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".

The blogspot version of this blog is HERE.
The Blogroll. My Home Page. Email John Ray here. Other mirror sites: Political Correctness Watch, Dissecting Leftism, Education Watch, Australian Politics, Recipes, Socialized Medicine, Food & Health Skeptic, Tongue Tied, Immigration Watch and Gun Watch. For a list of backups viewable in China, see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing). The archive for this mirror site is here or here.

31 December, 2007

Marc Morano uses facts to answer an "ad hominem" attack from an alleged scientist

One would have hoped that a scientist would have put scientific points to Morano but it was not so. Bill Houck [] (the Bill Houck of the EPA, I assume) wrote rather condescendingly to Marc Morano (of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) as follows:

Assuming you are sincere in your beliefs about the lack of evidence proving `global warming', I would encourage you to look back 45 - 50 years ago and consider the (400 or so) "prominent scientists" or doctors the tobacco companies would parade around who would insist that cigarette smoking was not proven to be seriously harmful to your health. Perhaps 400 said no while many thousands accepted the obvious about smoking without feeling compelled to write or make public statements about it. After all, it was obvious.

Even if the warming/dimming concerns are exaggerated, there's no great down side to halting excessive and unnecessary pollution. Certainly everyone would want an environment that is as clean as possible.
Morano replied politely as follows:
Thank you for writing. You may have a good point with your tobacco analogy. Please read this article, I do tend to agree with the comparison.

As for the "thousands" of scientists who believe we face a "climate crisis," where are they? The UN IPCC had only 52 scientists write the alarmist Summary for Policymakers in 2007. There are no "thousands" of UN scientists. Even the UN says "hundreds" but they are not involved in the media hyped summary. Many of the "hundreds" of UN scientists are skeptical of the alarmist summary written by the 52 scientists. Many of the skeptics are profiled in our report.

Even the National Academy of Sciences and American Meteorological Society's "consensus" statement was only voted on by two dozen or so governing board members, rank and file scientists never had a say. Take a look at this post, an environmental scientist admits he never looked at evidence of man-made climate fears, he just parroted the UN's line. Because of the new Senate report of over 400, he is now reconsidering his views. See here

Finally, as for your "no great downside" to halting pollution. Of course that statement is true. But that is not what we are facing. Because of fears of a "tipping point" and we "must act now" and "it's cheaper to act now than wait" the US and other nations are being rushed into meaningless and ineffective international treaties and complete climate symbolism for huge costs domestically.

In over three decades of global warming fears, there has been no single proposal that would have a detectable impact on temperatures if fully enacted and the alarmists are correct about the science. Even if Kyoto, the grandaddy of all climate agreements were being complied with, it would not have a detectable impact on temps 50 or 100 years from now. (this is not in dispute, Gore's own scientist Tom Wigley has said this).

There is no such thing as an "insurance" policy against warming when it comes to current proposals. The upcoming cap-and-trade LIeberman-Warner bill in the Senate would not have a detectable impact on global temps, but will cost poor and middle class Americans huge amounts in higher energy bills. All economic pain for no climate gain.

Would you buy and insurance policy that had a huge up front premium for absolutely no payout at the end of the term? If you would, then by all means support all of the current climate bills. But if they were "insurance policies" they would be shut down for insurance fraud for taking money and not paying any benefits.

Cleaner burning technology and wealth creation go hand and hand. Saddling our economy with UN mandates and new layers of federal bureaucracy will only make us poorer and not 'solve' the "climate crisis."

After attending the last four UN climate conferences in a row, I can tell you unequivocally that if we were facing a man-made climate "crisis' and the UN were our only hope to "solve" it, we would all be doomed.

Please read this very long speech to understand the scientific and economic and technological issues.

Please do not continue parroting the meaningless line about "insurance" policies or how "thousands" of scientists endorse a mythical "consensus" unless you can show a shred of evidence for your claims.
Above exchange received by email from Marc Morano []

Science and soothsaying

By Daniel B. Botkin, professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Barbara, and president of the Center for the Study of the Environment

Now that the Bali conference is over and climate scientists have warned us again about the dire predictions of their climate models, a question remains: Will their forecasts come true? Given the current international focus on global warming, you would think that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, many people will want to know whether today's predictions proved accurate.

But, in fact, people rarely look back to see if their old forecasts were on the mark. Foretelling the future has always been difficult and almost always wrong. Charles Mackay, in his wonderful 1841 book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," observes that the so-called necromancers of earlier centuries who purported to divine the future were grouped with the worst alchemists. Today, however, computers seem to have undermined our natural skepticism. Many of us put our faith in complex software that most of us cannot understand.

My own experience makes me skeptical of how environmental forecasting is being used. In 1991, several colleagues and I drew national and international attention when we used a computer model to forecast possible effects of global warming on an endangered species. Our computer program forecast that the Kirtland's warbler, the first songbird in America ever subjected to a complete census, would likely face extinction by 2010. Its habitat, jack pine trees, would be unable to thrive in conditions that climate computer programs forecast for southern Michigan, the only place and only trees where the bird nested.

The computer told us these declines should be measurable even in the year we made the forecast. We suggested that measurements of jack pine growth be started to verify the forecasts and to see whether the potential effects of global warming on the diversity of life were actually occurring. People could have started going to southern Michigan to check out our forecasts 16 years ago. Nobody did. I tried to get funding to do this, but no government agency or private foundation was interested.

Even today, amid the furor over global warming, no one is rushing out to verify that it does indeed threaten the Michigan jack pine. (But, happily, independent action by the government, the Audubon Society and private individuals has brought the Kirtland's warbler back from the brink of extinction.)

What could explain the lack of interest in verifying a dated computer forecast? After all, computer forecasts are the basis for the current alarm. Did people perhaps decide that a 16-year-old forecast had to have been based on inferior methods?

But wait a minute. Given the usual progress of science, won't forecasting methods in the future always be better than in the past? What this suggests is that today the primary uses of, and interest in, such forecasts are political, not scientific - that scientists as well as politicians are using forecasts for political and ideological purposes to influence public behavior here and now. The question is not really whether the forecasts are scientifically valid, but how much impetus they can provide to influence society.

It wasn't always this way. In the 1960s, when research into global warming was just beginning, it seemed impossible that people could change the global environment; the Earth was just too big. Charles Lyell, the father of modern geology, considered the possibility in detail in the mid-19th century and decided it was impossible because the mass of living things amounted to less than a drop in the bucket compared to the weight of all the materials in the oceans, atmosphere, soil and rocks.

In the 1970s, however, scientists began to realize that life had in fact greatly changed the Earth's environment, starting more than a billion years ago. At the same time, evidence was building that burning fossil fuels was increasing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. In 1957, Charles Keeling began the first continuous measurements to study carbon-dioxide change over time at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. By 1973, he reported at a landmark conference at Brookhaven National Laboratory on "Carbon and the Biosphere" that carbon dioxide showed a definite increase in 15 years, consistent with releases from burning fossil fuels. For those of us working on these issues, the scientific and environmental implications were vast.

Global environmental change began to become a political issue in the 1980s. Climatologists and astrophysicists showed that a nuclear war could put so much dust in the air that disastrous cooling would occur, the infamous nuclear winter. With the end of the Cold War, the focus shifted to global warming. At that time, climatologists explained that their computer models were crude approximations of the real atmosphere and pushed the limit of computer technology, requiring months of computing for a single simulation. You could accept either the results of these crude models or the less-formal projections by the most experienced meteorologists. The primary focus continued to be on the implications of what we knew.

In 1988, in a move that marked a shift to the politicization of forecasts, Congress asked the Environmental Protection Agency to report on the potential effects of global warming. Computer forecasting became much more complex; output from the huge climate models became input into ecological models. My projection for the little warbler was part of that work. The attempt was to be more realistic, but the result was that forecasts became more difficult to verify and also more alarming, thus drawing more and more public attention.

Thinking over this history, I see three primary uses of environmental computer forecasts: to understand the implications of what we know (Can living things change the global environment?); to know the future; and to influence public behavior. Only the first can be strictly scientific. The third is wandering farther and farther away from science.

Since proving the validity of long-term forecasts is difficult and the ultimate tests would take years, and since many scientists are alarmed at the dire scenarios, my colleagues are beginning to talk about whether it is O.K. to exaggerate and push forecasts that are not currently provable if the only way to get societies to act is to frighten people. I think it is not O.K. It is a short-term view, and even if it works, it will inevitably debase science and scientists.

Soothsayers have always tried to persuade people that they could predict the future. What is new today is that the incredibly powerful tools of science - nuclear weapons, flights to the moon, computers, iPods - have such huge implications for civilization that they may contain the seeds of their own destruction. Thirty years from now, we will probably not be interested in today's specific computer forecasts, but we may have lost our faith in science, a deeper and, to me, a more important problem.


Scientific evidence builds to counter global warming

Heads of state, government bureaucrats, environmental activists, and the news media -- 15,000 strong -- have just completed a global warming conference in Bali, Indonesia. They intended to force mandated reductions in man-made carbon dioxide emissions (CO2 ) in order to avert the catastrophic consequences of global warming.

But respected and skeptical climate scientists were banned from panel discussions, censored, silenced, and threatened with removal by the police if they tried to present peer-reviewed evidence contradicting the ''prevailing wisdom.'' The message was that, ''the debate is over; don't confuse the issue with facts; it's time to move ahead.''

But, the nations of the world refused to commit to CO2 reductions because the consequences to their economies would have been truly disastrous. Perhaps the scientific evidence that man-made global warming does not exist somehow sneaked into the conference, and caused doubt about the conventional wisdom, the so-called ''scientific consensus'' that humankind causes global warming. Albert Einstein once said that a scientific consensus is undone by one fact.

I'm not making this up. Here's a quote from a Dec. 13 letter to Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, by 100 top scientists, many of whom are themselves on the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change: ''In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is 'settled,' significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of human-caused global warming.'' This letter can be found here.

Concurrently, writing in the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society, three top climate scientists say that ''our research demonstrates that the ongoing rise of atmospheric CO2 has only a minor influence on climate change. We must conclude, therefore, that attempts to control CO2 emissions are ineffective and pointless -- but very costly.''

And there's more. The 2007 report issued by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee details the views of over 400 prominent scientists from more than 25 countries who voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ''consensus'' on human-caused global warming. Many of these scientists are current or former members of the IPCC, and are criticizing the claims of the IPCC. This blockbuster report lists the 400-plus scientists by name, academic/institutional affiliation, country of residence, and features their own words -- verbatim.

The thing that is glaringly absent from the global warming theory is testing. The scientific method requires exhaustive testing to validate a hypothesis, and also requires that a test be applied that would show the hypothesis to be false. This was not done, but instead, the environmentalists cherry-picked only periods of time when CO2 and temperature were both increasing. The problem is, that has rarely happened.

The accepted global average temperature statistics used by the IPCC show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Also, satellite-based temperature measurements show little, if any, global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 percent). And, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

We should care a great deal about the great global warming scare, because the actions being pushed on us would ruin the world's economies, and result in reduced standards of living for us, and food shortages around the world as energy production dropped. The proposals are insane: carbon taxes, carbon caps, carbon credits, carbon trading -- all for nothing.


His Eminence promotes climate skepticism

Article below by Cardinal archbishop of Sydney George Pell

ANOTHER year has passed quickly; too quickly for those who will run out of time before they run out of money. Undoubtedly, the most important event in the Australian year was the election last month of a new federal government. The transition was smooth, and the new Prime Minister is striving to avoid antagonising the various elements of the broad coalition that brought him to office.

The unions are impatient about the proposed pace of change to workplace regulations, while the maverick ACT Government's proposals to downplay marriage are causing apprehension among Christians.

The Bali summit on the Kyoto Protocol and climate change was a public relations triumph, although I'm hopeful the new government will not impose major costs on the people for dubious versions of climate goals. We need rigorous cost-benefit analysis of every proposal and healthy scepticism of all semi-religious rhetoric about the climate and, especially, about computer models for the future. It is difficult to predict what the weather will be like next week, let alone in 10, 20 or 100 years. We hope the drought is coming to an end in country areas, but Australia will always be susceptible to recurrent droughts until the arrival of the next ice age.

There is little reason to be optimistic about peace in the Middle East despite the Annapolis meeting, and unfortunate, suffering Lebanon teeters on the edge of another disaster. Australian troops will remain in Afghanistan, probably for years of struggle, and will slowly withdraw from Iraq, where fragile signs of an improving situation have been appearing.

US President George W. Bush survives as the only continuing head of government from the major allies of the "coalition of the willing". Tony Blair has resigned as UK prime minister, although his government is still in office. One of the most remarkable politicians of his generation, Blair possesses communication skills rivalling those of Bill Clinton. Apparently a religious man, Blair remains an enigma at many levels. He has attended Mass every Sunday for many years with his wife and family, and has just become a Roman Catholic. Yet he implemented and personally supported anti-Christian legislation over the years.


The Holy Father is not too keen on Warmism either

Pretty remarkable when even a Pope feels a need to advise skepticism

AT midnight mass in St Peter's, Benedict XVI conjured in his sermon with an image from the writings of Gregory of Nyssa, of the whole universe torn and disfigured by sin. "What," the Pope wondered, "would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation? Anselm of Canterbury, in an almost prophetic way, once described a vision of what we witness today in a polluted world whose future is at risk."

At first blush, it seems as though he's talking about global warming. That's certainly the way Ian Fisher, the Fairfax stringer in Rome, framed his story about the event and construed those passing remarks in a sermon mainly devoted to the incarnation. "Benedict has spoken out increasingly about environmental concerns and the Vatican has purchased carbon offsets, credits to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions created by the energy consumed in the world's smallest state, Vatican City," Fisher's report said.

There are three problems with such a gloss. The first is that the line about selfish and reckless abuse of energy might be no more than a reference to the First World's consumption of dwindling oil reserves. The second is that the idea of a polluted world whose future is at risk could just as well be interpreted as an allusion to acid rain, contaminated waterways, general environmental degradation and the problem of nuclear proliferation.

The third and most conclusive objection is that we already know what Benedict thinks about global warming. He made a telling intervention during the Bali conference earlier this month, releasing a message prepared for World Peace Day fully three weeks earlier than scheduled just to emphasise the point. Whether some Vatican bureaucrat - who probably got the project under way in the dying days of the previous reign - has bought some tokenistic carbon credits is neither here nor there. What matters is what the Pope himself says.

He warned that "any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not dubious ideology ... Fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disaster are nothing more than scaremongering. While some concerns may be valid, it is vital that the international community bases its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement ... Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions."

It cannot have escaped the Pope's attention that carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere but the mean planetary temperature hasn't increased significantly for nearly nine years. Similar misgivings about how well the greenhouse theory fits the available facts informed the views of his leading local representative, Cardinal George Pell. In February this year Pell wrote a column calling for caution over exaggerated claims of severe global warming. He said he is "deeply sceptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. What we are seeing from the doomsayers is an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition. I would be surprised if industrial pollution and carbon emissions had no effect at all, but enough is enough."

A reporter with a sharper eye for coded messages could have found one at least that was unmistakable in the text of the sermon and within the rest of the liturgy half a dozen actions that spoke far louder than words.



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


30 December, 2007

Divorcees are bad for the environment. Do environmentalists care?

A small item in the British Medical Journal recently caught my eye. It was a brief digest of a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the environmental impact of divorce. Researchers from Michigan found that people in divorced households spent 46 and 56 percent more on electricity and water, respectively, than did people in married households. This outcome is not all that surprising: marriage involves (among many other things, of course) economies of scale.

One of the interesting questions that this little piece of research poses is whether the environmentalist lobby will now throw itself behind the cause of family values. Will it, for example, push for the tightening of divorce laws, and for financial penalties-in the form, say, of higher taxes-to be imposed on those who insist upon divorcing, and therefore upon using 46 percent more electricity and 52 percent more water per person than married couples who stay together? Will environmentalists march down the streets with banners reading SAVE THE PLANET: STAY WITH THE HUSBAND YOU HATE?

For myself, I doubt it. Yet these figures, if true, are certainly suggestive. The fact that there will be no demonstrations against environmentally destructive divorcees, who probably emit as much extra carbon dioxide as the average SUV, suggests that the desire to save the planet is not nearly as powerful as the desire to destroy a way of life.


There's a lot we DON'T know about CO2

The article excerpted below is written so as not to threaten Warmists but the great gaps in knowledge that it notes show how shaky the assumptions fed into climate "models" have to be

So far, scientists have no reliable way to measure all these fluctuating carbon emissions. Temperature predictions based on future CO2 levels, therefore, could overestimate the risk of greenhouse warming -- or dangerously understate it. "A quarter of all the CO2 that is emitted is going somewhere, and we don't know where," said David Crisp at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is senior scientist for the $270 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory, set for launch next December. "That raises a lot of red flags."

Moreover, as governments try to prevent climate change through emissions trading -- where buying and selling emissions rights is expected to top $70 billion by the end of next year -- regulators must track CO2 no matter where it comes from or where it goes, to verify transactions.

To pinpoint the places where the planet naturally absorbs CO2 emissions, researchers have turned North America into a test lab. No other region is so thoroughly monitored; nor does any other area emit as much carbon dioxide -- about 27% of the world's annual total.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada together release about 2 billion tons of carbon as CO2 into the air every year -- 85% from the U.S. alone -- but only about a third of it typically is absorbed by so-called carbon sinks, such as new forests, grasslands, crops and soil. The rest is either in the air or unaccounted for. That is according to a new study of 28,000 measurements collected every week from 2000 through 2006 and analyzed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's online CarbonTracker system.

The CarbonTracker offers a portrait of the continent in carbon dioxide, locating where greenhouse-gas upwellings are strongest and where new plant growth and soil most readily remove it from the air. Greenhouse-gas emissions were highest in the Midwest, which released more CO2 than any country except Russia, China, India, and the U.S. as a whole. By the same token, CO2 was absorbed mostly east of the Rocky Mountains and in northern Canada, where vast boreal forests hold twice as much carbon as tropical woodlands.

These detailed calculations reveal a countryside where these natural carbon-storage zones are failing, the NOAA researchers determined. The higher temperatures that result can, through more frequent wildfires and prolonged droughts, further interrupt ancient cycles of carbon storage, spilling even more carbon into the air....

An unusually severe U.S. drought in 2002, the NOAA researchers discovered, left an extra 360 million tons of carbon in the atmosphere -- an amount equal to the annual emissions of 200 million cars -- by stunting plant growth that normally might have absorbed the gas. "We lost half our natural sink," said NOAA geochemist John Miller. In Europe, a severe drought in 2003 left more than 500 million tons of carbon in the air.

In turn, the dry weather from higher temperatures also has made wildfires in the western U.S. more frequent, longer-burning and harder to extinguish. Large-scale fires in western and southeastern states can release as much carbon dioxide in a few weeks as motor-vehicle traffic there does in a year, University of Colorado researchers reported this past October in Carbon Balance and Management.

In a single week this fall, they reported, wildfires in Southern California released 7.9 million metric tons of CO2 -- equal to 25% of the monthly fumes from every car, truck, factory and power plant in the state.


Yet another double standard

Climate alarmists have been critiquing the Senate "400" report for including engineers and economists in the report despite the fact that the IPCC is made up similarly

Back at Gristmill, Andrew Dessler stands by his cancer/doctor analogy in the in-whom-do-we-trust war, after some comments on his blog:
The complexity of climate change does not suddenly make a sociologist, economist, computer programmer, etc. a credible skeptic. In fact, the weakness of Inhofe's list is readily apparent by the very fact that he had to include such people on his list. The crown jewels of skeptics are Lindzen, Christy, Singer, etc., but as I've said before, there are only a small number of them. In order to bulk up the list, Inhofe lowered his criteria to basically include anyone who doesn't believe in climate change --- regardless of their technical background in the subject. As far as my analogy being unsuitable, I stand by it. If your child is sick, you take him/her to the experts. Ditto if your planet is sick. You don't take either your child or a planet to a sociologist or economist.
For the uninitiated, here is the lowdown: Andrew Dessler is a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University. He is complaining about a US senate report which listed hundreds of individuals who have been reported in the media during 2007 as speaking against the "scientific consensus" on climate change, claiming that they are scientists. The report naturally challenges the very principle of the consensus, which has given climate policies the authority they have needed to be carried forward. The global warming camp have sought to undermine the value of this new list, by claiming that the scientists lack scientific qualifications, expertise, or moral integrity.

But Dessler has made a significant concession here. He is visibly shifting from the idea that the power of the consensus comes from the weight of scientific opinion - numbers. An "overwhelming number" of scientist's opinions might indicate that the "science" had been tested. Now, you have to be qualified to have an opinion on climate change. But Dessler doesn't tell us exactly how we are to measure the qualifications, we just have to take his word for it that the 400 sceptics aren't qualified, but the IPCC scientists are. So it's not simply a consensus, it's a qualified consensus, and he gets to call the qualification. So much for science. So, apparently, the IPCC scientists who represent the consensus are more qualified than their counterparts. They are akin to the experts you would trust your desperately ill child to, not the ragbag of mavericks you would avoid. Worse still, many of the sceptics are in fact mere computer programmers or - gasp - sociologists!

We decided to test Dessler's claim. So we downloaded IPCC WGII's latest report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it's Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK. Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren't clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists. This gives the lie to Dessler's claim that IPCC contributors are analogous to medical doctors. There are economists working on saving that dying child!!! That's got to be wrong, by Dessler's own standards.

Nonetheless, were these contributors the "experts" that Dessler claims they are? There were a few professors, but few of them had the profile Dessler gives them. Many of them were in fact, hard to locate to establish just how much better than their counterparts they were. One professor (Abigail Bristow) wasn't what you'd call a climate scientist, but a professor of Transport Studies at Newcastle University. How is she going to cure the sick child? Will she be driving the ambulance? Another Professor - Diana Liverman at Oxford University - specialises in "human dimensions of global environmental change" - Geography is a social science too. Another - John Morton of the University of Greenwich, specialises in "development Anthropology". Professor of Geography, and Co-Chair of IPCC WGII, Martin Parry's profile merely tells us that he is "a specialist on the effects of climate change". But what does that actually mean?

Among the remainder - most of whom are not professors, but research associates at best, are an assorted bunch, many of whom are better known for their alarmist statements in the mainstream press than they are for their contributions to scientific knowledge - activists in other words, with their own political motivation. And in spite of being reported as "climate scientists", involved in scientific research, also seem to be working within the social sciences, albeit for "climate research" institutions, such as Tyndall. Johanna Wolf, for example, is an IPCC contributor from the University of East Anglia, who works in the department for "development studies". Does that make her a climate scientist? Anna Taylor, of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Oxford has no PhD at all, her research focuses on "stakeholder engagement in adapting to multiple stresses, including climate variability and change, water scarcity, food insecurity and health concerns" - not climate science, and has simply not been alive long enough to join the ranks of the specialists of specialisms that Dessler demands of sceptics. Similarly, Susanne Rupp-Armstrong, listed as a member of Southampton University only appears to have ever contributed to one academic paper. Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, Maureen Agnew does not focus her research on climate science, but on such things as "Public perceptions of unusually warm weather in the UK: impacts, responses and adaptations", and "Potential impacts of climate change on international tourism." Katherine Vincent specialising in "Social Capital and Climate change" at the UEA, only began her PhD thesis in October 2003. How can she be cited as a specialist in climate science?

Then there are the contributors whose involvement we cannot explain. Farhana Yamin is an international lawyer, based at the University of Sussex. Rachel Warren and Paul Watkiss are merely listed as "environmental consultants" at the latter's consultancy firm, and clearly have a commercial interest in climate change policies being developed. Kate Studd is listed as a contributor, but she works for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, and doesn't appear to be an academic at all. What are these people doing on this list of the most expert climate specialists in the world?

We were surprised by the results. Was the prevalence of social scientists from the UK representative of the whole group? We decided to repeat the test for the contributors based in the USA. Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn't clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography.

In a follow-up post, Dessler has set about 'Busting the 'consensus busters'' by ridiculing the qualifications of Inhofe's 400 experts, starting with a certain Thomas Ring. In the comments section he justifies this approach:
I agree it would be quicker to simply note the qualified skeptics on the list (there are probably a few dozen), but, from a rhetorical point of view, I think pointing out these immensely unqualified members of the list is more effective.
Well, we can all play that game... Included as contributors to WGII are Patricia Craig, Judith Cranage, Susan Mann, and Christopher Pfeiffer, all from Pennsylvania State University. It's not that these people aren't experts in their field - they probably are. Our problem with their inclusion on the list of Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report is that their jobs are (in order) website-designer, administrative assistant (x2), and network administrator.

Also on the list is Peter Neofotis who appears to be a 2003 graduate of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia. Are there many experts in anything who graduated in 2003? Would Dessler take his sick child to a doctor, who, according to our understanding of medical training, would have not yet qualified? Also at Columbia is Marta Vicarelli, who is a PhD candidate in 'sustainable development'. Can she be the amongst the world's leading experts on sustainability? It seems hard to take the claim seriously. Or what about Gianna Palmer at Wesleyan University, who, as far as we can tell, will not graduate from university until 2010? And yet Dessler insists that
Inhofe's list is chock full of people without any recent, relevant research on the problem. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why they're skeptics: people with the relevant experience are immediately persuaded by the evidence. This should be compared to the IPCC, which includes exclusively people with recent, relevant expertise on the problem.
Anything which can be thrown at the sceptics can be thrown at IPCC contributors. That is not to say that social scientists and computer programmers have nothing to offer the world, or the IPCC process. They are crucial in fact. What it is to say, however, is that, when social scientists, computer programmers and administrative assistants comprise a significant proportion of IPCC contributors, the global warmer mantra that the IPCC represents the world's top 2500 climate scientists is just plain old-fashioned not true.

Dessler's wish to maintain that the IPCC comprises unimpeachable experts in their field mirrors the common desire to create an unassailable scientific consensus that political changes in the world are a necessity. This is driven less from the data generated by these experts - they aren't as expert as is claimed, and the consensus is not unassailable - and more to do with the desire to drive politics by creating scientific orthodoxy. This would be scientism, if there was any matter of science about it. The only claim to authority that the IPCC has is not tested, scientific expertise, but just the fact of being established as an authority. There is obviously no substantial attempt to select the best in the field to contribute, as there is no objective measure of such expertise. If we do not take the view that IPCC's authority rests on its contributors' expertise, then the consensus it generates is meaningless. It is merely a 'ministry of truth' - the existence of which is only designed to reduce inconvenient challenges to political, not scientific, orthodoxy. Dessler says :
The problem is not the several dozen credible skeptics on Inhofe's list, some of whom you've named, it's the 350 others. Overall, There are nowhere near 400 credible skeptics on his list, or on the planet.
Even if it were possible to draw together the best scientific minds (and perhaps even the best sociologists and programmers too), would it even be desirable? Science has never 'worked' by measuring opinion, but by testing hypotheses. It doesn't work by generating orthodoxy, but by challenging it. The IPCC doesn't represent the best available understanding, but the paucity of understanding of the factors governing climate. If the 'truth' really is 'out there' then it doesn't need to be decided by committee.


Scientist Reconsidering Climate Views After Reading Senate Report of 400 Skeptics!

"Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007. " For the skeptics among us, fed to me again by A.

It got me thinking: I'm an environmental scientist, but I've never had time to review the "evidence" for the anthropogenic causes of global warming. I operate on the principle that global warming is a reality and that it is human-made, because a lot of reliable sources told me that, and because I read it in learned journals. When I said, in my opening speech for the launch of UNEP's Global Environment Outlook-4 in Beirut: "There is now irrevocable evidence that climate change is taking place..." I was reading from a statement prepared by UNEP. Faith-based science it may be, but who has time to review all the evidence? I'll continue to act on the basis of anthropogenic climate change, but I really need to put some more time into this.


Gore Milks Cash Cow: What France Is Reading

Climate-change skeptics are taking a beating these days even in France, where people long resisted the green creed. Paris bookstores brim with guidebooks -- including one shaped like a toilet seat -- that tell readers how to help save our planet. Yet the dissidents refuse to shut up, even now that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.S. government has agreed to negotiate a new global-warming treaty by 2009. The most conspicuous doubter in France is Claude Allegre, a former education minister and a physicist by profession. His new book, ``Ma Verite Sur la Planete'' (``My Truth About the Planet''), doesn't mince words.

He calls Gore a ``crook'' presiding over an eco-business that pumps out cash. As for Gore's French followers, the author likens them to religious zealots who, far from saving humanity, are endangering it. Driven by a Judeo-Christian guilt complex, he says, French greens paint worst-case scenarios and attribute little-understood cycles to human misbehavior. Allegre doesn't deny that the climate has changed or that extreme weather has become more common. He instead emphasizes the local character of these phenomena.

While the icecap of the North Pole is shrinking, the one covering Antarctica -- or 92 percent of the Earth's ice -- is not, he says. Nor have Scandinavian glaciers receded, he says. To play down these differences by basing forecasts on a global average makes no sense to Allegre. He dismisses talk of renewable energies, such as wind or solar power, saying it would take a century for them to become a serious factor in meeting the world's energy demands.

To his relief, France has taken another path: Almost 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear reactors. What's more, France has a talent for eating its cake and having it, too: Although it signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the country is nowhere near meeting the agreed targets.

``Ma Verite Sur la Planete'' is published by Plon/Fayard (240 pages, 18 euros).

Jean de Kervasdoue, a health expert, also stresses the benefits of nuclear power, noting that it emits only a small fraction of the greenhouse gas that comes from burning coal, oil or gas. His pet peeve, though, is genetically modified food. In ``Les Precheurs de l'Apocalypse'' (``The Doomsday Preachers''), Kervasdoue decries how shrill and sometimes violent campaigners have prevented GM foods from gaining a foothold in Europe. They way they talk, he says, ``it sounds as if Martians are attacking the Earth.''

In fact, genetically modified organisms have proved highly beneficial to mankind, he argues, pointing to insulin, an artificially created hormone that has saved the lives of countless diabetes sufferers. A much greater danger to health and life expectancy, he says, is obesity -- even though the food that European fatsoes ingest is ``natural.''

Kervasdoue also has politically incorrect things to say about asbestos and Chernobyl. The motto of his book comes from Marcel Proust: ``Facts don't enter a world dominated by our beliefs.''

``Les Precheurs de l'Apocalypse'' is from Plon (254 pages, 19 euros).



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


29 December, 2007

Not So Hot

By Patrick J. Michaels

If a scientific paper appeared in a major journal saying that the planet has warmed twice as much as previously thought, that would be front-page news in every major paper around the planet. But what would happen if a paper was published demonstrating that the planet may have warmed up only half as much as previously thought? Nothing. Earlier this month, Ross McKitrick from Canada's University of Guelph and I published a manuscript in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres saying precisely that.

Scientists have known for years that temperature records can be contaminated by so-called "urban warming," which results from the fact that long-term temperature histories tend to have originated at points of commerce. The bricks, buildings, and pavement of cities retain the heat of the day and impede the flow of ventilating winds. For example, downtown Washington is warmer than nearby (and more rural) Dulles Airport. As government and services expand down the Dulles Access road, it, too, is beginning to warm compared to more rural sites to the west.

Adjusting data for this effect, or using only rural stations, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with confidence that less than 10% of the observed warming in long-term climate histories is due to urbanization. That's a wonderful hypothesis, and Ross and I decided to test it. We noted that other types of bias must still be affecting historical climate records. What about the quality of a national network and the competence of the observers? Other factors include movement or closing of weather stations and modification of local land surfaces, such as replacing a forest with a cornfield.

Many of these are socioeconomic, so we built a computer model that included both regional climatic factors, such as latitude, as well as socioeconomic indicators like GDP and applied it to the IPCC's temperature history.

Weather equipment is very high-maintenance. The standard temperature shelter is painted white. If the paint wears or discolors, the shelter absorbs more of the sun's heat and the thermometer inside will read artificially high. But keeping temperature stations well painted probably isn't the highest priority in a poor country.

IPCC divides the world into latitude-longitude boxes, and for each of these we supplied information on GDP, literacy, amount of missing data (a measure of quality), population change, economic growth and change in coal consumption (the more there is, the cooler the area).

Guess what. Almost all the socioeconomic variables were important. We found the data were of highest quality in North America and that they were very contaminated in Africa and South America. Overall, we found that the socioeconomic biases "likely add up to a net warming bias at the global level that may explain as much as half the observed land-based warming trend."

We then modified IPCC's temperature data for these biases and compared the statistical distribution of the warming to the original IPCC data and to satellite measures of lower atmospheric temperature that have been available since 1979. Since these are from a single source (the U.S. government), and they don't have any urban contamination, they are likely to be affected very little by economic factors.

Indeed. The adjusted IPCC data now looks a lot like the satellite data. The biggest change was that the high (very warm) end of the distribution in the IPCC data was knocked off by the unbiasing process.

Where was the press? A Google search reveals that with the exception of a few blog citations, the only major story ran in Canada's Financial Post.

There are several reasons why the press provides so little coverage to science indicating that global warming isn't the end of the world. One has to do with bias in the scientific literature itself. Theoretically, assuming unbiased climate research, every new finding should have an equal probability of indicating that things are going to be more or less warm, or worse-than-we-thought vs. not-so-bad. But, when someone finds that there's only half as much warming as we thought, and the story is completely ignored, what does this say about the nature of the coverage itself? Somehow, you'd think that would have been newsworthy.


IPCC stumbles from folly to folly

The IPCC -- a United Nations bureaucracy that literally dictates the world view on climate change--may not be the most reliable or trustworthy of agencies. It is, above all, a government-controlled body with a political mission that IPCC officials pursue with religious and dogmatic fervour. The IPCC distorts, exaggerates and manipulates its science, producing conclusions that are aimed at generating a political response and raising public awareness.

To doubt IPCC science is considered sacrilegious. We are required to "believe" anthropomorphic climate change is real, or otherwise face ridicule. For scientists, it can mean excommunication.

One of the IPCC's earlier blunders was to claim, as part of its proof of carbon-caused warming, that the 20th century was the hottest in 2,000 years. A graph showing the trend, shaped like a hockey stick, dominated scores of IPCC documents. But the science behind the claim was wrong. The latest IPCC reports no longer make the claim or show the graphic. The latest rough version of the Earth's temperature over 2,000 years (prepared by non-IPCC scientists) suggests the Earth was a lot warmer about 1,000 years ago, long before man began driving Fords and Chevys. Not much propaganda value in that, so the IPCC dropped the whole idea.

The new version of the 2,000-year temperature record corrects some of the main problems with the original hockey stick. Above all, it attempts to plot temperature change without using flawed tree-ring data as major indicators of temperature. Stripped of its 2,000-year sensation, the IPCC now trumpets a new chart as the official Global Temperature Record. This is the first graphic in the IPCC's latest official pre-Bali "synthesis" report on climate science. It's another scientific icon that purports to show temperatures soaring over the last 25 years. The recent jump, the IPCC says, is "very likely" due to man-made carbon emissions.

But a new paper by Ross McKitrick of Guelph University and Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute suggests the latest IPCC climate-change icon could be as flawed as the hockey stick. One of the main problems with the 2,000-year graphic is that it wiped out a well-known Medieval Warm Period from 1,000 years ago. The McKitrick/Michaels analysis looks at the other end of the time spectrum and finds that much of the recent warming trend may be a function of faulty, contaminated data. It may simply be wrong.

The trick IPCC treatment of problems associated with 20th-century temperature measurements are spelled out in Mr. Mc-Kitrick's commentary. The short version is that the IPCC ignored findings related to the heat effect of people living in urban areas, and the degree to which measures of urban temperatures have been compromised over the years. It's hotter in cities not because of climate change, but simply because cities are hotter. "Claims about the amount of warming since 1980 ... should be reassessed using uncontaminated data," Mr. McKitrick says.

Most revealing, however, is the scientific runaround Mr. Mc-Kitrick experienced when, as an official IPCC external reviewer, he presented his evidence on the degree of contamination in the IPCC's official Global Temperature Record. Not only is IPCC science in question, but on display is the IPCC's domineering bureaucratic methodology, state monopoly science in action.

So now the IPCC temperature scares have been corrected at both ends. First, warming periods of the distant past were wrongly eliminated or diminished. And now the warming periods of the present have been exaggerated. What's left as proof that unprecedented anthropomorphic climate change is taking place as predicted?


NYT says Castro is good for the environment

The New York Times blubbers about how Cuba's environment will suffer in a post-U.S. embargo era of increased tourism. Better to preserve a "priceless ecological resource" than to free people from oppression. I have yet to come across ANY Leftist who disapproves of Castro. I think that tells you what so-called "liberals" really aspire to

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to take the environmental movement, and science and environmental reporters, seriously because of stories such as the Christmas Day hand-wringer "Conserving Cuba, After the Embargo." Given great latitude by New York Times editors, reporter Cornelia Dean goes on for more than 2,000 words about "why many scientists are so worried about what will become of (Cuba's environment) after Fidel Castro and his associates leave power and, as is widely anticipated, the American government relaxes or ends its trade embargo."

There was precious little, though, about the obvious - except to intractable left-wingers - advantages to humanity. It's as if the beneficiaries of the fall of communism in Cuba and the ensuing spread of commerce would be only greedy capitalist exploiters.

The New York Times, with a wide reach and influence far out of proportion to its lack of wisdom, has found yet another backhanded way to praise Castro's Island Prison and malign the free market. Maybe its plunging stock price - now below $18 a share, down from its all-time high of nearly $50 in 2004 - soon WILL teach its staff a valuable lesson in capitalism. Until then, the Times and the rest of the mainstream media will continue to worship at the green altar. In the meantime, let's bring some clarity to the murky swamp of environmental agitprop.

Above all else, the fall of Marxism in Cuba would lift the torment that millions of Cubans have endured since Castro took power 48 years ago on Tuesday. Far from being a workers' paradise, Cuba has been a hellhole where the ruling elite and a few party functionaries enjoy life at everyone else's expense. It's an island without hope. Communism, hailed as environmental savior, brought to Cuba food shortages, food rationing, land and factory seizures, economic regression, brutal imprisonment and often death for dissenters, fear, paranoia, censorship and a discouragingly bleak future.

Once a jewel of the Caribbean, Cuba has been since 1959 a police state where sons turn their fathers in and neighbors spy on each other. That evil system is what the political left, using the cover of environmentalism, wishes to preserve. If self-identified environmentalists were truly interested in Cuba's ecology, they would welcome capitalism and renounce the revolution.

But they are blinded to the illuminating lessons offered by East and West Germany and North and South Korea, which starkly demonstrate the differences between capitalism and communism. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, one of the first things visitors noticed was how dirty the former communist East Germany was compared with West Germany, which was far more densely populated.

Likewise, communist North Korea is a mess, while South Korea thrives. In 2003, a United Nations assessment found the country to be in an environmental crisis. Unlike North Korea, capitalist South Korea has clean cities, a fast-growing economy and no starvation. In neither case can culture or ethnic differences be blamed.

The Germans who have prospered in a clean environment under a liberal economic system are the same as those who have been miserable under tyrannical Marxism and lived in its hallmark filth.

The Koreans who have kept the southern part of the peninsula thriving and relatively clean are the same people as those in the North who simply don't have the luxury to think about the ecological impact of their actions or the property rights that effectively police the environment.

Are we supposed to believe that, unlike North Korea and East Germany, Cuba has somehow escaped the environmental ravages of Marxism? The chance of that is about as slim as the legacy media appropriately recognizing the human progress that comes each time a communist regime falls.


Scientific skeptics have a right to be heard

In the 16th century a large, powerful institution saw itself as threatened by heretics - people who didn't agree with all its dogmas - so it began to identify and punish those dissidents. Five hundred years later a similar effort is under way.

In the 16th century it was the Roman Catholic church; today it is Big Science. The only real difference is that today heretics are simply deprived of their livelihood; burning at the stake is no longer in vogue.

Exhibit One in this contention is found on Page A2 of the Dec. 14 Enquirer: "Global-warning skeptic says he's being vilified." This is from an economist, but scientists who express similar doubts about the fashionable view (global warming is due to generation of CO2 by humans) are similarly marginalized.

Exhibit Two is the denial of tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez by the astronomy department of Iowa State University, despite a stellar record of scientific publications. His crime? He co-authored a book ("The Privileged Planet") that suggested that the unusually benign (for life) situation of the Earth might have been due to an intelligent designer.

As a doctoral student I was taught that good science sought reliable facts about the world around us, and hypotheses followed wherever those facts lead. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case. Instead, selected facts have led to politicized conclusions, and countervailing facts are no longer tolerated. This is not good science.The 16th century Inquisitors had, as part of their agenda, the salvation of the heretic's soul; the preservation of institutional power was a useful side result. Today's inquisitors no longer have even that touch of humanity; the preservation of their power as the ultimate arbiters of "truth" is their only goal.To end this Inquisition, scientists dedicated to good science must defend the right of skeptics to be heard.


One disappointed nutcase coming up

Green/Leftist claims that "Global Warming Will Save America from the Right...Eventually". And it will apparently happen within a cat's lifetime (c. 15 years). Not even the IPCC expects such rapid change

The future political map of America is likely to look a lot different, with much of the so-called "red" state region either gone or depopulated.Sat., 12/22/2007 - 19:21-Say what you will about the looming catastrophe facing the world as the pace of global heating and polar melting accelerates. There is a silver lining. Look at a map of the US.

The area that will by completely inundated by the rising ocean-and not in a century but in the lifetime of my two cats-are the American southeast, including the most populated area of Texas, almost all of Florida, most of Louisiana, and half of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as goodly portions of eastern Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. While the northeast will also see some coastal flooding, its geography is such that that aside from a few projecting sandbars like Long Island and Cape Cod, the land rises fairly quickly to well above sea level. Sure, Boston, New York and Philadelphia will be threatened, but these are geographically confined areas that could lend themselves to protection by Dutch-style dikes. The West Coast too tends to rise rapidly to well above sea level in most places. Only down in Southern California towards the San Diego area is the ground closer to sea level. So what we see is that huge swaths of conservative America are set to face a biblical deluge in a few more presidential cycles.

Then there's the matter of the Midwest, which climate experts say is likely to face a permanent condition of unprecedented drought, making the place largely unlivable, and certainly unfarmable. The agribusinesses and conservative farmers that have been growing corn and wheat may be able to stretch out this doomsday scenario by deep well drilling, but west of the Mississippi, the vast Ogallala Aquifer that has allowed for such irrigation is already being tapped out. It will not be replaced.

So again, we will see the decline and depopulation of the nation's vast midsection-noted for its consistent conservatism. Only in the northernmost area, around the Great Lakes (which will be not so great anymore), and along the Canadian border, will there still be enough rain for farming and continued large population concentrations, but those regions, like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, are also more liberal in their politics.



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


28 December, 2007

Global warming comes to Mecca

(The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (the Month of Hajj) is called the Day of Arafat. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca)

Turkish Hajj visitors prayed for global warming at Arafat: "we did not realize the value of the blessings you granted to us; we have caused global warming and drought."

Turkish Hajj visitors asked for forgiveness for causing global warming at Arafat. The Department of Religious Affairs requested all its units inform society about global warming throughout the year and has now brought the issue to the Hajj.

The chairman of the Hajj Office, Seyfeddin Ersoy, made 100 thousand Turkish Hajj visitors read the prayer which said: "Dear God! You created us, you granted us innumerable blessings; but we did not realize the value of the blessings you have granted to us; we have spoiled the balance of nature, we have polluted the environment and we have caused global warming and drought. Please forgive us for all of this."


My Global Warming Question

By Arnold Kling

"The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces for 2007 is expected to be near 58.0ÝF and would be the fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Some of the largest and most widespread warm anomalies occurred from eastern Europe to central Asia.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6ÝC and 0.7ÝC since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of approximately 10 percent per decade since 1979."

--National Climactic Data Center, Preliminary Annual Report

I am worried about climate change. In one respect, I may be more worried than other people. I am worried because I have very little confidence that we know what is causing it. One of my fears is that we could reduce carbon emissions by some drastic amount, only to discover that --oops--it turns out that climate change is being caused by something else.

I am not a skeptic about the rise in average temperatures. Nor am I skeptical that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing. However, I remain skeptical about the connection between the two.

My question is this: what are the most persuasive reasons for believing that the rise in temperature is due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide?

What I am looking for is evidence that I can use to overcome my skepticism. My view of climate change is that we have about three data points--an increase in temperatures from 1900-1940, and slight decrease from 1940-1970, and a recent increase. There are a lot of variables that could affect climate, and I wonder how we can be confident about our understanding of the process, given that we have only those three data points to work with.

I certainly am open to an argument that we have more data points to work with. I am just trying to explain where I am coming from.

Other Scientific Propositions

It seems to me that with other scientific propositions, I do not rely on a scientific consensus for proof. I am persuaded by other evidence. For example, I do not have a deep comprehension of the relationship between matter and energy. However, I find the atomic bomb a reasonably persuasive piece of evidence that Einstein was onto something.

In economics, many of us believe that economic institutions matter. We believe that prosperity is more likely in societies with systems that protect private property, encourage trade, and so forth. We do not know exactly which systems work best, a point which I made in Cracking the Code of Prosperity and which Dani Rodrik makes in his book, One Economics, Many Recipes. But many of us believe that institutions are a major factor.

If I were asked to supply the most persuasive reasons for believing that institutions matter in economics, I would site the following:

1. East Germany's decline relative to West Germany under Communism. For example, Japp Sleifer writes,

"Before the Second World War the East German economy had the signs of a blossoming landscape. At that time per capita national income amounted to 103 per cent of West Germany, compared to a mere 31 per cent in 1991. In the industrial sector labour productivity dropped from 91 per cent of the West German level in 1936 to merely 31 per cent in 1991. East Germany is a case of an economy that was relatively wealthy, but lost out in relatively short time."
A similar point could be made about North and South Korea. In both German and the Korean cases, a reasonably homogeneous society was split in two, with one half adopting a Communist system of central planning and the other half adopting a more market-oriented system. The outcome was that economic performance was better in the market-oriented system.

2. Workers in low-income countries can increase their wages dramatically by moving to high-income countries. See Lant Pritchett's book, Let My People Come. If it were simply a matter of American firms preferring low-wage Mexican workers to high-wage American workers, capital would be flowing across the border to Mexico. However, the same capital and labor is much more productive here than there, and this likely reflects better institutions in the United States.

3. Economic liberalizations tend to increase growth. We have seen this in China, in India, and under Margaret Thatcher in the UK. However, the evidence is not overwhelming. Skeptics point out that the liberalization in India was not particularly dramatic. Indeed the more dramatic liberalizations in some Latin American countries and in post-Communist Russia were not very effective.

Overall, the evidence that institutions matter is not as devastating, so to speak, as the atomic bomb. Still it is evidence, and I am willing to present the evidence and let individuals make up their own minds.


Recently, New York Times columnists David Leonhardt dubbed Shannon Brownlee's Overtreated the best economics book of 2007. I also spoke highly of it in my list of the year's best books and in a longer review.

A major thesis of Brownlee's book is that Americans undergo a large number of unnecessary medical procedures. I agree with this thesis. Evidence in its favor includes:

1. Studies by Dartmouth economist Jack Wennberg and colleagues showing that there is wide variation in intensity of the use of procedures across Medicare regions, with no difference in outcomes.

2. The RAND health insurance experiment gave similar patients different levels of health insurance coverage. Those who had more coverage elected to undergo more procedures--with little difference in outcomes.

