provoke scepticism. I should be grateful if you could answer the following questions:

1) When will Parliament be given an opportunity to discuss these new figures?

2) What is the explanation of the huge revisions in costs and, more particularly, benefits?

3) Why has it taken five months to produce these revised figures?

4) What is the purpose of publishing Impact Assessments which are ignored or not available until after Parliament has considered a Bill?

5) Which minister signed off the required declaration that the original Impact Assessment “represented a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact”?

6) Can you confirm that the costs of the Climate Change Act amount to between £16,000 and £20,000 for every UK household?

7) Can you confirm that the revised cost estimates still exclude transitional costs (which could amount to 1% of GDP up to 2020), ignore the cost of driving British firms overseas, and assume that all businesses identify and immediately apply the most carbon efficient technology available?

8) Can you confirm that although the costs of the Act will fall on UK households the benefits will largely accrue to the rest of the world?

9) Can you confirm that the Climate Change Act binds UK governments to pursue the targets regardless of whether other countries follow our lead (or indeed whether the climate warms or not)?


(1) Cost estimates exclude transitional costs which were put at about 1% of GDP until 2020, omit the cost of driving carbon intensive UK industries abroad which was said to be significantly likely, and assume that businesses will identify and implement immediately the optimum new carbon efficient technologies.

(2) Impact Assessment Guidance - BERR


An email from DuPree Moore []

The legitimate arguments of climate science are very simple, because scientists do not know enough to prove complex arguments. They cannot perform controlled experiments in the atmosphere. They cannot change the configuration of the atmosphere. They cannot repeat the time sequence to measure the effects of various configurations. All they can do is to record climate data as it occurs, and then examine the historical record for correlations. Any well-trained 12-year-old can understand this evidence.

The astute questions raised by your reader show that he understands the debate better than most of the scientists involved in it. For all their incomprehensible equations and computer models, most of those scientists could not ask these basic questions, much less answer them, at least not if we judge by their published gibberish. Because the climate change project arose artificially through political considerations, rather than through the natural evolution of science, no one has ever done the basic physics to test the simplest and most fundamental assumptions of this debate.

To address one of his questions, there is no doubt that an actual glass greenhouse works by blocking convection rather than by trapping radiation. Unlike the case with the atmosphere, we can construct greenhouses with various configurations and take measurements. If we permit convection while continuing to trap radiation, temperature inside the greenhouse equalizes with temperature outside. Already we have expounded more real science than is found in all the publications of the IPCC. This does not necessarily prove that the atmospheric greenhouse theory is wrong; it merely proves that the theory is mis-named. But it does prove that convection is a very important mechanism, perhaps the most important mechanism, for regulating the Earth's temperature.

Greenhouse gases absorb radiation. They have no especial effect on convection and conduction. As I casually read through the experiments with greenhouses, I get the impression that radiation is not a significant factor, which would mean that greenhouse gases are not a significant factor. But the only way to settle the question is to perform experiments and take measurements in the atmosphere, and those experiments are forever beyond our reach.

The only evidence we have or can have is the historical climate record. That record shows no causal correlation between CO2 and temperature. The statement is true on every time scale- millennia, centuries, or decades. For five of the last seven decades, temperature has decreased while CO2 increased. Most of the warming for the 20th century occurred before 1940; most of the increase in CO2 occurred after 1940. A well-trained 12-year-old could win this debate.

There is so much uncertainty and ignorance in climate science that the global warming theory, the global cooling theory, or any other off-the-wall theory could be true regardless of the evidence. But it is insanity to strangle the world's energy supply based on computer models which are contradicted by all the empirical evidence.

The models are not even governed by rigorous mathematics. Run the same data through the same model repeatedly, and you get a wide range of different results. The range of error for a computer climate model has nothing to do with empirical reality. It describes the uncertainty in the mathematics itself. Relative to the actual climate, the range of error of a computer climate model is literally 100%.

As I learn more about the declining quality of science education, I realize that it is plausible that the younger scientists really are this incompetent; but the older ones have no such excuse. We must reluctantly begin to question their integrity.


PRESS RELEASE from Senator Thune's office below. Contact: Kyle Downey (202) 228-5939 for enquiries. Roger Pielke Jr. remarks that: "The ability of Congressional legislation on cap and trade to result in actual emissions reductions was dealt a serious blow" by the Thune amendment

Thune Offers Cap and Trade Energy Amendment

– Thune Amendment Seeks To Protect Consumers from Increase in Energy Rates –

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Thune today offered the first amendment to the Democratic budget that would prohibit the collection of funds from any future cap and trade proposal if that proposal would increase electricity rates and gasoline prices for American households and businesses.

“As American families and businesses are struggling to make ends meet during our current economic downturn, the last thing we should do is arbitrarily increase the cost of energy and basic goods and services,” said Thune. “Cap and trade legislation that results in an increase in energy costs is a tax on every American, young and old, rich and poor. It will result in increased costs for basic goods and services such as food and clothing in addition to energy.”

Last week, a hearing of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission determined that cap and trade would increase the cost of electricity for South Dakotans by a minimum of 41 percent.

A 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study of a proposal that is similar to President Obama’s cap and trade framework concluded that every American family would face an increase of up to $3,128 in their utility bills annually by 2015.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle prior to his election, President Obama stated that under his cap and trade plan “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Peter Orszag, the President’s Budget Director, testified before Congress in 2007 that utility providers would ultimately have to pass the costs of cap and trade on to consumers. He says that in addition to electricity, gasoline consumers would face higher prices as well.

In September 2008, Director Orszag testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means that an increase in energy prices would be a larger burden for middle and lower income families.

“As a candidate, President Obama promised not to raise taxes for middle class families. Higher energy prices that will result from cap and trade amount to exactly that: a regressive tax increase at the worst possible time,” added Thune.

Senator Thune’s amendment is especially important because numerous Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have expressed an interest in “fast tracking” a cap and trade plan via the budget reconciliation process. The budget proposal currently before the House of Representatives allows for reconciliation which effectively opens the door for a cap and trade proposal being included as part of any final budget that is put together – despite the fact that the budget currently before the Senate does not include any budget reconciliation language.

Senator Thune and his Republican colleagues will offer a series of amendments to the Democrat budget in an effort to provide alternative solutions that benefit taxpayers and reduce the overall spending and debt contained in the proposal that the Obama Administration is advocating to Congress.

How Low Can It Go? Sun Plunges into the Quietest Solar Minimum in a Century

Below is a mainstream popular science report about the unusually quiet sun. They do of course include a single-sentence obeisance to global warming but ignore the fact that worldwide low temperatures have coincided closely with the period of the quiet sun

The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower. 2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73 percent). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008.

Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87 percent). It adds up to one inescapable conclusion: "We're experiencing a very deep solar minimum," says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This is the quietest sun we've seen in almost a century," agrees forecaster David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Quiet suns come along every 11 years or so. It's a natural part of the sunspot cycle, discovered by German astronomer Heinrich Schwabe in the mid-1800s. Sunspots are planet-sized islands of magnetism on the surface of the sun, and they are sources of solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and intense UV radiation. Plotting sunspot counts, Schwabe saw that peaks of solar activity were always followed by valleys of relative calm—a clockwork pattern that has held true for more than 200 years.

The current solar minimum is part of that pattern. In fact, it's right on time. But is it supposed to be this quiet? Measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft reveal a 20 percent drop in solar wind pressure since the mid-1990s—the lowest point since such measurements began in the 1960s. The solar wind helps keep galactic cosmic rays out of the inner solar system. With the solar wind flagging, more cosmic rays penetrate the solar system, resulting in increased health hazards for astronauts. Weaker solar wind also means fewer geomagnetic storms and auroras on Earth.

Careful measurements by several NASA spacecraft have also shown that the sun's brightness has dimmed by 0.02 percent at visible wavelengths and a whopping 6 percent at extreme UV wavelengths since the solar minimum of 1996. These changes are not enough to reverse global warming, but there are some other, noticeable side-effects.

Earth's upper atmosphere is heated less by the sun and it is therefore less "puffed up." Satellites in Earth orbit experience less atmospheric drag, extending their operational lifetimes. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, space junk also remains in orbit longer, posing an increased threat to useful satellites.