3. Recently, economist Amy Finkelstein studied the impact of Medicare on health spending. She found a large effect on spending--but little effect on outcomes.

Change my Mind

Health care is an issue on which I have changed my mind. Before I began working on my book, my inclination was to believe that at some point we will see America's extravagant health care spending translated into better outcomes. Now, I have my doubts. I suspect that a lot of procedures are done for institutional and emotional reasons, without tangible medical benefits.

I am willing to change my mind about the role of carbon emissions in causing global warming. However, I would like to know what evidence other people find most persuasive. I would like to assess this evidence, given what I know about statistics and modeling. Feel free to leave your argument in comments, emails, or blog posts--use "Arnold Kling" in your post and my ego-surfing will pick it up. I assume that one of the reasons that people believe the carbon emissions story is that the evidence for alternatives is fairly weak. However, if someone thinks that he or she has good evidence for an alternative, feel free to let me know.


McCain is a Greenie

And a hypocritical one, as usual

Living up to his reputation as the anti-pander candidate, John McCain dropped into Detroit on Thursday, and dumped all over the U.S. auto industry just a month before Michigan's January 15 primary. In a meeting with The Detroit News editorial board, the GOP field's greenest candidate lectured Detroit's Big Three on what they should build, championed new federal fuel mileage mandates that will severely tax U.S. automakers at a time that they are struggling to regain profitability, and even bragged about his family driving Toyotas.

"I think they (Detroit automakers) can adjust to the new mandate," he said of the 35 mpg standard which the industry estimates will cost them $85 billion to comply. "And frankly, I think it's overdue."

Whether advocating good policy or bad, McCain reinforced the notion that, above all else, he wants be an "honorable" public servant. It is his sense of honor - of personal duty - that girds his political decisions. For McCain, all politics is personal. Driven by a sense of duty to his U.S. soldiers, he is determined that their blood in Iraq not have been spilled in vain. Shamed by his role in the Keating Five, he was determined to resurrect his reputation as the reformer of McCain-Feingold. And racked by guilt over U.S. consumption of goods and Mideast oil, he is determined to "do something" about global warming.

Make no mistake; John McCain is a climate-change true believer. In the heart of a Motor City that is in the cross-hairs of car-hating Washington regulators - McCain was not shy about his determination to go green. "Greenland is the most outstanding example of what's been happening," says the senator who, in 2000, co-sponsored a fuel mileage mandate bill with Democrat John Kerry that was an early draft of the onerous regulations President Bush just signed into law last Wednesday. The bill strengthens so-called CAFź regulations that, for 30 years, have discriminated against the Big Three's product strength - big sedans and trucks - while doing nothing to limit America's dependence on foreign oil.

"In Detroit, I am convinced that a plug-in electric car would sell like hotcakes," he says. So he's determined to mandate it whether automakers see the demand or not. "The young people I meet on the campaign trail demand it," he says. "We owe it to them to leave a world worth living in." It's the honorable thing.

When asked about climatologist John Christy's recent study finding that the fuel economy mandate would have no discernable effect on global temperatures, McCain was dismissive. "With all due respect to (him)," says McCain, "we've got to do everything. We've got to do nuclear power; we've got to do hydrogen."

Well, maybe not everything. McCain admits to driving a much-less-than-35 mpg Cadillac CTS (EPA mpg: 22). His wife? A similarly thirsty Lexus. But, ever aware that his honor is at stake, McCain is quick to reassure his questioners that "my daughter, Megan, drives a (hybrid) Toyota Prius, so at least one of us is trying to make a difference. And my wife and I have moved out of our house and into an apartment and we've equipped it with solar panels."

Alas, he then admits to the sin of (ahem) owning a second home in northern Arizona. Perhaps, one day, Washington can save him the moral anguish and mandate only one home per family.


Threatened coral reefs? $cience Magazine Jumps on Global Moneywagon

Scientists like money. (It's true --- be still, my heart.) Big Science is a Big Business, supporting nearly half the budgets of our major universities. Science professors are only hired if they can swing enough Federal grant money to pay for their labs, hire a gaggle of graduate assistants, and let the universities skim up to forty percent off the top for overhead. And besides, it's nice to get fat salaries. So the professional scientist union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has ads headed AAA$. They aren't shy about it.

The trouble is that money means politics, and politics means shading the truth. As a result, we get politicized science, which corrupts real science. Any kind of Politically Incorrect science therefore becomes very hard to publish. So the cult of PC has invaded the pristine halls of science.

The past week's Science magazine is a study in the way science can be ruined. The scare cover shouts Reef TROUBLE, to support the idea that our coral reefs are dying. It's like the National Enquirer. Donald A. Kennedy is the editor of Science, with a dubious reputation from his years as president of Stanford University. Turns out that President Kennedy spent millions of Stanford research funds to rebuild his personal residence; "feathering your own nest" is more than a metaphor at Stanford. The scandal led to his resignation. Fortunately Kennedy did not end up on the bread line. He was able to jump to become editor-in-chief of the flagship journal of the AAAS, Science magazine.

Naturally, Science magazine has weekly updates on the grant wars in Washington, DC. In the last issue of Science Donald Kennedy has an editorial endorsing the Democrat candidate for president. Not exactly in so many words, but it's unmistakable. "The United States could ... mitigate carbon dioxide emissions: The root cause of global warming and the reef problem. Experience suggests that for this, we might have to await an election." (1695) This is like the union boss telling his members how to vote in a general election if they want to get more money. But global warming is a popular hypothesis, Dr. Kennedy. It's not established. You remember the difference.

No doubt Kennedy is a fire-breathing liberal. But he's also hoping for lots of global warming money from Hillary or Obama. (For a good cause, of course. Perhaps his roof needs repairs).

What new discoveries does Science magazine present to support that scare cover? The answer is: None. This week's Science has one article by Australian reef researchers, but it presents no new data. They make the claims that if the acidity of the oceans increases slightly over the next 50 to 100 years, coral reefs will be in trouble. The source? The highly politicized United Nations IPCC report, which has now been roundly criticized by many of the scientists who were involved with it. So if disaster strikes, disaster will strike. It's a perfect circular argument.

This scientific article is "supported" by a truly sloppy coral reef article by a professional writer --- not a trained scientist --- repeating the panic slogan of the moment, with a few second-hand quotes from scare mongers. This one is really embarassing. It contradicts itself and makes no sense at all. (1712)

The whole sham is based on the notion that carbon in the air has never increased before, slightly changing the acidity of the surface layers of the oceans. So this is a unique world-historic doom caused by evil human beings. But that is absurd. In 1911 a comet crashed in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia, leading to massive wildfires. Forest fires like that increase carbon in the air and the water. At other times in the last billion years, animal species have exploded in variety and biomass. Animals breathe out carbon dioxide. CO2 grows plants, which emit oxygen, which increases animal life, and so on. It's a stable symbiotic system, not a self-destroying system.

The other farcical assumption is that global temperatures are bound to increase by two degrees Celsius in the next hundred years, and that has never happened before either. That assumption is based on the 22 grossly oversimplified computer models that are constantly revised to take in new evidence to come to the same convenient conclusion. The idea that world temperatures have never increased by a mere two degrees C over a century is bizarre. Every time the world comes out of an ice age, temperatures increase by a lot more than 2 degrees.

Living things adapt to changing conditions. That is why they are still here. Coral reefs are living biosystems that emerged half a billion years ago in the Cambrian explosion of single-celled life. Single celled creatures can adapt with amazing speed --- which is why we get "superbugs" in hospitals, remember? Superbugs are bacteria that have evolved to survive antibiotics, so they are hard to wipe out. Hospitals therefore easily become centers of infection. Find a new antibiotic, pretty soon you get a new superbug.

In fact, we now know about extremophiles, organisms that thrive in extremely harsh environments, like volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean. Life is hardy, not fragile. You can't have it both ways. Either microorganisms evolve and adapt to slightly changing temperatures, or they can't. If they can adapt rapidly, the coral reefs can adjust to minor changes. Since coral organisms have been around for 500,000,000 years, it's pretty clear that they have been able to adapt quite nicely, thank you.

Experiments on the adaptability of e coli (yes, that one), show that over a decade or two, some 20,000 generations of bugs evolve to deal with a wide variety of conditions. Fruit flies have been bred continuously over fifty years under adaptive pressures, and evolve to cope.

What scientists have actually observed is changes in coral reefs. That's why they are running around like religious maniacs on street corners with signs that The End of the World is At Hand! But change is a constant in biological history. Nothing stays the same.

Nobody has a complete "census" of the coral reefs in the world, so percent changes in the estimated size of coral reefs are a wild guess. (The denominator is missing). Our current guess is that world reefs constitute about six times the area of West Virginia. There's no way we know what's happening in a vast ecosystem like that. But basic biology says that those populations of coral creatures are constantly adapting, adapting, adapting.

As science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke loves to point out, famous physicists predicted about 1900 that man would never fly. In the 1950s they confidently said that a moon landing was impossible. "Clarke's Law" states that whenever a famous scientist tells you that something is impossible, don't believe him. Chances are he's just wrong.

Humans are the fastest-learning creatures ever known. In the last hundred years we have gone from choo-choo trains to scramjets. Give us another century, and who knows what we will do? Colonize Mars? Solarize energy? Double our life span? Human history gives lots of grounds for hope, and much less for despair.

It's easy to imagine ways to fix coral reefs. For one thing, we could strip mine them if the ocean level drops, so that the top of the reefs will stay immersed in seawater. Or we can take blocks of the dead part of a reef (which is most of it), and spread them on top of the coral layer cake if the water level rises. We do that kind of thing all the time in dredging rivers and harbors. So we can keep adjust coral reefs to the heigh to sea water if that ever changes.

My real worry is --- will we ever fix politicized science? Because if we allow the search for truth to be so easily twisted by political fads, we may be in really deep doo-doo. Now there's a scary prediction.


Comment on the above by Brian Valentine []:

Nice of them not to mention the overhaul of the Yacht and the travel expenses for pets billed to Stanford. As I told someone this morning - this scare isn't looking at the big picture. Carbon dioxide has been in the atmosphere for about 4 billion years (since the Earth has had an oxidizing atmosphere, a consequence of the development of life) - And we don't see any evidence in four billion years, of carbon dioxide causing havoc? Nothing at all???? Carbon dioxide suddenly has the power to destroy Earth????

See also here on the Stanford embezzlement scandal.

Secular fundamentalists will ignore growing dissent and disproof

By Cal Thomas

You don't have to be religious to qualify as a fundamentalist. You can be Al Gore, the messiah figure for the global warming cult, whose followers truly believe their gospel of imminent extermination in a Noah-like flood, if we don't immediately change our carbon polluting ways.

One of the traits of a cult is its refusal to consider any evidence that might disprove the faith. And so it is doubtful the global warming cultists will be moved by 400 scientists, many of whom, according to the Washington Times, "are current or former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Gore for publicizing a climate crisis." In a report by Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, these scientists cast doubt on a "scientific consensus" that global warming caused by humans endangers the planet.

Like most cultists, the true believers struck back, not by debating science, but by charging that a small number of the scientists mentioned in the report have taken money from the petroleum industry. A spokeswoman for Al Gore said 25 or 30 of the scientists may have received funding from Exxon Mobile Corp. Exxon Mobile spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the accusation, saying, "the company is concerned about climate-change issues and does not pay scientists to bash global-warming theories."

The pro-global warming cultists enjoy a huge money advantage. Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, noted in an EPW report how much money has been spent researching and promoting climate fears and so-called solutions: "In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $50 billion (U.S.) on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one," he wrote on June 18, 2007. The $19 million spent on research that debunks the global warming faith pales in comparison.

Also included in the Republican report are comments by Dutch atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes: "I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting - a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the IPCC number - entirely without merit. I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the report debunks Mr. Gore's claim that the "debate is over." In fact, the debate hasn't even begun because the global warming cultists won't debate. Despite numerous challenges, Al Gore has refused to debate the issue with any credible scientist who is a skeptic.

Shouldn't the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize be willing to debate such an important issue? What does he have to fear? If his theory cannot stand up to scientific inquiry and skepticism, it needs to be exposed as a false religion and himself as a false prophet before he and his followers force us to change the way we live and alter the prosperous society that generations of Americans have built.

Gore and his disciples will still be living in their big houses, driving gas-guzzling cars and flying in private jets that leave carbon footprints as large as Bigfoot's, while most of us will be forced to drive tiny automobiles and live in huts resembling the Third World. But hypocrisy is just one of many traits displayed by secular fundamentalists like Gore.

Before adopting any faith, the agendas of the people attempting to impose it, along with the beliefs held by them and their disciples, should be considered. Gore and company are big government liberals who think government is the answer to all of our problems, including problems they create. In fact, as Ronald Reagan often said, in too many cases government is the problem.

The secular fundamentalists who believe in Al Gore as a prophet and global warming as a religious doctrine are being challenged by scientists and others who disbelieve and who think we ought to be spending more time on developing new technology and energy sources for the future and not preaching gloom, doom and retreat. Let them debate the issue. If they won't, we can only conclude that all they are spewing is hot air.



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


27 December, 2007

Climate reconstructions: Loehle vs Schmidt

A Warmist attack without substance. Post below lifted from Lubos Motl. See the original for links

Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate.ORG tries to criticize the recent article by Craig Loehle (PDF). Loehle's article was the first published climate reconstruction that has only used proxies that had already been independently calibrated in peer-reviewed literature. It has eliminated tree rings because they don't seem to be good temperature proxies. The main result of Loehle's paper was that the Medieval Warm Period did exist, after all. Gavin Schmidt correctly lists five important issues that a good reconstruction must properly address:

1. Dating: correct chronology for your proxies is essential and its accuracy of the "age" must be sufficient to answer your questions

2. Fidelity: the assumed relationship between temperature and your proxy should be pretty much time-independent; temperature must be the main thing that influences your proxies

3. Calibration: the coefficient between the changes of the proxy and the changes of temperature must be correctly determined

4. Compositing: when you study global mean temperature, local data must be properly combined to be representative of the globe

5. Validation: you must check that your method works by comparing some of its results with another method that has already been established

As far as I can say, Gavin Schmidt learned these principles from McKitrick & McIntyre and other independent climate experts because they have been carefully checking these things in the context of older climate reconstructions such as the infamous Mann et al. hockey-stick reconstructions for quite some time. If you remember Richard Feynman's "Cargo Cult Science", he talked about the sloppy experiments with the rats running through labyrinths. Now, a guy called Young actually made some careful experiments and found the rules that one must respect in order to find anything about the rats. Young's work was ignored by the rat pseudoscientific establishment in the 1930s. Needless to say, the generic rat scientists play the same role as Mann et al., Young is McIntyre, and the issues one must be careful about are mentioned above.Unfortunately, Gavin Schmidt didn't learn these rules too well.

For example, his very first sentence says:

Many people hold the mistaken belief that reconstructions of past climate are the sole evidence for current and future climate change.

His suggestion that climate reconstructions may be completely avoided is, of course, untrue because of the point "5. Validation". The very existence of climate change is a tautology and you don't need any special methods to say that climate is changing and will be changing. But if you want to say anything beyond this tautology - how much it will change and what factors may influence it - you can't live without climate reconstructions.

It is because every theory or model in science must be validated and the validation must ultimately involve a comparison to reality. If a theory predicts how the temperature will change at the centennial scale, it is simply inevitable to have some data about the centennial changes of the temperature. Because of the arrow of time ;-), we can only have such data from the past.In order to figure out whether the 20th century warming was outside the natural variability, you may create a lot of theories but you won't know whether the theories are true until you will compare their description of the past climate with the corresponding information extracted from the history of Earth. Think about it: it simply can't work otherwise, especially because we know that the mostly unknown natural causes are stronger than the man-made causes, at least for 30-year-long periods (recall the 1945-1975 cooling).

Now, I am the last one who would think that it is essential to know whether the year 1005 was warmer than 2005. These are two warm years and which of them was warmer is pretty much a matter of chance. If 2005 were warmer than 1005, it is still far from a reason to panic. On the other hand, if we can show that 1005 were warmer or 1005 and 2005 were very close, it shows that the recent temperatures are not unprecedented. At any rate, it would be foolish to build global policies on a random question whether 1005 was warmer than 2005. On the other hand, you can't throw away all the data from the centennial paleoclimate reconstructions because they are the only source that tells you which effects actually matter in reality at this timescale.

Gavin's criticism

It is a standard policy at RealClimate.ORG that the authors of the articles don't offer the criticized article itself to their undemanding readers. Gavin's recent text is an exception - a link to Loehle's paper was later added to Gavin's article but it is still difficult to find it. What's important for the readers is not to learn something or compare arguments for various statements and their robustness. Instead, what they expect is their daily prayer, Oh the global warming, you're so great and holy, and oh the climate skeptics and the climate traitors, they are oh so evil. Gavin Schmidt and others are optimized to write this cheap crap for this kind of people.

Gavin tries to indicate that Loehle makes errors in all the five issues mentioned at the beginning. Unfortunately, his criticism is extremely vague and in the cases when it is not vague and where I could try to check his statements, they seem to be demonstrably wrong. So for example, we learn that Craig Loehle has confused the symbols "BP" and "BP (2000)". The former symbol means "before the year 1950" while the latter means "before the year 2000". I don't see any trustworthy evidence for this accusation by Gavin. If you go to the first sentence and download the PDF file with Loehle's paper, you may check that the paper doesn't use any of these "BP" symbols at all. This symbol should only be used for very long timescales, not timescales comparable to centuries, anyway. Moreover, Craig Loehle has thanked the very same Eric Swanson for finding dating errors as Gavin Schmidt. I just find it unlikely that Loehle's paper contains these well-defined dating errors that Gavin could find so easily but express so vaguely.

Some of the other statements by Gavin seem even more obviously incorrect. For example, Schmidt writes that the proxy Loehle #12 is also off by 50 years (???) but this proxy shouldn't have appeared at all because it only starts in the year 1440. If you actually look what the proxy is, it is from the paper Calvo, Grimalt, Jansen (2002). Click at the link and read at least the abstract. You will see that these authors don't go 550 years into the past but as much as 8,500 years into the past. This is what some of the cores from the seas are normally used for.

As far as I can say, what Schmidt writes is a downright lie and he relies on the assumption that no one will be searching for the actual papers and check his statements. Preventively, he didn't link to the paper by Calvo et al. either. OK, maybe it wasn't a lie. Maybe he just "confused" Calvo et al. (2002) with Zhao et al. (2000): it is indeed an analysis of sea cores that covers the interval 1440-1940. However, Zhao et al. (2000) was not used by Loehle (2007). At any rate, Gavin's criticism is wrong.

There might be some legitimate criticism in Gavin's text but I couldn't find any. The comparison of Gavin Schmidt and Steve McIntyre as "auditors" couldn't be more startling. While McIntyre always analyzes the finest detail of the reconstructions, he reruns all relevant programs (and does some reverse engineering when necessary), Schmidt builds on superficial, Woit-like defamations and pseudocriticism that he often makes up in which he doesn't even link to the relevant papers or sources because he probably knows himself that what he writes is not true and it only designed to manipulate with gullible readers.

If you realize that charlatans such as Gavin Schmidt are paid for their work while Steve McIntyre must work as an outsider, the state of affairs in the present climate science seems sad, indeed.

Inhofe staying on

Sen. Jim Inhofe never even considered retiring after his current term ends in early 2009. Though he'll be 74 then and a 22-year veteran of Washington, he said that he isn't close to running out of gas and that his seniority gives Oklahoma influence that it wouldn't have with a new senator.....

At least one prominent outside group is ready to take him on - the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization that is active in congressional elections. The group named Inhofe to its "Dirty Dozen" this year and may commit resources to try to defeat him. Inhofe, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the former chairman of that panel, has become enemy No. 1 for many groups because of his stance on global warming, which he once called "a hoax."

Inhofe has spent hours on the floor of the Senate, on radio and television programs and in speeches across the country seeking to persuade people that human-caused climate change is a myth. There is no more outspoken skeptic on the topic than Inhofe, and he has vowed to block any legislation - including one that just cleared his committee - that would impose controls on carbon emissions. He says the bill would have no real impact on worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and would burden the poor with higher energy costs.

Inhofe has been vilified by those who contend climate change poses major risks for humanity and ridiculed for his discourteous treatment of former Vice President Al Gore at a committee hearing on the subject.

None of what he calls the "demonization" of him bothers him, because Inhofe feels he's doing "the right thing." Inhofe readily conceded that he'll never be universally liked. His approval numbers even in Oklahoma, where he has won House and Senate races since 1986, are typically low compared to his colleagues. "My numbers will never be good," he said. "I know that."

Inhofe said he decided five years ago that he would raise questions about the global warming issue as it was generating an increasing amount of media attention but, according to him, not enough scrutiny. He cited the old expression that "character is doing the right thing when no one is looking." "Well, political character is doing the right thing when you know you can't explain it to the public," he said. "People are too busy to do their own research, so they have to rely on a biased media."

More here

Is global warming just the latest Salem witch hunt?

"The advent of a new ice age, scientists say, appears to be guaranteed. The devastation will be astonishing." - Gregg Easterbrook in Newsweek, Nov. 23, 1992

Global warming skeptics look on in wonder and amazement at the daily barrage of environmental doom and gloom featured in these pages and elsewhere. How is it possible that so many people - journalists, scientists and politicians alike - could be so gullible? History and sociology may prove instructive.

In 1691, a phenomenon sociologists call a "collective delusion" swept the enclave of Salem Village, Mass. As a consequence of social paranoia, hundreds of people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and perhaps two dozen lost their lives. Of course, we enlightened moderns would never succumb to superstition and mass hysteria.

Or would we? According to sociologists Robert Bartholomew and Erich Goode, collective delusions have taken place with surprising frequency, and the phenomenon's long and shameful history includes several episodes from the recent past. A relic of the Dark Ages it is not. In fact, global warming could be described as a collective delusion, a modern equivalent to the Salem witch hunt.

Bartholomew and Goode write that collective delusions are "typified as the spontaneous, rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population at large, temporarily affecting a particular region, culture, or country." Several factors "contribute to the formation and spread of collective delusions." Among them, "mass media, rumors, the social and political context, and reinforcing actions" by "institutions of social control." Collective delusions are also distinguished "by the redefinition of mundane objects, events, and circumstances." Sound familiar?

Consider a few recent examples. In October, Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times (and mouthpiece of the liberal elite), suggested that we "may have introduced enough of man's economic activities - enough CO2 emissions - into Mother Nature's operating system that we cannot determine anymore where she stopped and we started." Man is partly to blame, Friedman suggests, for Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires.

Unfortunately for Friedman and the doomsayers, there is no correlation between greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures. As Christopher Horner writes in the "Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming," "Sometimes a GHG rise has preceded a temperature rise, and sometimes vice versa. Sometimes they move in opposite directions." Worse, he writes that nature "produces 97 percent of greenhouse gasses currently in our atmosphere by volume."

Contrary to near-daily claims in the media, there is no "consensus" on global warming. Hurricane expert William Gray recently gave a speech at UNC-Charlotte and pointed out that there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, but only 83 from 1957 to 2006. The inconvenient truth is that the latter period, in which fewer hurricanes developed, was warmer. Furthermore, the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history struck Galveston, Texas over a century ago - well before man's "greenhouse gasses" provoked tranquil Mother Nature.

According to Dr. Gray, man is not responsible for the warming of the planet, but "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie and being fed all this. It's ridiculous." We will "look back in 10 or 15 years," Gray said, "and realize how foolish it was." Indeed. Rather like those who emerge from a collective delusion.

Readers in September were accosted by an alarming headline in these pages: "Thin ice dooms most polar bears, scientists predict." The breathless lead paragraph informed us that "two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be killed off by 2050 because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic."

Evidently Canada's polar bear population did not get the memo from The Associated Press. Canadian polar bear biologist Mitchell Taylor reports that, "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, eleven are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

And, about that "warming" in the Arctic. To begin with, many hysterical assertions have been based on information from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the participants of which chose to expand the "Arctic Circle" some 450 miles in every direction. Worse, scientists involved in the ACIA chose as their baseline the year 1966, which features the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the Arctic. Even modest warming would seem cataclysmic by comparison.

A U.N. report released last month concludes that First World nations "must immediately help fight global warming or the world will face catastrophic floods, droughts and other disasters." Said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "I believe we are on the verge of a catastrophe if we do not act." According to sociologists Bartholomew and Goode, mobilization transforms mere collective delusion into panic. Welcome back to Salem Village.


British diplomat gets a pounding

Taking the steps needed to combat global warming would also boost the economy, improve air quality and ensure cleaner water, a British official told state lawmakers at a hearing on climate change.

But one legislator challenged the international scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to warming the world and implied that the globe might not be heating up, something conceded even by many skeptics of man-made climate change..... Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, questioned the scientific consensus that the Earth is warming. He pointed out that most scientists in Christopher Columbus' day believed the Earth was flat and that a squadron of fighter planes lost over Greenland in 1942 was found in the 1990s under 250 feet of ice, even as the world was reportedly getting warmer.

Seabaugh said he believed the theory of man-made climate change was being pushed by industries that could benefit financially. "That is the reason why I remain highly skeptical of the hysteria over global warming," he said.

Rickerd later disputed Seabaugh's characterization. "It isn't hysteria," he said. "It isn't a bandwagon." The British envoy said while some areas of the world have cooled, the average global temperature is rising.

In a separate presentation, self-proclaimed global warming skeptic Harold Brown, an agricultural scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, said many were worried about "global cooling" as recently as the 1970s. He also said some of the direst effects of a warming world, such as an increase in the number of deaths because of heat-related illnesses, might not be as bad as some feared, even if climate change were to continue.

"Global warming is a wonderful environmental disease," he said sarcastically. "It has a thousand symptoms and a thousand cures and it has tens of thousands of practitioners with job security for decades to come unless the press and public opinion get tired of it."

Environmental groups, meanwhile, said lawmakers needed to quit rehashing a debate about climate change that green organizations consider settled.

More here

Global warming: Earth cooled 0.05 degrees C in the last 10 years

Post below lifted from Bruno De Wolf. See the original for links

Talking about global warming is all in today, but talking about actual numbers seems be a lot less... We all agree that temperatures rose around 0.75ÝC in the 20th century. And since the official IPCC numbers warn us about a projected warming between 1.4 to 5.8ÝC in the 21st century, it might be a good idea to have a look how well the earth is doing in the last 10 years. After all, we're nearing the end of 2007 so the 21st century is already well on it's way.

In order to achieve just that, I took the RSS data (here) and executed a simple linear regression in Excel over the last 10 years, from December 1997 to November 2007 (with tools --> data analysis --> regression). Temperatures are indicated in difference between the current month and the long term avarage. For instance: a temparature of +0.2ÝC means that that month was 0.2ÝC warmer that the long term average for that month.

What do we see? The linear trend is going down with a rate of 0.05ÝC per decade. What's more, the last 8 months are situated below the trendline, so the negative trend is likely not going away in the next couple of months. The RSS data is based on satellite measurements and are fairly accurate.

Those who are talking about a 'climate catastrophe' and call for 'imminent action' should have a careful look at this graph.


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


26 December, 2007

More fun! Gore camp suggests skeptical scientists bought off

A spokeswoman for former Vice President Al Gore has suggested that scientists cited in a new Senate minority report that calls global warming worries "entirely without merit" have been bought off. The U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists - experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide - who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities.

But Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told the Washington Times that after a quick review, about 25 or 30 of the scientists cited in the report may have received funding from Exxon Mobil Corp. However, Mobil spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the claim, telling the newspaper the company is concerned about climate change reports, and doesn't pay scientists to "bash global-warming theories." "Recycling of that kind of discredited conspiracy theory is nothing more than a distraction from the real challenge facing society and the energy industry," he told the Times. "And that challenge is how are we going to provide the energy needed to support economic and social development while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."

A spokesman for Gore declined WND requests for additional comment on the issue.

"I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting - a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the IPCC number - entirely without merit," Hendrik Tennekes, a pioneer at the Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute, said in the report . "I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

"Of course I believe in global warming, and in global cooling - all part of the natural climate changes that the Earth has experienced for billions of years, caused primarily by the cyclical variations in solar output," said research physicist John W. Brosnahan, who develops remote-sensing instruments for atmospheric science for clients including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. However, he said, "I have not seen any sort of definitive, scientific link to man-made carbon dioxide as the root cause of the current global warming, only incomplete computer models that suggest that this might be the case.

"Even though these computer climate models do not properly handle a number of important factors, including the role of precipitation as a temperature regulator, they are being (mis-)used to force a political agenda upon the U.S.," he continued. "While there are any number of reasons to reduce carbon dioxide generation, to base any major fiscal policy on the role of carbon dioxide in climate change would be inappropriate and imprudent at best and potentially disastrous economic folly at the worst."

The report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP ranking member cited more than 400 prominent scientists in dozens of fields of study from more than two dozen nations around the world who voiced objections to the so-called "consensus" on "man-made global warming," the subject of Gore's award-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth."

Gore, of course, has likened skeptics of the global-warming philosophy to "flat Earth society members." As recently as Nov. 5, he said: "But when you're reporting on a story like the one you're covering today, where you have people all around the world, you don't take - you don't search out for someone who still believes the Earth is flat and give them equal time. And the reason the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the thousands of scientists who make up that group, have for almost 20 years now created a very strong scientific consensus that is as strong a consensus as you'll ever see in science, that the climate crisis is real, human beings are responsible for it."

The Senate report, however, noted the scientists who are expressing a dissatisfaction with such generalizations include experts in climatology, geology, oceanography, biology, glaciology, biogeography, meteorology, economics, chemistry, mathematics, environmental sciences, engineering, physics and paleoclimatology. "Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Price with Vice President Gore," the report said.

Besides the Nobel Gore shared over the issue of global warming, he also won an Oscar for his work on "An Inconvenient Truth," which proclaims the validity of man-made global warming and advocates urgent action.

And there probably would be many more scientists making such statements, were it not for the fear of retaliation from those aboard the global-warming-is-caused-by-SUVs bandwagon, the report said. "Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media," noted Nathan Paldor, professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He's authored almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, and said, "First, temperature changes, as well as rates of temperature changes (both increase and decrease) of magnitudes similar to that reported by IPCC to have occurred since the Industrial revolution (about 0.8C in 150 years or even 0.4C in the last 35 years) have occurred in Earth's climatic history. There's nothing special about the recent rise!"

Members of the U.S. Senate earlier had noted an e-mail from a global warming theory supporter to a critic, threatening to "destroy your career . if you produce one more editorial against climate change."

Paleoclimatologist Tim Patterson, professor in the department of Earth sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, recently converted from a believer in man-made climate change to a skeptic. Patterson noted that the notion of a "consensus" of scientists aligned with United Nations climate change advocates or former is false. "I was at the Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia in the fall and I would say that people with my opinion were probably in the majority," he said.

The report was generated after UN IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri implied there were only "about half a dozen" skeptical scientists left in the world. ....

The new study includes opinions from scientists at Harvard, NASA, NOAA, NCAR, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Danish National Space Center, U.S. Department of Energy, Princeton, the EPA, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, the University of Helsinki, Notre Dame, Stockholm University and others.

"Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double man would not perceive the temperature impact," said Russian scientist Oleg Sorochtin, of the Institute of Oceanology at the Russian Academy of Sciences. He's authored more than 300 studies, nine books and a 2006 paper titled, "The Evolution and the Prediction of Global Climate Changes on Earth."

WND earlier reported more than 500 scientists were cited by an analysis of peer-reviewed literature by the Hudson Institute as having published documentation questioning an least one facet of the global-warming agenda.


The usual desperate recourse to "ad hominem" abuse and unreferenced assertions from the Left

Alarmist likens Senate report to 'something the German Parliament would issue during WW2 to tell the people that the Holocaust is not happening'

This report sounds like something the German Parliament would issue during WW2 to tell the people that the Holocaust is not happening, and if it is the Nazis are not responsible for it.

Personally, I have no political biases regarding my views on climate change. I don't support Al Gore's view because I am a "Democrat." I support his view on climate change and that of the PEER REVIEWED scientists across this globe who are actually posting the data and connecting the dots because I have armed myself with the knowledge I need to see with my own eyes...

Senate Report On Climate Skepticism...

the very thing this report aims to stop because of course, to those in Congress an enlightened and informed citizenry is indeed the biggest threat to them.

And unlike them my wallet does not hold sway over my beliefs like it does senators by the name of Inhofe and others who do nothing but issue reports at opportune moments to coincide with their own personal petty political grudges.

The rate of ice melt in the Arctic and Greenland alone is three times faster than ever predicted. It is unprecedented. Again, unprecedented. It has been proven by PEER REVIEWED scientists (not weathermen or Senators with no scientific background) that CO2 forcings on this planet along with other gases and sources together with anthropogenic climate change are changing our relationship with this planet.

Now, we can "debate" all day until we are blue in the face but it doesn't change the reality of what this planet is becoming regardless of what you may personally believe is responsible for it.

It is as if this report is then telling the American people not to care about this planet or their responsibility as stewards to her or to try to understand what is now occurring. I suppose they also believe that air and water pollution are not caused by humans either? Poisoning our water and air thus leading to diseases is not human induced? How about poverty? How about war? We aren't responsible for that either? Water scarcity, deforestation... Who is cutting down all the trees thus exacerbating the effects of this crisis? God?

To me, this report is nothing more than a timed trashing of a man they fear the most. The one man who came out with a movie and a book [But no PEER REVIEWED studies?] that explained what is happening to our planet in a way those whom they wished to keep in the dark for their own selfish reasons understand, and they are more afraid of it hurting their financial bottomlines than anything else.

And in my view, telling people that there is "nothing to worry about" regardless of your belief when we can see otherwise just to protect your wallet and political standing and assuage your political grudges is not only morally bankrupt, it is criminal.

But where is the outrage? Where are all the Gore supporters on other sites who claim to "support" him in refuting this garbage? Where are all those who signed his Capitol Hill letter last March, and his petition to Bali? This is exactly the time we need a palpable response to show the world that we do care and will not fall for the false choices.

We sat by and allowed them to take our Democracy from us...are we going to sit and allow them to take our planet too?


Greenland prior eras as warm or warmer than today

I was forwarded a slide show presentation done by Thomas Lowell et al of the University of Cincinnati titled: Organic Remains from the Istorvet Ice Cap, Liverpool Land, East Greenland: A Record of Late Holocene Climate Change. It was presented last week at AGU's Greenland Climate Change Past and Present session. It has some very interesting data in it. In summary it has a report on occurrence of subfossil organic remains, with organics recovered in locations presently void of plant growth.

The preliminary conclusion from the data collected in the field work is that presently the small ice caps at high latitudes in Greenland are retracting to locations where they were at 1000 years ago. The presence of subfossil vegetation was found within 280 vertical meters of ice cap summit and where comparable modern assemblages do not exist. The implication seems to be that there were warmer periods in these areas prior to today, warm enough for plant growth. According to the study, the organic material in Liverpool Land radiocarbon dates from 400 to 1015 AD. It is interesting to note that the Vikings settled in Greenland around 974 AD and the study indicates that ice cap expansion began around 1015 AD.

While the UC team that did the field work still has more work to do to reconstruct temperatures from this data, the study lends support to the idea that Greenland's climate was warmer approximately 1000 years ago. One of the organic samples recovered at another location was dated to 910BC. This makes one wonder just how often shifts in Greenland's climate occurs. More study is needed, but this is certainly interesting.


Environmental Policy: More Science and Less Religion Please

Environmental policy must be based on the good science and not emotion

In Brief:

Environmentalists can be divided into a number of categories ranging from "conservationists" who advocate a policy of "wise use" to the "deep ecologists" who tend to "humanize" nature.

The public at large demands clear and unambiguous statements from environmental scientists while the scientists themselves are dealing with uncertainty and ever-changing information flows.

Science has been described as the "self-correcting process of discovery" which means that what is the received wisdom of today may need to be discarded or modified based on new information.

Policy makers must be aware of the flux inherent in environmental science and ensure that environmental policies must reflect the best science.
Environmentalists can be divided into many categories. There is the wise use conservation type (like me). There is the scientific ecologist. There is the committed activist, and then there is the deep ecologist. This latter group, largely, believes there is a spiritual dimension to Mother Nature. This leads to a philosophy whereby environmental policy decisions are based as much on the "rights" of the natural world as on the needs of humanity. In addition, it is often a case of symbolic acts taking the place of real and scientifically verifiable environmental outcomes. For example, most urban recycling programs have failed utterly, especially when attempting to recycle low value and environmentally benign products such as glass. Of course, when those of us with a scientific bent are mildly critical of such wasteful programs, the charge of "Don't you care??!!" is flung back at us in an orgy of political correctness. Actually, I do care. So much so that I demand real environmental results for real environmental expenditures.

The eminent physicist Freeman Dyson wrote a paper titled "Heretical Thoughts about Science and Society" where he makes an eloquent case for a proper understanding of the uncertainties of science. He takes aim at the often uncritical public acceptance of any statement made by any scientist no matter that he or she may be making statements outside his or her field of expertise, or that the field is a hotbed of controversy. A Scientist said it, so it must be true. But, as Dyson so eloquently explains: "The politicians and the public expect science to provide answers to the problems. Scientific experts are paid and encouraged to provide answers. The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, `Sorry, but we don't know.' The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities."

One of the best definitions of science I have come across states, "Science is the self-correcting process of discovery." Science is a process that lurches toward truth, backtracking from time to time, going sideways, standing still but is rarely, if ever, static. While the outcome is often in doubt, the process of evidence-based conclusions must be immutable.

The field of environmental science is suffering from growing pains as an energized public, demanding that governments "do something, anything about the environment," collides with the growing realization that we do not yet have all the answers, and what appears as a truth today may be on tomorrow's ash heap of failed hypotheses.

We are all familiar with the notion of climate change, and we have been told repeatedly that the science is settled. Well, as Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over till it's over." And to prove Berra right, along came Steve McIntyre, a Canadian scientist and co-author, with Ross McKitrick, of the climate book, Taken by Storm. McIntyre, in the best scientific tradition, decided to do the math regarding the assumptions and calculations that went into the famous these are the hottest years in history hypothesis. The earlier NASA calculations concluded that 1998 was the hottest year on record, but McIntyre's corrected calculations show that 1934 was the hottest. It must be noted that NASA accepted McIntyre's numbers and issued a correction, although with no fanfare.

While this may seem like a bit of scientific trivia, policymakers are basing many decisions on the incorrect assumption that we are living in the hottest time in history. Of course, measuring past temperature trends on Earth is relatively simple, but one needs only to imagine the uncertainty that must exist when we try to predict the Earth's climate trends over the next 100 years.

I am reminded of a 1967 must-read paper by environmental scientist Paul Ehrlich titled "Paying the Piper." The paper concludes quite definitively that "the battle to feed humanity is over" and that "sometime between 1970 and 1985 the world will undergo vast famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."

It obviously did not happen and during that time, food production actually rose dramatically. Any people who are starving today are in that predicament due to bad governments and corruption and certainly not a lack of food. Ehrlich was dead wrong.

There is no sin in being wrong; the only sin is when mistakes are not corrected based on new evidence. Or as one wag [Lord Keynes] put it, "When I'm presented with new information I change my mind; what do you do?"



The EU's controversial plans to force car makers to make greener cars from 2012 or face fines have caused strong division within the European Commission itself, with industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen said to have boycotted the press conference to announce the proposals on Wednesday (19 December). Under the plans, cars should emit an average of 130 grammes of carbon dioxide in four years time or be subject to fines rising to _95 per gramme over the limit in 2015.

Practically it is expected to mean that big gas-guzzling cars will become more expensive while smaller more efficient cars will be relatively cheaper. Subject to intense lobbying and causing unusually deep divisions in the commission, the proposals have been worked on jointly by officials in the environment and industry unit of the Brussels executive since early this year. But only environment commissioner Stavros Dimas presented them on Wednesday although his industry colleague was scheduled to take part as well.

According to Spiegel Online, Mr Verheugen, who comes from Germany where powerful car manufacturers such as BMW say they will be most adversely affected by the plans, deliberately chose not to take part in the announcement.

Meanwhile, transport commissioner Jacques Barrot (French) and Justice commissioner Franco Frattini (Italian) also rejected the blueprint. Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is reportedly standing behind Mr Dimas who presented the outline on behalf of the whole commission yesterday.

Germany has already strongly criticised the plans with chancellor Angela Merkel saying "I believe this is industrial policy at the expense of German auto producers." "We are not satisfied," the chancellor said, with her economy minister Michael Glos even accusing the commission of staging a "war of destruction" against German car-makers.

FT Deutschland reports German centre-right MEPs are also threatening not to support Mr Barroso in his likely bid for a second term as head of the commission from 2009. "The question of whether Barroso is taking into account the legitimate interests of the German industry will help decide whether we back him for a second term in office," Christian Democrat MEP Werner Langen, told the paper. The German MEP threat is being presented as a counterpoint to French president Nicolas Sarkozy who has being lobbying the commission president for proposals that would favour small car makers such as Peugeot.



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


25 December, 2007

It's an Al Gore Christmas: Congress hands out energy-loan guarantees

As is so often the case, close to Christmas, Congress this week skipped the formality of authorizing and appropriating separate spending bills and instead passed a monster omnibus spending bill. This year, however, there was one major difference: Congress approved a spending package that will effectively make the U.S. Treasury the bank of first resort for virtually any large commercial energy project that can claim to be "innovative" and "clean."

How? By granting nearly $38.5 billion in guaranteed federal loans for a variety of energy projects that no private bank would touch with a ten-foot pole (under the "Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, described here, page 121) . Mind you, none of these efforts have anything to do with research and development. Instead, they are commercial ventures using technology that has already been proven but that are too uneconomic to secure private backing

What kind of projects are we talking about? Nuclear reactors, plants so expensive to build - Moody's estimates between at least $5 and $6 billion dollars each - that no private bank is willing to use their own money to finance them for fear that the operator will go bankrupt simply trying to pay the interest on the loan.. These plants are slated to get $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. Clean coal plant construction and conversion, meanwhile got $6 billion. Converting coal into fuels for trucks and cars, which could go bust if oil prices decline, is slated to get $2 billion in guaranteed loans and renewables, improved energy-efficiency projects, and distributed energy programs got another $10 billion collectively. Finally, another $2 billion went to the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) to finance a Department of Energy designed uranium-enrichment centrifuge plant that is so risky USEC was unable to get any private bank to back it.

What's the problem with guaranteeing such large loans to these commercial projects? First, the last time our government did this, during the Carter years, it picked a series of turkeys. Ten of the 14 coal gasification and ethanol projects it backed went bust. And one - the synfuels project - produced nothing and left U.S. taxpayers with a $13 billion hole in their pockets. Count on history rhyming. As the inspector general of the Department of Energy pointed out in his evaluation of the loan-guarantee program "This [program] will result in significant risk to the Government and, therefore the American Taxpayer." The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the odds of default on the proposed federal loans to be 50 percent.

Second, this is precisely the kind of corporate give away that would make Ronald Reagan turn over in his grave. He had the good sense to kill the synfuels project as a matter of principle: Government, he insisted, should not be in the business of backing commercialization projects. Research and development might make sense for the federal government to pursue if only because state-run utility commissions will not allow most utilities to invest much in such activities. But getting the government into picking commercial winners or losers is almost always bad business. When government picks a loser (and with the Department of Energy, it's a frequent occurrence), nobody pays or goes bankrupt but the U.S. taxpayer and then only after the government has kept the project alive years beyond when it should have been terminated.

More here

Comments On The Weblog By Andrew C. Revkin Entitled "Climate Consensus `Busted'?"

There is a weblog on the New York Times weblog Dot Earth on December 20, 2007 by Andrew C. Revkin entitled "Climate Consensus `Busted'?". Mr Revkin is a talented reporter, however, he clearly suspends his capabilities when he writes
"In science, what is more important than any individual study or collection of papers (particularly if assembled by someone with an agenda), is the trajectory of understanding. This is particularly true with a problem like the human-amplified greenhouse effect. Not only is it multidisciplinary; it is also not testable through experiments (we're all in the test tube undergoing a one-time experiment).

On the basics, the trajectory of understanding is clear and has been building for more than 100 years: more carbon dioxide (and other heat-trapping gases) = warmer world = less ice = higher seas (and lots of shifting climate patterns). A solid review can be found in the online hypertext edition of "The Discovery of Global Warming," a book by Spencer Weart of the American Institute of Physics.

At the same time, there are at least two areas of persistent, and legitimate, scientific debate left - more than enough to produce lists as long as the one published today by Senator Inhofe.

First, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the extent and pace of warming from a particular rise in concentrations of greenhouse gases, and about how fast and far seas will rise as a result. (It's important to keep in mind that uncertainty could result in outcomes being much worse than the midrange outcome, or much less severe). "
In making the claim that
"On the basics, the trajectory of understanding is clear."
he ignores a large number of studies without the appropriate investigation of the merits of that research. As a very clear example, he ignored the findings of the book

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

He has never reported on a key finding in the National Research Council report (on page 4) where it was concluded that
"..the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change-global mean surface temperature response-while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing."
Moreover, Mr. Revkin's statement that
".. with a problem like the human-amplified greenhouse effect. Not only is it multidisciplinary; it is also not testable through experiments (we're all in the test tube undergoing a one-time experiment)"
shows a lack of understanding of the scientific method! If a hypothesis is not testable, it is not science! [actually, despite his claim, the multi-decadal global model projections, which are hypotheses, are testable, as discussed on Climate Science (e.g. see). There are numerous other examples on Climate Science which refutes the claim of Mr. Revkin that the science is settled (e.g. see our summary of papers in the book Human Impacts on Weather and Climate).

Unless he broadens his reporting on the role of humans in the climate system, readers should interpret his contributions in the New York Times as the biased presentation of climate science by an advocate who, by his incorrect reporting on the understanding of climate science, is limiting the consideration of policy actions which would most effectively deal with climate variability and change, energy, and other environmental and social issues. With his abilities as a writer and his wide influence, it is unfortunate that he has chosen to erroneously limit the information to the public and policymakers.



RSS MSU satellite data for the lower troposphere show that November 2007 was the coldest month since January 2000. Other major teams that measure the global mean temperature have not yet published their November data.

The temperature anomaly was -0.014 oC. It means that the whole month was actually cooler than the the average recorded November. It was the first month in this century that was cooler than average.

The previous record low temperature anomaly in this century occurred in July 2004 when the anomaly was +0.053 oC. In other words, the record low for this century was improved by 0.07 oC. The continuing La Nina is the main reason behind the recent cold months; La Nina is expected to disappear in Spring 2008. January 2000, a month that was even cooler than November 2007, witnessed a La Nina, too. November 2007 was also a whopping 0.915 oC colder than April 1998.

Another reason could be an inactive Sun. We are expecting the solar cycle 24 to begin soon but it takes a longer time than expected and there are still almost no sun spots. Via a crucial mechanism, it means that we should be getting more galactic cosmic rays that should create more clouds.

The year 2007 is now very likely to become RSS MSU's 9th warmest year on record which really means one of the coldest years of our times. It will end up colder than all other years in the 21st century so far as well as 1998 (by 0.4 oC) and 1995. We explained that 2006 was very cold but 2007 will be shown as 0.1 oC colder.