Finally, radio telescopes are recording the dimmest "radio sun" since 1955. After World War II, astronomers began keeping records of the sun's brightness at radio wavelengths, particularly 10.7 cm. Some researchers believe that the lessening of radio emissions during this solar minimum is an indication of weakness in the sun's global magnetic field. No one is certain, however, because the source of these long-monitored radio emissions is not fully understood.

All these lows have sparked a debate about whether the ongoing minimum is extreme or just an overdue market correction following a string of unusually intense solar maxima. "Since the Space Age began in the 1950s, solar activity has been generally high," notes Hathaway. "Five of the ten most intense solar cycles on record have occurred in the last 50 years. We're just not used to this kind of deep calm."

Deep calm was fairly common a hundred years ago. The solar minima of 1901 and 1913, for instance, were even longer than what we're experiencing now. To match those minima in depth and longevity, the current minimum will have to last at least another year.

In a way, the calm is exciting, says Pesnell. "For the first time in history, we're getting to observe a deep solar minimum." A fleet of spacecraft — including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the twin probes of the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), and several other satellites — are all studying the sun and its effects on Earth. Using technology that didn't exist 100 years ago, scientists are measuring solar winds, cosmic rays, irradiance and magnetic fields and finding that solar minimum is much more interesting than anyone expected.

Modern technology cannot, however, predict what comes next. Competing models by dozens of solar physicists disagree, sometimes sharply, on when this solar minimum will end and how big the next solar maximum will be. The great uncertainty stems from one simple fact: No one fully understands the underlying physics of the sunspot cycle.

Pesnell believes sunspot counts should pick up again soon, "possibly by the end of the year," to be followed by a solar maximum of below-average intensity in 2012 or 2013. But like other forecasters, he knows he could be wrong. Bull or bear? Stay tuned for updates.


Earth population 'exceeds limits'

The Leftist eugenicists of the early 20th century are back again. They gave us Uncle Adolf last time. But this little Fascist is in favour of GM crops so it's an ill wind ....

There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government. Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth's "limits of sustainability".

Dr Fedoroff has been the science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state since 2007, initially working with Condoleezza Rice. Under the new Obama administration, she now advises Hillary Clinton.

"We need to continue to decrease the growth rate of the global population; the planet can't support many more people," Dr Fedoroff said, stressing the need for humans to become much better at managing "wild lands", and in particular water supplies.

Pressed on whether she thought the world population was simply too high, Dr Fedoroff replied: "There are probably already too many people on the planet."

A National Medal of Science laureate (America's highest science award), the professor of molecular biology believes part of that better land management must include the use of genetically modified foods. "We have six-and-a-half-billion people on the planet, going rapidly towards seven. "We're going to need a lot of inventiveness about how we use water and grow crops," she told the BBC. "We accept exactly the same technology (as GM food) in medicine, and yet in producing food we want to go back to the 19th Century."

Dr Fedoroff, who wrote a book about GM Foods in 2004, believes critics of genetically modified maize, corn and rice are living in bygone times. "We wouldn't think of going to our doctor and saying 'Treat me the way doctors treated people in the 19th Century', and yet that's what we're demanding in food production."

In a wide ranging interview, Dr Fedoroff was asked if the US accepted its responsibility to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be driving human-induced climate change. "Yes, and going forward, we just have to be more realistic about our contribution and decrease it - and I think you'll see that happening."

And asked if America would sign up to legally binding targets on carbon emissions - something the world's biggest economy has been reluctant to do in the past - the professor was equally clear. "I think we'll have to do that eventually - and the sooner the better."


'Kangaroo-Court' Hearing a One-Sided View of California Drought

Regulations Making Water Shortage Worse

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a one-sided hearing this morning on the California drought that is expected to blame climate change for a critical water shortage while glossing over the role of activist-inspired environmental policies in exacerbating the shortage, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

The hearing, entitled "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries, and Water Users," will be held today, March 31, at 10:30 am in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building.

Only representatives of government agencies will be permitted to testify at the hearing. Most of the witnesses will be from federal agencies. To draw attention to the biased nature of the proceedings, The National Center for Public Policy Research will send a representative to the hearing best suited for a kangaroo court - a kangaroo.

"At the height of a California drought and during a serious recession with massive unemployment in California's Central Valley, one would hope that the committee cared enough about agricultural workers and minorities to invite as witnesses actual unemployed farm workers from the scores of communities closing down," remarked R.J. Smith, a Senior Fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Let's have an open Committee hearing and hear real people discussing the impacts on their lives from government regulations and their massive job losses - instead of more government bureaucrats who are only causing the problem."

California - the nation's largest producer of tomatoes, lettuce, almonds, apricots, strawberries and many other crops - risks agricultural losses of over $2 billion for the upcoming season and $3 billion in total economic losses in 2009. According to a University of California at Davis study, 80,000 jobs could be lost in the Central Valley.

Although global warming is expected to receive much of the blame for this economic disaster, government regulation is a more significant - and preventable cause - of it, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

For example, state and federal water officials have sharply cut agricultural water deliveries in California so that more water can go out to sea as part of an effort to protect the Delta Smelt - a three-inch long fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In February, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a "zero allocation" of water from the Central Valley Project, cutting off the massive federal irrigation system that serves numerous California farms. The supply of water from California's State Water Project is 20 percent of normal.

"By demanding that the water flow into the Pacific Ocean, government meddlers have forced farmers to abandon production, threatening both the nation's fresh food supplies and the jobs of farm workers, many of whom are among the nation's poorest minorities," said Mr. Smith. "Ironically, the cut-off of agricultural water has done nothing to help the Delta Smelt. Every year less water is diverted for agriculture, yet the fish population continues to decline."

The state of California also deserves blame for the water shortage because it has failed to build the water infrastructure necessary for the state's growing population.

Donn Zea, President of the Northern California Water Association, wrote in the March 5th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle that although California's population has doubled over the past 40 years, the state has not meaningfully updated its water storage capacity since 1967. "As a result, when drought hits, we have an amount of water suitable for California in 1960 - not 2009," wrote Mr. Zea.

The Resources Committee - which has a history of promoting global warming alarmism - is expected to explore the dubious link between a modest increase in global temperatures and localized weather patterns devastating California.

"If certain members of the House Natural Resources Committee want the world to believe that a regional drought in an arid area of California is further 'proof' of global warming, then let's hope that they apply the same reasoning to the floods that are ravaging eastern and central North Dakota," remarked Dr. Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "By the thousands, residents of Fargo and Bismarck are trying to protect their cities from the rising waters of the Red and Missouri Rivers. The blocks of ice on the Missouri River north of Bismarck were so huge that explosives were used to blow them up. Will Chairman Rahall invite Fargo's mayor and other North Dakota officials before his committee to testify on how ordinary citizens spent hours in sub-freezing, snowy weather protecting their homes and businesses from the effects of global cooling?"



THE fifteenth United Nations Climate Conference (COP-15) will be held in Copenhagen in November. While only one official view on the science, that of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is usually put forward at these gatherings, this year the United Nations has agreed to support an alternative and probably rival overall assessment from a team of climate change sceptics.

This decision follows a recommendation from Vaclav Klaus, the well-known climate sceptic who currently holds the European Union Presidency.

The recommendation was first made to President Klaus by David Henderson, a former chief economist at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based on the work of Irving L. Janis on ‘Groupthink’.

According to the late Mr Janis irrespective of the personality characteristics and other predispositions of the members of a policy-making group, when the decision-makers constitute a cohesive group and are under stress from external threats it can lead to illusions of invulnerability and belief in the inherent morality of the group leading to self-censorship, illusions of unanimity and an incomplete consideration of alternatives solutions to the issue at hand.

In order to avoid groupthink the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has accepted the recommendation from President Klaus in particular that the IPCC adopt Janis’ nine principles including that several independent groups work on the same problem, that alternatives be properly examined, and at least one member of every working-group be assigned the role of Devil’s advocate.

The team of sceptics, to be headed by Australian meteorologist William Kininmonth, will be forced to work within the United Nation’s framework, in particular as an independent working-group re-assessing the science in the lead-up to Copenhagen.