This extraordinarily cold conclusion of RSS MSU occurs partly (but certainly not completely) because RSS MSU omits the polar regions north of 82.5oN and south of 70.0oS latitude. The former region that occupies less than 0.5% of the surface of Earth was recently getting substantially warmer.

Other teams (HadCRUT3, UAH MSU) except for GISS will also report 2007 to be between the 6th and 9th warmest year. Dr James Hansen's GISS deviates substantially - it may even announce that 2007 was the warmest year - and their method to measure temperature based on stations is probably dominated by urban heat islands and the results are most likely complete rubbish.


God, I miss the Soviets

Post below lifted from Protein Wisdom. See the original for links

One thing about growing up during the Cold War, other than duck-and-cover drills, was having few illusions about the enemy, due in no small part their own honesty in declaring themselves as such. When Hollywood gave the villain a Russian accent, no Council on American-Soviet Relations was threatening lawsuits or boycotts.

The collapse of the USSR and the humiliation of communism in the face of liberty and capitalism didn't mean all those Marxist True Believers and camp followers gave up. It just meant they decided to pursue their interests in a different venue. Though, they seem to find being circumspect no longer necessary
The media obsession has been on the efforts of delegates at the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conference to craft an agreement for a climate treaty that would take effect after the Kyoto Treaty expires in 2011. [.]

A day earlier, however, a panel at the IPCC conference titled "A Global CO2 Tax" took a step that will have a more lasting impact than an empty agreement. It urged the U.N. to adopt taxes on carbon dioxide emissions that would be "legally binding to all nations."

And guess who would be hit the hardest? That's right, the tax, if levied, would put an especially high burden on the U.S. "Finally, someone will pay for these costs" related to global warming, Othmar Schwank, a global warming busybody from Switzerland, told Sen. James Inhofe's office. [.]

The driving force of the environmental movement is not a cleaner planet - or a world that doesn't get too hot, in the case of the global warming issue - but a leftist, egalitarian urge to redistribute wealth. A CO2 tax does this and more, choking economic growth in the U.S. and punishing Americans for being the voracious consumers that we are.

Eco-activists have been so successful in distracting the public from their real intentions that they're becoming less guarded in discussing their ultimate goal. "A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources," Emma Brindal, a "climate justice campaign coordinator" for Friends of the Earth Australia, wrote Wednesday on the Climate Action Network's blog.
We could easily dismiss li'l Miss Emma as a retread of the Castro/Che groupies of years gone by - emotionally invested in showing their solidarity with the exotic Other. Then there's Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute, who makes no bones about controlling people's lives

Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute, says carbon rationing is the only way to ensure that the world avoids the worst effects of climate change. And he says that the problems caused by burning fossil fuels are so serious that governments might have to implement rationing against the will of the people.

"When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it," he says. "This has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not."
Scrape away some of the high-flown rhetoric of the acolytes of the Church of Anthropogenic Global warming and it is easy to see a coterie of fashionistas, retooled Marxists, doe-eyed relativists, unrepetant misanthropes and pragmatic authoritarians. Some wax poetically of "food sovereignty" and others are quite blatant in their hatred of modernity
Ultimately, the world's population must be reduced - by 5.9 billion. But the 100million left, devoid of cars, planes, heaters and fertilisers will be a much smaller burden on the planet. What a happy place it will be!
The "Greens" are no more interested in clean air and water today than the Soviets were in liberty when they rolled tanks into Prague in 1968. We dismiss them as "silly" at our own peril.

Leave Those Car Buyers Alone

Last week, environmentalists and the auto industry struck a deal to require new cars sold 13 years hence to average 35 miles per gallon; a 40-percent increase over the existing 27.5 mpg mandate. Hands were held, tears were shed, and "Kum-ba-ya" broke out all over Washington. As the president prepares to sign the energy bill passed yesterday by the House, Congress's 32-year-old fight over automotive fuel-economy standards is probably over ... for now. That's too bad, because while there are a number of parties claiming victory from this political peace treaty, consumers will almost certainly be the biggest losers.

Of the 1,153 passenger vehicle models on the road today, only two presently meet the proposed 35 mpg standard. According to a quick review of EPA data undertaken by Marlo Lewis at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, those cars are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic hybrid. Nine other vehicles, Lewis reports, get 35 mpg in city or highway driving conditions, but not both - and all of those vehicles are either subcompacts or compacts. Hence, the auto fleet is going to have to change - and change a lot - for new cars to average 35 mpg by 2020.

The industry has three routes it can go. First, it can lighten cars and thus improve mileage. Second, it can reengineer cars by reducing engine power and incorporating advanced technology to improve fuel efficiency. Third, it can simply stop making low-mileage cars and trucks or, alternatively, increase their prices so much that a substantial number of consumers opt for the fuel-efficient alternatives. Of course, mixing and matching is not only possible, but probable.

None of those options, however, represent a Christmas gift to car buyers. Reducing vehicle weight is the cheapest way to improve fuel efficiency, but that would increase highway deaths, just as it has done in the past according to a 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences. Reengineering cars will reduce automotive performance in ways that car-buyers probably won't like while increasing automotive prices by as much as $3,500 a car according to the same NAS study. Cross-subsidies might be the most direct way to meet the standard, but that represents a rather steep tax on people with large families, big dogs, and those who for whatever reason need to haul around a lot of stuff - not to mention those who simply have a preference for zippy sports cars or riding high off the road.

So how does that square with claim that consumers win with more fuel-efficient cars? Well, if all other things were equal, they would. But all other things are not equal, and fuel-efficiency improvements involve trade-offs that consumers are demonstrably not wild about making. If they were, we wouldn't need a CAF_ law in the first place. The fleet would average 35 mpg now.

So why are we so determined to overrule consumer preferences? Three rationales are commonly offered.

First, we're sometimes told that consumers want super fuel-efficient cars but automakers stubbornly refuse to make them. But automakers and venture capitalists who might otherwise enter the auto industry would hardly be more ignorant than the casual observers at the Sierra Club and Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office about how much money they're leaving on the table. Suffice it to say that this argument seems unlikely, which suggests that consumers are indeed getting exactly the kind of cars that they want.

Second, it's often alleged that consumers are irrationally attracted to gas guzzlers and are acting against their own self interests when they buy SUVs and minivans. But there is little evidence for that proposition. A recent survey of consumer behavior by Clemson economist Molly Espey found that consumers valued energy efficiency appropriately from an economic perspective. That is, they spent more money on engines that saved fuel when the initial cost of the engine was more than offset by the fuel savings over the lifetime of the vehicle, controlling for other attributes of the vehicle.

But that's not good enough for many critics. They don't like the fact that many consumers seem to like other attributes - such as vehicle size and acceleration - that mitigate against fuel economy.

Third, we sometimes hear that a host of market failures is responsible for fuel prices being too low, which in turn produces suboptimal interest in energy conservation. In our own study earlier this year, however, we find very little support for this proposition. But if there were good evidence for the existence of market failures, the proper remedy would be a higher fuels tax that would let consumers make their own decisions about the tradeoffs between those higher prices and consumption. Higher fuel-efficiency standards, on the other hand, will reduce the marginal cost of driving and thus exacerbate problems like traffic.

For many, however, there is no such thing as too much energy conservation, and society always gains the less we consume. But if that were true, why not just ban cars from the road altogether? Few seriously entertain that idea, because we know intuitively that some amount of fuel consumption is worthwhile no matter how we feel about oil scarcity, energy independence, or the environment. How much is the "right" amount for society to consume? The aggregated preferences of consumers facing accurate fuel prices will deliver the right answer. Interfering with those aggregated preferences is guaranteed, however, to deliver the wrong one.



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


24 December, 2007

It's not News Unless it's Reported by a Mainstream Journalist

The Leftist "Media Matters" is scandalized because Fox News reported an anti-Greenie story that was originally put on the net via a blog rather than by one of the mainstream news organizations. Fox was reporting -- HORROR -- that a group of 400 scientists have rejected the "consensus" view that the world is warming up. The scientific "consensus" on global warming has unravelled and we can't have that!

How pathetic they are. They couldn't question the truth of the story -- because it is true. The only thing to criticize that they could find was who reported the event. We must bow down to the Leftist media and let them tell us what to think, apparently. We are naughty children from whom some information must be kept hidden. They are in for a lot of disappointment from now on, I would say.

The blog concerned was run by the GOP side of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee -- which makes the squawk from Media Matters all the more absurd. How did putting the info on a blog differ from putting out a press release? I suppose the difference is that the media have the chance to ignore a press release. An important difference to be sure.


The Greenie site called "Grist" is also in mourning. Excerpt:
"One final (depressing) note: How effective is Inhofe's media outreach compared to that of the entire community of climate scientists? Well, according to technorati (PDF), as of today, Dec. 21, the IPCC Synthesis report has had 278 blog reactions since its release November 17, whereas Inhofe's "report," issued just yesterday (Thursday), has already had over 300 blog reactions."
Grist was also sad that the NYT ran the "consensus-shattering" news -- a sort of "betrayed by our own" feeling, apparently.

The only substantial point in the Grist article was what we have come to expect of the Green/Left -- attempts to discredit the personalities concerned. They said that some of the scientists were not "prominent" enough -- even though some of them were very prominent indeed.

That the Grist post was a "watermelon" (Green on the outside, red on the inside) effort was shown by its footnote: This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund

Another typically abusive Leftist response here

The "Consensus" On Global Warming Inside the IPCC Report

Post below lifted from Flopping Aces. See the original for links

With MSM reports coming out daily like "Walruses Die; Global Warming Blamed", "Global Warming "Tipping Points" Reached, Scientist Says" or my favorite "Small group of US experts insist global warming not man-made" it's little wonder many believe in the hoax known as man-made global warming. Especially in light of the new IPCC research.

Of course if you look hard enough at the IPCC you will find a particular fact thats been overlooked. There is no consensus on the man-made baloney:
An example of rampant misrepresentation of IPCC reports is the frequent assertion that `hundreds of IPCC scientists' are known to support the following statement, arguably the most important of the WG I report, namely "Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years."

In total, only 62 scientists reviewed the chapter in which this statement appears, the critical chapter 9, "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change". Of the comments received from the 62 reviewers of this critical chapter, almost 60% of them were rejected by IPCC editors. And of the 62 expert reviewers of this chapter, 55 had serious vested interest, leaving only seven expert reviewers who appear impartial.

Two of these seven were contacted by NRSP for the purposes of this article - Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand and Dr. Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, Canada. Concerning the "Greenhouse gas forcing ." statement above, Professor McKitrick explained "A categorical summary statement like this is not supported by the evidence in the IPCC WG I report. Evidence shown in the report suggests that other factors play a major role in climate change, and the specific effects expected from greenhouse gases have not been observed."

Dr. Gray labeled the WG I statement as "Typical IPCC doubletalk" asserting "The text of the IPCC report shows that this is decided by a guess from persons with a conflict of interest, not from a tested model."

Determining the level of support expressed by reviewers' comments is subjective but a slightly generous evaluation indicates that just five reviewers endorsed the crucial ninth chapter. Four had vested interests and the other made only a single comment for the entire 11-chapter report. The claim that 2,500 independent scientist reviewers agreed with this, the most important statement of the UN climate reports released this year, or any other statement in the UN climate reports, is nonsense.
So it appears that this "consensus" is really seven impartial scientists, and even one of those called the assertion by the IPCC that greenhouse gases have caused most of the global warming "doubletalk".

Now that is something the environazi's should hang their hat on. Sigh.... And then no one noticed the letter sent to Ban Ki-Moon signed by 100 scientists which said the following:
It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued increasingly alarming conclusions about the climatic influences of human-produced carbon dioxide (CO2), a non-polluting gas that is essential to plant photosynthesis. While we understand the evidence that has led them to view CO2 emissions as harmful, the IPCC's conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. In particular, it is not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions. On top of which, because attempts to cut emissions will slow development, the current UN approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it.

Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems.
No, the MSM missed that one in their zeal to help their compatriots on the left push through agendas that ultimately lead to Socialism::
"The media obsession has been on the efforts of delegates at the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conference to craft an agreement for a climate treaty that would take effect after the Kyoto Treaty expires in 2011. Though it appeared the meeting would end with no deal, the delegates looked to be near a compromise late Friday. That treaty is likely to be as effective as the useless, symbolic Kyoto protocol with which no nation has yet complied. A day earlier, however, a panel at the IPCC conference titled "A Global CO2 Tax" took a step that will have a more lasting impact than an empty agreement. It urged the U.N. to adopt taxes on carbon dioxide emissions that would be "legally binding to all nations." And guess who would be hit the hardest? That's right, the tax, if levied, would put an especially high burden on the U.S. "Finally, someone will pay for these costs" related to global warming, Othmar Schwank, a global warming busybody from Switzerland, told Sen. James Inhofe's office. We imagine Schwank, a panel participant, took great glee in saying the U.S. and other developed nations should "contribute significantly more to this global fund."
And now you see the real agenda by our environazi's......Socialism:
The driving force of the environmental movement is not a cleaner planet - or a world that doesn't get too hot, in the case of the global warming issue - but a leftist, egalitarian urge to redistribute wealth. A CO2 tax does this and more, choking economic growth in the U.S. and punishing Americans for being the voracious consumers that we are. Eco-activists have been so successful in distracting the public from their real intentions that they're becoming less guarded in discussing their ultimate goal.

"A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources," Emma Brindal, a "climate justice campaign coordinator" for Friends of the Earth Australia, wrote Wednesday on the Climate Action Network's blog."
My favorite:
"When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it," he says. "This has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not."
Long live freedom! As long as you're doing and paying what we tell you.

Al Gore: enviro-tyrant

In aspiring to `control the destiny of all generations to come', Gore has unwittingly unveiled his anti-democratic streak

As he flies around the world to tell people that they should fly less, or organises rock-star extravaganzas to tell the masses they should live more meekly, some sceptics have asked: `Who the hell does Al Gore think he is?'

Well, now we know. He seems to think he is the spokesman for the human species, the legitimate representative of every human being who has ever lived or who will ever live in the future. He thinks he and his supporters `control the destiny of all generations to come', a boast that even the worst dictators in history never dared to make. Al Gore is an enviro-tyrant with delusions of global domination.

In his speech at the climate change conference in Bali last week, Gore expressed some deeply anti-democratic views. He told an audience of 1,000, including NGOs, green campaigners and journalists, as well as UN representatives and government officials, that they should `feel a sense of exhilaration that we are the people alive at a moment in history when we can make all the difference'. He suggested the audience should not be worried about being seen as a minority, a tiny brave group that recognises the `planetary emergency' facing Earth and its inhabitants, but rather should consider it a `privilege to be alive at a moment when a relatively small group of people could control the destiny of all generations to come' (1). [Reminscent of the French revolution]

Throughout history, from the feudalistic era through the Stalinist dictatorships of the twentieth century to places like Burma and Nepal today, vast swathes of mankind have considered it a drag to be `alive at a moment' when `small groups of people' controlled theirs and others' destinies. Now we're supposed to see it as a privilege that an apparently right-minded clique, which claims to represent `the human species', would like to shape the human destiny as it sees fit.

Gore openly expressed hostility towards the democratic process. He described certain elected governments as `obstacles' to the environmentalist agenda being drawn up in Bali, and called on the `relatively small group' of eco-enlightened ones to ignore or leap over these obstacles. `My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali.' he said. `But if we look realistically at the situation that confronts us, then wisdom would call for moving forward in spite of that obstacle.' (2) Who needs to take into consideration the views of a government elected by tens of millions of Americans when you have `realism' and `wisdom' on your side?

Gore seems to believe that it is precisely the fact that he is unelected, and thus above the grubby process of winning public support and representing public interest, that makes him an honourable and fearless representative of humankind. `I am not an official of the United States and I am not bound by diplomatic niceties', he boasted. `So I am going to speak an inconvenient truth [about the planetary emergency facing humanity].' (3) Here, planetary interests, as represented by a self-styled, unelected spokesman for Mother Earth, trump the public interest, as represented by politicians who worked to win the support of millions of Americans. President George W Bush might represent the desires - yuk! - of a majority of the American people, but Gore represents something far more important: planet Earth itself, and all of the billions of human beings yet to be born. As the numerous newspaper headlines said in celebration of Gore's speech: `The world cannot wait for George Bush.' Or for his 50million supporters, presumably (4).

Gore opened his speech in Bali with the words: `We, the human species.' Nothing better sums up his megalomaniacal delusions than those four words. American governments have claimed to speak for `We, the people' (some with more right and legitimacy than others). Outside of the democratic process, tyrannical leaders have often claimed to represent `the nation' or `the masses': apparently they have some special emotional insight into what the people need and desire. But no one has ever claimed to represent the human species before.

Unlike those who merely represent a people or a nation, the self-described representatives of the human species, that `relatively small group' of privileged warriors for planetkind, have a blank cheque to do and say as they please. Legitimate representatives of the people are dependent on the people's support: they are confined and directed by the electoral process. Representatives of the nation are restricted by borders: their writ extends only to the ends of their sovereign territory. But a wannabe representative of the human species like Al Gore recognises no democratic mandate or territorial border, because he thinks he represents every human being who has ever existed, who exists now, and who will exist in the future: the species itself. Gore's mandate is timeless and borderless, and it most certainly does not require the rubber-stamping of the mass of the population, that relatively large group of people who apparently do not appreciate the urgency of today's `planetary emergency'.

For the past seven years, Gore and his supporters have claimed that he was robbed of presidential victory by the conniving Bush regime. Gore has posed as a sincere democrat whose place in the White House was stolen from him by Dubya. Yet today, Gore claims to speak for future generations (who cannot vote, on account of the fact that they aren't born yet), the planet (which has no vote, on account of the fact that it is not a sentient or rational organism), and the human species itself (a natural/biological category that falls outside of the political process). And he is cheered by the very same people who wept when Bush allegedly stole his election. It seems that when it comes to `saving the planet', you can be as undemocratic and dictatorial as you like.

Gore's off-planet fantasies about being some kind of new Timelord who speaks for the human species expose the anti-democratic strain in the politics of environmentalism. Many green-leaning leaders and spokesmen claim that the threat facing the planet is so dire that normal democratic debate and processes must be suspended in order to deal with it. Dictators of old used to impose states of emergency in order to freeze democracy; today's eco-megalomaniacs use the more PC phrase `planetary emergency' in an attempt to justify allowing small groups of people to override the `obstacle' of individual nations' democratic processes.

Where the modern democratic system has been defined by ideas of sovereign independence and territorial integrity - where a people are, at least on paper, the masters of their nation's fate - today we are told that the threat of climate change makes the institutions of sovereignty obsolete. Because pollution and CO2 emissions are, in Gore's words, `invisible' and `global', climate change activism must override borders and do away with `diplomatic niceties' (5). In the real world, the new green disregard for sovereignty has allowed powerful nations in the West to demonise India and China for daring to develop, on the extremely dodgy basis that India and China's development is poisoning us over here (6).

Modern democratic politics was also traditionally defined by time constraints. In America, presidents can only serve for four years at a time, and never for longer than eight years; in Britain the PM must submit to the electorate's interrogation and judgement every four or five years. But in the name of saving the planet, both elected officials and unelected campaigners now push through far-reaching policies to `protect future generations'. They draw up 50-year plans for tackling climate change, and demand that nations cut their emissions by 60 or 80 per cent by 2020 or 2050, without thinking about what voters in four years' time might consider to be an acceptable level of carbon output or a desirable level of industrial development (7). Democratic politics was also once driven by debate: it involved putting forward proposals, arguing the toss over them, and then deciding whether and how to act on them. Today, green-fingered officials and activists frequently argue that the threat to Gaia and her organisms (that includes us) is so great that we must ditch debate. Instead we should have `action, action, action'. As Gore says, `The debate about global warming is over' (8).

Once an individual or a campaign group can pose as the mouthpiece for the needs of the planet, there is no limit to their authority. Freed from the shackles of responsibility to an electorate, and from the time and territorial restraints of democratic politics, campaigners can make sweeping declarations about the needs of the human species and about what is good for people now and in time immemorial. `We are one people on one planet with one destiny', said Gore in Bali (9).

That sounds nice and hippyish. But it is actually an attempt to deny and undermine the stuff of politics itself: debate; disagreement; the clash of interests; heated scraps over the destiny of mankind. We don't only have `one destiny'. My desired destiny for mankind is a whole world away from Al Gore's, just as the needs and desires of people in poorer parts of Africa are different to the needs and desires of those 1,000 well-heeled people who packed the conference hall in Bali.

Airing these differences, and arguing over them, is politics itself - or it will be, once we do something about the anti-democratic, debate-phobic Al Gore and his acolytes in the environmentalist lobby.


Return of the Skeptical Environmentalist

In his new book Cool It, Bjorn Lomborg shows how `the science' on global warming - covering everything from polar bear extinction to the disappearance of Greenland - has been distorted and politicised

Climate change has dominated the political agenda throughout 2007, making previous debates about global warming look like mere water-cooler gossip....

In the midst of all this hyped-up consensus and overheated alarmism, the return of the `Skeptical Environmentalist' Bjorn Lomborg, with his new book Cool It, provides some very welcome perspective. Lomborg has little doubt that global warming is occurring, that human activities are a factor, and that all of this presents us with problems and challenges. However, he is adamant that there is no need to panic, that attempts to cut greenhouse emissions now are a costly waste of time, and that adaptation for the medium-term future, coupled with investment in research and development (R&D) for the longer term, would make for a more sensible way forward.

Beginning with the much-proclaimed demise of the polar bear and working his way through other hot topics such as heat-related deaths, sea-level rise, hurricanes and disease, Lomborg examines the specialist literature to show that many of the stories that arise in the media or that are promoted by campaigners and politicians are simply not supported by the facts.

He starts by examining the plight of the polar bear because it `encapsulates the problems with many of the other scares - once you take a look at the supporting data the narrative falls apart'. In contrast to the argument put forward by Al Gore, the World Wildlife Fund, and others - that polar bears may well become extinct due to a loss of habitat - Lomborg examines the key research that such stories rest on, conducted by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union in 2001, to uncover a very different story. According to Lomborg, what this group actually found was that of 20 distinct populations of polar bears, `one or possibly two were declining', while `more than half were known to be stable, and two subpopulations were actually increasing'. Apparently, the report also found that, thanks to the regulation of hunting, the global polar bear population has increased from about 5,000 in the 1960s to 25,000 nowadays.

Since Lomborg made this point, he has been criticised for failing to refer to a more recent 2006 report by the same group, `which showed that of 19 populations five were declining, five were stable and two were increasing; and for the remaining six there was not enough data to judge'. Lomborg apparently retorted that the latest research did not detract from his key argument that the `best way to protect polar bears was not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but to reduce hunting' (6).

Lomborg's second case study in climate change alarmism is our understanding of the 35,000 human lives lost during the European heatwave of 2003, a story that has featured prominently in the arguments of those advocating the need to curb carbon emissions right now. Lomborg agrees that a warmer world will result in an increased frequency of exceptional heat events such as the 2003 heatwave, and that therefore we are likely to see an increase in the number of `heat deaths'. But again his concern is to put this issue into perspective. As he points out, `cold spells will decrease just as much as heatwaves increase', and this is important because `cold deaths' are a bigger killer than `heat deaths'. According to Lomborg, `every year more than 200,000 people die from excess heat in Europe' compared to about 1.5million people who die from excess cold. The data suggests that any increased mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger declines in cold-related mortalities.....

Lomborg devotes several pages to a discussion of the role played by potential ice sheet collapse in order to demonstrate why the 20 feet of sea level rise posited by Al Gore in his influential film/book/roadshow combo An Inconvenient Truth is so out of kilter with most other people's thinking. Lomborg points out that `IPCC estimates that the very worst additional increase to be expected from Greenland could be 20cm over the century', and that to achieve the scale or sea level rise discussed by Gore would require figures `40 times higher than the absolutely highest model estimate and an astounding 174 times higher that [sic] the average'.

Lomborg also notes that the IPCC expects that with sufficient warming, `a rather, but not unrealistically, high temperature increase globally of 3.1 degrees Celsius', Greenland's ice will disappear. However, given that this temperature increase would not be reached until around 2100, and that it would need to be sustained for `many, many centuries' for Greenland's ice to start disappearing, Lomborg argues that this seems unrealistic because we will by then already be in the twenty-second century and will therefore have developed CO2 alternatives.

Given the heaps of headlines that we have been treated to about major cities being submerged in floods of biblical proportions, with scant if any mention of the huge timescales in question even for this theoretical possibility to occur, I know who I think provides a fairer overview of `the science'.

Essentially, Lomborg's argument is that, on the basis of our current understanding of climate systems and the role played by CO2, we will eventually have to cut CO2 emissions significantly. Right now, however, is a bad time to be worrying about it because the harmful effects of climate change in the medium-term future are manageable, and can be managed far more cheaply than can the massive cuts in CO2 that would be required to avoid those effects.

So according to Lomborg, we could get all the world's current energy from solar cells taking up space equivalent to 2.6 per cent of the area of the Sahara - the reason we don't is because `it would be horrendously costly'. Based on the fact that solar energy has come down in price by about 50 per cent per decade over the past 30 years, Lomborg estimates: `Even at a much slower pace, it will probably become competitive before mid-century for many uses, and before the end of the century for most uses.' He points out that this is only one such opportunity, and proposes that all nations should commit themselves to spending 0.05 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in R&D on non-carbon emitting energy technologies as a long-term approach to tackling global warming.

In Cool It's penultimate chapter, `The Politics of Global Warming', Lomborg discusses how the science of climate change is becoming politicised. He argues that when the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, argues for dramatic CO2 cuts, the IPCC scientists `effectively become agenda-driven advocates', who misuse `their standing as scientists to pursue a political agenda' which will eventually undermine the credibility of the scientific discipline....

Lomborg notes that some climate scientists have become concerned about this process. Most notably he cites Mike Hulme, the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, who spoke out against the use of the language of catastrophe, tipping points and points of no return. Writing for the BBC in November 2006, Hulme asked: `Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions?'

Hulme also argued that `the discourse of catastrophe is a political and rhetorical device to change the frame of reference for the emerging negotiations around what happens when the Kyoto Protocol runs out after 2012'. He remarked that the UK government-sponsored conference of February 2005, titled `Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change', `served the government's purposes of softening-up the G8 Gleneagles summit through a frenzied week of "climate change is worse than we thought" news reporting and group-think.' (9)

In 2007 alone, we have witnessed a concerted effort to employ a mix of one-sided presentations of the science of global warming, combined with heavy rhetoric and emotionalism, designed to force a consensus view on climate policy on to the world's nations. This has had a chilling effect not only on the debate about global warming in the policy and media world, but also on scientists themselves, working to discover the true facts about what is going on.

As Chris Rapley, the former director of the British Antarctic Survey, commented at the Battle of Ideas conference in London in October 2007: `There are an awful lot of scientists who feel extremely uncomfortable in this debate. the heat and light that are in the subject now I believe is causing many scientists, many working scientists, to say I don't want to be part of this, it is all too dangerous, all too difficult; I am going to retreat into my shell. And so areas of science which are as yet unresolved are not being debated in public in the way that I believe they should be.' (10)

It is fortunate that critics such as Bjorn Lomborg and Mike Hulme are brave enough to venture into this terrain, attempting to transform the `heat and light' of climate change politics into a more cool-headed debate about what the science actually is, and how we can best use its findings now and in the future. Whether or not one agrees with Lomborg's cost-benefit approach to managing global warming, one thing is certain: the price of crushing skeptical voices about Al Gore's `inconvenient truths' is far too high for any civilised society to consider paying.

More here

Eco-imperialism at the Bali summit?

Are Western powers offsetting their industrial growth by blackmailing poorer countries to foreswear development?

More than most scientific questions, the state of the environment has been deeply mixed up with international rivalries. In fact, some nations seem to have politicised environmental claims as a weapon in their economic competition. CO2 emissions mirror industrial output. The agreement in Bali to limit CO2 emissions looks to me like an attempt by the Great Powers to regulate industrial competition.

British diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell was one of the first people to identify the realpolitik possibilities of ecological concern. His book Climate Change in World Affairs attempted to justify Western intervention into the internal domestic policies of newly-independent Third World states. Those governments, said Tickell, Ďcan often make things as bad for their neighbours as for themselvesÖ but they lack the knowledge and still more the means to copeí. Climate Change in World Affairs was published in 1977, long before scientists identified global warming as a problem.

In 1988 Sir Crispin persuaded then UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher to make a major speech on global warming as the Ďnew dangerí that would replace the Soviet threat as a motivation for Western policy (1). Finding a new principle around which to organise international diplomacy was pressing in the late Eighties and early Nineties. For 40 years, the leading Western powers had organised themselves, and the rest of the world, around a campaign against communism. But when Russia abandoned Communism, a new motivation had to be found for Western leadership on the world stage.

While most of todayís anti-capitalist protesters were still at school, the global elite put climate change on the agenda of the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992, and agreed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Kyoto in December 1997. Greenhouse gas emissions, which the convention limits, roughly correspond to heavy industrial output, especially at a lower technological level. For that reason, different nations adopted differing stances on Kyoto, according to its differential impact. As a mature region, with declining growth rates, but a high technical level, Europe was pointedly in favour of the measure that set limits on its more dynamic competitors. Developing countries like Russia, India and China were pointedly more sceptical, as was the heavily producing United States.

Indeed, China and India could only be persuaded to sign on the basis that they would not be subject to greenhouse gas limits under the principle of Ďcommon but differentiated responsibilitiesí. Russia only agreed to sign up in exchange for membership of the World Trade Organisation. But despite negotiating opt-outs, the Kyoto framework makes their growth open to constant attack (2). ĎDeveloping nations whose emissions are surging are under no pressure to cut backí, worries The Sunday Times, reporting that Ďbringing India and China into a new emissions regime is a major part of what the EU and America want to achieve [at the December 2007 climate change talks] at Balií (3).

The new climate deal struck at Bali seems to be about letting First World countries offset their industrial growth by persuading less developed countries to forego growth, and enlarge their forest reserves instead. In effect the West will use its financial leverage to keep the natives sitting in darkness and its own monopoly on technology intact. Even Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth was moved to denounce this deal as Ďecological imperialism foisted on the developing worldí (4).

The debate over Kyoto made it clear that what was at issue was economic rivalry, masked as climate control. During the initial negotiations, then US president Bill Clinton was preoccupied with China and India, because Ďwithin 30 years they would surpass the United States as emitters of greenhouse gasesí (5). Openly expressed, hostility to Chinese and Indian industrial expansion would sound like self-serving hypocrisy. Dressed up as environmental concern it looked like altruism. When the US Congress balked at reining in US industry and refused to sign Kyoto, it was Americaís turn to be attacked. Incoming president George W Bush was widely denounced by European protesters as the ĎToxic Texaní. At Bali this month, the US negotiators were booed. Climate control seems to make national chauvinism acceptable.

For some radicals it seemed straightforward that the opponents of the Kyoto accord were industry spokesmen, and its defenders critics of big business. But that was to forget that capitalism is a competitive system. Setting limits to output was indeed a successful capitalist strategy, especially for those businesses with a lower carbon footprint, like banks and other financial speculators. Translated to competition at the international level, nationsí interests differ according to the proportion of CO2-emitting industries in their domestic economies. For those nations that are experiencing slower growth, penalising more dynamic competitors made sense. What is more, even for companies with higher emissions, raising the bar of entry could prove to be a successful business strategy. Of course, big greenhouse gas emitters were among the business lobby that opposed Kyoto, and the United States, being home to many of those, was among the most reluctant to sign up to the treaty. Was the Kyoto Convention, then, a blow against business? Hardly. Not unless Enron or the European Union or Al Gore are to be counted among the enemies of big business.



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


23 December, 2007

The Hebrew University debate on Global Warming

By Nir J. Shaviv (D.Sc.)

On Sunday last week, a global warming debate was held at the Hebrew University, in front of a large public audience. The speakers included myself, and Prof. Nathan Paldor from the HU, on the so called sceptic side, and Prof. Dan Yakir (Weizmann) and Prof. Colin Price (Tel-Aviv Univ.) on the anthropogenic greenhouse gas (AGHG) side...

Although it was called a debate, it wasn't really one. It included 4 short presentations (about 12 mins each + 3 min for clarifying questions) and then another 45 mins of questions from the audience.

In my short presentations, I stressed a few major issues. First, there are no fingerprints proving that 20th century warming is necessarily human. Second, once you check the details, you find that there are notable inconsistencies. In particular, the AGHG theory predicts warming over the whole troposphere, while in reality, only the ground appears to have warmed over the past few decades, and that Earth's climate response to volcanic eruptions is significantly smaller than predicted by computer models. This is because these models tend to have an exaggerated climate sensitivity. Third, the only reason we can attribute the warming to humans, is because allegedly there is nothing else to blame, but there is, the increasing activity of the sun. And then I quickly showed some of the evidence showing that the sun affects climate through the cosmic ray climate link.

The second speaker was Prof. Dan Yakir. He started by saying that there is really no place or need to hold such debates anymore since the vast majority of scientists believe that the warming is anthropogenic. He mentioned Gore's nobel prize (yes, committees are to decide about scientific truths), Oreskes findings that from a 1000 papers, none contradict anthropogenic global warming, etc. He then attempted to debunk the cosmic ray - climate theory, some of his claims were supposed inconsistencies in the theory, and some were simply non-scientific arguments. Since I was not given a chance to address these claims, the response to each and every point raised can be found below.

The third speaker was Prof. Nathan Paldor. He emphasized the large uncertainties in our current understanding of climate systems. One such example was that of global dimming. Because of these large uncertainties, computer based modeling of 20th century warming or predictions of future climate change is mostly pointless at this time. He mentioned the 70's during which scientists urged Nixon to prepare the US for the upcoming ice-age, especially considering that the Soviets are better prepared for it!

The fourth speaker was Prof. Price, who emphasized the agreements between computer model predictions of AGHG theory and the observations. He showed, for example, that computer models trying to model 20th warming with only natural radiative forcings cannot explain the observed temperature trend, and models with anthropogenic contributions added, can explain. He then continued by trying to debunk the cosmic-ray climate theory. He mentioned several inconsistencies in the cosmic ray climate link (at least so he supposed). He also showed that for the cosmic ray climate mechanism to work, it rests on many links, some of which he doubted.

Before addressing the critiques, let me add that neither Yakir nor Price brought any evidence proving the standard anthropogenic scenario. Yakir did not attempt to prove anything (there is no need since the majority of scientists anyway support it), and Price did bring supporting evidence, but evidence that in reality does not prove anything about the validity of the AGHG theory.

The main claim raised by Price was that when computer models are used to fit 20th century warming, they do a very lousy job if you include all the natural forcing only, but they do a wonderful job if you include the anthropogenic forcing as well. This supposedly implies that one needs the large anthropogenic contribution to explain the warming. The key point here is that the natural forcings included all the known forcings, and not the unknown forcings, or specifically, the large indirect solar/climate link which these models fail to include, because the modelers bluntly neglect this mechanism. More about it here.

Although Yakir and Price did have a chance to address the critiques I raised about the AGHG (unlike the opposite), they chose not to.

Much more here -- including lots of lovely graphs.

Strange Greenie "science"

When I was a member of Greenpeace in the 1980s I received a request for money supported by the claim that about 30,000 species each year were becoming extinct. Until then I'd been an unsceptical environmentalist, but this sounded like an awful lot, so I called Greenpeace to ask how they knew. I made several queries but they didn't seem very interested. Finally they told me they didn't know where the figure came from, and I resigned from the organisation.

I later found the figure almost certainly came from the work of the biologist Edward Wilson, originally an expert on ants. Wilson made his name in the area of conservation biology in the 1960s when he proposed a mathematical model that could be used to calculate species loss due to habitat destruction. Based on this and his invention of the concept of "biodiversity", he later announced the world was experiencing "one of the great extinction spasms of geological history" and losing up to 100,000 species a year. Wilson's claims are one of the mainstays of the modern environmental movement, and a foundation of government environmental policies around the globe.

This experience with Greenpeace gave me a long-running interest in the way much environmental science involves mathematical formulas or computer models. The most famous recent examples of these are the "general circulation models" used to produce predictions of future climatic conditions. An important book has just been published by an Australian academic that raises the question of whether this should be regarded as science at all.

The book is Science And Public Policy (Edward Elgar Publishing), and the author is Professor Aynsley Kellow, the head of the school of government at the University of Tasmania. Kellow believes that environmental science has often been corrupted by the good intentions of its practitioners, so that it consists of wishful thinking rather than facts and provable theories. Perhaps the first big case of this was the notorious Limits To Growth study published by the Club of Rome in 1972, based on computer modelling and subsequently disproved. One might expect the quality of models to improve, but since then they have been used for all sorts of predictions, and there is little evidence they have got much better.

Despite this, the predictions made by such models are now contained in scientific papers published in leading journals, which gives the status of science to what is often little more than wishful thinking. Kellow describes one paper published in the journal Nature in January 2004 that "warned of the loss of thousands of species with a relatively small warming over the next century. But just how virtual was this science is apparent when we consider that the estimates of species loss depended upon a mathematical model linking species and area; modelled changes in the . distributions of areas of habitat depended in turn upon the results of climate models tuned to reflect climate changes as a result of increasing greenhouse gases . these in turn were driven by scenarios of what [such] emissions might look like over the next century, driven in turn by economic models." Kellow notes that a similar warming over the previous century had not left anything like the trail of species devastation being proposed in the paper, yet this observational data was considered irrelevant compared with the virtual world of the models.

The widespread concern over climate change is based substantially on calculations similar to the one just described. Is this a problem? Kellow thinks it is, because virtual science is ripe for manipulation, usually unconsciously, by virtuous scientists. Few people are aware of the large element of subjectivity, not only in the design of immensely complicated general circulation models, but in the data that goes into them. Even basic information such as contemporary temperatures is often incomplete or uncertain and tweaked by those who operate the models.

An interesting article on this appeared on the BBC website last month. The author is Dr John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama and a climate expert. He runs one of the two dozen or so general circulation models in the world. He says the only way to test models is to compare their predictions with outcomes "not known ahead of time", and when he has done that he has found "gross inconsistencies - hence I am sceptical of our ability to claim cause and effect about both past and future climate states".

It is not just in the field of climate change that modelling produces wildly over-pessimistic projections. Writing in the latest IPA Review, the biologist Dr Jennifer Marohasy, a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, notes that "in the lead-up to the 2001 federal election, the National Farmers' Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation joined forces to lobby the government for $65 billion on the premise that vast areas of farmland were in ruin and salinity was spreading". But in 2005 Dr Wendy Craik, the head of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, admitted publicly that flawed models had been used to talk up the salinity threat.

We often hear that the predictions accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are based on "the science". It's important to realise that this is often a very different type of science to other science, the sort that explains why a jumbo jet won't fall out of the sky or why a certain treatment will cure a certain disease.


Sunshine duration accounts for 93% of all warming since 1951

Post below lifted from Gust of Hot air. See the original for links

Abstract: Using twenty two weather stations across Australia, the variable sunshine duration is shown to have significantly increased since 1951. Its correlation with maximum temperature anomalies is highly statistically significant. By eliminating the influence of sunshine duration from the maximum temperature dataset, maximum temperature trends were shown to drop from an average of 1.4 to 0.1 degrees increase per 100 years. Hence the variable sunshine duration accounts for 93% of all positive trends in maximum temperature since 1951 in Australia. Implications of these findings and the relationship of the variable sunshine duration with respect to cloud cover trends and how they is measured will be discussed.

Our introduction on Tuesday laid out that we intend on looking at the variable sunshine duration to see if it has any effect on temperature change over the years.

Using our dataset we found a highly significant increase in maximum temperatures (t = 5.95, p < 0.001). Maybe because we have used urban stations or maybe because the bulk of the weather stations occur on the east coast of Australia (an area which has seen the majority of increase), that the rate of increase of temperature as shown on that graph (linked) is at 1.42 degrees per 100 years, which is more than greater Australia and the rest of the world.

Either way, this doesn't matter, as we are merely looking at the relationship between sunshine duration and temperature. Because some stations have data for maximum temperature that goes back further than sunshine duration (and vice versa), all years that did not have recordings for sunshine duration as well maximum temperatures were eliminated from the dataset for each individual station.

Interestingly, sunshine duration also significantly increased since 1951 (t = 2.58, p = 0.013). The strength of the trend is not as strong as temperature, but is still statistically significant.

The two variables shown on the same graph is shown above. Note that in general when temperatures are high, so too is sunshine duration and vice versa. The last six years of data highlights this. anomalies

The relationship between the maximum temperature per year per station as well as sunshine duration per year per station is shown below. The correlation between them is highly significant (t = 14.71, p < 0.001), and the r squared indicates that 17.5% of the variance of temperature can be explained by sunshine duration.

That might not sound like much, but when we account for the variable sunshine duration (i.e. minus its relationship with temperature off the original dataset), then we can analyse temperature without any influence of sunshine duration. In other words, we can look at temperature trends over the past 50 years by assuming that there has been no trends and no anomalies in sunshine duration at all.

The results are amazing. The following graph shows the temperature trend since 1951 should there be no variance in sunshine duration. The increase in temperature since 1951 still occurs, as is statistically significant (t = 5.8, p < 0.001), but take a look the rate of change of temperature, in particular the formula for the line of best fit as well as the left hand axis.

When taking into account sunshine duration, temperature rise in Australia is at the rate of 0.00099 per year or 0.099 degrees per 100 years. Now a 0.1 degree increase every 100 years is hardly anything to get worries about. It's not going to cause any great catastrophe. So we've gone from 1.4 degrees of warming per 100 years to 0.1 degrees of warming per 100 years. The variable sunshine duration has accounted for 93% (1.3/1.4) of all warming trend that we have seen since 1951.

So therefore the warming that we are seeing, is by and large highly correlated with sunshine duration. So does this mean that clouds are the major cause of global warming? Well, probably not. In order to discuss why the variable "sunshine duration" has a major effect on temperature change, we have to look into how it is measured, and the trends of clouds in Australia. And that will be in the next post

Beyond Bali: Fight Global Warming by Dumping Kyoto

Even assuming that man-caused warming is real, Kyoto is not a sane response to it

Last week at the UN's global warming meeting in Indonesia, polar bear costumed activists passed out huge pieces of cake. They were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. I wonder if they understand how their obsessive focus on Kyoto as the "only solution" hinders progress?

Kyoto is both a technical and a political failure. (If fully implemented, Kyoto will reduce global temperature by only 0.03 degrees Celsius.) Activists demanded that the U.S. sign Kyoto, but it won't. Why? Because it is a terrible deal. The U.S. would have had to bear up to two-thirds, or more, of the cost of Kyoto, likely more than all other nations combined.

A new approach is required. Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner outline one in a new paper, The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy. The authors believe the threats of climate change are real and that action is warranted.

But they make explicit what every serious observer has known for quite some time: "The Kyoto Protocol is a symbolically important expression of...concern about climate change. But as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, it has failed. It has produced no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth."

"The politically charged rhetoric within which the climate change question is discussed means that anyone who questions...reduction regarded with suspicion. Unquestioning support for...Kyoto...has become a litmus test for determining who takes the threat of climate change seriously."

"...[Kyoto's] narrow focus on mitigating the emission of greenhouse gases (in which it has failed) has created a taboo on discussing other approaches, in particular, adaptation to climate change. ...For the past fifteen years, it has given the...public an illusion of effective action, tranquillizing political concern. This has been, perhaps, its most damaging legacy." (Read the whole thing on FREE's website.)

The most vulnerable countries are those that depend on agriculture and are at low latitudes. They need to be more resilient to climate change today.

But reducing carbon emissions will not fix poor land-use practices, restore degraded local environments, improve emergency preparedness, or eliminate floods, droughts, or disease outbreaks.

Again Prins and Rayner: "Many...activists assume that slowing greenhouse-gas emissions has logical and ethical priority over adapting to climate impacts.... It is not clear to us that the interests of millions of people in poorer countries who depend on marginal ecosystems are best served by an exclusive preoccupation with mitigation. Indeed, such a narrow focus is likely to be a fatal error."

Reducing global carbon dioxide emissions fast enough and far enough to avoid "dangerous human interference in the climate system" (defined as an increase in temperature of about 2 degrees Celsius) requires an unprecedented transformation of our energy systems. For example, to cut global carbon emissions in half by 2050 requires that, on average, the world economy in the middle of the century will have the same carbon intensity as Switzerland had in 2004.

China and India are making huge investments in energy infrastructure that has a lifetime of 50 years or more. Their fuel of choice is coal. We will not achieve meaningful carbon reductions unless we can develop the technology to capture and safely store emissions from coal-fired power plants. This requires huge R&D investments in this emerging technology.

Another area for investment is to develop storage for wind and solar energy. Wind and solar are growing energy sources, but their usefulness will be limited to a niche role unless economical, large-scale storage can be developed. This is a basic science question that has proven difficult to crack.

Addressing climate change requires international cooperation for a simple reason: it is a global problem. No nation is going to sign an agreement whose costs greatly outweigh the benefits. Permanent solutions require the discovery and adoption of new technologies. The next U.S. President should make this explicit. Constructive proposals include transferring efficient energy technologies to developing countries. This will be both cheaper and more effective than continuing to push the Kyoto Protocol.


USA Today Won't Take Back Claim that Fish Poison Babies

Newspaper makes outrageous claim: 600,000 born annually with brain damage due to fish-eating mothers. More mercury madness. Prolonged exposure to high doses of mercury does indeed cause a form of madness but just the mention of mercury is enough to cause madness among Greenies and their acolytes

It's no wonder businesspeople tend to distrust the media - especially when unsubstantiated alarmist statements are made and no recourse is offered. "As many as 600,000 babies may be born in the USA each year with irreversible brain damage because pregnant mothers ate mercury-contaminated fish, the Environmental Protection Agency says," USA Today's Larry Wheeler wrote. Sounds troublesome, right?

This article in the October 29 issue of USA Today ignored the tenets of ethical journalism by advocating a position that mercury-contaminated fish were responsible for a half a million babies annually being born with brain damage. But the story didn't end there. That claim and others in the article prompted the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) to react with an exchange of various responses, but the results were unsatisfactory, according to Jim McCarthy, a spokesman for NFI.

When eating fish is linked to hurting babies, it is certain to get attention. But according to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), the statement that 600,000 babies are born in the USA each year with irreversible brain damage is incorrect. "That is false - and in several respects," John Connelly, president of NFI wrote in a November 1 letter to Gannett News Service Editor Val Ellicott. "First, the EPA has never made any such assertion. One official from EPA, Kathryn Mahaffey, extrapolated that figure at EPA's Fish Forum conference in 2004. The agency itself subsequently disavowed connection with the assertion - and placed a disqualifying reference to it on their public website. What's more, there is not a single documented case of any child in this country with mercury levels above RfD [Reference Dose] - let alone with resulting brain damage."

Despite the NFI's efforts, USA Today was uncooperative and even issued an incorrect correction in its November 5 edition: "In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 410,000 newborns in the USA were born to mothers whose methyl mercury levels were higher than the maximum level the EPA considers safe. An Oct. 30 story cited a 2004 study that estimated the number at 600,000 newborns."

But USA Today was also wrong with that statement, according to Connelly: "The figure you cite, that 410,000 infants are exposed to mercury above the EPA reference dose, is taken from a presentation delivered by one (1) EPA scientist, not the agency itself. In fact, here is what EPA had contributed as a slide in the beginning of that presentation: `The Findings and Conclusions in This Presentation Have Not Been Formally Disseminated by U.S. EPA and Should Not Be Construed to Represent Any Agency Determination or Policy.' We are unaware of any change in EPA's position. Therefore, obviously, this is not an EPA estimate as you assert."