Mr Ki-moon said, “They will provide an important counterpoint. We will be making important decision at Copenhagen, decisions that will impact on all the world’s citizens, it is important we discuss and debate the underlying scientific theories, otherwise we could be working from a weak foundation.”

President Klaus commented, “It is certainly not too late for the IPCC to change its decision-making process. This may be the most significant reform that I achieve as President of the EU and, well, I am proud.”


The date on the post above is April 1


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


1 April, 2009


An email from Richard S. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU], Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA

It's interesting to see that Stern, as usual, is about a year behind on the matter of rationalizing cooling. [See here]. Realists unwisely used 1998 as a baseline to claim cooling, and the automatic response from the alarmists was that 1998 was an anomalously warm El Nino year.

One could avoid this foolishness by simply noting that there has been no statistically significant warming since at least 1995 (see fig. 4 in my Heartland talk). 15 years may not be long in terms of climate, but it is about the length of each of the two warming episodes that constitute the warming 'trend' for the past century. The 'trend' could well be a matter of getting two heads in a row in a coin toss. Experience tells us that that is not a rare occurrence -- even if one knows no probability theory.


President Obama says that "few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than fighting climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear." In fact, many scientists disagree with the "facts," their certainty, and their interpretation. Over 100 of them have signed the statement that appears in the Cato Institute's newspaper ad:
"Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear." -- PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA, NOVEMBER 19, 2008

With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.

We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.



It is looking less and less likely that President Obama will be able to institute his vaunted cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gas reduction through the back door of the budget reconciliation process. This places him in a very awkward situation internationally in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference on emissions reduction in December. Moreover, it forces him to confront face-to-face the biggest problem in any attempt to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide: China.

It seems that the President's initial plan was quite simple: use the economic crisis as a pretext to push a cap-and-trade scheme through Congress, then use that to push for action in Copenhagen. It hasn't worked out that way. The problem with any cap-and-trade scheme is that it hurts middle America, because it works by making energy more expensive. The greatest users of energy are the manufacturing states. Furthermore, the poor use greater proportions of their incomes on energy than those above them on the social ladder. Cap-and-trade schemes therefore come with a huge cost attached. This has not escaped Senators and Congressmen from states that would be badly affected, which is why it looks like the scheme will be pulled from the budget reconciliation process.

This makes things much more difficult for the President's plans. The virtue of the reconciliation process from his point of view is that it passes on a simple majority, and is not subject to filibuster. Now he will have to seek the 60 votes necessary to back a stand-alone cap and trade bill, which will be far more difficult. In order to secure passage, he may have to water the proposal down considerably (he has already talked about regional schemes to lessen the effect), which will in turn reduce the measure's effectiveness at reducing emissions. Moreover, a stand-alone bill will be subject to the lobbying of rent-seekers like the US steel industry.

Which is where China starts to enter the picture. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has told Congress that if the international effectiveness of American industry is hampered by having to pay for carbon reduction, then the Administration would have to look at leveling the playing field with foreign countries that are not so hampered by introducing tariffs, and that is something Big Steel is looking for. Interestingly, in itself this is a repudiation of the famous agreement reached at Kyoto that is more intense than anything advanced by the Bush administration. President Bush simply said he wasn't going to aim for the Kyoto targets, which were agreed to affect only developed nations. Now, if Secretary Chu is to be believed, not only will the US not meet its targets (the cap and trade scheme will achieve nowhere near the reductions Kyoto demands of the US), but it will punish countries that the US agreed in 1997 should not have to reduce their emissions for fear of harming their development efforts. China is unlikely to be impressed by this threat of a carbon trade war.

And this is the rub for Obama. Without an agreed domestic emissions reduction program, he cannot go to Copenhagen and call for other high-emitting countries exempt from emissions reduction under Kyoto - countries like China, India and Brazil - to pull their weight. Yet there are only two ways he can get a domestic emissions reduction program in place. Either those other countries must agree to reduce their emissions (which places the President in Catch-22) or there must be sanctions on those other countries, which will ruin any chance of them agreeing to emissions reduction at all.