Click here to see the EPA slides. See slide #25 for the 410,000 figure - an assertion solely of Ms. Mahaffey. On slide #2, EPA itself officially disavows that assertion.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, journalists are supposed to:

* Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting.

* Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

* Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.

But Wheeler disregarded those tenets when he included background in his October 29 article. The article, which has recently popped up in other newspapers including the December 3 Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, has many similarities to the left-wing Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Web site on mercury-contaminated fish. "Physicians and public health officials acknowledge it is extremely difficult to `prove' a direct link between eating a tuna steak and high blood mercury levels," Wheeler wrote.

However, both Wheeler's article and the NRDC Web site cite the same expert, Jane Hightower, a San Francisco doctor. Hightower claimed a link exists between fish consumption and what she diagnosed as a disorder she calls "fish fog." But as a November 3 letter from Connelly to Val Ellicott, editor of Gannett News Service, indicates - there is no published evidence of such a condition. "Medical and scientific researchers have, in fact, been studying the effects of mercury for decades," Connelly wrote. "It should also be noted that there is no medical condition known as `fish fog.' It is not a term used in the medical community and there is no documented evidence that anyone has such a condition."

Although the story didn't run until October 29, Wheeler originally contacted NFI on September 17 and insisted on a response by 3 p.m. the next afternoon. "Our PR firm took contemporaneous notes when Wheeler first called on Monday, September 17th," Mary Anne Hansan wrote in a letter to Gannett News Service Managing Editor Laura Rehrmann. "He said he was `handing my editor a copy of the piece at 5pm today.' He went on to say he would fill the `hole' in his story if we responded no later than 3pm on Tuesday, the 18th." USA Today's rush to have NFI to respond was peculiar - because they sat on the story for 40 days before finally publishing it October 29.

Published in every issue of USA Today is a message on its editorial page pledging a "Commitment to Accuracy": "To report corrections and clarifications, contact Reader Editor Brent Jones ." However, Jones, who was unwilling to comment on this particular story to the Business & Media Institute, told BMI he isn't an ombudsman. "USA TODAY doesn't have an actual ombudsman," Jones wrote in an e-mail to BMI. "But as reader editor, I am the primary link between the news organization and its print and online audiences. The job includes reviewing and sharing input from readers, selecting and publishing letters to the editor and serving on the newspaper's editorial board."

Since the fallout from a USA Today scandal involving Jack Kelley, a longtime reporter at the newspaper who in March 2004 was discovered to have been fabricating stories, the prominence of the Reader Editor was raised by Ken Paulson, editor of USA Today, according to a Dec. 10, 2004, PBS "NewsHour" case study on the Kelley-USA Today scandal. "In every edition of the paper, a photo of Reader Editor Brent Jones appears on the editorial page, soliciting feedback and concerns about USA Today's coverage," the study said. "Jones then takes that feedback into a daily meeting with editors at the paper. He told the Online NewsHour that `readers appreciate having a direct line of communication' with the editors of the paper and that the overall reaction has been `positive.'"



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


22 December, 2007


The article below by David Whitehouse has just appeared in the Left-leaning British magazine "New Statesman". David was BBC Science Correspondent 1988-1998, Science Editor BBC News Online 1998-2006 and the 2004 European Internet Journalist of the Year. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and is the author of "The Sun: A Biography" (John Wiley, 2005). His website is

'The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 and every year since 2001'
Global warming stopped? Surely not. What heresy is this? Haven't we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that's left to the so-called sceptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?

Aren't we told that if we don't act now rising temperatures will render most of the surface of the Earth uninhabitable within our lifetimes? But as we digest these apocalyptic comments, read the recent IPCC's Synthesis report that says climate change could become irreversible. Witness the drama at Bali as news emerges that something is not quite right in the global warming camp.

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 - there has been no warming over the 12 months. But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask? No.

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming - the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.

In principle the greenhouse effect is simple. Gases like carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere absorb outgoing infrared radiation from the earth's surface causing some heat to be retained. Consequently an increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases from human activities such as burning fossil fuels leads to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Thus the world warms, the climate changes and we are in trouble.

The evidence for this hypothesis is the well established physics of the greenhouse effect itself and the correlation of increasing global carbon dioxide concentration with rising global temperature. Carbon dioxide is clearly increasing in the Earth's atmosphere. It's a straight line upward. It is currently about 390 parts per million. Pre-industrial levels were about 285 ppm. Since 1960 when accurate annual measurements became more reliable it has increased steadily from about 315 ppm. If the greenhouse effect is working as we think then the Earth's temperature will rise as the carbon dioxide levels increase.

But here it starts getting messy and, perhaps, a little inconvenient for some. Looking at the global temperatures as used by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK's Met Office and the IPCC (and indeed Al Gore) it's apparent that there has been a sharp rise since about 1980.

The period 1980-98 was one of rapid warming - a temperature increase of about 0.5 degrees C (CO2 rose from 340ppm to 370ppm). But since then the global temperature has been flat (whilst the CO2 has relentlessly risen from 370ppm to 380ppm). This means that the global temperature today is about 0.3 deg less than it would have been had the rapid increase continued.

For the past decade the world has not warmed. Global warming has stopped. It's not a viewpoint or a sceptic's inaccuracy. It's an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased.

The explanation for the standstill has been attributed to aerosols in the atmosphere produced as a by-product of greenhouse gas emission and volcanic activity. They would have the effect of reflecting some of the incidental sunlight into space thereby reducing the greenhouse effect. Such an explanation was proposed to account for the global cooling observed between 1940 and 1978.

But things cannot be that simple. The fact that the global temperature has remained unchanged for a decade requires that the quantity of reflecting aerosols dumped put in our atmosphere must be increasing year on year at precisely the exact rate needed to offset the accumulating carbon dioxide that wants to drive the temperature higher. This precise balance seems highly unlikely. Other explanations have been proposed such as the ocean cooling effect of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation or the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

But they are also difficult to adjust so that they exactly compensate for the increasing upward temperature drag of rising CO2. So we are led to the conclusion that either the hypothesis of carbon dioxide induced global warming holds but its effects are being modified in what seems to be an improbable though not impossible way, or, and this really is heresy according to some, the working hypothesis does not stand the test of data.

It was a pity that the delegates at Bali didn't discuss this or that the recent IPCC Synthesis report did not look in more detail at this recent warming standstill. Had it not occurred, or if the flatlining of temperature had occurred just five years earlier we would have no talk of global warming and perhaps, as happened in the 1970's, we would fear a new Ice Age! Scientists and politicians talk of future projected temperature increases. But if the world has stopped warming what use these projections then?

Some media commentators say that the science of global warming is now beyond doubt and those who advocate alternative approaches or indeed modifications to the carbon dioxide greenhouse warming effect had lost the scientific argument. Not so. Certainly the working hypothesis of CO2 induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far or that the working hypothesis is a sufficient explanation for what is going on.

I have heard it said, by scientists, journalists and politicians, that the time for argument is over and that further scientific debate only causes delay in action. But the wish to know exactly what is going on is independent of politics and scientists must never bend their desire for knowledge to any political cause, however noble.

The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth's atmosphere's interaction with sunlight to decide. We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped.



The solar physics community is abuzz this week. No, there haven't been any great eruptions or solar storms. The source of the excitement is a modest knot of magnetism that popped over the sun's eastern limb on Dec. 11th, pictured below in a pair of images from the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). It may not look like much, but "this patch of magnetism could be a sign of the next solar cycle," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall

For more than a year, the sun has been experiencing a lull in activity, marking the end of Solar Cycle 23, which peaked with many furious storms in 2000--2003. "Solar minimum is upon us," he says. The big question now is, when will the next solar cycle begin? It could be starting now.

"New solar cycles always begin with a high-latitude, reversed polarity sunspot," explains Hathaway. "Reversed polarity " means a sunspot with opposite magnetic polarity compared to sunspots from the previous solar cycle. "High-latitude" refers to the sun's grid of latitude and longitude. Old cycle spots congregate near the sun's equator. New cycle spots appear higher, around 25 or 30 degrees latitude.

The region that appeared on Dec. 11th fits both these criteria. It is high latitude (24 degrees N) and magnetically reversed. Just one problem: There is no sunspot. So far the region is just a bright knot of magnetic fields. If, however, these fields coalesce into a dark sunspot, scientists are ready to announce that Solar Cycle 24 has officially begun.

Many forecasters believe Solar Cycle 24 will be big and intense. Peaking in 2011 or 2012, the cycle to come could have significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems. (And don't forget the Northern Lights!) In this age of satellites and cell phones, the next solar cycle could make itself felt as never before.

The furious storms won't start right away, however. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build to a frenzy and Cycle 24 will be no exception. "We still have some quiet times ahead," says Hathaway. Meanwhile, all eyes are on a promising little active region. Will it become the first sunspot of a new solar cycle? Stay tuned for updates



We have visited this topic repeatedly over the past five years (e.g., here and here), and here we go again given the latest news. Every sell-respecting presentation about global warming includes a claim that hurricanes are becoming more intense, and if you don't believe it, you will be treated to images of the Katrina disaster as the final proof. Gore's film clearly makes the case that burning fossil fuel equals higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration which equals higher atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. He claims in the film and during every stop on his global circuit that the warmer sea surface in the tropics clearly means more intense hurricanes and BANG . the Katrina horrors are unveiled. It seems to work every time, and despite a lot of research that suggests the relationship is not so clear, people have bought the intense hurricane pillar of the global warming scare. If you suggest that there is some debate on the subject, you will undoubtedly be told that the climate deniers are few in number, well financed from industry, and discredited by scientists the world over.

Many would argue that Nature is the leading scientific journal in the world, and over the years, Nature has been an ally of the global warming crusade. A recent article in Nature begins with the sentence "The response of tropical cyclone activity to global warming is widely debated." That sentence alone hints that the article may be somewhat atypical of Nature, since actual acknowledgement of the "d" word is greatly frowned upon by the crusaders. The second sentence states "It is often assumed that warmer sea surface temperatures provide a more favourable environment for the development and intensification of tropical cyclones, but cyclone genesis and intensity are also affected by the vertical thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere." Once again, we get the hint that this presumed link between warmer oceans and more intense hurricanes may be more complicated than we've (or, rather, you've) been led to believe by the likes of Gore. We have been telling you this has been the case for several years.

The authors of the latest piece are Gabriel Vecchi and Brian Soden of the NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey and the University of Miami, and the work was funded by both NOAA and NASA (no evidence of industry funding whatsoever). Basically, they note that higher sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the vicinity of a hurricane could, in fact, increase the potential intensity (or, PI, how strong a storm could get if everything fell perfectly into place) of the storm. They state "With all other factors being equal, a local warming of SST would act to destabilize the overlying atmosphere and increase PI. However, remote SST changes can also influence PI through their influence on upper atmospheric temperatures. In the tropical free troposphere, where the Coriolis force is weak, temperature gradients are small and, on timescales longer than a few months, upper tropospheric temperature anomalies are determined by changes in the tropical-mean SST. Thus, local PI in the tropics is influenced by both local and remote SST changes." Basically, local SST warming can destabilize the atmosphere and increase the intensity of the hurricanes, but widespread SST warming alters the temperature structure of the higher levels of the atmosphere, which in turn cancel or even reverse the potential intensity of the events.

To say the least, including the effect of more distant SSTs really changes the outcome. Vecchi and Soden used three different, but highly correlated SST datasets and calculated the potential intensity of tropical storms for the North Indian Ocean, the western tropical Pacific Ocean, and the tropical Atlantic Ocean (see figure below). In their own words, they note "All three SST data sets indicate substantial warming in the three regions over the twentieth century. In the Atlantic sector, SSTs have been at unprecedented levels since the late 1990s, yet the tropical Atlantic PI is at near-average levels for that period, and had its highest levels during the middle of the twentieth century. The only long-term increase in PI has been in the Indian Ocean, and recent Pacific PI has been lower than the long-term mean (the decrease arising abruptly in the 1970s)." Furthermore, they state "The combined influence of local and remote SST changes on PI can be seen clearly in the Atlantic basin. Atlantic PI began to decrease in the mid-1950s, even though local SST was not changing substantially (PI decreases by 0.6-0.7 ÝC from the 1950s to the 1980s, while local SST decreases by only 0.1-0.2 ÝC). This reduction in PI was not dominated by a local SST decrease, but by the rapid warming elsewhere in the tropics (much of it in the Indian Ocean)."

OK, so there hasn't been any great increase in potential intensity of tropical cyclones over the long run, despite what the global warming advocates would lead you to believe. Well, you could suggest that like everything else, the disaster will reveal itself a decade or so from now. Unfortunately for such optimists (or are they pessimists?), Vecchi and Soden calculated PI for the next 150 years, and as seen below, SSTs are expected to rise, but in the North Indian Ocean and the tropical Atlantic Ocean, there should be no rise whatsoever in potential intensity of hurricanes.

Let's all wait and see if the global warming crowd (or the media) embraces these results - of course they won't and of course they will continue to scream that hurricanes are becoming more intense and will become even more intense in the decades to come. The results published in Nature by Vecchi and Soden will be nothing more than inconvenient trash to be swept under the rug of truth!



The current issue of Nature has a lengthy profile of Rajendra Pachauri, its "Newsmaker of the Year." In the profile Dr. Pachauri discusses his personal views on the politics of climate change and his responsibilities as IPCC chair. Here is how he characterizes his own efforts, as quoted in the Nature profile:

"We have been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more whatever the cost to the environment that we're on a totally unsustainable path. I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development."

In recent weeks and months, Dr. Pachauri, and other representatives of the IPCC, have certainly not been shy in advocating specific actions on climate change, using their role as IPCC leaders as a pulpit to advance those agendas. For instance, in a recent interview with CNN on the occasion of representing the IPCC at the Nobel Prize ceremony, Dr. Pachauri downplayed the role of geoengineering as a possible response to climate change, suggested that people eat less meat, called for lifestyle changes, suggested that all the needed technologies to deal with climate change are in the marketplace or soon to be commercialized, endorsed the Kyoto Protocol approach, criticized via allusion U.S. non-participation, and defended the right of developing countries to be exempt from limits on future emissions.

Dr. Pachauri has every right to these personal opinions, but each of the actions called for above are contested by some thoughtful people who believe that climate change is a problem requiring action, and accept the science as reported by the IPCC. These policies are not advocated by the IPCC because the formal mandate of the IPCC is to be "policy neutral." But with its recent higher profile, it seems that the IPCC leadership believes that it can flout this stance with impunity. The Nature profile discusses this issue:

"The IPCC's mandate is to be 'neutral with respect to policy' - to set out the options and let policy-makers decide how to act. The reports themselves reflect this. Every word is checked and double-checked by scientists, reviewers and then government representatives - "sanitized", as Pachauri puts it. But Pachauri is the face of the IPCC, and he often can't resist speaking out, despite a few "raps on the knuckles" for his comments. He insists that he always makes it clear he is speaking on his own behalf and not for the IPCC. "It's one thing to make sure that our reports are sanitized. It's another for me as an individual to talk about policies that might work. I feel I have responsibility far beyond being a spokesman for the IPCC. If I feel there are certain actions that can help us meet this challenge, I feel I should articulate them."

"I think Patchy needs to be careful," says Bert Metz, a senior researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in Bilthoven, who is one of the co-chairs of the IPCC's working group on greenhouse-gas mitigation. "One of the things about the IPCC is that it lays down the facts. If you start mixing [that] with your own views that's not very wise. But he gets away with it because of his charm." Steve Rayner, director of the James Martin Institute at the University of Oxford, UK, and a senior author with the same working group, feels that Pachauri's personal statements place too much stress on lifestyles and not enough on technologies. But he also concedes that a certain amount of outspokenness is an essential part of the job. "I don't think you can provide inspirational leadership in an enterprise like this unless you are passionate. That's something Bob [Watson] and Patchy have in common. They are both very passionate about the issue and I think that's appropriate."

In general, those who agree with the political agenda advanced by Dr. Pachauri will see no problem with his advocacy, and those opposed will find it to be problematic. And this is precisely the problem. By using his platform as a scientific advisor to advance a political agenda, Dr. Pachauri risks politicizing the IPCC and turning it (or perceptions of it) into simply another advocacy group on climate change, threatening its legitimacy and ultimately, its ability to serve as a trusted arbiter of science.

On this point reasonable people will disagree. However, before you decide how you feel about this subject, consider how you would feel if the head of the International Atomic Energy Association responsible for evaluating nuclear weapons programs were to be an outspoken advocate for bombing the very country he was assessing, or if the head of the CIA with responsibility to bring intelligence to policy makers also was at the same time waging a public campaign on certain foreign policies directly related to his intelligence responsibilities. For many people the conflation of providing advice and seeking to achieve political ends would seem to be a dangerous mix for both the quality of advice and the quality of decision making.

The IPCC is riding high these days, but as Burt Metz says, they need to be very careful. Saying that your organization is "policy neutral" while behaving quite differently does not seem to be a sustainable practice. Policy makers will need science advice on climate change for a long time. The IPCC politicizes its efforts with some risk.


Why I Don't Care About Global Warming

By Evan Sayet

I was reading a comment on one of these boards from a Brit who said that he "just doesn't understand the Americans' attitude toward global warming." Allowing me to explain it, then.

The vast majority of thinking people recognize "global warming" as but the latest in a long line of hyped up "threats" to humanities existence. There was, in no particular order, "global freezing," "global drying," "global wetting." There was going to be mass starvation by 1976, heterosexual AIDS, killer bees, swine flu and avian flu, just to mention a few during the past few years alone.

Further, we are not impressed either by the "players" who are swearing that, no, no THIS time the sky is REALLY falling, nor by their tactics. Their longstanding ideology -- anti-Americanism, socialism, communism and the like fosters no great confidence in their latest hysteria either.

Those of us who think rather than just dance to the tune of Al Gore, Hollywood insiders and their allies in the communist, Islamic and socialist worlds, recognize that far from an "Inconvenient Truth" being an honest attempt to accurately portray the information, it is a leftist funded, lie-filled propaganda movie from those with a vested interest. Even Al Gore's own advisors admit that the claims are "hysterical" and not scientific.

The lie that "every scientist agrees" that global warming a) exists, b) isn't just a normal phenomenon and c) is caused by evil, horrible America further undermines the thinking person's faith in the hysterics. Far from "every scientist agreeing," the leading scientists, from the father of modern climatology to the leading scientists at MIT all consider it nothing less than folly.

I am further unmoved by the plans to curb "global warming," plans that allow the biggest polluters -- China and India for example -- to continue to pollute unabated while American and Americans (of course) foot the bill.

If the threat was as dire and as imminent as the leftists and the Islamists declare, then the Kyoto Protocols would pull out all the stops, with every nation asked to make at least SOME sacrifice and not but another leftist social experiment, another "affirmative action" program where the evil, failed or wrong benefit and the good, right and successful are punished.

It might be helpful in moving me some (though not much) if the guru Al Gore wasn't such a clown. His buffoonish (and lie-filled) anti-American attacks at Bali, his pocketing of tens of millions of dollars in cold, hard cash, his continuing to spew pollution from his own home(s) at twenty times the rate of the middle class American he, as a leftist, is seeking to destroy, all don't argue for a man who is serious about a threat to the very existence of the earth. I know that if I thought the world was doomed, I would probably turn off the heater in my indoor pool from time to time. Not Gore.

I remember seeing a line somewhere that said "I'll take global warming seriously when Al Gore takes global warming seriously." I couldn't agree more.

For now, somehow I survived global freezing and global wetting, heterosexual AIDS and the swine flu, thus I'll throw my lot in with America and not with the communists, Islamists, socialists and genocidal dictatorships Al Gore turns to for his big payday and his sense of meaning and importance.



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


21 December, 2007


By William M. Briggs, Statistician

My paper on this subject will finally appear in the Journal of Climate soon. You can see it's status (temporarily, anyway) at this link. You can download the paper here.

The gist is that the evidence shows that hurricanes have not increased in either number of intensity in the North Atlantic. I've only used data through 2006; which is to say, not this year's. But if I were to, then, since the number and intensity of storms this past year were nothing special, the evidence would be even more conclusive that not much is going on.

Now, I did find that there were some changes in certain characteristics of North Atlantic storms. There is some evidence that the probability that strong (what are called Category 4 or 5) storms evolving from ordinary hurricanes has increased. But, there has also been an increase in storms not reaching hurricane level. Which is to say, that the only clear signal is that there has been an increase in the variability of intensity of tropical cyclones.

Of course, I do not say why this increase has happened. Well, I suggest why it has: changes in instrumentation quality and frequency since the late 1960s (which is when satellites first went up, allowing us to finally observe better). This is in line with what others, like Chris Landsea at the Hurricane Center, have found.

I also have done the same set of models of global hurricanes. I found the same thing. I'm scheduled to give a talk on this at the American Meteorological Society's annual meeting in January 2008 in New Orleans. That paper is here



We coined the term Greenflation back in May 2006 and revisited it at the beginning of this year. Now global recession is beginning to bite and the threat is serious, which makes the universal conspiracy of silence even more egregious. Newspapers and television commentators talk about inflation as though it were a mystery, when it is merely the outcome of deliberate policy. Green taxes filter through the economy, but in the end they are always paid by the ordinary punter. Green prohibitions, such as the prevention of development of new, realistic energy sources, will also end up being paid for by the masses, some with their lives (in the inevitable power cuts).

Since the establishment are taking care not to explain it to them, people do not understand that remote policy decisions, such as building vast arrays of useless, heavily-subsidised wind turbines, always end up with a raid on their own pockets and the risk of worse. The subsidies for biofuels have led inevitably to a substantial rise in food prices, but people are too ill-informed to see the connection, because they are not being told by the media.

Today we simultaneously have the other negative force of recession . This was largely caused by governments ignoring the excesses going on in the banking world. In Britain it partly took the form of failing to protect the mutual societies and letting the carpet baggers persuade their short-sighted members to turn them into third rate banks, such a Northern Rock, thus selling their birthright for a mess of pottage. One of Gordon Brown's characteristic changes was to make the bank regulation system so complicated that in the end it was nobody's responsibility.

The Bank of England has actually acted outside its Brownian remit, which is solely to deal with inflation, in joining the world effort to solve the "liquidity crisis" by reducing interest rates, while the spectre of inflation haunts it in the background. But this inflation is no accident. It has been deliberately engineered by Green politicians and bureaucrats in undemocratic organisations like the EU and the UN. Only in the last week we have heard calls in Bali for a wholly meaningless world carbon tax, while Brown crept shamefully into the ceremonial chamber, when all but he had left, to sign away Britain's last vestiges of control over its own destiny, making its parliament even more of an irrelevant superfluity than it was before.

Economic collapse is the sole end and purpose of Green policy. They are determined to drag the rest of us kicking and screaming into the new Stone Age and, thanks to their media cronies, we are letting them do it.


UN issues warning, but averts eyes from its own role

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

The United Nations is issuing a warning about the world's food stocks dwindling, highlighting the possible future consequences of the future global warming it believes is coming. It mentions the problems created by high oil prices for aid agencies shipping emergency food supplies.

But there is one factor that right now is raising food prices and diminishing the supply. A factor which grows out of the UN's own efforts. A factor which is conspicuously downplayed in this report written by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the International Herald-Tribune, published by the New York Times Company:

Biofuels. The only mention is an entirely subsidiary and indirect factor, as noted here:

Diouf blamed a confluence of recent supply and demand factors for the crisis, and he predicted that those factors were here to stay. On the supply side, these include the early effects of global warming, which has decreased crop yields in some crucial places, and a shift away from farming for human consumption toward crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing with the world population, and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.

Got that? Global warming has decreased crop yields in some places (high temperatures are actually generaly a positive development for crops and no doubt in other some places yields are up). Biofuels are lumped together with cattle feed as a demand factor, and mentioned only in passing. Compare the extra verbiage for cattle feed with the treatment of biofuels. One word, and then nothing more.

Taking corn and other food crops and converting them into ethanol decreases the food supply, raising prices on the remaining supplies destined for human consumption. Every corn farmer in the Middle West knows this, for they had a very, very good year thanks to ethanol subsidies and the rush to proclaim companies are "doing something" about global warming. Corn prices, followed with a lag by beef and portk prices, are up over recent years' levels.

The hypothetical dangers of global warming, hyped so vigorously by the UN, are creating conditions that actually damage the world's billions of poor people for whom an adequate diet is a matter of affordability.

The food supply is acting as a coal miner's canary, warning us of even bigger privations ahead. Wait until industries have to shut down and electricity multiplies in price, should the restrictions necessary to meet the goal of a radical reduction on carbon dioxide emissions ever be enforced. For rich countries, it will be a matter of unemployment, slowed or negative economic growth, and cutbacks.

But for the poor, which the UN ostensibly cares about, it will be malnutrition or starvation, disease, and mass deaths, should the Warmists succeed in enforcing their dirigiste aims.

Year of global cooling

By David Deming (David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis, and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma)

Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world. In 2007, hundreds of people died, not from global warming, but from cold weather hazards.

Since the mid-19th century, the mean global temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius. This slight warming is not unusual, and lies well within the range of natural variation. Carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere, but the mean planetary temperature hasn't increased significantly for nearly nine years. Antarctica is getting colder. Neither the intensity nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased. The 2007 season was the third-quietest since 1966. In 2006 not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S.

South America this year experienced one of its coldest winters in decades. In Buenos Aires, snow fell for the first time since the year 1918. Dozens of homeless people died from exposure. In Peru, 200 people died from the cold and thousands more became infected with respiratory diseases. Crops failed, livestock perished, and the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency.

Unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007. Johannesburg, South Africa, had the first significant snowfall in 26 years. Australia experienced the coldest June ever. In northeastern Australia, the city of Townsville underwent the longest period of continuously cold weather since 1941. In New Zealand, the weather turned so cold that vineyards were endangered.

Last January, $1.42 billion worth of California produce was lost to a devastating five-day freeze. Thousands of agricultural employees were thrown out of work. At the supermarket, citrus prices soared. In the wake of the freeze, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President Bush to issue a disaster declaration for affected counties. A few months earlier, Mr. Schwarzenegger had enthusiastically signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a law designed to cool the climate. California Sen. Barbara Boxer continues to push for similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

In April, a killing freeze destroyed 95 percent of South Carolina's peach crop, and 90 percent of North Carolina's apple harvest. At Charlotte, N.C., a record low temperature of 21 degrees Fahrenheit on April 8 was the coldest ever recorded for April, breaking a record set in 1923. On June 8, Denver recorded a new low of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Denver's temperature records extend back to 1872.

Recent weeks have seen the return of unusually cold conditions to the Northern Hemisphere. On Dec. 7, St. Cloud, Minn., set a new record low of minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. On the same date, record low temperatures were also recorded in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Extreme cold weather is occurring worldwide. On Dec. 4, in Seoul, Korea, the temperature was a record minus 5 degrees Celsius. Nov. 24, in Meacham, Ore., the minimum temperature was 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than the previous record low set in 1952. The Canadian government warns that this winter is likely to be the coldest in 15 years.

Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are just emerging from a destructive ice storm that left at least 36 people dead and a million without electric power. People worldwide are being reminded of what used to be common sense: Cold temperatures are inimical to human welfare and warm weather is beneficial. Left in the dark and cold, Oklahomans rushed out to buy electric generators powered by gasoline, not solar cells. No one seemed particularly concerned about the welfare of polar bears, penguins or walruses. Fossil fuels don't seem so awful when you're in the cold and dark.

If you think any of the preceding facts can falsify global warming, you're hopelessly naive. Nothing creates cognitive dissonance in the mind of a true believer. In 2005, a Canadian Greenpeace representative explained ďglobal warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter.Ē In other words, all weather variations are evidence for global warming. I can't make this stuff up. Global warming has long since passed from scientific hypothesis to the realm of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.


Fortnight Of The Undead

By Christopher Monckton in Nusa Dua, Bali

Down the Poxy, our local fleapit late on a Saturday night, voodoo flicks like Night Of The Undead were always popular when I was a lad. To shrieks of scornful merriment from the teenage audience, mindless zombies would totter aimless across the clumsily-constructed sets with lugubrious expressions frozen on their messily-made-up death-masks until the hero, with the lurv interest wrenched screeching from the clutches of the late Baron Samedi and draped admiringly on her rescuer's extravagantly-muscled arm, triumphantly saved the day.

Thus it was in Bali during the Fortnight Of The Undead. There was surreality in the air. The overwhelming majority of the governmental delegates, journalists, quango stallholders, fortune-hunters and environmental lobbyists who attended the UN climate conference in the soulless Nusa Dua conference centre tottered aimlessly among the clumsily-constructed sets with lugubrious expressions frozen on their messily-made-up death-masks. Monckton's Rule: the further Left, the tackier the make-up. The only laughter came from our gallant band of doubters, the heroes of this otherwise gloomy production.

I nearly didn't go to Bali. The UN, which had not wanted any dissent at this carefully-staged event, rejected my journalistic credentials out of hand, and without explanation. However, a non-government organization came to the rescue and the high priests didn't dare to say No a second time. That would have looked too obvious. I proved my journo-cred by writing a major article in the Jakarta Post on day 1 of the conference, cheekily claiming my share of the Nobel Prize because the IPCC had made a correction to its latest Holy Book at my suggestion, and concluding that, since our influence on the climate is a non-problem, and the correct approach to a non-problem is to do nothing, my fellow-participants should have the courage to do nothing and push off home.

The Post circulated the article to all delegates and syndicated it worldwide, provoking weeping and gnashing of dentures among the zombies at my challenge to the scientific accuracy of the Holy Books of the IPCC. I don't think the UN will dare to question my journalistic credentials again.

The UN's sinister bureaucrats were furious that their attempt to stop me writing in the newspapers from the conference had failed. So they interrupted a presentation by me to delegates, threatened to have me thrown out by Security if I addressed any meeting open to the Press in the conference venues, and cancelled without reason a room they had previously booked for our team's daily conferences. The room wasn't even needed for someone else: it stood empty. So we mounted a demo outside the conference: half a dozen scientists (and me) in white lab-coats and (for some reason) wrap-around shades, holding a banner saying, "New science drives out old fears: Kyoto 2 is not needed".

The UN, whose pot-bellied goons had taken over the entire Nusa Dua conference zone from the leaner and more competent Indonesian and Balinese security forces, moved us on within minutes, while allowing anti-nuclear protesters, Greens and even Hilary Benn, described as a UK Minister, to mount demonstrations for hours on end.

The official propaganda mantra at the conference, first suggested by a UK pressure-group last year and now enthusiastically adopted by the UN, was that "The Science Is Settled". The zombies, led by the outgoing and incoming conference chairmen, recited this mantra with glazed but increasingly desperate pietism.

An IPCC lead author came to one of the press conferences we managed to hold before the UN showed its alarm at our effect on the delegates by shutting us down. He said a mere layman like me had no business challenging the supposed "consensus". And he tried to maintain that a table of figures in the latest Holy Book had been added up correctly when, as a slide I was showing made quite clear, it had not added up to within a factor of two of the right answer. In the land of the zombies, two plus two equals nine.

Outside the conference hall, I went up to a fragrant Japanese lady manning one of the exhibits set up by the ever-growing number of taxpayer-funded quangos with bewildering but important-sounding initials that are profiting by the lavish State handouts available to anyone willing to proselytize for the cult of the wrathful God Siotu. "What disasters?" I enquired, with an expression of shambling, potty-Peer innocence. This usually provoked a lurid list of plagues, droughts, floods, deaths, cataclysms and mass extinctions worthy of St. John the Divine at his most hyperbolic. The UK High Court judge who condemned Al Gore for exaggerations of this sort would have locked up most of the stallholders and sent me the key.

But this lady had somehow escaped the zombies. She drew me to one side and whispered, "Don't tell my boss, but two-thirds of the delegates here are mad." They would have been mad, if they'd had minds at all. One of the most enduring impressions on all of our team was that the Enlightenment has been switched off. Enter the Dark Age of Unreason. Ever since the high priests tampered with the scientists' text of the IPCC's 1995 Holy Book, deleting multiple references to the absence of credible evidence for any anthropogenic effect on climate and inserting the directly contrary statement that there was now a discernible human influence, anyone who dares to check the science is regarded as a heretic for daring to question the Holy Books of voodoo. Never mind the facts: just believe the nonsense, even when it doesn't add up.

I couldn't resist baiting the stallholder at the stand run by a certain national weather bureau. This particular tax-gobbler, reliably Messianic in its Siotological fervour, had a childishly imaginative poster that ramped up the imagined disasters as global temperature rose by each additional degree Celsius. At just 2 degrees, the poster said the Greenland ice sheet would be permanently destabilized. Oo-er. The message was illustrated by the usual picture of a glacier calving spectacularly into the water.

"'Scuse me," I said, Earl-of-Emsworth expression in place, "but isn't that a picture of a glacier that cuts across a freshwater lake in Argentina?" For it wasn't Greenland. It looked suspiciously like a grainy vid-grab from the traditional collapsing-glacier footage shown every few minutes on the unspeakable BBC. As the waters of the freshwater lake build up behind the glacier, it breaks apart spectacularly every eight years. Or rather, as I pointed out to the stallholder, every five years these days, because much of the southern hemisphere is cooling. This image did not demonstrate "global warming" but regional cooling.

The stallholder robotically reached for the IPCC's latest Holy Book and showed me graphs of sharply-rising temperatures in South Africa, Australasia and South America. She didn't show me the Antarctic, of course: that has been cooling for half a century. It had not occurred to the poor dear to wonder why the IPCC's temperature graphs for all continents but one were shown as rising steeply in recent years, when the global mean temperature has not shown any statistically-significant rise since the IPCC's previous Holy Book came out in 2001. The thing about stable average temperatures is that if some have risen others must have fallen. Or so it seems to me. But then I'm not a zombie.

"Anyway," I said, "doesn't the 2007 rewrite of the Holy Book say that the Greenland Ice Sheet would only lose significant ice-mass if a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius or more were to be sustained for several millennia?" That, after all, was what a UK High Court judge had recently found, when he condemned Al Gore's ludicrous hundredfold exaggeration of sea-level rise as alarmist and told ministers to correct this and eight other flagrant errors in Gore's rocky-horror movie before exposing hapless schoolchildren to it.

Here's a question. If the science behind the scare is as certain as the zombies say, why are they so terrified of a few doubters? Google me and you'll find hundreds of enviro-loony websites, such as Wikipedia, now an international music-hall joke for inaccuracy, that call me a fraud (for writing about climate science when I'm not a climate scientist), a plagiarist (for citing learned papers rather than making up scare stories), and a liar (for saying I'm a member of the House of Lords when - er - I'm a member of the House of Lords, though, being merely hereditary, I don't have a seat there).

One of these bedwetting sites even has a "Monckton Watch" page, with a hilarious collection of colourful stories, including the story of how I told the stallholder that much of the southern hemisphere was cooling. No mention that the location of the BBC's favourite glacier has indeed been cooling. And, of course, no mention of the elephant in the room - that a national weather bureau had flagrantly exaggerated the Holy Book's official ramblings about Greenland on its silly, taxpayer-funded poster.

You'll find precious little science on the zombie websites. They specialize in global whingeing ad hominem, rather than scientific argument ad rem. The frenetic personal assaults have become so self-evidently ludicrous that I'm getting an increasing number of emails from people who have first heard of my work from the Kool-Aid slurpers and have gone on to find, to their surprise, that the peer-reviewed science to which my climate papers politely draw attention does suggest that the Holy Books have exaggerated both the influence of Siotu over temperature and the consequences of warmer weather.

An example. A couple of months back I posted a paper citing peer-reviewed evidence that the fingerprint of greenhouse-gas warming - temperature rising over the decades at a rate three times faster six miles up in the tropical troposphere than at the surface - is absent from all of the real-world records of actual temperature change throughout the past half-century. During the Bali conference, I presented my own linear regression analysis going back 25 years and demonstrating that the rate of change in temperature falls with altitude, while the IPCC's models predict that if CO2 is at fault it should be increasing with altitude. Two days later our team of heroes had the pleasure of circulating to delegates a paper just published by the formidable John Christy and his colleagues, spectacularly and definitively confirming this result.

We circulated a one-page summary of the Christy paper showing the tropical upper-troposphere "hot-spot" as predicted in the Holy Book, and the total absence of the "hot-spot" in the observed data. We explained that, in the words of Professor Dick Lindzen of MIT, who knows more about the bad behaviour of the atmosphere than anyone, the missing "hot-spot" means that the IPCC's estimate of the impact of greenhouse-gas enrichment on temperature is at least a threefold exaggeration.

As I was handing our flyer round the Press tent, a "development journalist" angrily said: "How dare you criticize the IPCC's scientists?" I sat down and said: "I don't attack the scientists, though they certainly attack me. I attack the bad science."

"Well, then," he said, "how dare you substitute your judgment for that of thousands of climate scientists?" I said that the crucial chapter in the Holy Book attributing rising temperatures to Siotu had been written by only 53 people, not all of whom were scientists, and that - by coincidence - 53% of the comments by 60 reviewers had been rejected by the authors of the chapter. Not exactly the 2,500 scientists claimed by the high priests, and not exactly a consensus either.

I explained that I was an old-fashioned scribbler who had been taught to be sceptical of all sides of every debate, and that the authors of the Holy Book were obviously not good at sums. "Give me an example," he said. So I did.

The Holy Book saith: "The CO2 radiative forcing increased by 20% during the last 10 years (1995-2005)." Radiative forcing quantifies increases in radiant energy in the atmosphere, and hence in temperature. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 1995 was 360 parts per million. In 2005 it was just 5% higher, at 378 ppm. But each additional molecule of CO2 in the air causes a smaller radiant-energy increase than its predecessor. So the true increase in radiative forcing was 1%, not 20%. The high priests have exaggerated the CO2 effect 20-fold.

"So how are you so nauseatingly certain that you're right?" he asked. "Well," I said, "because I worked out that the proportionate increase in CO2 between 1995 and 2005 was 5%, not 20%, and then did a simple calculation from this to work out the radiative forcing. It's called `checking'." He looked baffled. Voodoo has indeed replaced science, and the paradox is that the new religion claims to worship science.....

Gore needs to pretend that the situation is urgent when it is becoming increasingly plain to everyone that it isn't. The robust corn-stalk chewers of Iowa, polled recently about election issues, ranked "global warming" so low that fewer than one in 200 thought it mattered at all. Therefore, to whip up the flagging panic that keeps the gravy-train of "global warming" rolling, Baron Thursdi came up with a new, improved list of 50 errors and exaggerations:

* Floods in 18 countries, plus Mexico: Four errors in one. First, individual extreme-weather events cannot be attributed to "global warming". Secondly, the number of floods is not unprecedented, though TV makes them more visible than before. Thirdly, even if the floods were caused by warming, the fact of warming does not tell us the cause. Thirdly - and it was astonishing how few of the zombies knew this - there has been no statistically-significant increase in mean global surface temperature since the last IPCC Holy Book in 2001. "Global warming" has stopped.

* The Arctic ice-cap will be gone within 5 to 7 years: Six errors in one. First, as a paper published by NASA during the conference demonstrates, Arctic warming has nothing much to do with "global warming": instead, as numerous studies confirm, it is chiefly caused by decadal alterations in the ocean circulation affecting the region. Thirdly, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 1940s than it is today. Fourthly, thinner pack-ice is surprisingly resistant to melting, so the ice-cap will probably be still there for many years to come, even if (which is unlikely) the warming trend resumes. Fifthly, the ice-cap was probably absent during the mediaeval warm period, and almost certainly absent during the Bronze Age climate optimum, when temperatures were higher than today's for almost 2,000 years. Sixthly, the Greenland ice sheet melted completely away 850,000 years ago. There cannot have been an Arctic ice-cap then. So the disappearance of the Arctic ice-cap, even if it occurred, would be neither unprecedented nor alarming.

* Forest fires are causing devastation: Five errors in one. First, most forest fires are caused by humans - power-lines sparking in the wind, carelessly-tossed cigarette-butts, or even arson. Secondly, individual events of this kind cannot be attributed to "global warming". Thirdly, warmer weather is generally wetter weather, because - as the Clausius-Clapeyron relation demonstrates - the space occupied by the atmosphere can carry near-exponentially greater concentrations of water vapour as the weather becomes warmer. Fourthly, it has not got warmer since 2001, so there is no factual basis whatsoever for attributing more forest fires to warmer weather. Fifthly, the fact of warming does not tell us the cause......

Much much more here


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


20 December, 2007


Below is a letter to the IPCC from Syun Akasofu [], International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks

We encounter scientific terms, such as climate change, global warming, the greenhouse effect, and carbon dioxide a few times every day in newspapers, radio broadcasts, TV news, as well as in conversations among people. It must be the first time in the history of science that a specific scientific field has gotten so much attention from the public. As a scientist, I am pleased about the public's interest in science. Unfortunately, however, I am afraid that this great interest by the public in climatology is largely the result of a proliferating number of confusing stories in the media that are based on misinterpreted information about the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide.

If the IPCC wants to represent this particular scientific field to the world, they are responsible for rectifying the great confusion and misinterpretation of scientific facts in the mind of the public. Some of the items that need clarification and action are:

1. Define climate change, global warming, manmade greenhouse effect, and ask the public to stop the synonymous use of these terms. (Those who use these terms synonymously do not know what they are talking about.)

2. Ask the mass media to stop using scenes of large blocks of ice falling off the terminus of a glacier and of the spring break-up in the Arctic as supposedly due to the manmade greenhouse effect. (Glaciers are 'rivers of ice', so that calving is natural, and spring break-up is a normal, annual event; both have been going on from the geological time.)

3. Ask the mass medial to stop using collapsing houses built on permafrost (frozen ground) as a result of the manmade greenhouse effect. (Their collapse is due to improper construction that allows the house heat to melt the permafrost underneath the structure.)

4. Tell that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is not a single plate of ice. (The area covered by sea ice changes considerably because of winds and ocean currents, not just by melting.)

5. Call attention to the fact that anomalous, extreme, and unusual weather phenomena are not directly related to the manmade greenhouse effect. (The manmade greenhouse effect is represented by a slow increase of temperature at the rate of 0.6ÝC/per 100 years.)

6. Acknowledge that the use of the so-called "hockey stick" figure in the 2001 Summary Report for Policy Makers was not appropriate. (It shows a sudden increase of temperature around 1900 after a slow decrease for 900 years, giving the impression of 'abrupt climate change'.)

7. Acknowledge that the present warming trend is not unusual or abnormal in the light of past temperature changes. (There were many warmer periods than the present one, which lasted hundreds of years during the present interglacial period that began 10,000 years ago.)

8. Distinguish between the manmade greenhouse effect and a great variety of manmade environmental destructions, which are often mentioned by greenhouse advocates in the same breath. (The latter includes results from the over-harvesting of forests and fish, pollution, extinction of some species.)

9. Stop media reports telling that the sea level has already increased several meters during the last 50 years. (According to the 2007 IPCC Report, the rising rate is 1.8mm/yer, so that the sea level increased 9 cm during the last 50 years.)

10. Scientists who study satellite data should not use the term "unprecedented changes". (They do not have satellite data before the 1970s and cannot tell if any of the changes are "unprecedented", even those that occurred in the 1930s or 1940s, not having comparable data.)

11. Encourage the mass media not to report only on sensational scientific findings that may represent the opinion of only one scientist or a few. (Reporters who are not familiar with arctic phenomena tend to report normal features as anomalous.)

12. Remind scientists to be careful about hinting at possible disaster scenarios resulting from the greenhouse effect of CO2 without solid scientific bases.

I believe these are reasonable requests, over which no debate is needed. The public is alarmed and thus concerned about climate change largely because they are confused by the above and other misinformation and misunderstanding, not because they are particularly interested in climatology. People bring up these and many other misunderstood issues when I discuss the present warming trend with the public. I am concerned about the inevitable backlash against science and scientists, when the public learns the correct information about climate change. Even if the IPCC is not directly responsible for the present confusion, they should take the necessary responsible action to help rectify the situation.


By Benny Peiser

The success of the major Anglosphere nations at last week's United Nations climate conference in Bali marks the beginning of the end of the age of climate hysteria. It also symbolizes a significant shift of political leadership in international climate diplomacy from the once-dominating European continent to North America and its Western allies.

This power shift has perhaps never been more transparent and dramatic than in Bali, when Australia's Labour government, under the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announced a complete U-turn on the thorny issue of mandatory carbon dioxide emissions targets. Only days after Australia's delegation had backed Europe's demand for a 25% to 40% cut in emission by 2020, Mr. Rudd declared (his signature under the Kyoto Protocol wasn't even dry) that his government would not support such targets after all.

Indeed, Australia's position hardened further when Trade Minister Simon Crean announced that developing countries like China and India would have to accept tough binding emissions targets before Australia would ever agree to any post-Kyoto agreement beyond 2012. Similar stipulations were made by Canada and Japan. Surprisingly, even the British government appeared to deviate from the European Union position when Britain's Trade and Development Minister, Gareth Thomas, told the BBC that developing countries would also be required to accept targets for CO2 emissions. Rather than being isolated, the decision by the United States and Canada to take the lead in international energy and climate diplomacy appears to have galvanized key allies, who are gradually rallying around a much tougher stance vis-a-vis China and India.

In Bali, the Anglosphere nations have in effect drawn a red line in the sand: Unless developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts themselves, much of the Western world will henceforth reject any unilateral burden imposed by future climate deals. As a consequence, the so-called Bali road map adopted last Saturday has shifted the pressure further on to developing nations to share responsibility for CO2 emissions, a move that is widely regarded as a significant departure from the Kyoto Protocol.

For the first time, there are now firm demands for developing nations to tackle CO2 emissions by taking "actions in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable" way. There can be little doubt that the words adopted in Bali herald increasing pressure on China and India to accept mandatory emissions targets.

Australia's public endorsement of this line of attack attests to the fact that the West's climate strategy no longer depends on party politics. Nobody has made this new reality more obvious in recent days than Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry. Speaking to reporters at the Bali meeting, he notified the international community that a rejection by China and other emerging economies to cut their own greenhouse gases would make it almost impossible for any U.S. administration to get a new global climate treaty through the U.S. Senate -- "even under a Democratic president."

Yet, neither China nor India will be able to agree to any emissions cuts in the foreseeable future. While their CO2 emissions are expected to rise rapidly over the next 20 to 30 years, there is simply nothing in the world of alternative energy or clean technology existing today that has the capacity to arrest this upwards trend. Any forceful attempts, on the other hand, to rein in the dramatically rising energy consumption in almost all of Asia would, inescapably, trigger economic turmoil, social disorder and political chaos.

In Bali, more than perhaps ever before, climate alarmism has finally hit the solid brick wall of political reality. It's a reality that won't go away or be changed any time soon. After more than 20 years of green ascendancy on the world stage, green politicians and climate campaigners are for the first time faced with a conundrum that looks as impenetrable as squaring the circle.

Reflecting on this predicament and the results of the Bali conference, Germany's former foreign secretary, my old friend Joschka Fischer, declared that nothing short of divine intervention would be required to reach a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009, in face of insurmountable obstacles. "Perhaps something will happen in the meantime, something that does not normally happen in politics, namely a small miracle. After all, given past experiences, one must fear that international climate policy won't probably advance without the direct intervention of higher powers."

That Europe's most famous and most eminent green politician is prepared and desperate enough to publicly call for heavenly support is a strong indication that the age of climate alarmism is now being gradually replaced by fatalism. That's what the encounter with a brick wall tends to do to hot-heads. One can only hope that a period of sobering up from green dreams and delusions will provide political leaders with the prerequisite for a realistic, pragmatic and most of all a manageable approach to climate change.



Japan's government omitted a proposed carbon tax from its latest list of measures to curb pollution and will instead intensify appeals for voluntary reductions from homes, utilities and factories. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's Cabinet today reviewed alternative strategies to meet the nation's Kyoto Protocol target on carbon emissions, Hiroshi Kamagata, a counsellor in the Cabinet Secretariat, told reporters in Tokyo. Media handouts omitted earlier proposals for a carbon tax on fossil fuel use and the creation of an emissions trading system.

Fukuda wants to implement climate-change policies before hosting a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in July next year focusing on efforts to cope with global warming. The U.S., Japan and Canada last week succeeded in diluting a call for mandatory cuts in emissions at a meeting of 187 nations in Indonesia to negotiate a new global-warming treaty by 2009. Global efforts to tackle climate change will be the focus of the G-8 summit from July 7 to July 9 at the Lake Toya hot spring resort on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

Japan pledged under the 1997 Kyoto agreement to cut annual average greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from the level in 1990. The cuts must be made over the five years starting April 2008.

Japan's greenhouse gas emissions rose 6.4 percent from the 1990 level in the fiscal year that ended last March, reaching 1.341 billion metric tons, according to a Nov. 5 report by the environment ministry. Per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide declined to 9.98 tons, the first time below 10 tons in five years.

Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita, Trade Minister Akira Amari and Finance Minister Fukushiro Nakaga joined the meeting today at the Prime Minister's office to discuss climate change policies, Kamagata said.

Documents by government ministries distributed to reporters today set out the country's main policies to achieve the Kyoto target, including a plan to promote energy-conservation among households and industries and increased use of biomass fuel and solar power. Japanese policymakers had debated a proposal to introduce a carbon tax and the formation of a domestic emissions trading system among measures to achieve their current target. Nippon Oil Corp. and other Japanese refiners are against an environment ministry proposal for a petroleum product tax.



Fresh environmental plans have been submitted for an opencast coal mine originally approved in 1956. Outline permission for the scheme at Auchencorth near West Linton in the Borders was granted more than 50 years ago but is now officially dormant. However, Scottish Coal now hopes to extract some 450,000 tonnes of coal from the Peeblesshire site.



Passenger numbers at Frankfurt airport, Germany's main civil aviation hub, could increase 60 percent by 2020 thanks to a new runway, the chief executive of airport operator Fraport was quoted as saying. "We expect that we will be able to raise the (annual) passenger count in Frankfurt to more than 88 million in 2020," CEO Wilhelm Bender told the Euro am Sonntag weekly in a preview received on Saturday of an article due out in print on Sunday.....

More here

Congrats to the Associated Press

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

I want to congratulate the Associated Press and the Arizona Republic for running this story:

Scientists fear Arctic thaw has reached 'tipping point'

On the exact same day that this was published:
Arctic Sea Ice Re-Freezing at Record Pace

The record melting of Arctic sea ice observed this summer and fall led to record-low levels of ice in both September and October, but a record-setting pace of re-freezing in November, according to the NASA Earth Observatory. Some 58,000 square miles of ice formed per day for 10 days in late October and early November, a new record.

Still, the extent of sea ice recorded in November was well shy of the median extent observed over the past quarter century, as the image from Nov. 14 (above, right) shows. The dramatic increase in ice is evident, when compared to the record-low amount observed Sept. 16 (below, right). In both images, 100% sea ice is shown in white, and the yellow line encompasses the area ion which there was at least 15% ice cover in at least half of the 25-year record for the given month.
The re-freeze continues in December, such that the ice coverage is pretty much at the median level today. The AP/Republic article is admirably free of any new facts except the oft-repeated "Arctic ice at all-time low," all-time of course meaning not all-time but in the last 30 years that we have been able to observe by sattellite. And neither article bothers to mention the high coverage record that was set in the South Pole this very same year.

The AZ Republic article is mostly made up of dueling catastrophists competing to see who can have the most dire forecast:
Just last year, two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040. This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."
Anytime you see someone use the word "tipping" point in relation to climate, you should immediately be skeptical. Tipping points imply runaway positive feedback, something that is a feature of nuclear fission but is generally not a feature of stable natural processes. TJIC said it well the other day:
Wow, it's almost as if there are negative feedback loops that keep the system centered, despite occasional perturbations. Which is odd, because to listen to the global warming alarmists, one concludes that:

(a) the environment is a delicately balanced system that can be pushed, by the least little perturbation, into a runaway positive feedback loop, turning the Earth into another Venus.

(b) over the last 200 million years there have been asteroid impacts, brightenings and darkenings of the sun, and massive volcano eruptions, but the Earth's environment has always returned to a slow oscillation around a moderate middle point.

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


19 December, 2007


An email to Benny Peiser from David Whitehouse [] below

Ever missed a story? Seems to me that the BBC has: "2007 data confirms warming trend"

These figures show that the global average temperature 2007 was statistically identical to 2006, which was statistically identical to 2005, which was statistically identical to 2004, to 2003, to 2002, and to 2001 as well. The BBC does not report figures for 1999 and 2000 which were lower than 2001.

Statistically the data set 2001 - 2007 is a constant with a miniscule 0.03 deg variation. Taken separately the chances that the data for 2001 - 2007 comes from the same population distribution as the data points for 1979 -1998 (which showed a rapid warming) is less than 1%.

During 2001 - 2007 the concentration of man-made CO2 going into the atmosphere increased by roughly 10% from about 370 ppm to 383 ppm (pre-industrial level 280 ppm).

Who knows what will happen in the future but for now scientists have established beyond doubt (indeed at a higher level of statistical confidence than any expression of confidence in the recent IPCC Synthesis report) that Global Warming has halted. Of course the world's ecosystems are reacting to the overall warmth of the past decade.

The headline should therefore be: "Scientists confirm Global Warming standstill"

It will be interesting to see what other sources of global temperature data say in the new year.


An email from Petr Chylek [] below:

I thought you might be interested in reading the attached paper (at least the abstract). The climate sensitivity of 0.29 to 0.48 K/Wm ~ 2 translates to warming between 1.1 and 1.8 deg C for doubling of CO2, supporting values close to the lower end of the IPCC range of 2 to 4.5 deg C.

Limits on climate sensitivity derived from recent satellite and surface observations

Petr Chylek et al.


An analysis of satellite and surface measurements of aerosol optical depth suggests that global average of aerosol optical depth has been recently decreasing at the rate of around 0.0014/a. This decrease is nonuniform with the fastest decrease observed over the United States and Europe. The observed rate of decreasing aerosol optical depth produces the top of the atmosphere radiative forcing that is comparable to forcing due to the current rate of increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Consequently, both increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and decreasing loading of atmospheric aerosols are major contributors to the top-of-atmosphere radiative forcing. We find that the climate sensitivity is reduced by at least a factor of 2 when direct and indirect effects of decreasing aerosols are included, compared to the case where the radiative forcing is ascribed only to increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. We find the empirical climate sensitivity to be between 0.29 and 0.48 K/Wm?2 when aerosol direct and indirect radiative forcing is included.



Following Bali, as with all such climate-change meetings, we have now entered the post-summit manic depressive phrase, where participants and reporters swing between despair and delight. While UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is reported as being "delighted", Christian Aid is "dismayed", and, according to The Sunday Times, Bali has left the "greens in despair". Individuals and newspaper editorials internally move from bright optimism to realistic pessimism, and then back to facile optimism. We have seen it all before, classically following the Montreal summit in 2005. Accordingly, there is little objective reporting and comment. Some newspapers, like the Independent on Sunday and The Observer, just appear to want to engage in naive America-bashing, while others try to prescribe rose-tinted spectacles for us all.

The only decent analysis of Bali has been provided by Environment Correspondent, Richard Black, at BBC Online (`Analysis', December 15). Here, for example, is an excellent and realistic passage from Richard:

"However, the EU must concede - and some European delegates did concede - that they have got far less than they demanded. The Bush administration is not for turning. But it is difficult to accuse it of inconsistency. In Bali it deployed positions and tactics which were totally in keeping with previous years.

And there is a case for saying that Europe played a poor hand here, demanding something it was never going to get. Its counter-arguments are that it proposed targets based on the latest scientific findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which the US, Canada, Japan and so on have all endorsed; and that it needs to confront opposition in those other nations, not just in the US. Given Japan's enthusiasm for the Kyoto accord, its stance here must have hurt.

At home, the US administration has been keen to promulgate the politically convenient view that climate change is now really China's fault; hence the desire to wring some kind of commitment from the Chinese."

Black is entirely correct about Europe. Indeed, it could be argued that Europe is really the `villain of the piece' because of its ridiculous insistence on 1950's style targets and central planning, something to which a number of countries have deep ideological objections (as do I), including Australia, Canada, Japan, and the US (including many Democrats), as well as some former communist states. Europe's `purity' and sanctimoniousness, while still hypocritically failing widely over the Kyoto Protocol, is a pretty unpleasant mix to have to swallow. I must also point out that Michael Bloomberg, the Republican Mayor of New York, stresses that Congress, not Bush, remains the real opposition to `targets'. No American wants to provide free cash and a competitive edge to either China or Russia.

And, as The Sunday Telegraph (`In Bali climate deal, US appears to backtrack') is at pains to point out, one mustn't underestimate the role of Russia at Bali: "Russia is to blame for the fact that the agreement contained no figure for the `deep cuts' needed in carbon emissions, The Sunday Telegraph has learned. In tense negotiations late on Friday, officials of a smaller group of just 12 countries almost agreed a footnote that would have referred to the need for a 50 per cent cut by 2050. A western official said: `We got to the phrase `long-term goal' and the Russians set on the whole thing. They would not accept any target, not even in a footnote referring to the science.' Fearful that the Russians were prepared to scupper the whole agreement, other countries backed off."

Moreover, as in previous years, Bali is starting to unravel (`US sets terms for climate talks', BBC Online Science/Nature News, December 15): "The text of the roadmap refers to `common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities' and calls for `nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties'.

However, the US said it felt the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities had `not yet fully been given effect'. `The problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone,' the statement said. `Major developing economies must likewise act.'

Developing states, the US also argued, had to be differentiated according to the size of their economies and energy use. Any new climate goals had to `take into account the legitimate right of the major developing economies and indeed all countries to grow their economies, develop on a sustainable basis, and have access to secure energy sources'."

Thus, in the end, Bali has followed, to the letter, the course I outlined for it on December 3 in: `GW, Bali, and Mass Sociogenic Illness'. The final stages of mass manic depression by proxy and political back-tracking are already well underway, and more quickly than even I had anticipated.

Bali itself offered, as Richard Black intimates, a few crumbs for all, but no loaf was baked in the heated oven of the summit. This is inevitable. The big lessons have still not been grasped. We cannot control climate predictably, and we mustn't try to change the whole world economy in the hubristic belief that we might be able to do so. Until we understand these simple truths, we will be doomed to long-term manic depression over our ecochondria about `global warming'. In the bitter end, we can do nothing predictable about climate change.

Luckily, Bali has done nothing that will wreck world economies. As Lord Mountararat sings with respect to the House of Lords in Gilbert and Sullivan's evergreen Iolanthe: it "Did nothing in particular, And did it very well." We may not be so blessed in the future. We therefore have time to stand back from the brink of our foolish arrogance to focus, as of old, on adaptation to climate change, hot, wet, cold, or dry.



According to this paper by two researchers at the University of California carbon dioxide emissions in China are projected to grow between 11.05% and 13.19% per year for the period 2000-2010. What does this mean? I hope you are sitting down because you won't believe this.

In 2006 China's carbon dioxide emissions contained about 1.70 gigatons of carbon (GtC) (source). By 2010, at the growth rates projected by these researchers the annual emissions from China will be between 2.6 and 2.8 GtC. The growth in China's emissions from 2006-2010 is equivalent to adding the 2004 emissions of Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to China's 2006 total (source). The emissions growth in China at these rates is like adding another Germany every year, or a UK and Australia together, to global emissions.

Think about that.



In the proposed coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Gordon Brown is facing his first test since pledging to put Britain at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change. A proposal to build the UK's first coal-fired power station in more than 30 years will land on his desk in the next few weeks.

New coal would fly in the face of advice from the UN's top climate scientists, who warn that global emissions must peak and then fall dramatically within the next 100 months to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Even Mr Brown's "special adviser" on climate change, Al Gore, said in August: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations." Greenpeace couldn't have put it better. The only question remaining is if the Prime Minister is listening.

Mr Brown's decision on new coal will determine in large part whether Britain can meet its global warming targets, which the Prime Minister suggested would be revised upwards to an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050. Giving the green light to Kingsnorth - and other stations - will lock Britain into huge carbon emissions for decades and signal Mr Brown's surrender on the 80 per cent target.

E.on is planning to build a plant at Kingsnorth that will emit more than 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year; and waiting behind Kingsnorth are proposals for at least seven further new coal stations. This generation of coal-fired power stations will account for half of Britain's permissible carbon emissions in 2050 if Mr Brown goes for a 80 per cent target. The hope that the Kingsnorth plant will be "ready" to adopt Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology in the future is a triumph of hope over experience. A UN report into the viability of CCS predicted that it won't be able to play any significant role for decades.



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


18 December, 2007


Below is an email to Benny Peiser from Prof. Syun Akasofu [] of the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

The most serious issue heads of state in the world faces today is the health of the economy of their own countries. This issue is of the same importance whether they were democratically elected or not. If their economic policies fail or collapse, they face a vote of non-confidence or may not be re-elected in a democratic country. In a dictatorial country, revolution might occur.

However, because the economy, energy consumption, and the amount of manmade CO2 released are closely tied together, they cannot simply reduce the release of CO2. And efficient use of energy and conservation alone will not be sufficient to maintain the present economic growth, unless a vast amount of sustainable energy unrelated to CO2 can be found.

One of the major topics today is the great economic growth of China and India. Both countries have reportedly stated that they will refuse any international regulation on their CO2 release. On the other hand, some countries are demanding that both China and India should reduce their CO2 release. Here is a great contradiction. The developed countries, including the US and Japan, have made China in effect the 'factory' of the world by outsourcing their production. This can easily be recognized by the fact that practically everything available in our retail stores is "Made in China". It is reported that China plans to build 650 coal-fired power plants by 2010. Therefore, it appears that China plans to continue to be the 'factory' of the world in the future.

Therefore, it is selfish for the outsourcing countries to demand that China and India, the 'factories' of the world, reduce their CO2 release. If the developed countries have to stop outsourcing the work presently done in China and India, they will have to bring their factories back to their own countries, which would not resolve the CO2 problem.

If the great disaster scenario predicted by the IPCC were to occur, it could be said to be the fault of the developed countries, which have been promoting "outsourcing" by promoting global capitalism. Following this line of thought, one could even say that if the IPCC predicted disaster were to occur, global capitalism will collapse by itself and destroy the world.

The heads of the worlds must be well aware of the simplistic scenario mentioned above, but they cannot reduce their economic activities and CO2 release. Indeed, carbon is money. Thus, in order to escape from this seeming quagmire, they hold high-level, international meetings, including the G8 summits, one after another. In the past, they could not reach any substantive agreement on the reduction of CO2 release, nor did they respect any of the agreements they did reach. For instance Japan, the host country of the Kyoto Protocol, could not follow it, in spite of their efforts.

It appears that the sole purpose of such meetings in the past has been (and probably will be in the future) nothing more than to make joint declarations to the world to show that they are serious about global warming, in order to avoid being called 'enemies of mankind' by the world mass media and global-warming-mongers. So far, I have not heard of any serious initiatives by economic and financial institutions to take measures to meet the IPCC's recommendations. At present, they are busy in dealing with the "sub-prime lending" problems, which should be somewhat less important than the future of mankind.

In reality, however, there is a high probability that most of the present warming trend is caused by natural changes, in spite of the fact that the IPCC claims "most" of the warming is caused by the greenhouse effect of CO2 (IPCC Summary, 2007). It is important to note that the IPCC claim is only a hypothesis, it is not a fact. The earth experienced a cool period called the "Little Ice Age" (LIA) from about l400 AD. The recovery from the LIA began in about l800 AD or earlier. This recovery trend has been in progress since then almost linearly, continuing even at the present time, at a rate of about 0.5ÝC per 100 years. There is no way to explain this linear temperature increase in terms of the CO2 greenhouse effect. The IPCC claims that the temperature rise is about 0.6ÝC per 100 years. Thus, it is possible that the greenhouse effect on temperature increase is about 0.1ÝC per l00 years, instead of 0.6ÝC.

There were at least several periods during the last l00,000 years, when the temperature was higher than at the present, so there is nothing unusual or abnormal about the present warming trend and the present temperature. This fact is quite obvious when paleoclimate and geological data are examined (even including the temperature trend during the l930's in the US). The existence of dinosaurs supports the past long-term data. The IPCC focused its main efforts only on the recent temperature increase from 1900. Examining only such recent data provides a sort of snap-shot view from the climatological perspective. It is like chasing dragons, which are imaginary creatures, corresponding to the IPCC's unproven hypothesis and the exaggerated greenhouse effect of CO2.

Basing their predictions only on recent data, it is possible that the IPCC has greatly over-estimated the greenhouse effect, and their future predictions are also uncertain. Their climate models are nothing more than a sort of academic exercise at the present time and should not be used for international policy-making. There is much uncertainty about climate change, and careful, basic research is needed, instead of harmful, panicky decisions that may severely affect the world economy. It is not possible to stop the climate change caused by natural processes. Our adaptation to naturally-caused climate changes should be different from our actions to address man-made causes. If the natural causes are dominant, the reduction of the man-made CO2, while made at a great expenditure to the world economy, will not have much effect.

What is needed now is an international panel on environmental destruction (IPED). In his book entitled, "The Crisis of Global Capitalism", George Soros, a well-known investor, mentioned that global capitalism cannot deal with environmental destruction. Indeed, environmental destruction, can be and should be a major and worthwhile topic for joint discussion by the heads of state of the world.


PROMOTING CARBON RATIONING AND A GREEN POLICE STATE. This is a more extensive coverage of a shocking interview with a highly-esteemed Greenie totalitarian that I mentioned yesterday. Hitler has a passionate belief that Germany's troubles were due to the Jews. Mayer Hillman has a passionate belief that a harmless gas we all breathe out is a huge threat. Given their assumptions, the policies of both men become reasonable. But the world is full of self-serving beliefs that have only dubious evidence to support them so we heed such fanatics at our peril

The amount of travel will fall dramatically when the Government introduces personal carbon rationing, says leading green thinker Mayer Hillman. He tells Andrew Forster that rationing is the only way to prevent runaway climate change....

Turning to the practicalities of Hillman's rationing plan, I can't help thinking that cutting emissions ten-fold in five to ten years is a bit ambitious. Hillman has a well-rehearsed line to respond to this point. "If you exceed the one tonne then the only outcome is you know that you're complicit in a process which is leading to the accelerating destruction of the planet for generations succeeding us, "he says.

Rationing is beginning to sound like a social justice programme as well as one to 'save the planet'. Indeed, that is exactly what it is. "It delivers social justice as well as protection of the global environment because the energy thrifty are the beneficiaries of others' profligacy but the profligacy isn't maintained because it gets progressively and hugely costly to maintain," Hillman explains.

But I still can't understand how governments could introduce rationing, particularly at the strict levels Hillman suggests. Think about the developing world, I say. The economies of China and India are booming; most of their people are probably looking optimistically towards the future instead of worrying about climate change; they probably aspire to the same high-energy lifestyles that we already have. How are you going to convince them to stick to living on a one tonne allowance of CO2?

Actually, he says, developing countries will like rationing because they will make money by selling surplus credits. And anyway, he says, in some countries it won't be necessary to convince the public that this is a good idea. "The Chinese live in a totalitarian state," he points out. "You don't have to persuade the Chinese, you've got to persuade the Chinese Government." What about the developed world? How's he going to convince the citizens of the UK that personal carbon rations are a good thing?

"Well, you may be surprised to know that contraction and convergence has been an element of Liberal Democrat policy for about three or four years," he says. "They don't trumpet it." The idea also has supporters within the Conservative and Labour parties, he adds, and the UK is supporting its discussion at this month's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.

But Hillman concedes that rationing will be controversial. "Nobody wants to acknowledge that this is the only way because of its implications," he says. "As I say, this spells out the end of flying, this spells the end of longdistance travel because the per capita ration cannot stretch to this." Which is going to be a huge shock to most people, I suggest. "Well all I can say is 'hard luck'."

But if a government does come forward with rationing, people will legitimately ask 'What about my job?, 'What about my holiday?' How would he respond to such concerns? "We have a responsibility to pass the planet on to future generations in a reasonable state," he begins. "Imagine if I were to be around in 2057 and accountable to our little granddaughters and they said tome 'What were you doing in 2007 when all the evidence was there of the devastating process to which you and all the people who were alive at the time were adopting?' Imagine if I said, 'Well we worried about the employment implications, we were worried that we couldn't visit our friends and family if they lived a long distance away because that would entail flying.' It's almost monstrous I think to wheel out that line of reasoning. It is just unacceptable."

Some people might not accept that view. "Yeah, well they need bloody educating," he says. "And I draw comfort from the fact that when food rationing was introduced in 1939 there were no demonstrations in Trafalgar Square."

Hillman thinks many people in the UK would actually welcome carbon rationing because, in the early years, much of the population would be financially better off (though they would, of course, be restricted in what they could spend their new-found wealth on). "Others will support it because the Government at the time of its introduction will be in the process of educating the public that this is the way to go," he says. "People realise that's the way it is in a time of shortage, of scarcity."

I still think he's underestimating the uproar such a policy would bring. What if people aren't convinced even after the education programme? I just can't see how a democratically elected government could introduce this.

The word "democratic" triggers an interesting exchange. "Ah, that's right," he says. "Very good and you're absolutely right. And that's why in 1990 I wrote a paper saying that the most dangerous threat of climate change was to our democratic institutions because the implication of democracy is that if you can't persuade the majority to support a particular policy then you can't introduce it.

"Can you imagine saying in 50 years' time, 'I'm sorry, you've inherited a devastated planet but we couldn't persuade the majority to go down the route to prevent that happening because that entailed carbon rationing and the majority of people weren't prepared to accept that - they preferred to flout the implications or pretend to ignore the implications of what they were doing and so that's why you're now in this state.'

"When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it. This has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not."

By whom? "Government." What sort of government is that? "It's a government that recognises that priority."

It's not a democratically elected government? "Well, whether it is or not, I mean, you know, you're pressing me."

Is it a police state? "Erm, well, I, to a degree I shouldn't answer your question because I find it almost impossible to believe-" He seems to be saying he finds it impossible to believe people wouldn't accept rationing once they've been taught about the problem but he breaks off and changes tack.

"Ah yes, I've got another line of defence and it's an important one. You don't have to persuade the public to support the introduction of carbon rationing. All you have to do is persuade political leaders to do it. So that, for the next General Election, all the political parties will say the only way ahead is carbon rationing. So the electorate is then presented with no party saying we don't want carbon rationing, except perhaps the BNP but I think even they have expressed concern about climate change. "We've got a year-and-a-half to get that message across so there is a combined front from the political community to the general public. I mean if they're all agreed, you can't have individuals saying, 'Well I don't go along with it'. Because there's no alternative."

I put it to Hillman that rationing won't be politically deliverable and that, instead, we're going to have to rely on a long-term technological solution to cutting CO2. He's exasperated. "But we don't have time for a long-term solution to this! We are at this critical stage and you're saying technology will ride to the rescue in the longer term. It can't! It's too late!"



The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released the Summary for Policymakers of its Synthesis Report (SR). The SR synthesizes information from the three IPCC "Working Group" reports issued earlier this year. The full SR will be released after it is modified to conform to the SPM, which was wordsmithed by IPCC management and UN bureaucrats just before Thanksgiving.

Steve Hayward, Ken Green and I have written a preliminary analysis and critique of the Synthesis Report. I've included a summary of the paper below. You can download the full article here.

On a related note, you might also be interested in my analysis of a climate change editorial in yesterday's Sacramento Bee. According to the Bee's editorial writers, the IPCC's reports suggest rising seas are likely to submerge California's cities. Unfortunately, the Bee left out a few pesky details--including contrary evidence within the IPCC reports themselves.

Politics Posing as Science: A Preliminary Assessment of the IPCC's Latest Climate Change Report


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) new Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of its Synthesis Report (SR) should be taken with several chunks of salt. The summary itself is a political document that downplays assessments of uncertainty from the scientific reports written by the main body of the IPCC, which themselves are far more subjective than the IPCC would have one believe. Equally important, both the IPCC's summaries and main reports omit much contrary evidence. In several cases, the SR disagrees with the reports on which it is based, and it fails to take account of cautionary publications in the scientific literature that were available early enough to have been incorporated into the SR. Climate change and climate policy are key issues for future human welfare, but that concern should translate into sober analysis and actions that are likely to do more good than harm. The people of the world should not let themselves be steamrolled by a report that reflects the IPCC's interest in promoting climate change fears, rather than in conveying the weight of the scientific evidence.


Greenie attacks on dissent

In the finest Fascist tradition. It's clear that they know how fragile the evidence for their claims is

Taking a page from their mentor, Al Gore - and determined to keep the focus on a global warming ďconsensusĒ and U.S. heresy Ė the U.N. continued its campaign to muzzle dissenting scientists at this weekís Bali climate conference.

Just as Gore has refused requests to debate the warming threat, Bali organizers cancelled a scheduled press conference Thursday morning by the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) - a group of international scientists who protest the scientific basis of climate alarmism.

Itís the second such incident in a week. The Heartland Institute reports that ďearlier in the week. . . (UN official) Barbara Black interrupted the press conference and demanded the scientists immediately cease. She threatened to have the police physically remove them from the premises. (In addition) ICSC scientists have been prevented from participating in panel discussions, side events, and exhibits.Ē


US says climate deal not good enough

THE United States has voiced "serious concerns" about a deal reached at the UN climate conference in Bali, emphasising the need for major developing countries to be included in greenhouse gas emissions targets. In a statement following the end of the global conference, in which the United States found itself isolated in its stance against new emissions goals for developed countries, the White House said big developing economies also had to be covered by specific emissions targets. And it said that any new agreement to succeed the UN Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, must acknowledge a country's sovereign right to pursue economic growth and energy security.

While there were positive aspects to the conference's deal to seek a new treaty by 2009, the "United States does have serious concerns about other aspects of the decision as we begin the negotiations", the White House said. "The negotiations must proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone. "We must give sufficient emphasis to the important and appropriate role that the larger emitting developing countries should play in a global effort to address climate change," it said.

The White House also said coming talks need to differentiate between wealthier emerging countries and those with smaller economies in the commitments made toward reducing emissions. "In our view, such smaller and less developed countries are entitled to receive more differentiated treatment so as to more truly reflect their special needs and circumstances."

The statement was a reiteration of the adamant US position toward the Kyoto Treaty and the Bali talks that large, rapidly growing economies like China, India and Brazil must themselves commit to emissions cuts if efforts to slow climate change are to be equitable and effective. The US position nearly scuttled the Bali deal before a last-minute compromise allowed Washington's negotiators to sign on. Washington had said it would not accept a joint statement agreed by nearly all of the 190 nations present as it wanted developing countries such as China to make tougher commitments.

But on an unscheduled 13th day of talks, the United States - the only major industrial nation to reject Kyoto - reached a last-minute compromise with the European Union to avoid mentioning any figures as a target for slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite finally going along with the Bali pact, in its statement Washington insisted that the agreement has "not yet fully given effect to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that is a pillar of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change". "Empirical studies on emission trends in the major developing economies now conclusively establish that emissions reductions principally by the developed world will be insufficient to confront the global problem effectively," it said. "Accordingly, for these negotiations to succeed, it is essential that the major developed and developing countries be prepared to negotiate commitments, consistent with their national circumstances, that will make a due contribution to the reduction of global emissions."

The US statement stressed that any successful negotiations on reducing global emissions had to accommodate the national economic interests of those taking part.



One would think that countries that signed the Kyoto treaty are doing a better job of curtailing carbon emissions. One would also think that the United States, the only country that does not even intend to sign, keeps on emitting carbon dioxide at growth levels much higher than those who signed.

And one would be wrong.

The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto. Below are the growth rates of carbon dioxide emissions, from 1997 to 2004, for a few selected countries, all Kyoto signers. (Remember, the comparative number for the U.S. is 6.6%.)

Maldives, 252%.
Sudan, 142%.
China, 55%.
Luxembourg, 43%
Iran, 39%.
Iceland, 29%.
Norway, 24%.
Russia, 16%.
Italy, 16%.
Finland, 15%.
Mexico, 11%.
Japan, 11%.
Canada, 8.8%.

World and U.S. opinion seems to revolve around who signed Kyoto rather than actual carbon dioxide emissions. Once again, stated intent trumps actual results. Can even the global warming believers possibly believe this treaty has anything to do with it?



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


17 December, 2007


An email from Michael Martin-Smith [] below

"When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it. [Carbon rationing] has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not. "
That quote from Mayer Hillman reveals at last the true agenda of the extreme environmentalists; it is a replay of the classic dilemma posed by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the "Grand Inquisitor" speech of Ivan Karamazov, in which, in essence, we are offered the Faustian pact of surrender of Freedom in exchange for Bread. (Lenin and Stalin took this up, of course). The history of the subsequent century and a half demonstrates beyond doubt that this deal is a fraud, in that the result is invariably the loss of BOTH freedom and bread to the Grand Inquisitor.

Mainly, we should note that even the worst excesses of Climate Change would not threaten the planet or even the continuance of Life thereon. Not even the Permian Extinction event achieved that!

A Humanity which has succeeded in escaping the clutches of a new generation of wannabe Stalins and Hitlers might, or might not, suffer, in part, from Climate Change to an as yet unknown extent, but would adapt and regroup in good time, as after the far more destructive Black Death in Mediaeval Europe. As for Hellman' s proposed or implied global police state - we all know that behind the self denying and sanctimonious ideology displayed on the surface, there lurks a homicidal army of Berias, Heydrichs and Pol Pots who would rise rapidly to prominence, aided by all the surveillance technology and data bases now being assembled. Our only hope of survival as a civilisation would be the small chink of incompetence which would sully the perfect carapace with which these folk would subjugate us.

Dr N. Khan is quite right; if we are to face an energy crisis, then let us bend our wits and hearts to what he has styled an "Energy Jihad", to overcome the problems in freedom, according to our Human Nature. In default, Mother Nature at her worst would offer a kinder fate than the fraudulent Grand Inquisitor, whose ministrations promise only tyranny and failure.

For those who say that an expansion into Space, eg for solar satellite construction, would be too costly - I say clearly that the costs, both spiritual in loss of Freedom and in hard cash (for the monstrous apparatus - even without inevitable graft and corruption - of the global Police State would be vast indeed!) would outweigh the trivial costs of extraterrestrial expansion and development.

Mayer Hillman's remarks are a sure proof that the Environmentalist zealots' "Cure" would be worse than the Complaint - and he is not yet even in power... We have been warned

[Hillman is a chronic "campaigner" -- and is much praised for it. There is a more extensive coverage of the interview from which the above quote came here]

Europeans, Greens put on brave face after Bali

Blaming Bush is a lot easier than blaming India and China

EUROPEAN countries and green groups put on a brave face to mask their anger and disappointment after the US thwarted their main goals for tackling dangerous climate change. The accord in Bali launched a two-year round of negotiations for the most ambitious treaty ever attempted for reining in greenhouse gases, the carbon pollution from fossil fuels damaging Earth's climate system. But under US pressure, the deal dodged the goal of halving these emissions by 2050 or of embracing a commitment by industrialised economies to slash their own emissions by 2020 to help set the horse-trading in motion. Both had been set down by the European Union (EU), supported by developing countries, as a prerequisite for negotiations that would be bold and put the whip to rich countries historically to blame for global warming.

French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said that the key decision was that negotiations were now set in motion, and there remained two years to haggle over pledges before the process winds up in Denmark in 2009. The future "is Copenhagen, it's not Bali," he said. His deputy minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, acknowledged that the framework for negotiations "is quite weak but ... still moves forward." She noted that the US, for the first time, had signed up to text on "the comparability of efforts" of industrialised countries, a sign of its intentions of being a full-fledged member of the international climate club.

Green groups, though, accused the United States of gutting an agreement that would have ensured the negotiations got off to a flying start. "What you've got is a situation where the overwhelming majority of countries are progressive, they're pushing for a deal, and the (US) administration was out on a wrecking mission," said Hans Verolme of conservation group WWF. "Yes, we're launching negotiations and they have an end date," he said. "What they don't have is a clear reference to the best available science that should inform these negotiations and that is because the (US) administration was baulking, baulking, baulking."

He and other activists said, however, that the process launched in Bali would provide a seat at the next table for President George W. Bush's successor. "The Americans have actually climbed down on things that 12 months ago they fundamentally rejected," said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), a Brussels lobby group for the wind industry.

Previously, the US had refused to re-engage in global climate talks, set an end date for a future treaty or be included in a process essentially driven by the format of the Kyoto Protocol, rejected by Bush, he said. "So, on a procedural level, the Americans are being coaxed back into the fold. But they still have bedrock opposition to legally-binding obligations of emissions reduction."

Elliot Diringer, director of international strategies at the US environmental group, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said the Bali deal was "the best possible under the circumstances." "Two years ago, governments could barely reach agreement on staging a dialogue. Here, there is agreement on a global accord in 2009." But, he cautioned, "we shouldn't fool ourselves about how extraordinarily hard it's going to be to meet that goal." He said the Bush administration could easily block or slow progress in negotiations throughout 2008, "and without US concessions, developing countries won't follow suit." [Bush or no Bush, India and China say they won't won't cut their emissions. Nor should they]


Inventing hurricanes

Is one of our most respected federal agencies guilty of inflating the number of named tropical storms in recent years? So writes Eric Berger in a recent Houston Chronicle article that got hyped around the world, thanks to Matt Drudge.

First, some unfaint praise: Throughout the years, the National Hurricane Center has probably saved more lives than just about any other federal entity. Yes, NHC has had a lot of technological help -- satellites, radar, hurricane-hunter aircraft -- but it's easy to imagine what could happen without it. Just go to Galveston, Texas, where in 1900, locals were hit by a Category 4 hurricane that remains the single most costly disaster in U.S. history in terms of human life. The storm killed between 6,000 and 10,000 people. By the time it was apparent that the city was about to be drowned, there was no exit. Or consider last summer's Hurricane Dean, probably the first Category 5 storm in human history to hit a populated shore without killing a single person at landfall. A similar storm, Janet, hit the same spot in the Yucatan in 1955 and killed over 600. Thank NHC and Mexican economic development for the difference.

NHC does one heck of a lot of good, but it is inflating the number of tropical storms. Today, there is a downward trend in the average maximum winds measured in tropical storms and hurricanes. This either means that the average storm is becoming weaker (for which there is no good scientific reason), or there are a larger number of wimpy storms being named.

Each named storm commands 24/7 coverage on the Weather Channel, and even the weakest hurricane will usually lead the news on Fox. Interestingly, Neil Frank, who ran NHC from 1974 through 1987, and is now chief meteorologist for WHOU-TV in Houston, agrees about hurricane-inflation, stating that "They seem to be naming storms a lot more than they used to."

Back in Frank's day, a tropical storm merited a name only if its maximum sustained winds appeared to be 39 mph or higher, if it had a significantly low barometric pressure, as well as a symmetrical cloud field consistent with what are known generically as tropical cyclones. "Tropical cyclone" is the scientifically correct name for both tropical storms and hurricanes, their stronger, 75-mph+ counterparts.

Nowadays, as was rather obvious with July's tropical storm Chantal, it appears that winds alone are largely sufficient to name a storm. Satellite imagery showed nothing that looked like a tropical cyclone. Five other weak tropical storms this year also wouldn't have met Frank's barometric criteria.

Cynics might argue that NHC has a conflict of interest. After all, it releases months-in-advance estimates of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes forecast to appear each year. This year's forecast indicated above-average numbers. Take away the six questionable ones and the year comes in as below average.

But that is cynical. There's another good reason for naming relatively weak systems: even some of the wimpiest of tropical cyclones can cause massive flooding when they hit land.

The notion that tropical storms that never approached hurricane strength could produce unprecedented local flooding first hit home in 1979, when tropical storm Claudette -- an unimpressive cyclone by any measure -- suddenly dropped up to 42 inches of rain in 24 hours on Alvin, Texas, which remains the record daily total for the entire U.S.

Then tropical storm Alberto stalled over Georgia during the Fourth of July holiday in 1994, setting record crests on many southeastern rivers, killing 33 and leaving some residents of Macon, Georgia, without fresh water for 19 days. In 2001, tropical storm Allison hit the same region Claudette flooded in 1979, killing 22 in Texas, and becoming the costliest tropical storm in history, with $5.8 billion in damages in 2001 dollars.

None of these storms showed particularly impressive satellite signatures, and forecasters were shocked by the onshore flooding that ultimately ensued.

That's one very good reason why NHC may be naming more weak storms now than they were. Even if some 39-mph weakling hits your beach, it's now well known that double-digit rains are likely and inundation is possible. The problem is that naming and hyping everything, when only a few are bad actors, ultimately creates a public disregard (call it "hurricane fatigue"?) for dire warnings.

So let's hang the jury and give the folks at NHC a break. They clearly are naming storms that would have been ignored decades ago, erring on the side of caution, because of the now-realized flooding potential of some very weak systems. But, in doing so, they're also inflating the currency of the tropical cyclone, as people get tired of the seemingly continuous hype



Comment from Canada

Is it just my imagination, or is there something about global warming that makes liberals - both the small-l and big-L variety - especially unbearable? The Kyoto global-warming protocol, which Canada signed in 1998, required us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level 6% below that of 1990, and do so in time for the treaty's 2012 deadline. Instead, by 2004, our emissions rose to 27% above 1990 levels, and continued to rise ever since. Since the Liberals were in power until 2006, one would think they would have the decency to keep their mouths shut about this file. Instead - with Kyoto an international flop and negotiations to create a successor agreement going nowhere in Bali - they are seeking to cast blame either on Stephen Harper's Conservative government or each other.

First, there is Stephane Dion, who served as environment minister from 2004 to 2006. He is in Bali this week, spreading the same climate-change gospel he refused to implement when he was actually in a position to do so. He calls Mr. Harper's approach "a recipe for failure." Perhaps. But we would prefer Mr. Harper's "recipe" to the equally failed approach Mr. Dion's Liberals advocated while in power - which consisted in large part of shipping off hundreds of millions of dollars to Vladimir Putin's Russia to purchase carbon credits.

Under both the Liberals and the Conservatives, Canada has badly missed its Kyoto targets. At least under Mr. Harper, we don't have to prop up Russia's quasi-dictatorship for the privilege.

Then there is Jean Chretien, who this week blamed his own successor, Paul Martin, for Canada's failure to meet Kyoto's targets, declaring that Mr. Martin's 26 months as leader were "lost years" in the battle against climate change. Astonishingly, Mr. Chretien claimed that Canada was on track to meet its Kyoto targets when he left office - which would farcically suggest that his plan would somehow have permitted Canada to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by a third in the eight years between the time he left office and the Kyoto deadline of 2012.

As for Mr. Martin, he is the one who told a December, 2005 climate-change conference: "To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say there is such a thing as global conscience and now is the time to listen to it . Now is the time for ... action." The jibe was calculated to score points among the anti-American crowd. But the gesture backfired when analysts reported that the Americans have actually done a better job at controlling greenhouse-gas emissions that we have - despite their not signing Kyoto.

It is not complicated to figure out why nations such as Canada are missing their Kyoto targets: Doing so would be painful economically, and thereby get compliant governments thrown out of power. That's why the Liberals did nothing while in power, but talk green now that they are in opposition: Talk is cheap. Mr. Harper, to his credit, at least has the decency to give Canadians plain talk about his position on global warming. After years of baldly hypocritical Liberal rhetoric on the issue, his candour is refreshing.


Let's ditch this 'nostalgia for mud'

While subsistence life is hopelessly romanticised in the West, it is the city that has become a symbol of hope for millions of Ghanaians

`My mother still sleeps in a mud house, drinks from polluted streams and walks for long distances carrying heavy loads of cocoa. This is not because it is idyllic to do so, and neither is it because it is part of her culture; it is because she has no choice!' DeRoy Kwesi Andrew doesn't mince his words when describing his mother's life in the rural village of Achimfo in western Ghana. For Andrew, the life of a subsistence farmer is one `filled with toil' and he despairs that his mother has nothing to show for it after 70 years of backbreaking work.

Conversely, in the West we have become accustomed to a romanticised view of subsistence life. You can see it on posters and in magazine ads showing smiling Fairtrade farmers. On television, there are the cultural investigations of Bruce Parry in the BBC2 TV show Tribe, and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's promotion of `sustainable' living at River Cottage in rural Dorset. For holidays abroad, `tasteless' 5-star resorts are apparently `out', while ecotourism is `in'. Western holidaymakers are actually chosing to stay in mud hut hotels emulating the poor excuse for housing that Andrew's mother longs to escape. For those who feel pangs of eco-guilt when thinking of the industrialised world's destructive impact on the natural environment, there are now various carbon offsetting schemes - including ones that ensure Third World subsistence farmers don't upgrade their primitive tools to more modern alternatives lest they pollute the environment. Or you can petition your council to bring back primitive modes of transport, as the group in France that proposed the school bus should be replaced with the horse and cart did (1).

In all these ways the West has succumbed to what the French call nostalgie de la boue - `nostalgia for mud' - a wish to return to our humble beginnings. While idealising rural life and the `quiet simplicity' of living off the land may seem harmless enough taken on its own, it has imparted a warped vision of what we think the poor want for themselves. And with this vision informing a political climate where Western governments, multilateral organisations like the World Bank and NGOs are more likely to influence policy than the sovereign governments of the developing countries themselves (2), the perpetuation of such myths begins to take on a much more sinister edge.

Environmental crusaders like green journalist George Monbiot see only joy in poverty. As he puts it: `In southern Ethiopia, for example, the poorest half of the poorest nation on earth, the streets and fields crackle with laughter. In homes constructed from packing cases and palm leaves, people engage more freely, smile more often, express more affection than we do, behind our double glazing, surrounded by remote controls.' (3) And yet his (not so unique) expression of nostalgie de la boue makes no mention of the actual aspirations of the `happy' peasants he is so envious of.

Do the fields of Andrew's home village `crackle with laughter' non-stop? From his description of how his mother's mud hut was recently washed away in heavy flooding, it seems highly unlikely. `She told me she felt helpless as she sat by the roadside all night watching her home being gradually washed away by the approaching water.' What of insurance? There is none. Emergency services? Andrew tells me `the only small clinic with one community health nurse has become like an international hospital'. So what of the rebuilding effort? He explains that everyone simply had to get on with it and rebuild the mud huts from scratch `as if they were living in medieval times'. No expert construction workers here!

In fact, Andrew was arrested by forest guards while attempting to fell a tree for timber, within his family plot, all because he hadn't first sought a special license - something which he blames on the `green nonsense' that is being foisted upon the Ghanaian authorities by Western interventionist busybodies. After all, as he exasperatingly says, `what [is] a subsistence farmer...expected to do if he can't even subsist off his own land?'. What greens miss as they try and draw our attention to the destructive power of modern living (even if it is just about cutting down a tree to build a house), is that it is actually nature that is the fiercest and most unforgiving force, and which subsistence life offers little protection from.

The exposure to nature is only one of the many cruelties of subsistence life. With no hope of gathering any savings, and thus no investments, the farmer is left with only the most basic tools available for the job. This results in what Andrew says are `low yields, low productivity and paltry incomes'; in short, stagnation - just enough to survive on, but never enough to improve one's lot. And what do our Western romanticists have to say about this? Andrew spits vitriol at the NGOs who `idolise the use of the donkey, stick, cutlass and hoe for ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting as the "most appropriate" farm implements that will "sustain" the sanctity of the environment'. You only need take a brief look at the Oxfam Unwrapped online shop to see their idea of `appropriate technology' for farmers - a set of replacement farm tools here, some seeds there - ne'er a tractor in sight. None of this assistance is able to transform the lives of farmers so they are able to escape subsistence, but merely propagates the myth that mere survival is the sum of their ambitions.

Nevertheless, for those whom Andrew calls the `energetic youth' there is an alternative to the drudgery of the countryside: the city. `I am better off in all facets of life compared to my peers left behind in the village' says Andrew, having moved to Ghana's capital Accra as a teenager. He is now married with a baby, with a solid roof over his head (which he is ambitiously expanding so his mother can one day move in) and earning the equivalent of three pounds a day as a basic teacher while studying part-time at a local university. `I enjoy many of the benefits of modernity', he explains. `Quality education for my son, hi-tech hospitals, good roads, potable water, telecommunication, good housing, modern electronic gadgets.and so forth'; all of which are a scarcity for those making a living off the land.

This is not to say that the urban areas of developing countries are paved in gold - far from it. The shanty towns to which many migrants move can be wretched places filled with poverty, but they offer something the countryside contains very little of - hope. As Andrew puts it, `Neither [my house] nor my dreams of travelling to Europe would ever have happened if I had stayed in my home village, uneducated and working as a subsistence farmer'.

However prevalent the anti-modern sentiment in the West, it is one struggling fruitlessly against an aspiration-fuelled wave of global urbanisation with its sights set firmly at modernity. Already, as 2008 approaches, half the world's population are living in towns and cities; by 2050 it is likely to be three-quarters (4), with 95 per cent of this growth occurring in Africa and Asia. While it would be načve to suggest that urbanisation automatically leads to modernity and wealth, as long as the West drags its heels, with its quixotic interventions idealising subsistence life, progress will remain slow. Andrew expresses the frustration felt by many Ghanaians when he says, `our people and government have become merely the passive, obedient pupils to be preached to. That is not what we need! Gives us the chance for material and economic prosperity on our own terms and we shall deal decisively with these things ourselves.'

We've been here before of course, and here's just one tiny example: in George Orwell's 1937 study of working class life in a northern British mining town, The Road to Wigan Pier, he dispelled the bourgeois myth that the working classes didn't like to wash. In fact, he found it was a question of opportunity rather than inclination; the working classes had little access or free time for bathing, while doing more gruelling work than their middle-class counterparts (5). Similarly, for millions of Ghanaians eking out a grim existence with hoe and cutlass, they live lives they would never have chosen for themselves. Unfortunately, as in Orwell's time, many privileged observers mistake this lack of opportunity for inclination and have manufactured their own myth, projecting their own frustrations with modern living onto the poor and coming to the dangerous conclusion that this `way of life' should be protected.

Living off the land with little hope of any improvement for either yourselves or your children is an existence that should be locked away in the annals of history, along with slavery and feudalism. So let's dispel the fairy tale of the idyllic life of subsistence farming once and for all. For those Westerners who can't, Andrew has a simple tip: `Let's swap lives'.