Something has to give if emissions reductions are to be achieved. Either the President and Congress must between them be willing to sacrifice American industry to preserve China's competitive advantage in an emissions-restricted world, or they must be willing to turn their backs on the benefits of free trade and retreat into a protectionist wind-powered cocoon, and thereby destroy the already weakened American economy in another way. Neither sounds attractive.

Thought of in this way, the prospects for any truly historic agreement on emissions at Copenhagen are small. Of course, every such conference since Kyoto has been hailed as the historic breakthrough, even as emissions have risen and temperatures stayed the same. Given his options, it may be best for the President to find a pressing reason to stay away from Copenhagen, and try his luck with the reconciliation process next year. The Chinese, meanwhile, can continue to blame America for failing to show leadership. At least they'll be happy.



Andy Revkin did an incisive piece on the claims around climate tipping points in the Times on Sunday. It was nice to have the antidote to Tom Friedman's apocalyptic column on tipping points just pages away.

In 2006 a retired software executive insisted to me that we had only 10 years to do something dramatic about climate change (because that's what James Hansen had told him). When I gently suggested that 10 years was not a scientific number but rather an arbitrarily political one, the executive accused me of being anti-science. But the funny thing is that in January of this year Hansen told the Guardian that we have only four years left for the U.S. to act -- coincidentally, the same length of time in Obama's first term in office.

The assumption behind all of it is that throwing out these numbers -- four years, 10 years, 350 ppm, etc. -- will provide the public and policy makers with a sense of urgency that global warming as an issue currently lacks. But there's no evidence to back up that assumptions. If any correlation were to be drawn, it would likely be the opposite, that the increasingly apocalyptic tone of those seeking action on climate change has resulted in an increasing number of voters (according to Gallup) who believe that the threat of global warming is being exaggerated.

While the tipping point discourse might make Hansen, Friedman, Gore, Romm et al. feel powerful and moral, it has done nothing to change the fundamental political economy of their preferred policy agenda, pollution pricing. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) isn't against cap and trade because he's a right-wing, market fundamentalist ideologue; the truth is that he's an outspoken, anti-globalization liberal. He's against cap and trade because of the impact it would have on his constituents, who depend on coal for 85 percent of their electricity, and who are trying to hang on to the last of their manufacturing facilities by a thread. That's not something that any amount of scary stories about tipping points or inspiring ads about the need to repower America will change.

The only thing that will interrupt that dynamic is a fundamentally different climate policy agenda. Unfortunately, that's not something the big green groups and their allies in Washington have so far shown much interest in. A green group climate lobbyist in Washington who is sympathetic to a larger energy investment agenda recently told me that earlier this year Waxman (with the help of Green allies) killed technology-neutral loan guarantees in the stimulus by saying they all would have gone to nuclear, and to coal-to-liquid (which was clearly not the case) and that Waxman and green groups will now try to kill clean energy investments outside of any climate bill. This is what Ted and I helped do in 2003 (to our own Apollo energy legislation no less) when we were still being good green soldiers.

So much for urgent action to prevent tipping points.


WA: Spokane residents smuggle in real suds over useless "green" brands

The phosphate in regular dishwashing detergents also happens to be a basic fertilizer. Most people who know farms will have heard of superphosphate. Plants love phosphates. Just like they love CO2. Horrors! say the Greenies. It helps nasty plants to grow too. Helping farmers to trap fertilizer runoff from their farms would make more sense if there is any real problem with it

The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.

But it's not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green. Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe's left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.

As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers heading east on Interstate 90 into Idaho in search of old-school suds. Real estate agent Patti Marcotte of Spokane stocks up on detergent at a Costco in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and doesn't care who knows it. "Yes, I am a smuggler," she said. "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes I cannot live with." (In truth, the ban applies to the sale of phosphate detergent — not its use or possession — so Marcotte is not in any legal trouble.) Marcotte said she tried every green brand in her dishwasher and found none would remove grease and pieces of food. Everybody she knows buys dishwasher detergent in Idaho, she said.

Supporters of the ban acknowledge it is not very popular. "I'm not hearing a lot of positive feedback," conceded Shannon Brattebo of the Washington Lake Protection Association, a prime mover of the ban. "I think people are driving to Idaho."

Steve Marcy, manager of the Costco in Coeur d'Alene, about 10 miles east of the Washington state line, estimated that sales of dishwasher detergent in his store have increased 10 percent. He knows where the customers are coming from. "I'll joke with them and ask if they are from Spokane," Marcy said. "They say, `Oh yeah.'" Shoppers can still buy phosphate detergents in Washington state by venturing outside Spokane County, but Idaho is more convenient to many Spokane residents.

Phosphates — the main cleaning agent in many detergents and household cleaners — break down grease and remove stains. However, the chemicals are difficult to remove in wastewater treatment plants and often wind up in rivers and lakes, where they promote the growth of algae. And algae gobble up oxygen in the water that fish need to survive.

While traditional detergents are up to 9 percent phosphate, those sold in Spokane County can contain no more than 0.5 percent. The Washington Lake Protection Association has launched a campaign to encourage people to give the environmentally friendly brands a fair chance. The group suggests consumers experiment with different brands or install water softeners to help the green detergents work better. "Clean lakes and clean dishes do not have to be mutually exclusive," said association president-elect Jacob McCann.

Phosphates have been banned in laundry detergent nationally since 1993. Washington was the first state where the Legislature passed a similar ban against dishwasher detergents, in 2006. The ban is being phased in, starting with Spokane County.

"It's nice to be on the cutting edge," Spokane resident Ken Beck, an opponent of the ban, said sarcastically. Among other states that have banned or are banning phosphates in dishwasher detergent are Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York. A bill on Capitol Hill would impose a nationwide ban.

The Soap and Detergent Association, which represents manufacturers, initially fought the bans. But as the movement gained strength across the country, the association asked legislatures to delay bans until July 2010 to allow for a uniform rollout of products. The industry has been working to develop better low-phosphate detergents, said Dennis Griesing, vice president of the manufacturers group. "This is an irrevocable, nationwide commitment on the industry's part," he said.

For his part, Beck has taken to washing his dishes on his machine's pots-and-pans cycle, which takes longer and uses five gallons more water. Beck wonders if that isn't as tough on the environment as phosphates. "How much is this really costing us?" Beck said. "Aren't we transferring the environmental consequences to something else?"


Australia: More of that "drought" that the Warmists (such as Tim Flannery) were predicting a year or two ago

FLOODWATERS raging through the New South Wales north coast have forced the evacuation of people from at least 100 properties in Coffs Harbour and left thousands of other residents stranded. At some Coffs Harbour homes, water reached chest height, with the town receiving 370mm of rain in the 11 hours from 9am (AEDT) yesterday. "This has resulted in rapid rises in Coffs Creek approaching the levels of the record November 1996 flood,'' State Emergency Services spokesman Phil Campbell said.

The SES received calls for help from 400 people throughout the day. About 30 people trapped by floodwaters in homes or while travelling in motor vehicles had to be rescued. "The focus for the SES tonight is the protection of life and some delays in responding to non-life threatening calls is being experienced,'' Mr Campbell said yesterday. He recommended people shelter in their homes for the next six hours, "as travel through fast-flowing, deep floodwater during the dark is extremely dangerous".

Those who had been evacuated from their homes were sheltering at the Coffs Harbour RSL centre.

At Bellingen, south of Coffs Harbour, Mr Campbell said major flooding was likely to occur on the Bellinger River overnight. "That will result in the town being isolated for two to three days,'' Mr Campbell said. About 1700 residents would be isolated, he warned, while a further 1000 residents living upstream of Bellingen in the Darkwood and Kalang areas would also be affected. He said evacuations were also likely at Macksville, south of Coffs Harbour, on the Nambucca River.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said while there was a chance of heavy rain in the region today, it did not expect it would be as heavy as yesterday's downpour. At Boambee, south of Coffs Harbour, 149mm of rain fell between 1pm and 2pm yesterday. A BoM spokesman described it as a "one in a 100-year occurrence''. The highest rainfall was at Red Hill, west of Coffs Harbour, which received 380mm of rain in the 11 hours from 9am. About 240mm of the rain fell in the three-hour period between 1pm and 4pm.



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