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


16 December, 2007

Major climate influence can only be predicted ONE MONTH in advance

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a large-scale (1000-kilometer) atmospheric disturbance that propagates slowly eastward through the tropics from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific during the course of 30 to 60 days. The MJO affects precipitation over the tropical monsoon regions and has been implicated as a trigger of El Ni§o-Southern Oscillation events. It is coupled with the upper ocean through its effects on surface fluxes of solar radiation caused by changes in cloudiness, and on evaporation from the ocean surface caused by surface wind speed changes, which can heat or cool the ocean mixed layer by up to 1ÝC during a strong MJO event.

Nonetheless, important aspects of the MJO still are unclear, such as how deep into the ocean its influence extends, in part because the range of scales of the processes it involves have made it difficult to simulate in models (see the Perspective by Hartmann and Hendon). Matthews et al. (p. 1765) used a data set of unprecedented size obtained from autonomous, free-drifting instruments, called Argo floats, to show that the surface wind stress associated with the MJO can force eastward-propagating oceanic Kelvin waves that extend to a depth of 1500 meters and that have amplitudes of as much as six times those of annual-cycle Kelvin waves. These amplitudes are significantly greater than those predicted by ocean models, so that the MJO could affect a much larger volume of the Pacific Ocean than just the ocean surface. Miura et al. (p. 1763) address one of the shortcomings of contemporary global meteorological models--cumulus cloud parameterization--by using a model that allows direct coupling of atmospheric circulation and clouds to simulate an MJO event. Their results show that MJO predictions extending 1 month into the future soon may be possible.


Foundations of Bali climate conference condemned by leading experts

UN Climate Change Conference based on flawed science and economics

An open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General characterizes attempts to prevent global climate change as "futile" and "a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems." Endorsed by more than 100 independent scientists, engineers and economists who work in the field of climate change, the open letter calls on world leaders to abandon the goal of 'stopping climate change' and focus instead on helping nations become resilient to natural changes by promoting environmentally-responsible economic growth.

The signatories to the letter include many distinguished professional persons who have occupied leading positions in national and international science organizations, government organizations and universities, and have been elected as fellows of distinguished scientific academies or awarded prestigious science prizes.

These endorsers emphasize that the reports of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are an "inadequate" foundation on which to base policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. The IPCC reports do not reflect many of the most recent peer-reviewed findings in climate science, discoveries that shed serious doubt on the increasingly improbable hypothesis that human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are having a significant impact on global climate.

The writers of the open letter detail some of the serious science misrepresentations in the IPCC summaries for policymakers, call attention to the outdated nature of some IPCC conclusions, and assert that balanced economic analyses do not support measures to restrict energy consumption for the purpose of diminishing CO2 emissions.

The signatories further explain that, because attempts to drastically cut CO2 emissions will slow development, the current UN approach of curbing CO2 emissions is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it.


Convenient Untruths

Some who clamor for statist answers to this alleged climate crisis employ dodgy measurement techniques

By Deroy Murdock

When Nobel laureate Albert Gore Jr. collects his Peace Prize in Oslo today, he should tell the gathered Norwegians exactly what he meant when he remarked about global warming: "Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem," Gore told Grist in the May 9, 2006 Grist Magazine. "Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis."

"Over-representation?" Is that anything like misrepresentation? Gore's approach infects the debate and even the methodology of so-called "global warming." From the former vice president to unseen academics, some who clamor for statist answers to this alleged climate crisis employ dodgy measurement techniques, while others embrace hype and fear-mongering to promote massive government intervention to combat an entirely questionable challenge. Worse yet, this applies to reputedly objective researchers, not just opinionated activists.
This official U.S. Historical Climate Network temperature-measurement station in Hopkinsville, Kentucky is near a chimney, and above a parking lot, air-conditioning gear, and a barbecue grill.
For starters, U.S. temperature data suffer from the "garbage in, garbage out" syndrome. As meteorologist Anthony Watts discovered, numerous NASA and National Oceanic and Space Administration temperature sensors are situated not in open fields at uniform heights, as required, but near parking lots, beside central-air exhaust ducts, and even above barbecue grills. These artificially elevate temperature reports.

Since 1970, previously whitewashed temperature sites have been painted with semi-gloss latex. Because it absorbs more heat, Heartland Institute scholar James Taylor wrote in November's Environment & Climate News, "latex paint at official temperature stations may account for half of the U.S. warming reported since 1970." Thus, America could reverse half the detected post-1970 warming that aggravates climate activists, simply by stripping this latex paint and whitewashing these observation structures.

Stranger still, NASA adopted a new technique in 2000 to calculate average annual temperatures. NASA essentially gave a 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit (0.15 degrees Centigrade) "bonus" to readings for the last seven years. However, Canadian statistical analyst Steve McIntyre of caught NASA's mathematical mistake. After the space agency admitted and corrected its glitch, America's warmest year shifted from 1998 to 1934. Among the corrected data, only four of the top 10 warmest years occurred since 1953, versus five among NASA's discarded Top 10.

Global-warming enthusiasts should clarify why America was hotter during the less-developed Great Depression, yet cooler in purportedly carbon-choked 1998. In fact, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004 were cooler than 1900 - three years before the launch of the Ford Motor Company.

"The alarmists who trumpeted recent years as `warmest ever!!!' in the United States (by a mere tenth of a degree) now dismiss this reversal - 2000 and subsequent years being cooler than 1900 - as just being a tenth of a degree or so," said Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Chris Horner. "Well, either that's a big deal whichever direction it falls, or it isn't. Which time are you lying?"

Meanwhile, the British High Court of Justice ruled October 10 that Gore's picture, An Inconvenient Truth, peddles convenient untruths. Mr. Justice Burton determined that "some of the errors, or departures from the mainstream, by Mr. the course of his dynamic exposition, do arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of his political thesis." The court ordered that British secondary schools could present Gore's movie only if students receive a Guidance Note distancing the Education Department from "the more extreme views of Mr. Gore" and admitting there are two sides, not one, to global warming.

Justice Burton cited nine points in Gore's "political film" that either were "apparently based on non-existent or misunderstood evidence" or "upon lack of knowledge or appreciation of the scientific position." Among them: Despite Gore's contrary claims, melting polar ice caps will not raise sea levels by 20 feet any century soon, global warming is not melting the glacier atop Mount Kilimanjaro, nor did it intensify Hurricane Katrina, nor are polar bears dying due to melting ice.

In this connection, it's fascinating to trace the evolution of Stanford University professor Stephen H. Schneider, founder of the journal Climatic Change. "[O]ur calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 degrees C," [6.3 degrees Fahrenheit], Schneider wrote in Science in 1971. "Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age."

Schneider's worries then switched from global cooling to global warming. "[T]o reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change," Schneider said in the October 1989 Discover, scientists must "capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have." Schneider added: "Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."

"Cold, hot, who cares?" the Detroit News editorialized after Schneider's U-turn. "Environmental extremists often seem more interested in scaring the bejabbers out of the American public than in getting at the real facts."

U.C. Santa Barbara emeritus professor Daniel Botkin recently lamented in the Wall Street Journal that some of his warming-oriented colleagues believe "the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate.`Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?' one said to me recently."

Oslo's applause notwithstanding, egregious errors, distortions, and lies have no place in what is supposedly unbiased scientific inquiry regarding one of Earth's most controversial questions.


Mandating the Impossible (Not to Mention the Stupid)

Here is a snippet from the energy bill that just passed the U.S. House of Representatives:
On Thursday, just over a year after winning the majority, Democrats in the House of Representatives voted through an energy bill that represents a stark departure from the administration's approach. It would raise vehicle fuel efficiency (Cafe) standards for the first time in over 30 years, by 40%, to 35 miles per gallon for both cars and light trucks and SUVs. A renewable energy standard mandates that utilities generate 15% of their power from renewables by 2020. It would set a renewable fuel standard aiming to generate 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022. A tax package would roll back some $13.5bn in oil industry subsidies and tax breaks to help pay for $21bn worth of investments in clean energy development, mainly in the form of investment tax credits for wind and solar, along with the development and purchase of plug-in hybrid vehicles. And it would raise efficiency standards for appliances and buildings.
Let's look at a couple of pieces very quickly. Recognize that this is based on 10 whole minutes of research, far more than a busy Congressman could possibly be expected to muster.
They want 15% of power generation from renewables by 2020. I am not sure if this includes hydro. If it does, then a bunch of Pacific Northwest utilities already have this in the bag. But even if "renewable" includes hydro, hydro power will do nothing to meet this goal by 2020. I am not sure, given environmental concerns, if any major new hydro project will ever be permitted in the US again, and certainly not in a 10 year time frame. In fact, speaking of permitting, there is absolutely no way utilities could finance, permit, and construct 15% of the US electricity capacity by 2020 even if they started today. No. Way. By the way, as a sense of scale, after 35 years of subsidies and mandates, renewables (other than hydro) make up ... about .27% of US generation.

The Congress is demanding 36 billion gallons of ethanol. Presumably, this is all from domestic sources because Congress has refused to drop the enormous tariffs on ethanol imports. But the entire corn harvest in 2004 of 11.8 billion bushels would make only 30 billion gallons of ethanol. So Congress wants us to put ALL of our food supply into our cars? Maybe we can tear down the Amazon rain forest to grow more.

By the way, I am all for cutting all subsidies to any industry for any reason, but when they say "industry subsidies and tax breaks" for the oil industry, what they mostly mean is this:
These were leases for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico signed between oil companies and the Clinton Administration's Interior Department in 1998-99. At that time the world oil price had fallen to as low as $10 a barrel and the contracts were signed without a requirement of royalty payments if the price of oil rose above $35 a barrel.

Interior's Inspector General investigated and found that this standard royalty clause was omitted not because of any conspiracy by big oil, but rather because of bureaucratic bungling in the Clinton Administration. The same report found that a year after these contracts were signed Chevron and other oil companies alerted Interior to the absence of royalty fees, and that Interior replied that the contracts should go forward nonetheless.

The companies have since invested billions of dollars in the Gulf on the basis of those lease agreements, and only when the price of oil surged to $70 a barrel did anyone start expressing outrage that Big Oil was "cheating" taxpayers out of royalties. Some oil companies have voluntarily offered to renegotiate these contracts. The Democrats are now demanding that all these firms do so -- even though the government signed binding contracts.

Another inconvenient truth

In Europe, no one apparently wants to listen if you have good news about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

There have been two distinct calls for complete bans on the release of GMOs in France and Italy in recent weeks. Predictably, both are motivated strictly by political ambitions. Less predictably and of much greater concern, both have complete disregard for any of the data that surround the GMO issue.

At the end of October, French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced that, in accordance with 'the precautionary principle', no more approvals would be granted in France for the cultivation of genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin maize until an expert group-which at that time had not been formed-had assessed the benefits and risks. The announcement came at the end of a broad-ranging discussion forum on the future of French environmental policy.

The interpretation of the move is that GMOs are to be the sacrificial lamb that allows Sarkozy to demonstrate to the green lobbies that he is not uniformly uncritical of technological solutions in the environmental arena. This is clearly playing politics as the ban is certain to be declared illegal by the European Commission. Agricultural Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has already told Paris that the ban on products that have been approved by the European Union (EU) violates the EU Treaty. National exceptions to EU approvals can be made, but they must be supported by new data on risks to human health or the environment. Neither Sarkozy nor anyone among his administration or advisory team has suggested that they have a single iota of new data.

There were new data from Italy in mid-November but, oddly, they were largely ignored. Usually, the slightest evidence derived from potatoes loaded with toxins or caterpillars force-fed in sandwich boxes can be apparently accorded significant media merit if there is a sniff of genetic modification around the protocol. Similarly, highly predictable observations on gene transmission are heralded as surprising and deep if the DNA involved has been anywhere near a ligase in vitro in its past 1,000 replications.

The reason the new Italian data-from the only field trial of Bt maize in Italy since 2000-was ignored is simple: it showed GMOs in a positive light. The trial was performed in 2005 as part of what was supposed to be a broad popular overview of GMOs in Italy. The National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition (INRAN) had organized and funded a set of activities around the GM food and crop issue. In addition to this trial, it funded educational activities and opinion surveys. The outcomes were to be presented at a public meeting in 2006, but the full field trial data were never released. When it became clear that neither INRAN nor the Ministry of Agriculture was going to publish the trial data, a small band of determined plant biotech researchers held a press conference on November 13.

The results of the trial were spectacular. It involved four plots of 3,600 square meters, one for each of two different GM varieties (both featuring the Monsanto MON810 event) and their isogenic non-GM equivalents. The trial was planned and conducted not by a corporate villain but by a respected agronomist from the University of Milan, Tomasso Maggiore. He showed that under field conditions recombinant maize expressing Bt toxin can help maintain yield levels that are 28-43% higher than those of isogenic non-GM varieties. The results are almost certainly atypical because climatic and other conditions during 2005 resulted in a particularly good year for the European corn borer and a particularly bad year for Italian growers of conventional maize. In a more typical year, yield losses due to the insect might have been only 10-15% of the crop mass.

Productivity benefits aside, MON810 corn also outperformed conventional corn in terms of the levels of fumonisin, toxins that are produced by fungi able to infect plants through lesions caused by the corn borer. MON810 corn contained 60 or fewer parts per billion of fumonisin, whereas non-GM varieties contained over 6,000 parts per billion, a level unsuitable for human consumption under Italian and European law.

If it had been the MON810 varieties that contained high levels of fungal toxins, interest of the politicians, the media and the general public in the data would likely have been intense. But the response to these inconveniently positive field trial data was unreceptive at best.

The press conference of November 13 followed several months of intensive campaigning by a coalition of over 30 groups claiming to represent over 11 million Italians opposed to GM foods. The 'Italy/Europe Free of GMO' coalition, which encompassed several Italian farming unions, consumer associations and environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, had organized nearly 2,000 separate anti-GM events and in a mock referendum collected three million signatures calling for a complete ban on all GM foods in Italy. Fourteen of Italy's 20 regions had already declared themselves 'GMO-free'.

The fumonisin data from the trial would have been particularly embarrassing to the coalition. Many of its members had campaigned against a proposed lowering of the threshold for fumonisin from 4,000 to 2,000 parts per billion, largely because organic farming with its limited arsenal of antifungal agents would find it difficult to stay below the lower level. Indeed, in the year in which the trial took place, >50% of the Italian maize crop exceeded the 4,000 parts per billion level of fumonisins and would have been unfit for human consumption; under the proposed lower limit, hardly any of the crop would have qualified. Ironic then that one of the leaders of the Italy/Europe Free-from-GMO campaign, former student firebrand Mario Capanna, proclaimed that "Italy is known around the world for the quality of its natural food products....It has a vast heritage of biological diversity that should not be threatened by GMO agriculture."

The media response to the November 13 press conference was markedly lukewarm. Rather than latching onto the positive data or pursuing the Ministry of Agriculture over the implications of data suppression, only a few outlets apparently found the story worthwhile. Italian newspapers La Stampa and Il Giornale did print stories and a few other newspapers ran brief coverage in their online editions. Some radio stations interviewed the researchers involved, but there was no television coverage. One respected Italian weekly, the news magazine L'Espresso, refused to run the story because its editorial policy is to "oppose GMO."

The return of the European Union presidency to Portugal last month is a reminder that having a 'knowledge-based economy' was once thought to be the only way forward for a Europe of highly paid employees and scant natural resources. But the Lisbon agenda has been diluted since Europe's leaders first signed up to it in March 2000. And it now appears that only certain types of knowledge are welcome by some of its national leaders, press and activists.

Nature Biotechnology 25, 1330 (2007)


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


15 December, 2007

Tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe it

As the article below shows, Dr Goebbels has able heirs among the Greenies. That corals FLOURISH in warmer waters is not mentioned. The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1500 miles from North to South along Australia's East coast -- from quite cool to distinctly warm waters. And corals become MORE abundant moving Northwards -- i.e. as the waters get warmer

It is probably too late to save the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs from global warming. Even if governments implement far-reaching measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, they will not prevent the annihilation of coral reefs around the world. These are the conclusions of analysis by leading marine scientists to be published today in the prestigious journal Science. "There is a terrible future in front of us for the reefs," said Canada-based United Nations University professor Peter Sale, one of 17 authors from seven nations of the Science paper.

On Wednesday, Kevin Rudd told the UN's Bali climate change conference that global warming was threatening Australian natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and rainforests, killing rivers and exposing people to more frequent and ferocious bushfires.

The scientists present three scenarios for the future of coral reefs - the world's largest lifeforms - under different climatic conditions. If current conditions continue, with the stabilisation of temperatures and emissions at today's level of 380 parts per million (ppm), reefs will survive but undergo fundamental changes. However, scientists agree that stabilisation of current conditions is not possible. The paper warns that if emissions rise to between 450 and 500 ppm, with an associated temperature rise of 2C by 2050 - the most optimistic outcome predicted by the landmark study by British economist Nicholas Stern - reefs will suffer "vastly reduced habitat complexity and loss of biodiversity".

But if they rise above 500ppm, the minimum emission level forecast by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climage Change by 2050, reefs will become "rapidly eroding rubble banks". "These changes will reduce coral reef ecosystems to crumbling frameworks with few calcareous corals," the paper says. "It is clear that coral reefs as we know them today would be extremely rare." The scientists determined that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere of 380ppm was 80ppm higher than it has been for 740,000 years, and probably for as long as 20 million years.

Professor Sale, who is in Brisbane this week for a World Bank-sponsored marine science conference, said there was no point speculating about the outcome for reefs in the worst-case scenarios outlined by the Stern and IPCC reviews, of temperature rises as high as 6C. "In the best-case predictions, with temperature rises of 2C by 2050, the outlook can hardly be more dire," he said. However, he said some damage could be averted if radical measures were introduced to curb emissions. "There is a ray of hope, but it is fading fast."

Climate change sceptic Bob Carter, a James Cook University researcher, said while he was not familiar with the Science paper, caution needed to be exercised about "alarmist" climate modelling. "Too often these climate models are basically PlayStations which have not been validated scientifically," Dr Carter said.

But the lead author of the Science paper, University of Queensland professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, said the $7billion Great Barrier Reef tourism industry was at risk. "With conservative estimates predicting emission levels exceeding 500ppm, coral reefs will dwindle into insignificance," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said. "These changes dwarf anything that happened in the Ice Age transitions and they are happening faster than Stern and the IPCC predicted. The outlook is very grim."

Note that Hoeghie has also blamed coral damage on COLD weather. Heads I win, tails you lose


Some dangerous Bali nuttiness

The week started off with a cornucopia of "side events." These are sessions in which various climate lobbying organizations tout their proposals for solving the "climate crisis." As my first foray into the climate change meeting, I attended a session sponsored by the World Council of Churches on "The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework," a report supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation and Christian Aid.

The report outlines an "emergency climate program" that aims to keep the earth's average temperate from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Keep in mind that average temperatures have already risen by as much as 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century. In addition, some scientists believe that the amount of GHG already in the atmosphere will lead to an average temperature increased of 1.5 degrees Celsius even if there were no more emissions. So what allegedly must be done?

According to the study, global GHG emissions must peak by 2015 (seven years from now) and then begin to drop by 6 percent per year until 2050 to reach a level that is 80 percent below 1990 levels. The rich developed countries must cut their emissions by 90 percent by 2050. Even poor countries must cut their emission by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. Note that these cuts are dramatically deeper than what is actually on the table here at the COP. Martin Khor, head of the international left-wing activist group the Third World Network said during the panel discussion that the latter cuts would come as a "shock" to developing nations such as India, China, and Brazil.

The study's authors argued that there is not only a climate crisis, but also a "development crisis." As evidence, they pointed out that 2 billion people lack clean cooking fuels, 1.5 billion are without electricity, 1 billion have no access to fresh water, and 2 million children die each year of diarrhea. Clearly, the first priority of people living in these conditions must be development. Interestingly, while environmental lobbyists tend to avoid saying words like "wealth" and "growth," "development" means that the world's poor need more wealth generated by economic growth.

Without going into the details, the Greenhouse Development Rights Framework (GDR) proposal foresees levying the equivalent of a climate "consumption luxury tax" on every person who earns over a "development threshold" of $9,000 per year. The idea is that rich people got rich in part by dumping carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels into the atmosphere, leaving less space for poor people to dump their emissions. In one scenario, Americans would pay the equivalent of a $780 per person luxury tax annually, which amounts to sending $212 billion per year in climate reparations to poor countries to aid their development and help them adapt to climate change. In this scenario, the total climate reparations that the rich must transfer annually is over $600 billion. This contrasts with a new report commissioned by the U.N. Development Program that only demands $86 billion per year to avoid "adaptation apartheid."

The authors do not go into any specifics about what kinds of institutions-private, public or partnerships-would annually transfer $212 billion to poor countries from the U.S. Considering that the $2.3 trillion spent on foreign aid in the past 50 years has largely failed to generate economic growth or permanent improvements in living standards for most people living in poor countries, the institutional question is not trivial. By some estimates lifting trade barriers could produce benefits of $600 billion annually, reducing the number of people living on $2 per day by 144 million. A woman from Papua New Guinea in the audience warned that such climate aid was likely to disappear into the corrupt pockets of poor country politicians rather than lift poor people out of poverty. But the touching faith of climate campaigners in the efficacy of international and national bureaucracies is immune to such realities.

It is not also clear whether the authors think that rich countries must cut their emissions by lowering their living standards, or by adopting not-yet-invented low-carbon energy technologies, or both. One person in the audience was overheard to ask why we don't just divide up all the wealth equally anyway? Of course, the entire "climate crisis" could have been avoided if today's rich countries had eschewed the industrial revolution in the first place. In any case, while a $780 per person climate luxury tax would be painful, it would not bankrupt the U.S., even if bundles of dollar bills were shipped abroad and burned in bonfires.

To get a somewhat different perspective, I attended the International Energy Agency's (IEA) side event, "Energy Policy in a Greenhouse World." The IEA was created in 1974 by the world's rich countries to advise them on energy supply and demand problems. The IEA issues an annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), which looks at various scenarios for energy supply and demand until 2030. This year's report was quite sobering.

IEA analyst Laura Cozzi noted that the world currently emits 27 gigatons of CO2 to produce energy. In a business-as-usual scenario, in which energy demand increases by 50 percent by 2030, CO2 emissions are projected to rise to 42 gigatons. To achieve CO2 atmospheric stabilization at 450 parts per million by 2050, emissions would have to be cut by 19 gigatons to only 23 gigatons by 2030. Such cuts, according to Cozzi, would mean that every electric power plant built after 2012 would have to emit no CO2. That would require the development of a robust carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to bury CO2 in the ground, building vastly more nuclear power plants, the invention of second-generation biofuels, and improvements in energy efficiency at twice the rate that we've seen in the past 25 years.

Just to lift everybody's spirits, Cozzi told the audience that the IEA is "quite worried" about the oil supply/demand balance for the next 7 years. New oil fields to supply an additional 12 million barrels per day must come online by 2016. "We can't rule out a supply crunch in the oil market," said Cozzi.

Cozzi's IEA colleague, Debra Justus, was even more cheery. Justus is working on an energy technology perspective report for 2008. She began with a baseline case in which CO2 emissions would increase to 62 gigatons, or 137 percent by 2050. She outlined two alternative scenarios, one in which the goal is to keep average temperatures from rising more than three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (ACT scenario) and another which aims to stabilize CO2 in the atmosphere at 450 ppm by 2050 (Blue scenario). Achieving the ACT scenario would require an additional $20 trillion over an above projected energy infrastructure costs for the next 50 years and the Blue scenario would cost $50 trillion more. Justus calculates that first scenario implies a price of $50 per ton of CO2 and in the second, CO2 costs $200 per ton.

At the end of the World Council of Churches' discussion, one panel member, Mohamed Adow from drought-stricken northern Kenya, asked the audience to please "remember the suffering and poverty caused by greenhouse gas emissions." But is climate change really the biggest challenge facing the world's poor? When droughts hit rich countries, people do not starve, and few farmers lose their livelihoods. I do not doubt the suffering that recent weather disasters have inflicted on Adow's people, but even Kenya's share of $600 billion in climate reparations is unlikely to make up for that country's rank of 150th out of 179 countries on Transparency International's global corruption index.

Finally, I mentioned at the beginning that the mood of the climate activists here in Bali was triumphal. I suspect that's because many now really believe that an impending climate crisis will at last endow them with the power to completely remold the world's economy in a more egalitarian direction. And that's what they've always wanted, anyway.


Global Warming Lies Create a Climate of Crisis

The United Nations conference in Bali, attended by some 15,000 participants and observers, is likely to make future generations conclude that ours was deranged to be discussing how humans could have any affect whatever on the climate. They will, in retrospect, agree that the global warming theory was a lie whose agenda was to retard anything that might extend and enhance life on earth.

The Protocol is based entirely on a lie that predicts dramatic and imminent global warming. Global warmers insist that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced, but carbon dioxide does not cause climate change. Climatologists will tell you that any rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not precede, but follows warming cycles. The science is well known, but hucksters like the odious Al Gore and those behind the original Kyoto Protocol, with the media as accessories, have created a climate of crisis.

It's a very good thing that our Senate voted unanimously in 1997 against binding America to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on Climate Control and that both the Clinton and Bush Administrations refused to act on the proposed limits. The reason for the Senate resolution was to avoid "serious harm to the economy of the United States."

A November 30 Bloomberg News article by Kristian Rix and Mathew Carr reported that Japan, Spain, and Italy face as much as $33 billion in fines as the result of having failed to meet their agreement to reduce so-called "greenhouse gas" emissions. These three nations are deemed the "worst performers among 36 nations that agreed to curb carbon dioxide gases that cause climate change." Among the nations exempt from the Kyoto Protocol are China and India, which represent a combined two of the six billion people on planet Earth. The idea that limits on carbon dioxide emissions could be achieved without their participation is idiotic.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a minor role in determining the Earth's climate but at the same time plays an essential role in the maintenance of all of the Earth's vegetation, whether it takes the form of crops, jungles, forests, or just someone's front lawn. Without CO2 all animal life, including our own, dies because of its dependence on food crops. The Earth's atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of other gases, including water vapor. We call this "air" and humans depend on the oxygen content for life. At the same time all six billion of us individually exhale about two pounds of carbon dioxide every day. By contrast, Nature emits about 30 times more CO2 than humans. The oceans of the world absorb and release CO2 all the time. This is Nature's balance that maintains all life, animal and vegetable, on earth.

Consider now how many schools, hospitals, bridges, roads, and other benefits to their citizens that $33 billion represents to Japan, Spain, and Italy. Such fines will be transferred to the coffers of the United Nations for having failed to curb CO2 emissions that are actually a benefit to the Earth! An entirely bogus system of "carbon credits" has been created to transfer huge amounts of money from industrialized nations accused of producing too much CO2 to those nations that, for lack of development - failed economies - will garner funding as they "sell" their excess credits. The same system would allow various industries to sell the same worthless credits to those - primarily producers and users of energy - deemed to be major CO2 "polluters."

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has fallen prey to the lie that CO2 represents a form of "pollution" and should be regulated, the known science renders this decision an egregious juridical error. The Earth, over billions of years, has gone through cycles of warming and cooling that are well established. It has gone through periods when the CO2 content in the atmosphere was far higher than today. The latest cooling period is called the mini-ice age and lasted from around 1300 to 1850. The Earth has been warming naturally since then.

There is no dramatic warming occurring. Predictions of this are based on totally flawed computer models, none of which can begin to approximate the sheer chaos and complexity of the Earth's weather system. These computer models, put forth by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, have been repeatedly revealed to be inaccurate to the point of deliberate deception. The constant assertion that there is a "consensus" among scientists that global warming is caused by humans is yet another part of the lie.

As the anti-capitalist forces meet in Bali, the rest of us must demand that we shall not be penalized and threatened by limits imposed on industries and agriculture around the world. The people of the world must not submit to a lie of global warming that is intended to deprive them of the future benefits that energy use, improved transportation, technological innovations, and the expanded production of food portends.


New Australian PM fends off climate ambush with a nod to Howard

KEVIN Rudd has avoided an ambush at Bali. It was an ambush prepared by green groups using false expectations and perceptions to lock a 10-day-old Government into unrealistic and binding targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. He has done well to avoid the ambush and keep his climate change credentials intact.

The frenetic expectation of dramatic results from the UN climate change conference was based on a misreading of the Rudd Labor Government's climate change policy and the Prime Minister's own position. There is an almost wilful, certainly a wishful, misinterpretation of the new Australian Government's attitude towards targets for cutting carbon emissions. Such a misinterpretation stems from demonising the Howard government's approach, a misleading emphasis during the election campaign and an unfulfilled expectation that Labor had to do anything to get elected and would just change its position after the poll.

Just so that no one is in any doubt about Australia's aim to set medium-term targets for cutting carbon emissions, the Prime Minister spelt it out clearly at the conference this week. The Australian Government is committed to cutting greenhouse gases; such action cannot be unilateral and must be global; developed as well as developing countries, such as China and India, must be committed to binding aims; Australia will introduce a carbon trading system; there is a commitment to mandatory renewable energy targets until 2020; there will be a commitment to medium-term emissions cuts by 2020 and the targets will depend on how they will affect the Australian economy.

All of this is perfectly reasonable at every level. Yet, before Rudd arrived in Bali and before Climate Change Minister Penny Wong had spoken, the expectation was that the Bali conference would lead to targets involving a reduction in emissions of 25 per cent to 40 per cent by 2020. In the long process of international climate change negotiations, the consideration or inclusion of a new set of parameters can shape and direct the international architecture and must be acceded to with great caution.

Green groups complained publicly that Australian officials were obstructing this aim and they hoped things would look up once the ministers arrived. However, when Wong arrived in Bali, things got worse from the green groups' perspective. It was no longer nameless bureaucrats who opposed the adoption of such extreme targets but the minister herself....

In his press conferences and in his speech to the conference, Rudd made it clear Australia would not act on setting targets, which could have a disastrous effect on the nation's resources-led economy, until the economic analysis was completed. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Rudd set himself apart from the Howard government's refusal to do so, but apart from that Australia's approach hardly changed at all....

Rudd's emphasis on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol kept the focus on the pre-2012 climate change debate and gave him a powerful symbolic advantage. Yet - and Rudd made this crystal clear during the campaign - the ALP had the same approach as the Coalition. Howard was not dissembling or exaggerating when he described Rudd's adoption of the Coalition's post-2012 policy as the most stunning turnaround of the election campaign, after Labor's then environment spokesman Peter Garrett had stumbled. Rudd supported the policy and believed in it; he just didn't want to talk about it during the campaign.

But in Bali, in rejecting the international pressure to embrace extreme targets, Rudd had no difficulty in speaking about the post-2012 policy. "It requires a multilateral solution. Unilateral action is not enough," he said bluntly. "Action to tackle climate change will not be easy. It will require tough choices. And some of these will come at a political price," he acknowledged.

Then he outlined that he - not just Wong or the bureaucrats - was prepared to use the Garnaut report to head off the ambush or a panicked reaction. "We commissioned a major study to help us to set shorter-term targets along the way. This study, the Garnaut review, will report in mid-2008. Together with modelling under way in the Australian Treasury and, also critically, informed by the science, this review will drive our decisions on short and medium-term targets," the Prime Minister said.

"These will be real targets. These will be robust targets," he declared, but he wasn't committing to any targets before the analysis was completed and without the developing nations being part of the solution. "We expect all developed countries to embrace a further set of binding emissions targets, and we need this meeting at Bali to map out the process and timeline in which this will happen. And we need developing countries to play their part, with specific commitments to action," he said. That's Rudd talking. Rudd's right, and he believes in what he is saying. It could have been Howard.


Brazil's offshore oil bonanza may be even bigger

We have covered with great interest the discovery of a huge offshore oil field by Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company. The Tupi oil field was reckoned to contain as much as 8 billion barrels of oil, an as-yet unknown fraction of which will be recoverable, but almost certainly a few billion barrels if past experience is any guide. As was hinted at the time, a neighboring offshore tract shows promise of being far larger in terms of its oil potential. Recognizing this, the government of Brazil has postponed the auction of drilling rights in an area geologically similar to Tupi, in order to gather and analyze further information on its potential. Bloomberg reports:
A geological formation beneath a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) layer of salt in Brazil's Santos offshore basin, is larger than Tupi and, if oil bearing, may contain "significantly more'" oil than Tupi, Gustavo Gattass, an analyst with UBS Pactual in Rio de Janeiro, said in a note to clients. Petrobras, as Brazil's state-controlled oil company is known, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Repsol YPF SA, BG Group Plc, Hess Corp. and Galp Energia SGPS all have concessions in the neighboring area, Gattass said, referring to the formation as "Sugar Loaf."

"Through crude measuring it appears that Sugar Loaf's area is about five times larger than that of Tupi," Gattass said, citing former Petrobras geologists and studies of Tupi and Sugar Loaf. "We expect the first announcements of a find over the next two months and test results between four and seven months."
An informed industry observer tells me that a figure of 21 billion barrels is being mentioned as a rough estimate of the potential of Sugar Loaf. Of course, at this stage it is all guesswork. For comparison, Saudi Arabia's petroleum reserves are officially reckoned at 260 billion barrels. Even better news: there are other similar geological formations in the Santos Basin area. The ultimate potential of the area is unknown, but potentially gigantic: a multiple of the figures being mentioned today.

Brazil emphasizes the production of ethanol for domestic consumption, a solution that makes far more sense in a tropical country which produces energy-rich sugar cane than it does in the more temperate American corn belt. Because of this, much of Brazil's oil may be offered for export on the world market. Hugo Chavez will not like this.

The fact is that the potential for deep oil in offshore Brazil is but one example of the as-yet unexplored potential of other territories, such as ANWR, federal lands in the American West, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil development is officially banned. When oil production is banned, there is no incentive to conduct the expensive tests which could give us better data on the development potential.

Scare-mongers would have us believe that "peak oil" production has been realized, and that we face a future of increasing scarcity and economic chaos. But when governmental restrictions are loosened, and the human mind is unleashed and driven by the potential for profit, experience suggests that previously ignored, missed, or misunderstood potential will be realized. Doom-sayers have been with us throughout recorded history. Sometimes they have been vindicated, but mostly they have been wrong.



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


14 December, 2007


An email below from Henry N. Geraedts, PhD [] in Canada

It certainly stretches credulity when the Guardian's George "Moonbat" Monbiot writes that environmentalists should "remember that while we have been proved right about most things, we have been consistently wrong about the dates for mineral exhaustion." Never bothered to read Julian Simon, it would seem.

The environmental movement proved right about most things? Right. Let's see now: DDT, nuclear energy, Erlich's global population explosion and famine, Borlaugh's green revolution, GMOs, the ozone layer and in the ongoing saga, AGW/ACC. Even the most cursory review tells us the environmentalists were fundamentally wrong on all accounts.

By their very nature, messianic movements like environmentalism are blind to their mistakes, and thus can not learn from them. Even when demonstrably wrong, environmentalists remain prisoner to the fallacies of static thinking and linear extrapolations. They are nevertheless as a matter of course always right. Left unchecked, they are also quite willing to resort to totalitarian measures to ensure that their view of thing prevails, as evidenced by the interview with Mayer Hillman in which he dismisses democracy and its principles as so much bunk to be cast aside so environmentalism can save the world.

The environmental movement in fact stands out as the true Flat Earth Society, constantly looking to build fences to save us others, the mindless masses, from falling off the edge.


German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel is promoting a plan to cut emissions blamed for global warming by 40 percent at this week's climate talks in Bali, Indonesia. At home, RWE AG is building three power plants fired by coal, the fuel that produces the most greenhouse gases. While Germany proposes to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by encouraging the use of renewable energy such as biofuels and windfarms, more than half the new power stations planned for Germany will be fueled by coal, according to Essen-based RWE, the nation's second-biggest utility.

Power companies are choosing coal, which produces twice as much carbon-dioxide as natural gas, over cleaner fuels because world leaders have failed to agree on a strategy for reducing emissions. Without incentives to build less-polluting plants, utilities are guessing about which fuels will be most profitable and delaying investments until an agreement is reached. "You have to take the risk or otherwise you are out of the market,'' said Henning Rentz, RWE's policy chief. The energy utility is building a 2.2 billion-euro ($3.3 billion) power plant fueled by Germany's plentiful brown coal.

Representatives from almost 200 nations are meeting this week in Bali to begin talks on a successor to the emission-limiting Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012. The conference is designed to lay the groundwork for further negotiations that will produce a comprehensive agreement by 2009.

Worldwide, power companies must build $11.6 trillion of plants by 2030 to meet demand for power, according to the International Energy Agency. Without clear guidance from the Bali talks, utilities will continue to rely on coal, said Lars Josefsson, chief executive officer of Vattenfall AB, the Nordic region's biggest utility. "You'll have higher prices and you'll have more carbon dioxide being emitted,'' Josefsson said. An agreement ``would reduce the risk premiums of new investments.'' Stockholm-based Vattenfall is building three coal plants in Germany, including a 1.7 billion-euro project near Hamburg.



(From Quaternary Science Reviews, Article in Press)

Holocene optimum events inferred from subglacial sediments at Tschierva Glacier, Eastern Swiss Alps

By U.E. Joerin et al.


This study investigates the subglacial sedimentary archive at Tschierva Glacier, Eastern Swiss Alps. Subfossil wood remains found at the retreating glacier tongue indicate that their emergence results from recent transport from an upvalley basin. A confluence-basin-like structure was found to exist by georadar measurements underneath the present glacier. In combination with high resolution age determinations based on dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating it is implied that a retreated Tschierva Glacier allowed vegetation growth and sediment accumulation in that basin. Three periods of glacier recession were detected, which occurred around 9200 cal yr BP, from 7450 to 6650 cal yr BP and from 6200 to 5650 cal yr BP. These periods are called Holocene optimum events (HOE). Accordingly, an equilibrium line rise >220 m compared to the reference period from 1960 to 1985 was inferred from digital elevation models of former glacier extents. Since glacier mass balance depends on summer (June-July-August) temperature and precipitation, an equilibrium line altitude (ELA) rise of 220 m implies a summer temperature increase of about 1.8 ÝC assuming unchanged precipitation during the dated HOE. Alternative calculations point to probable temperature increase in a broad interval between +1.0 ÝC taking into account a precipitation change of ?250 mm/a to +2.5 ÝC with +250 mm/a precipitation change, supporting earlier paleotemperature estimates. It is proposed that higher mean summer insolation caused a stronger seasonality during the mid-Holocene as compared to late Holocene conditions. [...]

5. Conclusions

Our results indicate smaller glaciers than the 1985 reference level on at least three occasions during the early and mid-Holocene in accordance with earlier studies on Holocene glacier recessions (Orombelli and Mason, 1997; Nicolussi and Patzelt, 2000a; Hormes et al., 2001). The timing of glacier recessions and readvances was inferred from dendrochronological and radiocarbon dating. The results indicate that a first HOE started around 9200 cal yr BP and further periods lasted from 7450 to 6650 cal yr BP and from 6200 to 5650 cal yr BP. Tree-ring analysis implies a glacier advance shortly after 6630 cal yr BP and probably an advance with two phases around 5800 and 5650 cal yr BP, respectively. The events are dated with high accuracy and improve the existing chronology of glacier fluctuations derived by radiocarbon dating at six Swiss glaciers (Joerin et al., 2006). Our chronology implies that the total duration of HOEs during the Atlantic lasted as long as 1400 yr, more than twice as long as previous studies suggested (RĒthlisberger, 1986). Glacier recessions for the same periods are also reported from Norway (Matthews et al., 2005), Baffin Island (Miller et al., 2005) or British Columbia (Menounos et al., 2004).

Stratigraphic, geomorphological and glaciological observations pinpoint to a source area of former wood growth in small upvalley basins. Such structures are confirmed by georadar measurements and exist underneath the present glacier at an altitude around 2300 m asl. The position of former tree growth restricts the extent of Tschierva Glacier during the HOE. Accordingly, the calculation of a former ELA suggests a local ELA at elevations above 3040 m asl or a rise in ELA >220 m compared to the 1985 reference for periods as long as 800 yr. Therefore, the range of Holocene ELAs may exceed a total amplitude of 320 m resulting from the Holocene extremes of an ELA depression around 100 m for the LIA and a 220 m rise for the HOE.

The summer (JJA) temperature during each HOE is calculated to have increased by +1.8 ÝC under the assumptions of an upward ELA shift of 220 m and no change in precipitation (based on a P-T-ELA model after Ohmura et al. (1992)). The periods of smaller glaciers than present agree with the results of biotic proxies (Tinner et al., 1996; Heiri et al., 2003; Nicolussi et al., 2005). Since mean annual temperatures remained almost unchanged during the mid-Holocene (von Grafenstein, et al., 1999) it is suggested that changes in insolation mainly caused an enhanced seasonality with higher summer temperatures at that time. As a consequence, the Tschierva Glacier advances after 6630 cal yr BP and around 5800 and 5650 cal yr BP represent centennial scale glacier fluctuations which probably occurred superimposed on a multi-millennial trend of generally shorter glaciers during the Atlantic.

Following is a report of a late 2006 study with similar conclusions to the above


Discussing: Hormes, A., Beer, J. and Schluchter, C. 2006. A geochronological approach to understanding the role of solar activity on Holocene glacier length variability in the Swiss Alps. Geografiska Annaler Series A 88: 281-294.

What was done

The authors determined radiocarbon dates of 71 samples of wood and peat found in the basal shear planes and proglacial outwashes of eight mid-latitude glaciers in the Central Swiss Alps; and by virtue of the dates clustering within discrete time intervals, they were able to specify periods during which the glaciers' leading edges were less extended than they were during the 1990s.

What was learned

Hormes et al. determined that "the glaciers investigated were less extensive than during the 1990s, with a shorter length during several defined periods." These periods were: 10,110-9550, 9210-7980, 7450-6500, 6370-5950, 5860-3360, 2940-2620 and 2500-1170 years before present. They also report that "some of these periods with reduced glacier lengths are also documented on Svalbard in the Arctic, the Subantarctic Kerguelen islands in the Indian Ocean, and in Scandinavia." In addition, they state that "the defined radiocarbon-dated periods with less extensive glaciers coincide well with periods of reduced 14C production, pointing to the sun's role in glacier variation processes."

What it means

Contrary to the strident claim of Hansen et al. (2006) that probably the planet as a whole" is approximately as warm now as at the Holocene maximum," the findings of Hormes et al. suggest that for huge periods of the Holocene this statement was likely far from the truth, not only for the Central Swiss Alps, but also for the other parts of the planet where similar Holocene contractions of glacier lengths have been observed. In addition, there is reason to believe that much of the world's superior warmth during those many earlier periods (when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was only about two-thirds of what it is today) was orchestrated by variations in the activity of the sun, which further suggests there is no compelling reason to believe that the much lesser warmth of today must be due to the atmosphere's elevated CO2 concentration, as it has been significantly warmer than it is currently many times throughout the Holocene when there has been much less CO2 in the air than there is today.

Source Relevant journal abstract below:


(From Geografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography, Volume 88 Issue 4 Page 281-294, December 2006 )

A geochronological approach to understanding the role of solar activity on Holocene glacier length variability in the Swiss Alps

Anne Hormes et al.


We present a radiocarbon data set of 71 samples of wood and peat material that melted out or sheared out from underneath eight presentday mid-latitude glaciers in the Central Swiss Alps. Results indicated that in the past several glaciers have been repeatedly less extensive than they were in the 1990s. The periods when glaciers had a smaller volume and shorter length persisted between 320 and 2500 years. This data set provides greater insight into glacier variability than previously possible, especially for the early and middle Holocene. The radiocarbon-dated periods defined with less extensive glaciers coincide with periods of reduced radio-production, pointing to a connection between solar activity and glacier melting processes. Measured long-term series of glacier length variations show significant correlation with the total solar irradiance. Incoming solar irradiance and changing albedo can account for a direct forcing of the glacier mass balances. Long-term investigations of atmospheric processes that are in interaction with changing solar activity are needed in order to understand the feedback mechanisms with glacier mass balances.


A new study comparing the composite output of 22 leading global climate models with actual climate data finds that the models do an unsatisfactory job of mimicking climate change in key portions of the atmosphere. This research, published on-line Wednesday in the Royal Meteorological Society's International Journal of Climatology, raises new concerns about the reliability of models used to forecast global warming. "The usual discussion is whether the climate model forecasts of Earth's climate 100 years or so into the future are realistic," said the lead author, Dr. David H. Douglass from the University of Rochester. "Here we have something more fundamental: Can the models accurately explain the climate from the recent past? "It seems that the answer is no."

Scientists from Rochester, the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and the University of Virginia compared the climate change "forecasts" from the 22 most widely-cited global circulation models with tropical temperature data collected by surface, satellite and balloon sensors. The models predicted that the lower atmosphere should warm significantly more than it actually did. "Models are very consistent in forecasting a significant difference between climate trends at the surface and in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere between the surface and the stratosphere," said Dr. John Christy, director of UAH's Earth System Science Center. "The models forecast that the troposphere should be warming more than the surface and that this trend should be especially pronounced in the tropics.

"When we look at actual climate data, however, we do not see accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere. Instead, the lower and middle atmosphere are warming the same or less than the surface. For those layers of the atmosphere, the warming trend we see in the tropics is typically less than half of what the models forecast."

The 22 climate models used in this study are the same models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. The atmospheric temperature data were from two versions of data collected by sensors aboard NOAA satellites since late 1979, plus several sets of temperature data gathered twice a day at dozens of points in the tropics by thermometers carried into the atmosphere by helium balloons. The surface data were from three datasets.

After years of rigorous analysis and testing, the high degree of agreement between the various atmospheric data sets gives an equally high level of confidence in the basic accuracy of the climate data. "The last 25 years constitute a period of more complete and accurate observations, and more realistic modeling efforts," said Dr. Fred Singer from the University of Virginia. "Nonetheless, the models are seen to disagree with the observations. We suggest, therefore, that projections of future climate based on these models should be viewed with much caution."

The findings of this study contrast strongly with those of a recent study that used 19 of the same climate models and similar climate datasets. That study concluded that any difference between model forecasts and atmospheric climate data is probably due to errors in the data. "The question was, what would the models `forecast' for upper air climate change over the past 25 years and how would that forecast compare to reality?" said Christy. "To answer that we needed climate model results that matched the actual surface temperature changes during that same time. If the models got the surface trend right but the tropospheric trend wrong, then we could pinpoint a potential problem in the models.

"As it turned out, the average of all of the climate models forecasts came out almost like the actual surface trend in the tropics. That meant we could do a very robust test of their reproduction of the lower atmosphere.

"Instead of averaging the model forecasts to get a result whose surface trends match reality, the earlier study looked at the widely scattered range of results from all of the model runs combined. Many of the models had surface trends that were quite different from the actual trend," Christy said. "Nonetheless, that study concluded that since both the surface and upper atmosphere trends were somewhere in that broad range of model results, any disagreement between the climate data and the models was probably due to faulty data. "We think our experiment is more robust and provides more meaningful results."


Ancient Bone Discovery Debunks Polar Bear Endangerment Fears

'We Don't Have To Be Quite So Worried About The Polar Bear'

Quaternary geologist Professor Dr. Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland is quoted below.

Excerpt: "We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period," explained Professor Ingolfsson. And what's interesting about that is that the Eeemian - the last interglacial - was much warmer than the Holocene (the present). "This is telling us that despite the ongoing warming in the Arctic today, maybe we don't have to be quite so worried about the polar bear. < > That would be very encouraging Professor Ingolfsson is hopeful the bears will cope - and believes the palaeo-record will offer some reassurance. "The polar bear is basically a brown bear that decided some time ago that it would be easier to feed on seals on the ice. So long as there are seals, there are going to be polar bears. I think the threat to the polar bears is much more to do with pollution, the build up of heavy metals in the Arctic. "This is just how I interpret it. But this is science - when you have little data, you have lots of freedom."


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


13 December, 2007

More global cooling

Icy storm kills 23, thousands without power

A WINTER storm raging over the midwestern United States reportedly left nearly two dozen people dead and hundreds of thousands without power, as ice toppled trees and power lines and sent cars skidding off slick roads. Most of the fatalities were reported in Oklahoma, where authorities also said more than 600,000 people were without power. Electric company officials said it could take a week before power is fully restored. The storm has claimed at least 23 lives, CNN reported.

But there was some good news as temperatures climbed above freezing during the night. US President George W. Bush approved a request for an emergency declaration that frees up federal resources to help respond to the storm. Huge generators and drinking water were sent to Oklahoma, and blankets, cots and emergency food supplies were to be sent today. In Missouri, more than 100,000 people were without power, authorities said.

Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois were also under storm warnings. "An extended area of winter storm and ice storm warnings ... as well as freezing rain advisories continue to be in effect from the panhandle of Texas across the central plains into the lower great lakes region," the National Weather Service said.


GOP's Fred Thompson asserts skepticism on warming: 'We don't know to what extent it's due to manmade causes'

GLENN: I don't know who wouldn't take you up on that. However, we're losing -- it seems to me there's a -- well, let me just ask you the question. What do you think about this Al Gore global warming? To me it seems like it's global socialism and a total loss of sovereignty and not really about global warming at all.

SENATOR THOMPSON: Well, what troubles me about it is not the analysis and the debate over the analysis. I think that that can be a good thing. It's jumping from there to all of these solutions that people have because they're being proposed on the basis of inadequate knowledge.

We don't have all the answers by a long shot. We know the Earth is warming. We don't know whether or not it's a part of a cycle. We've had cooling stages before. We don't know to what extent it's due to manmade causes. We don't know what effect we can have on that. We don't know what the significance of it is going to be. You have everything, you know, coastline estimation from inches of water rising to feet and everything in the middle. All the answers are not there.

I resent trying to close off debate about all this, but a lot of people are trying to do that. Then they're jumping from that to solutions that are probably -- it's not a matter that it's a global thing as much as it is -- I think if it was a global deal that we could all come together and agree on, that would probably be a good thing. But what's really going to happen is that the United States is going to be pushed into making unilateral decisions that will hurt us and not help the overall problem.

We could do a lot of things here in the United States with the Chinese and Indians did not participate, it would more than swamp whatever benefits that we could come up with. So it's a big problem. A lot of people are going to have to work together on it, but we need to do it on the basis of complete information and all the best that science and research can teach us. And we've still got a long way to go there.


Skeptical Scientists Urge World To `Have the Courage to Do Nothing' At UN Conference

Post below lifted from EPW blog. See the original for links

BALI, Indonesia - An international team of scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears promoted by the UN and former Vice President Al Gore, descended on Bali this week to urge the world to "have the courage to do nothing" in response to UN demands. Lord Christopher Monckton, a UK climate researcher, had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday. "Climate change is a non problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing," Monckton told participants. "The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money and we should no longer pay the slightest attention to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,)" Monckton added. (LINK)

Monckton also noted that the UN has not been overly welcoming to the group of skeptical scientists. "UN organizers refused my credentials and appeared desperate that I should not come to this conference. They have also made several attempts to interfere with our public meetings," Monckton explained. "It is a circus here," agreed Australian scientist Dr. David Evans. Evans is making scientific presentations to delegates and journalists at the conference revealing the latest peer-reviewed studies that refute the UN's climate claims.

"This is the most lavish conference I have ever been to, but I am only a scientist and I actually only go to the science conferences," Evans said, noting the luxury of the tropical resort. (Note: An analysis by Bloomberg News on December 6 found: "Government officials and activists flying to Bali, Indonesia, for the United Nations meeting on climate change will cause as much pollution as 20,000 cars in a year." - LINK)

Evans, a mathematician who did carbon accounting for the Australian government, recently converted to a skeptical scientist about man-made global warming after reviewing the new scientific studies. (LINK) "We now have quite a lot of evidence that carbon emissions definitely don't cause global warming. We have the missing [human] signature [in the atmosphere], we have the IPCC models being wrong and we have the lack of a temperature going up the last 5 years," Evans said in an interview with the Inhofe EPW Press Blog. Evans authored a November 28 2007 paper "Carbon Emissions Don't Cause Global Warming." (LINK)

Evans touted a new peer-reviewed study by a team of scientists appearing in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society which found "Warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence." (LINK) "Most of the people here have jobs that are very well paid and they depend on the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. They are not going to be very receptive to the idea that well actually the science has gone off in a different direction," Evans explained.

UN IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports since its inception going back to 1990, had a clear message to UN participants. "There is no evidence that carbon dioxide increases are having any affect whatsoever on the climate," Gray, who shares in the Nobel Prize awarded to the UN IPCC, explained. (LINK) "All the science of the IPCC is unsound. I have come to this conclusion after a very long time. If you examine every single proposition of the IPCC thoroughly, you find that the science somewhere fails," Gray, who wrote the book "The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of "Climate Change 2001," said. "It fails not only from the data, but it fails in the statistics, and the mathematics," he added.

`Dangerous time for science'

Evans, who believes the UN has heavily politicized science, warned there is going to be a "dangerous time for science" ahead. "We have a split here. Official science driven by politics, money and power, goes in one direction. Unofficial science, which is more determined by what is actually happening with the [climate] data, has now started to move off in a different direction" away from fears of a man-made climate crisis, Evans explained. "The two are splitting. This is always a dangerous time for science and a dangerous time for politics. Historically science always wins these battles but there can be a lot of causalities and a lot of time in between," he concluded.

Carbon trading `fraud?'

New Zealander Bryan Leland of the International Climate Science Coalition warned participants that all the UN promoted discussions of "carbon trading" should be viewed with suspicion. "I am an energy engineer and I know something about electricity trading and I know enough about carbon trading and the inaccuracies of carbon trading to know that carbon trading is more about fraud than it is about anything else," Leland said. "We should probably ask why we have 10,000 people here [in Bali] in a futile attempt to `solve' a [climate] problem that probably does not exist," Leland added.

`Simply not work'

Owen McShane, the head of the International Climate Science Coalition, also worried that a UN promoted global approach to economics would mean financial ruin for many nations. "I don't think this conference can actually achieve anything because it seems to be saying that we are going to draw up one protocol for every country in the world to follow," McShane said. (LINK) "Now these countries and these economies are so diverse that trying to presume you can put all of these feet into one shoe will simply not work," McShane explained. "Having the same set of rules apply to everybody will blow some economies apart totally while others will be unscathed and I wouldn't be surprised if the ones who remain unscathed are the ones who write the rules," he added.

`Nothing happening at this conference'

Professor Dr. William Alexander, emeritus of the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a former member of the United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, warned poor nations and their residents that the UN policies could mean more poverty and thus more death. "My message is specifically for the poor people of Africa. And there is nothing happening at this conference that can help them one little bit but there is the potential that they could be damaged," Alexander said. (LINK) "The government and people of Africa will have their attention drawn to reducing climate change instead of reducing poverty," Alexander added.

The Pope condemns the climate change prophets

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement. His remarks will be made in his annual message for World Peace Day on January 1, but they were released as delegates from all over the world convened on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali for UN climate change talks.

The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind. "Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow," he said in the message entitled "The Human Family, A Community of Peace". "It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.

"If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. "Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken." He added that to further the cause of world peace it was sensible for nations to "choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions" in how to cooperate responsibly on conserving the planet.

The Pope's message is traditionally sent to heads of government and international organisations. His remarks reveal that while the Pope acknowledges that problems may be associated with unbridled development and climate change, he believes the case against global warming to be over-hyped.

A broad consensus is developing among the world's scientific community over the evils of climate change. But there is also an intransigent body of scientific opinion which continues to insist that industrial emissions are not to blame for the phenomenon. Such scientists point out that fluctuations in the earth's temperature are normal and can often be caused by waves of heat generated by the sun.

Other critics of environmentalism have compared the movement to a burgeoning industry in its own right. In the spring, the Vatican hosted a conference on climate change that was welcomed by environmentalists. But senior cardinals close to the Vatican have since expressed doubts about a movement which has been likened by critics to be just as dogmatic in its assumptions as any religion.

In October, the Australian Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, caused an outcry when he noted that the atmospheric temperature of Mars had risen by 0.5 degrees celsius. "The industrial-military complex up on Mars can't be blamed for that," he said in a criticism of Australian scientists who had claimed that carbon emissions would force temperatures on earth to rise by almost five degrees by 2070 unless drastic solutions were enforced.


Chemist loves CO2

Analytical Chemist Hans Schreuder who publishes the website, rejected man-made global warming fears in 2007. "Any and all arguments put forward by the perceived consensus of scientists who still have their names engraved on the IPCC report are based on nothing more than theory and best fit computer modeling. Normally varying weather patterns are "blamed" on AGW without any scientific basis and for the sole purpose of scaremongering a gullible public," Schreuder wrote on December 10, 2007.

Schreuder also asserted that "ALL `proof' is based on theories and computer models, not actual direct evidence - cause there ain't none. ALL the records from the past show clearly that CO2 did NOTHING to `drive' or `force' any temperature changes. If it did, we would be as hot as hell by now and no life would be possible." See here


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


12 December, 2007


Below is an email to Benny Peiser from Jens Kieffer-Olsen M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.), Slagelse, Denmark []

Sorry for the limping headline - I tried a free translation from Danish of the homepage of Politiken. The article by Jorgen Fleischer, editor of Gronlandsposten from 1962 to 1987, appeared in the leading Danish newspaper Politiken on Dec. 3rd. I'll translate a section myself :


Records dating back to the days of Hans Egede provide evidence that over the last 300 years warming periods with cold has occurred every century. To the foreign celebrities who now flock to the Ilulissat Isfjord glacier, which is melting in the extreme, it might be of interest to hear that the melting of the glacier in the ice fiord was even more extreme during the 17th century.

In the year 1747 the trader Peder Olsen Walloe met a very old Greenland woman, who had seen an ice-free Ilulissat Isfjord. In his diary the trader wrote:

"At the edge of the ice fiord an old lady was in the house of a Greenland family. She lay down all the time as in a cramp, she could not stretch her legs or help herself in any way. Her hair was very gray. When asked about her age, she would say she didn't know, but that she remembered well the time, when in this fiord with now so many of so large icebergs there weren't any, and how the fiord was accessible far up. She may have been 100 years old or more. What a change within one lifetime. Now there is so much ice both on the shore and at sea that in the summer it is hardly possible to get around because of large and small icebergs."

Mind you, Peder Olsen Walloe was no ordinary traveller. Around 1752 he explored the East coast of Greenland from kayak, and Qaqortoq celebrates him as the town's founder here

A copy of his diary is for sale on the Internet for 25 pounds , or as little as 10 with the cover missing. I gather it has never been translated into English.


If China and other emerging economies don't contribute to reining in greenhouse gases, "it would be very difficult" to get a new global climate deal through the U.S. Senate, even under a Democratic president, Sen. John Kerry said Monday. "At some point in time, they will have to take on those reductions, for several reasons, most importantly the developed countries are not going to be able to do this on their own," Kerry said in an interview.

The Massachusetts Democrat, a longtime champion of the climate cause in Washington, spoke with The Associated Press during a fast-paced, one-day visit midway through the two-week U.N. climate conference on Bali island. Delegates from more than 180 nations hope to adopt a final document this Friday that would launch a two-year negotiating process to reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

Kyoto requires 36 industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The U.S. is the only major industrial nation to reject the 1997 pact.

Kerry noted that one reason Kyoto found no support in the late 1990s in the Senate, which must ratify such international accords, was that it didn't demand emissions cuts by developing nations. That objection was later repeated by U.S. President George W. Bush, who complained such an agreement would harm the U.S. economy. The draft final document being debated here, besides calling for renewed post-2012 emission-reduction targets for industrialized countries, says negotiators in 2008-09 should also consider ways to measure and recognize what such developing countries as China and India are doing to slow their emissions growth. China, for one, is expected to overtake the United States this year or next as the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and is taking steps to improve energy efficiency.

Kerry said the final document should include a "more bold statement" of developing-country responsibility. "If the 'roadmap' that comes out of Bali does not embrace the notion that less developed countries have to also be part of the solution at an appropriate moment in an appropriate way, it would be very difficult to pass something, certainly in our country," said Kerry, the 2004 U.S. Democratic presidential nominee. "But I believe that won't be the case," he added. "I believe we're going to make progress both in the United States and globally."

During his one-day visit, the senator repeatedly sounded the theme that, despite Bush administration opposition to mandatory caps on U.S. emissions, many U.S. states have gone ahead and set their own limits, led by California. He said the end of the Bush administration in 2009 will most likely introduce a new attitude in the White House as well. The U.S. delegation here was opposing inclusion in the conference final document of a nonbinding reference to an emissions-reduction guideline favored by the European Union - of 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020.

Kerry said he favored including such a guideline in the Bali text. When asked what emissions-reduction target the U.S. could accept for the 2012-2020 period, he said that should be subject to negotiation, including talks with developing countries about the steps they will take in that direction.



Official British statistics are generally very Soviet these days. British statisticians are the only people in Britain who believe that crime has declined there, for instance

Britain is responsible for hundreds of millions more tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions than official figures admit, according to a new report that undermines UK claims to lead the world on action against global warming. The analysis says pollution from aviation, shipping, overseas trade and tourism, which are not measured in the official figures, means that UK carbon consumption has risen significantly over the past decade, and that the government's claims to have tackled global warming are an "illusion".

The report, from a team of economists led by Dieter Helm at Oxford University, could prove embarrassing for British negotiators at the UN climate summit in Bali, where they are trying to persuade countries including the US and China to agree a new worldwide treaty to limit the effects of global warming.

Britain is seen as a main player as the talks enter their second week, partly because it is one of few countries on track to reduce its emissions as required under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global plan to curb carbon emissions. Ministers are due to arrive for the high-level segment of the talks on Wednesday. By Friday, they aim to agree a road map and timetable for a treaty to succeed Kyoto in 2012.

Under Kyoto, Britain must reduce its greenhouse gas output to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2012. According to official figures filed with the UN, Britain's emissions are currently down 15% compared with 1990. But the new report says UK carbon output has actually risen by 19% over that period, once the missing emissions are included in the figures. The report says: "This is a dramatic reversal of fortune. It merits an immediate, more detailed and more robust assessment. It suggests that the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from the UK economy may have been to a considerable degree an illusion."

The new analysis measures the UK's consumption of carbon, rather than production. It includes energy consumed to make products and ship them to the UK from countries such as China, as well as the carbon footprint of British citizens abroad. Helm, who is a government adviser, says: "The implications for the UK are stark: the UK has not yet, as ministers repeatedly claim, emphatically broken the link between economic growth and emissions. To reduce carbon consumption in the UK would demand much more radical policies. Excluding carbon imports and excluding aviation provides an artificial picture. We have to take responsibility for the carbon we consume."

The new figures, which are approximate and need more research, threaten the government's pledge to reduce emissions by 60% by 2050, he said. "This puts us in a completely different starting position. We need to move on from all the self-congratulations over [meeting the target set by] Kyoto and look at the real effect of policies."

The report says that Britain's success in meeting its Kyoto target is not related to climate policies, but the result of a major shift from coal to cleaner gas for power generation during the 1990s, and the closure of much of the country's heavy industry. The report says the resulting drop in carbon pollution "gives the impression that the UK is winning the fight against climate change and it leads people to think that the UK is reducing its dependence on greenhouse gas emissions". In fact, it says, "the economy's demand for greenhouse gases may have been growing".


Bali: While Greenies Gab, Science Strides Forward

Without exception, everything discussed at UNFCC, indeed the very temporary greening of Bali itself, is predicated on the specious argument that GHG, and no other forces, might be driving global temperatures. But the science on which the U.N's hysteria-engendered flock base their planet-saving plans is settled only in their minds and the reams of hyped reports from the IPCC, which they foolishly expect to dictate global climate policies.

Readers are all too aware of the endless tricks, deceptions, outright lies, and more tricks used to divert attention from any driver not Carbon (and, therefore, not industry) related. Those same readers are well aware that this author believes the factor most irresponsibly ignored by alarmists to be Solar, as I have opined many times, including here, here, and here. As it happens, last week also saw astronomer and Sun expert Dr David Whitehouse further the case for Solar forcing's majority influence. Whitehouse reported that it's been months since any sunspots have been observed:

"After a period of exceptionally high activity in the 20th century, our Sun has suddenly gone exceptionally quiet."

The significance of which might become quite evident quite quickly. You see, whenever presented with the obvious (and logical) correlations between solar activity and Terran climate in the past, Solar Deniers claimed that continued elevations in global temperatures after 1998 somehow disproved any direct connection. While insignificant in long-term analysis, Whitehouse nonetheless attributed this to the rapid increase between 1978 and 1998, after which average temps have held their high, but steady, level:

"Almost everyone agrees that throughout most of the last century the solar influence was significant. Studies show that by the end of the 20th century the Sun's activity may have been at its highest for more than 8,000 years."

He suggests we're actually in a period of solar activity low enough to not only counteract any GHG increases, but, as proposed by Russian Academy of Sciences members, actually cause temperatures to drop 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2020. Whitehouse dubs this new Solar season, which may even usher in another Little Ice Age, the Modern Solar Minimum. The good doctor also lists it with previously correlative periods the greenies completely ignore:

* Modern Solar Minimum (2000-?)

* Modern Climate Optimum (1890-2000) - the world is getting warmer. Concentrations of greenhouse gas increase. Solar activity increases.

* Dalton Solar Minimum (1790-1820) - global temperatures are lower than average.

* Maunder Solar Minimum (1645-1715) - coincident with the 'Little Ice Age'.

* Spoerer Solar Minimum (1420-1530) - discovered by the analysis of radioactive carbon in tree rings that correlate with solar activity - colder weather. Greenland settlements abandoned.

* Wolf Solar Minimum (1280-1340) - climate deterioration begins. Life gets harder in Greenland.

* Medieval Solar Maximum (1075-1240) - coincides with Medieval Warm Period. Vikings from Norway and Iceland found settlements in Greenland and North America.

* Oort Solar Minimum (1010-1050) - temperature on Earth is colder than average.

If current trends continue, 2007 will be the coolest year this century, perhaps the coolest since 1995. Of course, should temperatures continue to drop off precipitously while CO2 levels continue to rise, those intent on wielding both political and economic power through junk-science know they will have missed their opportunity to do so.

The Death of the Red Masque

Its science is unmitigated junk. Its solutions are unworkable. Its corruption runs so deep as to be worthy of a Hague forum. But there's more. One upshot of Bali thus far has been the demand by China and India that the U.N steward the transfer of low-carbon energy technology the Intellectual Property not of Western governments, but of their private enterprises. Its unity with this and a proposal for a "technology transfer fund" that industrialized nations would be forced to pay into for developing countries withdrawal to finance clean energy technology projects or purchase patents should end any doubt of the U.N's socialist objectives.

Yet they're apparently not red enough for some greens, as many less developed countries told the conference they were being deprived of benefits. That's right -- they complained that carbon offsetting pays companies to cut emissions, but undeveloped countries -- particularly in Africa -- have few emissions to start with and would not gain from such reductions. Sound familiar? Like the Democrats who constantly complain that tax-cuts, while benefiting tax-payers, do nothing for those not earning enough to pay taxes?

And speaking of domestically grown lefties -- should they really wish to relate Kyoto to Warner-Lieberman, then they can neither deny nor escape the corollary of the faults of each. By setting utopian limits and assuming that technology will rise to meet them, both play a dangerous game with human posterity.

At home, utility companies would be forced to either invest heavily in uncertain R&D or move away from coal altogether, retooling their plants for alternate fuels such as natural gas. Neither solution bodes well for their customers, who would themselves be forced to make the choice between paying hugely higher rates for their heat and electricity (if they can) or suffering long seasons without them. How many of those responsible for the current Democrat majorities might then ponder their vote as they struggle to keep their families warm while battling soaring inflation?

Internationally, the trade warfare the UN plan would impose impedes global development while likely doing nothing to aid any but the corrupt leaders of the very poor nations the union is duplicitously scheming to uplift. And, as it needlessly degrades the economies of all prosperous nations involved, it would ultimately be just another socialist experiment gone horribly wrong - this time on a devastatingly global level.

And all in an effort to prevent an impending storm they likely know full well never actually threatened. Disgraceful. While Bali's pulse grows faint, the adolescent green dream of controlling climate through a new world order may smell funny - but it's not quite dead. Given the extent of the madness, even armed with a sudden extended cooling such as that predicted by Whitehouse and others, it won't be an easy kill. However -- it will be an essential one.


A letter that did NOT get published -- funnily enough

Submitted to: Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Written By: James M. Taylor

Artic Sea Ice Unaffected by Global Warming

Regarding "Evidence of dramatic effects of global warming apparent now" (Nov. 6), the guest writer presented a misleading view of global warming in the Arctic and left out many important facts.

NASA released a study in October 2007 demonstrating that the recent decline in Arctic sea ice is due to unusual localized wind patterns rather than global warming.

A 2006 study in Journal of Geophysical Research demonstrated that Greenland is in a prolonged cold spell unequaled since the 1910s. The December 2005 issue of Journal of Glaciology reports that the Greenland ice sheet is growing rather than shrinking.

Still further, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that Southern Hemisphere Antarctic sea ice is currently at its greatest extent in recorded history, showing that Arctic sea ice retreat is local rather than global.

It is funny how the author conveniently forgot to mention these facts in her alarmist article.



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


11 December, 2007

Climate warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant

Climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia report that observed patterns of temperature changes (`fingerprints') over the last thirty years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict and can better be explained by natural factors, such as solar variability. Therefore, climate change is `unstoppable' and cannot be affected or modified by controlling the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, as is proposed in current legislation.

These results are in conflict with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also with some recent research publications based on essentially the same data. However, they are supported by the results of the US-sponsored Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).

The report is published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society [DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651]. The authors are Prof. David H. Douglass (Univ. of Rochester), Prof. John R. Christy (Univ. of Alabama), Benjamin D. Pearson (graduate student), and Prof. S. Fred Singer (Univ. of Virginia).

The fundamental question is whether the observed warming is natural or anthropogenic (human-caused). Lead author David Douglass said: "The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming. The inescapable conclusion is that the human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming."

Co-author John Christy said: "Satellite data and independent balloon data agree that atmospheric warming trends do not exceed those of the surface. Greenhouse models, on the other hand, demand that atmospheric trend values be 2-3 times greater. We have good reason, therefore, to believe that current climate models greatly overestimate the effects of greenhouse gases. Satellite observations suggest that GH models ignore negative feedbacks, produced by clouds and by water vapor, that diminish the warming effects of carbon dioxide."

Co-author S. Fred Singer said: "The current warming trend is simply part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that has been seen in ice cores, deep-sea sediments, stalagmites, etc., and published in hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals. The mechanism for producing such cyclical climate changes is still under discussion; but they are most likely caused by variations in the solar wind and associated magnetic fields that affect the flux of cosmic rays incident on the earth's atmosphere. In turn, such cosmic rays are believed to influence cloudiness and thereby control the amount of sunlight reaching the earth's surface-and thus the climate." Our research demonstrates that the ongoing rise of atmospheric CO2 has only a minor influence on climate change. We must conclude, therefore, that attempts to control CO2 emissions are ineffective and pointless. - but very costly.

Source. Journal abstract follows:

A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions

By David H. Douglass et al.

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


Bali: no more jaw-jaw, this is climate war

Greens are demanding state-enforced austerity and authoritarianism to deal with 'climate catastrophe'. And they're using the Second World War as their model

The climate change circus has moved on once more. Last month, it was the presentation in Valencia, Spain of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report. Now the show has moved to the Indonesian island of Bali for the first discussions on a post-Kyoto treaty. But with no concrete agreement on the horizon, green activists are calling for greater urgency - and what could be more urgent than a war?

Last month, the IPCC declared that the evidence for human responsibility for climate change was now `unequivocal'. As UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said in September, the scientists have spoken: `Their message is quite simple: we know enough to act; if we do not act now the impact of climate change will be devastating; and we have affordable measures and technologies to begin addressing the problem right now. What we do not have is time. The time for action is now.' (1)

Yet while the UN, IPCC and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) demand urgent action, there doesn't seem to be much agreement in Bali on what that action should consist of. Everyone agrees that carbon emissions must fall, but there is considerably less agreement on how to bring this fall about.

Many countries, led by the European Union, want to see a stronger Kyoto-style agreement with binding emissions reductions - but one that, unlike Kyoto, includes developing countries, too. In turn, these developing countries are loathe to be bound by emissions limits when they are finally benefiting from desperately needed, fossil-fuelled economic growth. And the US, the largest producer of greenhouse gases, is also keen to avoid mandatory limits, especially if they do not apply to countries like China and India, which are increasingly becoming economic rivals to the US.

Kyoto has hardly been a rip-roaring success, however. The treaty demanded a cut in emissions of five per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2008-2012. As the graph below reveals, overall emissions for industrialised countries (the green line) are slightly down on 1990 levels despite economic growth. But this fall is largely due to the fact that emissions in emerging economies in Eastern Europe (the blue line) fell through the floor after 1990. Even in these countries, emissions have risen since the Kyoto treaty was signed in 1997. For the well-developed economies (the pink line), emissions have risen by 11 per cent since 1990.

Above: Percentage change in greenhouse gas emissions, 1990-2005 (source: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)

Even some of the `success' stories are somewhat illusory. For example, Britain's emissions cuts have been largely down to a switch from burning coal to burning gas in electricity production - a change that started before the Kyoto deal was signed and would have happened regardless of any treaty. The actual effect of the treaty has been, at best, to apply pressure to reduce the rise in emissions. Only six of the 23 Kyoto industrialised countries outside Eastern Europe have actually cut their emissions since 1990 (2).

Worse, Kyoto represents the `easy bit'. After all, it may be easy enough to trim emissions through campaigns, price increases and other financial incentives without any noticeable impact on costs or methods of energy production and consumption. Really serious cuts would require a major shift in the way we currently travel, build and work, or savage cuts in consumption - or some combination of the two. That kind of shift doesn't seem to be on the table at Bali. State-sponsored impoverishment isn't very popular, after all.

There are those, however, who think a bit of impoverishment is absolutely necessary - and they justify their argument by invoking the spirit and images of war. Madeleine Bunting, writing in Monday's Guardian, declared that we need to move to `a low-consumption economy oriented towards facilitating the real sources of human fulfilment'. She continues: `Hearteningly, we know it can be done - our parents and grandparents managed it in the Second World War. This useful analogy, explored by Andrew Simms in his book Ecological Debt, demonstrates the critical role of government. In the early 1940s, a dramatic drop in household consumption was achieved. by the government orchestrating a massive propaganda exercise combined with a rationing system and a luxury tax. This will be the stuff of twenty-first century politics - something that, right now, all the main political parties are much too scared to admit.'

Just in case we didn't get the message, Bunting's Guardian colleague George Monbiot banged the drum for a Climate War Economy the following day: `We must confront a challenge that is as great and as pressing as the rise of the Axis powers. Had we thrown up our hands then, as many people are tempted to do today, you would be reading this paper in German. Though the war often seemed impossible to win, when the political will was mobilised strange and implausible things began to happen. The US economy was spun round on a dime in 1942 as civilian manufacturing was switched to military production. The state took on greater powers than it had exercised before. Impossible policies suddenly became achievable.'

If you thought it was just a few overwrought Guardian columnists calling for wartime-style rationing, think again: this outlook is catching on in the corridors of power, too, with the likes of Prince Charles and former UK environment secretary Margaret Beckett calling for a `war' on greenhouse gases. Only yesterday, the head of the UK Environment Agency, Lady Young, told the Daily Telegraph: `This is World War Three - this is the biggest challenge to face the globe for many, many years. We need the sorts of concerted, fast, integrated and above all huge efforts that went into many actions in times of war. We're dealing with this as if it is peacetime, but the time for peace on climate change is gone - we need to be seeing this as a crisis and emergency.'

Such shrill sabre-rattling isn't a new phenomenon. As we noted on spiked in February this year, talk of the Blitz spirit, rationing, avoiding waste and tightening our belts is becoming increasingly common in climate change circles (see `Your planet needs you!', by Rob Lyons). This may, in part, reflect the fact that the last time Britain did anything that we still feel positive about, it was defeating The Nazi Threat - even if our role in Hitler's downfall is more of a Great National Myth than a historical fact.

The war talk over global warming also reflects an increasing desperation on the part of eco-activists, commentators and official environment departments. For them, governments and voters are simply not responding with sufficient panic to this apparent planetary emergency. So they are adopting an hysterical tone to try to get people's attention. But the bottom line is that most people - quite rightly - do not wish to live under austerity measures. We're actually rather keen on our material wealth, thank you very much, and we'd rather not live in a society where all sorts of punitive state action can be undertaken in the name of saving the planet.

If the world does get markedly warmer in the future, then we will need practical solutions to the problems that may arise, while doing our best to ensure that economic development can continue apace. We don't need poverty and authoritarianism.


A convenient 50 million for green Gore

WHO would have thought that saving the planet could be such a lucrative business? Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned environmental campaigner, has made more than 50 million in British pounds in just seven years from his books, speeches and shrewd investments in technology and green ventures. Gore, 59, a failed presidential candidate, has already reinvented himself from the nearly man of American politics into the first global green celebrity. This week he will pick up the Nobel peace prize in Oslo before flying to Bali to take centre stage at the United Nations climate change conference.

Today Gore commands between 50,000 and 85,000 pounds a speech, holds stock options in Google worth 15m and has made as much as 4m from advances on his book deals. He is also advising a US venture capital company on how to invest a $600m green technology fund.

He has come a long way since losing the 2000 presidential election to George W Bush when, according to official documents, Gore was worth just 1 million. His biggest assets were his two homes in Nashville, Tennessee, and Arlington, Virginia, valued at 375,000, and 500,000 invested in oil company shares. But rather than dwell on his disappointment, Gore threw himself into the world of business.

Joel Hyatt, who chaired the democratic finance committee during the 2000 election and is now Gore's business partner, said: "Al's bouncing back from that experience has been quite extraordinary. It's hard to move on from something like that but the fact he did is an incredible testament to his character."

Gore began by joining Google as an adviser in 2001. At the time it was a relatively new and rising internet search engine. In March 2003 he joined the board of Apple, where he holds stock options that are now valued at about ú3m. According to Hyatt, his interest in technology is long-standing. "Al has always had a real mind for gadgets and technology. He is a real geek in that regard." Gore has also invested a significant proportion of his wealth in Current TV, a cable channel on which viewers can broadcast their own video clips. It has 38m subscribers in the US and is now being shown in 8m homes in Britain.

At the same time Gore's interest in green issues was coming to the fore, and his rise as a climate-change celebrity has proved highly lucrative. Since the release of his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore has given 150 speeches a year. His spokesman emphasised, however, that Gore waives his lecture fees for charities and schools and gives a proportion of his income to the Alliance for Climate Protection, of which he is chairman.

A contract for one of his speaking arrangements, released by the University of California under freedom of information requirements, reveals that Gore demands first class travel and accommodation and 500 a day for meals, phone calls and other expenses. The contract stipulates that Gore's car from the airport should be "a sedan, not a sports utility vehicle".

Gore has written nine books, with advances worth between 3m and 4.5m, and has another planned for next year. In 2003 he sold MetWest, an asset management firm he had started two years earlier, picking up a payout rumoured to be another 15m. In April 2004 he used the money to co-found Generation Investment Management, a London-based company that specialises in "sustainable" investments. Today it manages more than 500m of assets, ranging from Novo Nordisk, a Danish drug maker, to Whole Foods Market, an organic retailer. This month Gore joined the board of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, venture capitalists whose investment helped fuel the dotcom boom and fund companies such as Amazon. Kleiner is now going green and has started a 300m fund for technologies that aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It has already invested in 26 companies that make everything from electric cars to microbes that scrub oil wells.



The European Commission may shift the burden of cutting average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions more onto small cars than heavier and more powerful models, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The paper, which quoted an internal EU paper, said on Saturday the Commission was requiring manufacturers of the smaller models to cut CO2 emissions at a higher rate in order for the bloc to achieve its average target by 2012. The plan, if implemented, could benefit German car makers like BMW, Mercedes and Porsche known for their power and high speed.

The European Union executive is due to adopt regulations on Dec. 19 on how to enforce an average limit of 120 grams per km on carbon dioxide emissions by 2012 -- part of the bloc's ambitious strategy to combat climate change. The EU industry and environment commissioners have disagreed over fining carmakers who fail to meet EU pollution limits. The leaders of the main west European countries with big auto companies -- Germany, France and Italy -- have each written to the Commission's head calling for leniency in sharing out the burden of CO2 emissions curbs on their manufacturers.

Data published by an environmental pressure group last month showed average emissions of CO2, the greenhouse gas most blamed for global warming, from new cars made by German firms actually rose by 0.6 percent in 2006. French and Italian producers cut pollution from their vehicles by 1.6 percent, but Germany produces heavier cars.

The Commission decided in January that carmakers would be required to achieve 130 g/km through engine technology, while use of biofuels and other measures to improve vehicle energy efficiency would help achieve the overall 120 g/km goal. (Reporting by Mantik Kusjanto, editing by Anthony Barker)



Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

Many thanks to Quilly Mammoth over at Just Barking Mad for pointing out this article from Smithsonian Magazine. (Heck, I get that and had not read the piece.) Titled Who's Fueling Whom? it is written by Richard Coniff and it positively destroys the myths of biofuel. It is a devastating article. This one is a must read. He hits many of the same things I have pointed out over and over: food prices are skyrocketing, the economics simply do not work and wildlife is already suffering - and will suffer even more. But he also points out the simple fact that there is not enough land to produce enough fuel. Period.
But don't biofuel subsidies buy us energy independence? President Bush, a former oil executive, declared last year that we are "addicted to oil." In this year's State of the Union speech, he set a national goal of producing 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017. The next morning, C. Ford Runge, who studies food and agriculture policy at the University of Minnesota, calculated that this would require 108 percent of the current crop if it all came from corn. Switching to corn ethanol also risks making us dependent on a crop that's vulnerable to drought and disease. When the weather turned dry in the Southeast this summer, for instance, some farmers lost up to 80 percent of their corn.

In a recent Foreign Affairs article, "How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor," Runge and co-author Benjamin Senauer noted that growing corn requires large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and fuel. It contributes to massive soil erosion, and it is the main source, via runoff in the Mississippi River, of a vast "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. (This year the dead zone, expanding with the corn crop, was the third-largest on record.) The article made the switch to corn ethanol sound about as smart as switching from heroin to cystal meth..

...So let's flash forward five years. Twice a month you swing by the biofuels station to fill the 25-gallon tank in your sporty flex-fuel econo-car. (Pretend you've kissed the SUV goodbye.) Even this modest level of energy consumption will require a ten-acre farm to keep you on the highway for a year.

That might not sound too bad. But there are more than 200 million cars and light trucks on American roads, meaning they would require two billion acres' worth of corn a year (if they actually used only 50 gallons a month). The country has only about 800 million acres of potential farmland.
There is much more. This really is a must read. I have been gathering stories like this for some time trying to point out how crazy the logic of the wishful thinkers is. If you can call it logic. Frankly, there is big money in play here as well, as Coniff points out. Agricultural conglomerates are raking in windfalls of government subsidies and they know - full well - that the biofuel craze is a dead end. They are just getting all they can before the house of cards collapses.

There may be a role for biofuels, but it is not this mad rush to turn all of our food into fuel. The ecological damage of all this is unprecedented. Rainforests incinerated, wildlife slaughtered, biodiversity eliminated. It has never been easier to rape the planet. Say you are producing biofuel to fight global warming and you have a license to kill. Quite literally. Please read the whole thing. You'll be glad you did.


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


10 December, 2007


Australia's Centre-Left is now sounding very much like George Bush -- much though they would loathe that comparison

Trade Minister Simon Crean says developing countries like China and India must set tough binding emissions targets before Australia agrees to a new Kyoto agreement beyond 2012. Last week the Australian delegation indicated it supported a 25 to 40 per cent cut in emissions for developed countries beyond 2012. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was not the Government's position.

Mr Crean, who is in Bali for trade talks today, says developing countries must agree to binding targets before Australia commits. "Australia's task is at the appropriate time to commit to targets but it's also to try and secure binding commitments from developing countries," he said. "We all know the environmental imperative of facing up to the challenge of climate change." Mr Crean said Australia was not going to sign up to any binding commitments on battling climate change until they had the results of a report commissioned by Mr Rudd's climate change economic specialist, expected next year.

The European Union, developing countries led by China, and environmental activists are urging the rich world to commit to reducing their polluting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

But Mr Crean said that promises by rich countries alone to cut carbon dioxide emissions would not solve global warming. Environment ministers will arrive in Bali at the end of next week, while trade and finance ministers and representatives have begun gathering on the sidelines of the summit. "The meeting of trade ministers emphasises the point that it is not just an environmental imperative that we're dealing with, but the economic opportunities that come from solving climate change," Mr Crean said.

Mr Rudd will confirm Australia's position when he arrives in Bali next week.



Kevin Rudd will need all his diplomatic skills in Bali, as the sides have already squared off fiercely at the climate change talks, writes Marian Wilkinson. There is a simple but powerful equation that was being thrown at officials and reporters from the developed nations in Bali this week. Almost 70 per cent of the greenhouse gas pollution already causing climate change was put into the atmosphere in the past by rich countries as they built prosperous economies for fewer than a fifth of the world's population.

Officials from China, India, Africa and the small island nations argued, at times acrimoniously, at the United Nations climate talks that this inescapable reality means rich countries must shoulder much of the burden in the fight to slow climate change and pay much of the bill to weather the damage that will continue for decades.

This is the harsh diplomatic reality facing the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and his Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, when they arrive in Bali early next week. While scientific necessity, and the developed world, demand that heavily polluting developing countries such as China and India must rein in their own soaring emissions, the fight over who pays most and who sacrifices most underscored every discussion in Bali this week.

The crucial talks that began on Monday have one main aim: to agree to begin formal negotiations that will produce a new global climate change agreement by 2009. The outcome in Bali is not supposed to determine targets for rich or developing countries. But as officials from more than 180 nations ground out proposals for the "road map" to this agreement, the debate over what targets the rich countries would meet was impossible to ignore.

Led by China's formidable delegation, the developing world asked explicitly whether developed countries were trying to walk away from a consensus reached in Vienna earlier this year that they should take the lead in making deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This proposal emerged from the hard scientific facts put together by the UN's peak scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If the world is going to avoid dangerous climate change, it needs to halve the soaring level of emissions by mid-century. To do that it must start now. The UN recognised that industrialised countries have the technology and government institutions capable of taking the lead. Under the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, that is expected.

As a newly ratified member of the protocol, Australia is now aligned with that position. But this week, developed countries under the protocol, such as Japan and Canada, appeared to want to water down the Vienna consensus. After a week of basking in plaudits for Australia's ratification of Kyoto, Rudd suddenly found Australia's position on the Vienna proposals under scrutiny. Where did Australia stand on developed countries cutting their emissions between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020?

Critically, the so-called Vienna Declaration does not commit individual developed countries to these cuts now. And how they can be achieved is up for debate. But in Bali this week, the developing world demanded that the Vienna proposal be recognised.

Europe and New Zealand confirmed their support for the Vienna Declaration, and by Wednesday night the Australian delegation did as well. But immediately, Rudd at home had to confront accusations from the Opposition that he had committed Australia to reckless cuts in emissions that would damage the economy. He was quick to insist that the Vienna Declaration was not a commitment.

"The target that you referred to, 25-40, is in fact contained in what is described generally as the Vienna Declaration," he explained. "Many states have publicly recognised the work of the IPCC in putting together that report but, in so doing, states have also indicated that they do not necessarily accept those targets, nor do they accept those targets as binding targets for themselves. That has been a reality since the Vienna Declaration was issued in August of this year. That is also the position of the Australian Government."

He repeated, as he did before the election, that Australia will not set any 2020 target until the report by the economist Ross Garnaut is delivered next year. That, he said, "is to ensure that those targets are meaningful environmentally and responsible economically. And that's the way ahead".

But in Bali, Rudd will not so easily duck this issue. As he spoke in Brisbane, in Bali the head of the UN climate negotiating team, Yvo de Boer, told reporters he had just come from a meeting discussing the Vienna proposals. And he said: "I think it is clear to everyone that industrialised countries will have to continue to take the lead. All countries, all governments, realise that industrialised countries will have to reduce their emissions somewhere between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020. So that's an agreed range for industrialised countries."

Australian and UN officials are anxiously stressing that these targets do not have to be signed or sealed in Bali or, indeed, until some way down the track. The Kyoto Protocol's first targets do not expire until 2012. Under these, Australia has an easy ride. While many developed nations agreed to cut their emissions by up to 5 per cent on 1990s levels, Australia was allowed to increase its emissions by 8 per cent of 1990 levels. Unfortunately for Rudd, this deal, and a decade of inaction by the Howard government to slow Australia's soaring emissions, means that making deep cuts by 2020 will be difficult.

While Australia can correctly insist the 2020 targets are not up for discussion in Bali, they are now deeply colouring the debate as officials move behind closed doors to nut out a deal on the road map.

Put simply, the Bali talks have divided the developing world and the developed. And among some developing nations, especially India, there is a very hard line emerging that there should be no concessions until the developed world takes the lead on cutting emissions, agrees to technology transfers and puts up serious money to fund the world's adaption to climate change.

On the other side, Japan among others wants to see serious proposals from China and India on emissions reductions before it agrees to commitments after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's first round expires. The new global agreement that follows this cannot give its two biggest competitors, the US and China, an unfair advantage.

The hope is that a consensus will prevail. It is possible there will be a commitment to begin negotiations on two tracks: one will continue down the Kyoto track to pursue commitments from nations which have ratified the protocol. The other will be under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the dialogue track. This would include the developing countries and the US, which remains outside Kyoto and opposed to binding targets. By 2009 these two tracks could come together in a final agreement.

By the time Rudd attends the Bali talks early next week it will be clear whether a consensus is emerging. Along with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he will be performing on the main stage. This week, Rudd said he wanted to act as a "bridge" between the developed and developing world, especially between China and the US.

But when he stands to make his statement on the floor of the talks, many in the developing world will be listening to what the new Prime Minister will say about the burden Australia and the developed world are willing to take in the battle to save the planet.


Gore Takes Train From Oslo Airport, Luggage Takes Mercedes

The Green/Left do seem to drink up hypocrisy and deception with their mothers' milk

Friday's adoring Associated Press piece concerning Nobel Laureate Al Gore's noble decision to take the train from the Oslo airport rather than the traditional motorcade to his hotel neglected something else besides the huge amount of carbon dioxide being emitted by the Global Warmingist-in-Chief: his luggage! After all, Gore and wife Tipper aren't going to wear the same clothes this entire trip they wore on the plane, right?

So, where was all their baggage as the couple took the train? Well, according to the Norwegian website VG Nett, Gore's luggage went by Mercedes van (h/t NB reader in Norway Trond Ruud who supplied the following translation):

Peace Prize laureate Al Gore and his wife Tipper are having a nice trip on the airport express train. On the motorway, their luggage is being whisked to Oslo in a Mercedes van. Together with the Leader of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad and the Nobel Committee Leader, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, they took the Airport Express train from Gardermoen airport to the National Theatre station in Oslo.

Never before, has a Peace Prize laureate chosen this mode of travel. I was told that the Express Train, was both faster and more comfortable, so it was an easy choice. And trains are symbols of environmental consciousness, a vigourous Gore, told the press corps.

Leader of the Nobel Ceremony arrangements, Sigrid Langebrekke from the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said they had to use a Mercedes van to handle all the luggage. She says, that all cars being used during the Nobel Ceremony have high environmental standard.

Do you think his luggage bought carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases emitted on the trip from the airport? Honestly, would it have been too much like journalism for the AP to inquire about where Gore's luggage was, or might that have interfered with the agenda?


More of the usual media favouritism towards warmism

Warmists are a fountain of yummy sensationalism so the media must defend them from looking absurd. Post below lifted from Tom Nelson. See the original for links

Excerpt from this article:
Carrying banners with slogans like "cut carbon not forests" and "actions speak louder than words" protesters in London marched in torrential rain and biting cold past parliament and through Trafalgar Square to rally in front of the U.S. embassy.
Update: Check this out--Reuters has now removed "and biting cold" from the above sentence:
Carrying banners with slogans like "cut carbon not forests" and "actions speak louder than words" protesters in London marched in torrential rain past parliament and through Trafalgar Square to rally in front of the U.S. embassy.
Note also the paragraph about disappointing attendance:
British police said 2,000 people took part in the march. Organisers said they estimated the number at 7,000.
Note that organizers had hoped for a vastly greater turnout:
Organisers say they hope up to 40,000 people could attend the rally. "Last year we attracted 35,000 people and we hope this will be bigger," said Phil Thornhill of the Campaign Against Climate Change, which is organising the event.


Roger Pielke Sr. is a retired professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, and a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While Dr. Pielke rejects being characterized as a "global warming skeptic," his work is unwaveringly critical of the current conventional wisdom regarding climate change and what to do about it. EcoWorld Editor Ed Ring recently caught up with Dr. Pielke, who had the following to say:

EcoWorld: How would you say that current conventional wisdom regarding climate change has gotten it wrong?

Pielke: In terms of climate change and variability on the regional and local scale, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report on surface and tropospheric temperature trends, and the U.S. National Assessment [of Climate Change] have overstated the role of the radiative effect of the anthropogenic increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in relation to a diversity of other human climate-forcing mechanisms. Indeed, many research studies incorrectly oversimplify climate change by characterizing it as being dominated by the radiative effect of human-added CO2. But while prudence suggests that we work to minimize our disturbance of the climate system (since we don't fully understand it), by focusing on just one subset of forcing mechanisms, we end up seriously misleading policymakers as to the most effective way of dealing with our social and environmental vulnerability in the context of the entire spectrum of environmental risks and other threats we face today.

EcoWorld: What about experts' predictions of rising sea levels, extreme weather, melting polar ice caps, and so on?

Pielke: Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated themselves to be skillful predictors of regional and local climate change and variability over multidecadal time scales. For example, in the case of sea ice, the models are consistent with the decrease in Arctic sea ice in recent years, but they cannot explain the multiyear increase in Antarctic sea ice (including a record level this year). With respect to extreme weather, a much more important issue than how greenhouse gases are altering our climate is society's greatly increased vulnerability to extreme weather events - a direct result not of changes in weather but of increased settlement by expanding human populations into low-lying coastal regions, floodplains, and marginal arid land.

EcoWorld: But what about the northern icecap shrinking this September to possibly possibly its smallest size in history (exposing more than 1 million square miles of open water) or the comments of Robert Correll, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, regarding recent observations in Greenland ("We have seen a massive acceleration of the speed with which these glaciers are moving into the sea")? Is something new and alarming happening?

Pielke: These examples represent selected observations that promote the view that human-input carbon dioxide is dominating climate change. However, the climate is - and always will be - changing. Thus, although human activity certainly affects the way in which climate varies and changes, actual global observations present a much more complex picture than that represented by the two examples listed above. For example, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum coverage in 2007, and the globally averaged lower atmosphere has not warmed in the last nine years (and, in fact, is cooler than it was in 1998). In addition, there are regions of the world where glaciers are advancing (such as New Zealand, parts of the Himalayas, and Norway). However, this information - which conflicts with the projections of the multi-decadal global climate models and the 2007 IPCC report - has been almost completely ignored by policymakers and the media.

EcoWorld: What role have alterations in land use played in climate change?

Pielke: Changes in land use by humans and the resulting alterations in weather and hydrology are major drivers of long-term regional and global climate patterns - yet the 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers largely ignores their importance (despite extensive documentation in research literature). Along with the diverse influences of aerosols on climate, land use effects (caused, for example, by deforestation, desertification, and conversion of land to farming) may be at least as important in altering the weather as the changes in climate patterns associated with the radiative effect of carbon dioxide and other well-mixed greenhouse gases. Moreover, land use and land cover changes will continue to exert an important influence on the Earth's climate for the next century. The reason for this is that even if the globally averaged surface temperature change over time ends up being close to zero in response to land use and land cover change and variability, the regional changes in surface temperature, precipitation, and other climate metrics could be as large as or larger than those that result from the anthropogenic increase of greenhouse gases. Moreover, people and ecosystems experience the effects of environmental change regionally, not as global averaged values. Thus, the issue of a "discernable human influence on global climate" misses the obvious, in that we have been altering climate by land use and land cover change ever since humans began large-scale alterations of the land surface. ...

EcoWorld: What is your criticism of the IPCC?

Pielke: Mainly the fact that the same individuals who are doing primary research into humans' impact on the climate system are being permitted to lead the assessment of that research. Suppose a group of scientists introduced a drug they claimed could save many lives: There were side effects, of course, but the scientists claimed the drug's benefits far outweighed its risks. If the government then asked these same scientists to form an assessment committee to evaluate their claim (and the committee consisted of colleagues of the scientists who made the original claim as well as the drug's developers), an uproar would occur, and there would be protests. It would represent a clear conflict of interest. Yet this is what has happened with the IPCC process. To date, either few people recognize this conflict, or those that do choose to ignore it because the recommendations of the IPCC fit their policy and political agenda. In either case, scientific rigor has been sacrificed, and poor policy and political decisions will inevitably follow.

EcoWorld: How effective are current climate computer models in helping us understand global climate trends?

Pielke: Using global climate models to improve our understanding of how the system works represents a valuable application of such tools, but the term sensitivity study should be used to characterize these assessments. In sensitivity studies, a subset of the forcings and/or feedback of the climate system are perturbed to examine their response. Since the computer model of the climate system is incomplete (meaning it doesn't include all of the important feedbacks and forcings), what the IPCC is really doing is conducting a sensitivity study. The IPCC reports, however, inaccurately present their assessment as a "projection" - one that's widely interpreted by policymakers and others as being able to skillfully forecast the future state of the climate system. But even one of the IPCC's leading authors, Kevin Trenberth, has gone on record reminding people of the limitations of the models used in its projections. Says Trenberth, "There are no predictions by IPCC & and there never have been." He further states, "None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state, and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate." Indeed, says Trenberth, "The current projection method works to the extent it does because it utilizes differences from one time to another, and the main model bias and systematic errors are thereby subtracted out. This assumes linearity. It works for global forced variations, but it cannot work for many aspects of climate, especially those related to the water cycle."

Thus, as clarified even by one of the key IPCC contributors (who has a vested interest in the acceptance of the 2007 IPCC report), current climate models clearly cannot accurately model observed real-world changes in climate. Global model results projected out decades into the future should never be interpreted as skillful forecasts. Instead, they should be interpreted as sensitivity studies on limited variables. When authors of research papers use definitive words (such as "will occur") and display model output with specific time periods in the future, they are misleading policymakers and other people who use this information.

More here


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


9 December, 2007


An email below to Benny Peiser from David Whitehouse []

With just a few weeks to go it's looking like 2007 will be the coolest year this century and possibly the coolest since 1995. If so then one more year like this and we will begin to have enough statistical information to speculate about a downward trend, though a few more years will be better. With this in mind may I remind readers what the UK Met Office predicted on 4th January 2007:

"2007 is likely to be the warmest year on record globally, beating the current record set in 1998, say climate-change experts at the Met Office. Global temperature for 2007 is expected to be 0.54 ÝC above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 ÝC; There is a 60% probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year (1998 was +0.52 ÝC above the long-term 1961-1990 average)."

But the most amazing sentence in their prediction is this:

Katie Hopkins from Met Office Consulting said: "This new information represents another warning that climate change is happening around the world. Our work in the climate change consultancy team applies Met Office research to help businesses mitigate against risk and adapt at a strategic level for success in the new environment."

I wasn't aware that a "prediction" represents "new information." Well, perhaps it does to a certain breed of consultant. I wonder if the Met Office's clients will ask for their money back if the Met Office's prediction proved way off the mark?

My article in the independent about the forthcoming solar cycle 24 has attracted much comment and I'm glad it's a talking point. However, I am rather disappointed by the quality of the letter complaining about it in today's Independent:

Sir: Contrary to the claim by David Whitehouse (Extra, 5 December) that the sun could save us from global warming, the sun would have to go through an unprecedented decline in activity to significantly mitigate the warming that is projected from the continuing emissions of greenhouse gases.

While the sun has likely played a role, together with other natural influences, the recent assessment by the IPCC concluded that the increase in global surface temperatures over the past 50 years has been predominantly associated with increases in greenhouse gases, partially offset by other pollutants from human activities.

Solar activity, as measured by sunspots, peaked in the late 1950s, and has been fairly stable over the past 30 years. In addition, recent research suggests that volcanic eruptions may have as big or bigger influence on cooler periods, such as the so called "Little Ice Age", than solar activity.

Over the next century, warming from human-induced greenhouse gases is likely to dwarf any cooling from changes in the sun, even assuming that solar activity reduces to levels not seen for 400 years.

Dr Gareth S Jones
Dr Peter A Stott
Met Office Hadley Centre Exeter

They quote the IPPC's view although one of the points of my article was that the IPCC has ignored the sun in this regard. They are wrong about the sun's activity peaking in the 1950's and has been fairly static over the past 30 years. They are predictably picky about the research they quote. But note that they also talk of the warming that is "projected" - again, being the Met Office, their argument is based on future data not actual data. One can't argue against "data" that hasn't yet been measured!


Below is the famous graph of "global average surface temperature," or "global temperature" for short.

The data come from thermometers around the world, but between the thermometer readings and the final, famous, warming ramp, a lot of statistical modelling aims at removing known sources of exaggeration in the warming trend. In a new article just published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, a co-author and I have concluded that the manipulations for the steep post-1980 period are inadequate, and the above graph is an exaggeration. Along the way, I have also found that the United Nations agency promoting the global temperature graph has made false claims about the quality of its data.

The graph at right comes from data collected in weather stations around the world. Other graphs come from weather satellites and from networks of weather balloons that monitor layers of the atmosphere. These other graphs don't show as much warming as the weatherstation data, even though they measure at heights where there is supposed to be even more greenhouse-gas-induced warming than at the surface. The discrepancy is especially clear in the tropics.

The surface-measured data has many well-known problems. Over the post-war era, equipment has changed, station sites have been moved, and the time of day at which the data is collected has changed.

Many long-term weather records come from in or near cities, which have gotten warmer as they grow. Many poor countries have sparse weather-station records and few resources to ensure data quality. Fewer than one-third of the weather stations operating in the 1970s remain in operation.

Scientists readily acknowledged that temperature measurements are contaminated for the purpose of measuring climate change. But they argue that adjustments fix the problem. To deal with a false warming generated by urbanization, they have the "Urbanization Adjustment." To deal with biases due to changing the time of day when temperatures are observed, they have the "Time of Observation Bias Adjustment." And so forth.

How do we know these adjustments are correct? In most studies, the question is simply not asked. A few studies argue that the adjustments must be adequate since adjacent rural and urban samples give similar results. But closer inspection shows some of these papers don't actually give similar results at all, or when they do they define "rural" so broadly that it includes partly urbanized places. Other studies say the adjustments must be adequate because trends on windy nights look the same as trends on calm nights. But the long list of data problems includes issues just as serious under both windy and calm conditions.

The papers describing the adjustments aim to construct data showing what the temperature would be in a region if nobody had ever lived there. If the adjustments are right, the final output should not be correlated with the extent of industrial development and variations in socioeconomic conditions. But in a 2004 study with climatologist Patrick Michaels, we found that the adjustment models were not removing the contamination patterns as claimed. If the contamination were removed, we estimated the average measured warming rate over land would decline by about half. Dutch meteorologists using different data and a different testing methodology had come to the same conclusions.

In response to criticisms of our paper, I began assembling a more complete database, covering all available land areas and a more extensive set of climatological and economic indicators. Meantime, in 2005, I was asked to serve as an external reviewer for the IPCC report, which was released earlier this year. I accepted, in part to address the data-contamination problem.

Scientists who attribute warming to greenhouse gases argue that their climate models cannot reproduce the surface trends from natural variability alone. They then attribute it to greenhouse gases, since (they assume) all other human influences have been removed from the data by the adjustment models. If that has not happened, however, they cannot claim to be able to identify the role of greenhouse gases. Despite the vast number of studies involved, and the large number of contributors to the IPCC reports, the core message of the IPCC hinges on the assumption that their main surface climate data set is uncontaminated. And by the time they began writing the recent Fourth Assessment Report, they had before them a set of papers proving the data are contaminated.

How did they handle this issue? In the first draft of the IPCC report, they simply claimed that, while city data are distorted by urban warming, this does not affect the global averages. They cited two familiar studies to support their position and ignored the new counter-evidence. I submitted lengthy comments criticizing this section. In the second draft there was still no discussion, so again I put in lengthy comments. This time the IPCC authors wrote a response. They conceded the evidence of contamination, but in a stunning admission, said:

"The locations of socioeconomic development happen to have coincided with maximum warming, not for the reason given by McKitrick and Mihaels [sic] (2004), but because of the strengthening of the Arctic Oscillation and the greater sensitivity of land than ocean to greenhouse forcing, owing to the smaller thermal capacity of land."

Note the irony: Confronted with published evidence of an anthropogenic (but non-greenhouse) explanation for warming, they dismissed it with an unproven conjecture of natural causes. Who's the "denialist" now? Furthermore, the claim is preposterous. The comparison of land and ocean is irrelevant since we were only talking about land areas. The Arctic Oscillation is a wind-circulation pattern that affects long-term weather trends in the Arctic. It certainly plays a role in explaining Arctic warming over the past few decades. But for IPCC lead authors to invoke it to explain a worldwide correlation between industrialization and warming patterns is nonsense.



Given the usual Warmist assumptions, what these guys say below is logical. That most governments act differently shows how much those governments believe the Warmist theories

Carbon emissions from developing countries will result in a climate crisis within a generation, according to new research. Within 20 years they will be producing more CO2 than the rich industrialised countries based mainly in the northern hemisphere. And even if the 'North' - Europe, North America, the former Soviet Union (FSU) Japan, Australia and New Zealand - eliminated all its emissions immediately it wouldn't be enough to stop severe climate change. The 'South' - Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands - faced an environmental disaster.

The shock claims are made by the Centre for Global Development (CGD), an American independent, think tank that works to reduce global poverty and inequality. It says its research has been empirically reviewed. The CGD said it was a dangerous fallacy to believe that the North was responsible for climate change and should dramatically cut its emissions while the South should be given the time to catch up with more prosperous countries through economic expansion powered by fossil fuels.

By 2025 atmospheric CO2 from the South, combined with widespread deforestation, would match global amounts that triggered the first climate crisis conference in Rio in 1992. Things would get steadily worse for the South if carbon-intensive growth was allowed to continue in a last-minute fossil-fuelled development push before the onset of catastrophic climate change. "We conclude that the conventional wisdom is dangerously misguided," the report states.

"The South cannot relegate mitigation to the North until it achieves prosperity. In fact, cumulative emissions from a carbon-intensive South have already reached levels that are dangerous for the South itself. They are more than sufficient to create a global climate crisis, even if the North eliminates all of its emissions immediately. "So we face another inconvenient truth: a carbon-intensive South faces environmental disaster, no matter what the North does. For its own sake, the South must recognise this hard truth, accept the necessity of serious, costly mitigation, and immediately embark on a low-carbon development path. "The North must clearly do the same, while recognising that its own survival requires an immediate, large-scale commitment to assisting emissions reductions in the South."

The report claims that by 2030, if the South's industrial expansion is unchecked, scientists in an isolated South would observe unequivocal global warming, widespread glacial and polar melting, and a rising sea level. The South's governments would then have to introduce plans for a carbon-free future. If global emissions continued unabated, the resulting increases in temperatures and sea level, greater storm intensity, reduced agricultural productivity, and dwindling freshwater supplies would be likely to undermine the South's development long before it arrived at northern income levels.

Focusing on the North's obligations to cut emissions would be a dangerous distraction because the South's own emissions had already moved it close to the brink of rapid global warming. Cumulative emissions from the North would force the South to take fundamental and unavoidable decisions about cutting its emissions much earlier than previously thought.

David Wheeler, the lead author of the study, said: "The South's population is over four times greater than the North's, so it has been trapped by the sheer scale of its emissions at a much earlier stage of development. "The South finds itself weighed down by a mass of humanity, as well as the energy technologies and fuels of an earlier age. The question is not if the South will commit to emissions reductions - under any scenario it eventually must for its own sake - but whether it will do so in time, and how the costs of the transition are to be shared."

Wheeler and his co-author, Kevin Ummel, compiled CGD's recently released Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) online database, which discloses for the first time the CO2 pollution of all power plants and companies in the world.


Deliberate Greenie lies again

A press release issued this week said the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a high-profile collection of 33 corporations and environmental nonprofits, pledged to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent by 2050, and demanded that no new coal power plants be built. The only problem with that announcement was that it was a lie, CNET reports.

The story, picked up by the Dallas Morning News and other media outlets, originated from a phony press release issued by environmental activists Rising Tide North America. The trick was timed to coincide with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia. The exploit aimed to throw egg on the face of USCAP for attempting to seem green without making radical changes. Members of the coalition include BP America, General Electric and Xerox, as well as the National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and Nature Conservancy, reports CNET writer Elsa Wenzel on the site's Green Tech blog.

The responsible Rising Tide activists, calling themselves Greenwash Guerillas, built a fake website for a public relations company and another site impersonating that of USCAP to complete the illusion. In October they infiltrated the Point Carbon conference to oppose carbon-trading schemes.

These are the latest in a series of digital disinformation pranks that could be a nightmare for reporters on a tight deadline. Not many writers were fooled in this case, however, maybe because media releases about corporate-greening efforts are piling so high in editorial inboxes lately. In January, for example, Greenpeace concocted a video of its own fake Steve Jobs pledging to make Apple products more eco-friendly. That tongue-in-cheek campaign was meant to embarrass Apple without fooling reporters. By May, the real Jobs announced that his company would phase out the use of some toxic chemicals.



Computer servers are at least as great a threat to the climate as SUVs or the global aviation industry, warns a new report. Global Action Plan, a UK-based environmental organisation, publishes a report today drawing attention to the carbon footprint of the IT industry in the UK. "Computers are seen as quite benign things sitting on your desk," says Trewin Restorick, director of the group. "But, for instance, in our charity we have one server. That server has same carbon footprint as your average SUV doing 15 miles to the gallon. Yet, whereas the SUV is seen as a villain from the environmental perspective, the server is not."

The report, An Inefficient Truth states that with more than 1 billion computers on the planet, the global IT sector is responsible for about 2% of human carbon dioxide emissions each year - a similar figure to the global airline industry.

The energy consumption is driven largely by vast amounts of customer and user data that are stored on the computer servers in most businesses. The rate at which data storage is growing surpasses the growth in the airline industry: in 2006, 48% more data storage capacity was sold in the UK than in 2005, while the number of plane passengers grew by 3%.



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


8 December, 2007

Memories of panics past

By Andrew Bolt

NUCLEAR winter, mega-famines, global cooling, acid rain, bird flu, death by fluoride, Chernobyl. I've seen it all and nothing scares me now. I can't remember exactly what I wrote that was so evil. So much to choose from. Was it that I refused to be freaked by this latest panic attack that global warming was blasting in and . . . Oh, God, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! Or was it that I wouldn't listen to that frenzy of activists insisting the genetically modified canola oil I use to fry my chops would nuke us all into an explosion of pustulating tumours?

Anyway, one young reader was furious that I'd yet again stood snobbily apart, while his mob ululated warnings of some fresh horror. "You'd be on your own," he sneered in an angry email. True enough, my young critic, I do often feel lonely in this astonishing age when to panic is a sign of virtue and to reason a sign of a cold heart.

But you know my problem? It's not just that I hate mobs, knowing there's no wisdom in them. It's not even that I'm stubborn by nature, and like the answer Albert Einstein gave to One Hundred Authors Against Einstein - that all it took to defeat his Theory of Relativity was not 100 scientists but just one fact. My real problem is simply that in my 48 years I've lived through so many pack-panic attacks over nothing that I won't fall so easily for the next.

Your parents or grandparents may know what I mean. Go ask if they remember all those plagues we were told would surely smite us if we didn't sign some cheque, praise some god, or vote for some politician. Ask if they remember scares like the nuclear winter, DDT, mega-famines, global cooling, acid rain, Repetitive Strain Injury, bird flu, the millennium bug, SARS, toxic PVC, poisonous breast implants, the end of oil, death by fluoride, the Chernobyl doom, the BSE beef that would eat your brains, and other oldies and mouldies. It's amazing we're still alive after all that, let alone richer and healthier.

So, my furious friend, don't try to panic me now about global warming, GM food, peak oil or ADHD. I've seen too many. You want to know how they're tricked up? First, you get a possible problem - preferably with some skerrick of truth. You then get some expert, or maybe an Al Gore, to make wild assumptions or faulty extrapolations. You know the kind: that if a dodgy levee breaks in New Orleans, the whole world is gonna drown. And then you whistle for the carpetbaggers - journalists keen to sell a sensation, business keen to sell a cure, and politicians keen to sell themselves as the solution. And bang, you have a mass panic, with more people gaining from the scare than are game to expose it.

I guess you're shocked by my cynicism. Would it help if I gave some examples of the panics I was once fed? Here's the very first I remember. When I was a student, too, my earnest teachers used to tell me the world was running out of food, and show pictures of starving Indians, which made me worry a lot. They were repeating the hot theories of people like green guru Prof Paul Ehrlich, whose 1968 book The Population Explosion sold in the millions. "The battle to feed humanity is over," Ehrlich preached. "In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death."

He was wrong, of course. Better crops, better communications, better transport, better education - and see now. Famines are now virtually unknown outside of war zones. But such apocalyptic talk was everywhere then. Take the Club of Rome, a top think tank, which in 1972 warned the world's economy was about to hit a wall. We were running out of oil, gas, silver, tin, uranium, aluminium, copper, lead and zinc, it warned in Limits to Growth, which sold 30 million copies, becoming the best-selling environmental book in history. Panic spread. "We could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade," warned US president Jimmy Carter.

Except we didn't. Instead, we've now got bigger reserves of all the things the Club of Rome said would soon be used up, except for tin. But those panics about resources were nothing compared with the full-blown hysteria that was now being whipped up over the environment. These eco-scares really took off in 1962 after Rachel Carson published her Silent Spring, using now disputed or discredited evidence to claim DDT was such a menace in the food chain we had to ban it to save whole species. So DDT spraying was largely halted to save birds and fish, even though that meant killing tens of millions of Third World children, who were left with no good protection from the malarial mosquitoes against which the DDT had been used.

Never mind! We were too busy then panicking over a fall (sic) in global temperatures. In April 1975, for instance, Newsweek ran an article, The Cooling World, warning of "ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change", exposing us to floods, "catastrophic" famines, "the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded" and "drought and desolation".

The panic attacks were now coming in waves. There was "acid rain", which the United Nations in 1986 blamed for damaging a quarter of Europe's trees. Now, of course, we know "acid rain" is hardly harmful, and Europe's trees are blooming. There was then the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, also in 1986, that was said to threaten millions of people with death and so terrified women that the International Atomic Energy Agency said as many as 200,000 had abortions. Now we know that the true death toll so far is fewer than 60.

There was the warning by British officials in 1996 that more than 500,000 people faced death by BSE, a brain disease they could catch from infected beef. Now we know - after eight million cattle were slaughtered - that the threat was wildly exaggerated, and the 100 or so victims might not have even got the disease from eating beef. But don't stop panicking! So we panicked instead about bird flu, with newspapers running screaming headlines such as: "Pandemic Could Kill 150 Million, UN Warns". But now we know the UN was just plucking figures from the air, and there's still no proof this disease, caught from heavy exposure to sick birds, can leap from human to human.

How many more scares should I describe, each quickly buried in embarrassment, rather than held up as a warning to be slow to panic? Remember the fear that the world's computers would crash the second the clocks ticked over to the year 2000? Planes would fall from the sky thanks to this Y2K bug, which the world spent an estimated $300 billion "fixing". But what happened at midnight? Tick, tick, tick . . . er, tick.

It was in the 1980s that I first declared my personal war against panic, after thousands of Australians suddenly started to complain of what they called Repetitive Strain Injury. The theory was that typing for hours gave them a crippling wrist pain that would never go away. So firmly was this believed here that by 1985, RSI was blamed for a third of all claims for compensation for disease, and every federal public servant who put out a sore hand was simply paid off.

What struck me, though, was that all the sufferers I knew seemed to be moaners by nature, or already unhappy. Even odder was that this disease seemed to hit only Australians and only in some workplaces, such as Telecom and the Commonwealth Bank - often heavily unionised or soggy with complaint.

You see, as psychologist Prof Robert Spillane says now, RSI was actually not a medical problem but a social one, suffered largely by unhappy people "who chose to become patients" and who had there-theres murmured to them by compensation lawyers and the new breed of occupational health therapists. But who gets RSI now? It's like a magic wind blew it away, overnight.

So that, my young friend, is why I refuse to join your latest panic party. Sneer at my loneliness all you like, as your howling, screaming, gasping mob gibbers in unison with a fear you seem to catch from each other. I've learned that if I wait long enough, you'll come to your senses. Until you panic all over again, that is.


So, next Catholics should stop lighting candles?

Post below lifted from The anchoress. See the original for links

I hope none of my Hannukah-observing friends will diminish their religious practices in order to augment, satisfy and give primacy to the religious philosophies of others. If the followers of the Church of Global Warming wish to observe all sorts of penances and deprivations in order to practice their religion, I have no problem with that. As long as someone's religious dogmas, dictates and traditions don't involve mass slaughter, the imprisonment of others or you know, the really fringy things, I'm a tolerant sort and believe all believers should be free to practice their faith and observe their traditions without being hasselled, bullied, coerced or made to feel bad for doing so.

And as I've said before, I expect the followers of the Church of Global Warming to be just as tolerant to those of other faiths, and their practices. We Catholics won't force you to go to mass, fast, do penance or fly commercial, and you don't force us to put out our candles, unlight our Christmas trees or worship Al Gore.

And in that hope, I'm going to go light a few candles at a local church that still uses real candles - although I guess pushing a few "electric candle" buttons will meet the case, as well - and I'm going to offer up an Advent prayer for religious tolerance and human forbearance throughout this vast, mysterious planet, which is greater than all the fuss, fury and conceits of humankind.

UPDATE: Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard does some calculating:
Here's a clue and an educational moment, Mr Wegner. Each of the completely burned candles emits 15 grams of carbon according to your own figures. One million such completely burned candles would produce 15 metric tons of carbon. If every one of those one million homes stopped burning that one candle completely - right now - and continued to do so for the next 6,666 years they would offset the carbon emitted by the [important environmentalists] going to Bali.
Emphasis mine. In case you don't understand the Bali reference, go here. Gaius adds:
So, while these functionaries plot out how to limit your lives, how to immensely increase the cost of your energy, how to redistribute your wealth on a global scale, they will not be doing so in anything less than plutocratic splendor that emperors of even a century ago could not have dreamed of.
But don't worry. They are doing it for all the best reasons. Trust them. They'll wave from the limousines.

The Science of Gore's Nobel

What if everyone believes in global warmism only because everyone believes in global warmism?

The Nobel Committee might as well have called it Al Gore's Inner Peace Prize, given the way it seems designed to help him disown his lifelong ambition to become president in favor of a higher calling, as savior of a planet. The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn't for "science." In fact, a Nobel has never been awarded for the science of global warming. Even Svante Arrhenius, who first described the "greenhouse" effect, won his for something else in 1903. Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis.

How this honor has befallen the former Veep could perhaps be explained by another Nobel, awarded in 2002 to Daniel Kahneman for work he and the late Amos Tversky did on "availability bias," roughly the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind. Their insight has been fruitful and multiplied: "Availability cascade" has been coined for the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it; "informational cascade" for the tendency to replace our beliefs with the crowd's beliefs; and "reputational cascade" for the rational incentive to do so.

Mr. Gore clearly understands the game he's playing, judging by his resort to such nondispositive arguments as: "The people who dispute the international consensus on global warming are in the same category now with the people who think the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona."

Here's exactly the problem that availability cascades pose: What if the heads being counted to certify an alleged "consensus" arrived at their positions by counting heads? It may seem strange that scientists would participate in such a phenomenon. It shouldn't. Scientists are human; they do not wait for proof; many devote their professional lives to seeking evidence for hypotheses (especially well-funded hypotheses) they've chosen to believe.

Less surprising is the readiness of many prominent journalists to embrace the role of enforcer of an orthodoxy simply because it is the orthodoxy. For them, a consensus apparently suffices as proof of itself.

With politicians and lobbyists, of course, you are dealing with sophisticated people versed in the ways of public opinion whose very prosperity depends on positioning themselves via such cascades. Their reactions tend to be, for that reason, on a higher intellectual level. Take John Dingell. He told an environmental publication last year that the "world . . . is great at having consensuses that are in great error." Yet he turned around a few months later and introduced a sweeping carbon tax bill, which would confront Congress more frontally than Congress cares to be confronted with a rational approach to climate change if Congress really believes human activity is responsible. Mr. Dingell is no fool. Is he merely trying to embarrass those who offer fake cures for climate change at the expense of out-of-favor industries such as Mr. Dingell's beloved Detroit?

Take Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist working with Kleiner Perkins, a firm Mr. Gore joined last month to promote alternative energy investments. Mr. Khosla told a recent Senate hearing: "One does not need to believe in climate change to support climate change legislation. . . . Many executives would prefer to deal with known legislation even if unwarranted." Mr. Khosla is no fool either. His argument is that the cascade itself is a reason that politicians can gain comfort by getting aboard his agenda.

Now let's suppose a most improbable, rhapsodic lobbying success for Mr. Gore, Mr. Khosla and folks on their side of the table--say, a government mandate to replace half the gasoline consumed in the U.S. with a carbon-neutral alternative. This would represent a monumental, $400 billion-a-year business opportunity for the green energy lobby. The impact on global carbon emissions? Four percent--less than China's predicted emissions growth over the next three or four years.

Don't doubt that this is precisely the chasm that keeps Mr. Gore from running for president. He could neither win the office nor govern on the basis of imposing the kinds of costs supposedly necessary to deal with an impending "climate crisis." Yet his credibility would become laughable if he failed to insist on such costs. How much more practical, then, to cash in on the crowd-pleasing role of angry prophet, without having to take responsibility for policies that the public will eventually discover to be fraudulent.

Public opinion cascades are powerful but also fragile--liable to be overturned in an instant when new information comes along. The current age of global warming politics will certainly end with a whimper once a few consecutive years of cooling are recorded. Why should we expect such cooling? Because the forces that caused warming and cooling in the past, before the advent of industrial civilization, are still at work.

No, this wouldn't prove or disprove a human role in warming, only that climate is variable and subject to complicated influences. But it would also eliminate the large incentive for politicians to traffic in doom-laden predictions--because such predictions would no longer command media assent and would cease to function as levers to redistribute resources. Mr. Gore would have to find a new job.


Why "peak oil" is an empty scare, and why the price of oil will collapse

Post below lifted from Ace. See the original for links

A commenter at Tigerhawk put me onto this DOE document that is a Rand Corp report from the 2005 timeframe (its a PDF so you'll need Acrobat reader). Here's the beef:
The largest known oil shale deposits in the world are in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable. For potentially recoverable oil shale resources, we roughly derive an upper bound of 1.1 trillion barrels of oil and a lower bound of about 500 billion barrels. For policy planning purposes, it is enough to know that any amount in this range is very high. For example, the midpoint in our estimate range, 800 billion barrels, is more than triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, 800 billion barrels of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years.

...Shell anticipates that, in contrast to the cost estimates for mining and surface retorting, the petroleum products produced by their thermally conductive in-situ method will be competitive at crude oil prices in the mid-$20s per barrel. The company is still developing the process, however, and cost estimates could easily increase as more information is obtained and more detailed designs become available. [PA note: even if costs turned out to be 3X, its still economically viable at today's prices]

Development Timeline. Currently, no organization with the management, technical, and financial wherewithal to develop oil shale resources has announced its intent to build commercial-scale production facilities... [PA note: by 2007 Shell had already started ramping this in Canada]
If you take 1/4 of the US demand out of the world market, world oil prices would have to collapse to whatever OUR baseline production costs+profit are -- which would be fixed by petro engineering economics rather than the whim of dictators, Arabs, and various loons. Prices today are arbitrary and build in worry factors about supply. If we know we can produce and sell a barrel for say $50, and then do it, it compels the arbitrary pricers to meet our price or lose business. Worry factors for American/Canadian oil would be near zero - foreign wars, loony dictators, etc would have little effect on production and delivery capability from CONUS and Canadian facilities.

I'm sure this will generate all sorts of screeching from the Oil Drum crowd and the peak oil loons. The bottom line here is - the US and Canada have within our grasp the power to blow the crap out of the world oil prices, maintain fat profits for our oil companies for hundreds of years to come, and make our economies freaking juggernaughts all at the same time.

Do we have to stones to do it? Gotta tell the enviros to STFU first. Then make a righteous looking effort - which in itself might be enough to collapse world oil prices considerably. Another commenter at Tigerhawk suggested a clever method of long term recovery of development costs -- long term oil price option puts. If you know you're going to hammer the market, might as well pick the pockets of the "chicken little" crowd's in the process right? Hell yea.


Reality hits Australia's Leftists

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd last night did an about-face on deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, days after Australia's delegation backed the plan at the climate talks in Bali. A government representative at the talks this week said Australia backed a 25-40 per cent cut on 1990 emission levels by 2020. But after warnings it would lead to huge rises in electricity prices, Mr Rudd said the Government would not support the target.

The repudiation of the delegate's position represents the first stumble by the new Government's in its approach to climate change. Mr Rudd said he supported a longer-term greenhouse emissions cut of 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050. But the Government would not set medium-term targets until a report by economist Ross Garnaut was completed next year. "I think speculation on individual numbers prior to that is not productive and I would suggest it would be better for all concerned if we waited for the outcome of that properly-deliberated document," Mr Rudd said.

The electricity industry yesterday warned it may not be able to meet growing consumer demand and comply with the 2020 target. Energy Supply Association of Australia chief executive Brad Page said a 17 per cent power price rise in Victoria would seem "pretty modest" compared with the cost of complying with the target. An ESAA report released this year found cutting carbon emissions by 30 per cent of 2000 levels by 2030 wold push up power costs by 30 per cent. Mr Page said the cost of meeting the higher target by 2020 would be much more as low-cost, green-generation technology would not be available for more than 10 years. "You are dependent on yet-to-be delivered technology," he said. "The community needs to be aware cuts of this magnitude will come at considerable cost and it's difficult to know how exactly it will be delivered."

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said the suggested cuts would have "devastating impact" on Australia's economic development. "It will have serious consequences for electricity bills and many other burdens borne by working families in day-to-day life, and pensioners," Dr Nelson said.



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


7 December, 2007


John the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called "pullets", and ten roosters, whose job it was to fertilize the eggs.

The farmer kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of his time, so he bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.

The farmer's favorite rooster was old Butch, a very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning John noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all! John went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

But to Farmer John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one. John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result...The judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making: who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.

Just remember November next year that the bells are not always audible


Could the Sun's inactivity save us from global warming? David Whitehouse explains why solar disempower may be the key to combating climate change

Something is happening to our Sun. It has to do with sunspots, or rather the activity cycle their coming and going signifies. After a period of exceptionally high activity in the 20th century, our Sun has suddenly gone exceptionally quiet. Months have passed with no spots visible on its disc. We are at the end of one cycle of activity and astronomers are waiting for the sunspots to return and mark the start of the next, the so-called cycle 24. They have been waiting for a while now with no sign it's on its way any time soon.

Sunspots - dark magnetic blotches on the Sun's surface - come and go in a roughly 11-year cycle of activity first noticed in 1843. It's related to the motion of super-hot, electrically charged gas inside the Sun - a kind of internal conveyor belt where vast sub-surface rivers of gas take 40 years to circulate from the equator to the poles and back. Somehow, in a way not very well understood, this circulation produces the sunspot cycle in which every 11 years there is a sunspot maximum followed by a minimum. But recently the Sun's internal circulation has been failing. In May 2006 this conveyor belt had slowed to a crawl - a record low. Nasa scientist David Hathaway said: "It's off the bottom of the charts... this has important repercussions for future solar activity." What's more, it's not the only indicator that the Sun is up to something.

Sunspots can be long or short, weak or strong and sometimes they can go away altogether. Following the discovery of the cycle, astronomers looked back through previous observations and were able to see it clearly until they reached the 17th century, when it seemed to disappear. It turned out to be a real absence, not one caused by a lack of observations. Astronomers called it the "Maunder Minimum." It was an astonishing discovery: our Sun can change. Between 1645 and 1715 sunspots were rare. About 50 were observed; there should have been 50,000.

Ever since the sunspot cycle was discovered, researchers have looked for its rhythm superimposed on the Earth's climate. In some cases it's there but usually at low levels. But there was something strange about the time when the sunspots disappeared that left scientists to ponder if the sun's unusual behaviour could have something to do with the fact that the 17th century was also a time when the Earth's northern hemisphere chilled with devastating consequences.

Scientists call that event the "Little Ice Age" and it affected Europe at just the wrong time. In response to the more benign climate of the earlier Medieval Warm Period, Europe's population may have doubled. But in the mid-17th century demographic growth stopped and in some areas fell, in part due to the reduced crop yields caused by climate change. Bread prices doubled and then quintupled and hunger weakened the population. The Italian historian Majolino Bisaccioni suggested that the wave of bad weather and revolutions might be due to the influence of the stars. But the Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli speculated that fluctuations in the number of sunspots might be to blame, for he had noticed they were absent.

Looking back through sunspot records reveals many periods when the Sun's activity was high and low and in general they are related to warm and cool climatic periods. As well as the Little Ice Age, there was the weak Sun and the cold Iron Age, the active sun and the warm Bronze Age. Scientists cannot readily explain how the Sun's activity affects the Earth but it is an observational correlation that the Sun's moods have a climatic effect on the Earth.

Today's climate change consensus is that man-made greenhouse gases are warming the world and that we must act to curb them to reduce the projected temperature increase estimated at probably between 1.8C and 4.0C by the century's end. But throughout the 20th century, solar cycles had been increasing in strength. Almost everyone agrees that throughout most of the last century the solar influence was significant. Studies show that by the end of the 20th century the Sun's activity may have been at its highest for more than 8,000 years. Other solar parameters have been changing as well, such as the magnetic field the Sun sheds, which has almost doubled in the past century. But then things turned. In only the past decade or so the Sun has started a decline in activity, and the lateness of cycle 24 is an indicator.

Astronomers are watching the Sun, hoping to see the first stirrings of cycle 24. It should have arrived last December. The United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted it would start in March 2007. Now they estimate March 2008, but they will soon have to make that even later. The first indications that the Sun is emerging from its current sunspot minimum will be the appearance of small spots at high latitude. They usually occur some 12-20 months before the start of a new cycle. These spots haven't appeared yet so cycle 24 will probably not begin to take place until 2009 at the earliest. The longer we have to wait for cycle 24, the weaker it is likely to be. Such behaviour is usually followed by cooler temperatures on Earth.

The past decade has been warmer than previous ones. It is the result of a rapid increase in global temperature between 1978 and 1998. Since then average temperatures have held at a high, though steady, level. Many computer climate projections suggest that the global temperatures will start to rise again in a few years. But those projections do not take into account the change in the Sun's behaviour. The tardiness of cycle 24 indicates that we might be entering a period of low solar activity that may counteract man-made greenhouse temperature increases. Some members of the Russian Academy of Sciences say we may be at the start of a period like that seen between 1790 and 1820, a minor decline in solar activity called the Dalton Minimum. They estimate that the Sun's reduced activity may cause a global temperature drop of 1.5C by 2020. This is larger than most sensible predictions of man-made global warming over this period.

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. If so, then our Sun might come to our rescue over climate change, mitigating mankind's influence and allowing us more time to act. It might even be the case that the Earth's response to low solar activity will overturn many of our assumptions about man's influence on climate change. We don't know. We must keep watching the sun.



By Ernest C. Njau


The variation patterns of global temperature were considerably turbulent from about 1870 up to 1940. Then just after 1940 these patterns underwent a sunspot-related change and adopted to relatively less turbulent variability. It is established here that these global temperature patterns are currently in the process of undergoing a sunspot-related change from the post-1940 relatively less turbulent variability back into relatively more turbulent variability. This apparently imminent state of more turbulent variability is expected to stop and at least slightly reverse the global warming trend, which has been going on since about 1965. Besides, it is shown separately that the mean of `global mean temperature variations' reaches the next peak at about the year 2005 after which it will expectedly be on a decreasing trend. Finally, it is shown that, contrary to projections made in the Third IPCC Assessment Report, Greenland is currently in an ongoing cooling trend which is expected to last up to at least the year 2035.

1. Introduction

Variability of rainfall in a region affects corresponding variability of available hydropower potential in that region. Also variability of cloudiness and hence also of temperature in a country affect corresponding availability of harvestable solar energy. Therefore, variability of rainfall and temperature as well as predictability of such variability are useful inputs into long-term energy policies.

In a recent publication [1], it was established that solar activity is related to a number of large and rapid changes in temperature and rainfall variation patterns at global, regional and station levels. In this case and in accordance with standard procedure, sunspot number (i.e. number of dark spots on the sun's disc) was used as a measure of solar activity. The results on sun-weather relationships contained in Ref. [1] created temptations that resulted into making investigations into whether solar activity is related in any way to the variability (or turbulence) levels of global climate variations as well as persistence of the current global warming trend. Following conclusive undertakings of the investigations just mentioned above, it is hereby reported in this article the results of the investigations. [...]

3. Prolonged cooling over Greenland

The expected halt in the current global warming trend which has been established in Section 2 is not reported in the Third Assessment Report [16] of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As detailed in Ref. [15], the climate model projections and simulations contained in the latest IPCC report [16] completely miss out influences due to solar (or sunspot) associated climate variations. These climate model projections indicate that globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4-5.8 ÝC over the period 1990-2100. Also the local warming over Greenland is projected to be 1-3 times the global average. But as detailed below, temperature projections based on long Greenland records somehow contradict the projection just stated above on Greenland warming.

Data for Greenland temperature variations from 300 AD (see solid-line variations in Fig. 5) was taken and then spectrally analysed using the Maximum Entropy Method. This spectral analysis yielded one significant peak at a period of 410 years. The data just mentioned above was also low-pass filtered in order to remove all variations at periods less than 180 years. Then what remained after this filtering process was plotted in Fig. 5 using a discontinuous line. It can be obviously noted (even by mere visual inspection) that the discontinuous line in Fig. 5 oscillates, having minima at the years 440, 820, 1280 and 1690 as well as maxima at the years 620, 1080 and 1420. All this implies presence of an oscillation at a mean period of 410 years. The latter temperature oscillation is related to a solar (or sunspot) cycle of similar periodicity as explained in Refs. [9] and [15]. It is therefore primarily of solar origin.

Since the current anthropogenic activities are unable to permanently cancel out natural temperature oscillations such as seasonal cycles and sunspot-related oscillations [9], [13] and [15], the account given above shows that the Greenland temperature variations since 300 AD are dominated by a sunspot-related oscillation whose (mean) period is 410 years. This oscillation reaches a maximum between 1830 and 1895 and expectedly slides down to a minimum from 1830 to 1895 to the next minimum between 2035 and 2100. Expectedly Greenland is currently in a cooling process, and this cooling process is expected to persist up to at least 2035. Indeed, this explains why the Greenland ice sheet has not significantly started melting although all the climate models predict greatest greenhouse warming in the Arctic [16].

This section is ended by looking at another interesting feature in Fig. 5. From about the year 900 AD onwards, the solid-line in this figure consistently oscillates at periods between 60 and 160 years. As detailed in Ref. [15], the primary cause of this 60-160 years oscillation is a change in the main periodicity of solar or sunspot activity. This change in solar activity introduced a 60-160 years oscillation in the variations of the amplitude of the 11-years sunspot cycle. And the 60-160 years oscillation in the 11-years sunspot cycles is basically the cause of the 60-160 years oscillation in the Greenland temperature (see Ref. [15] for the mechanisms involved). The latest peak of this 60-160 years temperature oscillation in Fig. 5 occurred in 1925. Now simple extrapolation of this oscillation shows that the next peak is expected in about the year 2050. This implies that on the basis of the 60-160 years temperature oscillation alone, some significant cooling is expected to start at about 2050 and proceed to beyond 2100. It is now obvious that on the basis of both the 60-160 years temperature oscillation and the 410 years temperature oscillation discussed earlier in this section, Greenland is expected to undergo some significant cooling between 1990 and 2100.

4. Variations in the mean of global mean temperature

Section 2 uses the alternating states or modes of amplitude-modulation patterns in global mean temperature to show and hence conclude that some global cooling trend is expected during the early years of this century. Here the same conclusion is established using a different and simpler method.

The mean variation in Fig. 3 (shown by a smooth solid curve) clearly oscillates from 1856 onwards. This oscillation displays maxima in the years 1878 and 1942 as well as minima in the years 1909 and 1971. This series of maxima and minima indicate presence of a dominant oscillation with a mean period of 63 years. Simple forward extrapolation of this dominant oscillation shows that the next maximum will expectedly be in the year 2005. On this basis, some global cooling trend is expected to start in about 2005 and last up to about 2036. By coincidence, the latter year is approximately equal to the earliest year (arrived at in Section 3) at which some cooling trend over Greenland is expected to stop. Finally, it should be noted that the period of the 63 years oscillation mentioned above (in connection with global mean temperature) is equal to the period of the second harmonic of the sunspot oscillation shown in Fig. 4 using a series of x's. The theory and mechanisms through which the latter sunspot oscillation so significantly relates to global mean temperature variations are given in Refs. [9], [14] and [15].

5. Conclusion

The analysis given in the text establishes and predicts that the current global warming trend is expected to halt and at least slightly reverse during the early years of this century. This conclusion has been arrived at using three different methods. There is full confidence in the techniques used in arriving at this conclusion for the following reasons. First, long-standing techniques as well as modern techniques have been used to arrive at the above-mentioned conclusion. Second, the same techniques were employed as far back as 1999 in establishing and predicting that: (i) There would be an El Nino episode in 2002 (see Ref. [17]), and (ii) The El Nino episode mentioned in (i) above would be weak-to-moderate compared to the 1997/98 El Nino (see Ref. [18]). Expectedly both of predictions (i) and (ii) above have actually taken place as reported in Ref. [19]. On this basis, it is certain that the conclusions of this article are scientifically correct, and that these predictions are expected to take place as stated. These predictions are useful guides in the current efforts (notably in developing countries) aimed at formulating future policies and visions on renewable energy needs, technology and utilisation which are consistent with expected temperature and general climate patterns.



(Original title: "Temperature variations at Lake Qinghai on decadal scales and the possible relation to solar activities")

By Hai Xu et al.


Temperature variations at Lake Qinghai, northeastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau, were reconstructed based on four high-resolution temperature indicators of the ?18O and the ?13C of the bulk carbonate, total carbonate content, and the detrended ?15N of the organic matter. There are four obvious cold intervals during the past 600 years at Lake Qinghai, namely 1430-1470, 1650-1715, 1770-1820, and 1920-1940, synchronous with those recorded in tree rings at the northeast Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The intervals of 1430-1470, 1650-1715, and 1770-1820 are consistent with the three coldest intervals of the Little Ice Age. These obvious cold intervals are also synchronous with the minimums of the sunspot numbers during the past 600 years, suggesting that solar activities may dominate temperature variations on decadal scales at the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

1. Introduction

It is well known that the Earth's temperature is influenced by variable factors, such as solar activity, atmospheric circulation, the complex topography, different land cover, and the greenhouse gases. The dominating factor that controls local temperature variation is different between different regions. Therefore, although the general trend of temperature variations over wide geographic areas has been figured out by numerous works, it is still urgent to make clear the details of regional temperature variations and the causes behind them.

The northeastern (NE) Qinghai-Tibet plateau is very sensitive to global climatic changes, with four planetary scale atmospheric circulations prevailing over there, namely the East Asian summer monsoon, the Indian summer monsoon, the Westerly, and the Asian winter monsoon. Temperature variations at this region have aroused wide attention. Yao et al. (2006) studied the temperatures during the last millennium based on ?18O in ice cores. Kang et al. (2000) reconstructed the temperature variations from tree ring width. Liu et al. (2004) carried out a study of dendrochronology and discussed temperature variations at this region. Although similarities exist between those various proxy indices, there are also some differences both in timing and in magnitudes, which seriously limits the understanding of the temperature mechanisms. Much more evidence is necessary to shed light on the details of temperature variations at the NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

On the other hand, previous work has suggested that climates on different timescales at the Qinghai-Tibet plateau may be driven by different forces. For example, based on the comparisons between climates recorded in ice cores in the Tibet plateau and those in Greenland, Yao et al. (2001a) pointed out that the climatic variations at the Tibet plateau on orbital timescales are dominantly controlled by solar irradiance. According to a temperature indicator of ?18O in peat cellulose, Xu et al. (2006a) suggested that the quasi-100-year solar activity may be responsible for temperature variations on centennial timescales at Hongyuan, NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau. However, as revealed from ice cores ([Wang et al., 2003] and [Wang et al., 2003]) and tree rings (Xu et al., unpublished data), temperature variations on annual scales are primarily influenced by atmospheric circulations, like the "El Ni§o-South Oscillation" (ENSO). Our question is: what is the controlling factor of temperature variations on decadal scales at the NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau?

In this study, we studied temperature variations on decadal scales during the past 600 years based on temperature indicators extracted from Lake Qinghai, NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau. We compared the temperature indicators at Lake Qinghai with the proxy indices from tree rings nearby, and with the reconstructed solar activities. The results show that temperature variations at Lake Qinghai are synchronous with those at the NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau, and the main temperature events are generally in-phase with solar activities during the last 600 years. [...]

4. Solar activity and temperature variations on decadal scales at NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau

As pointed out by Eddy (1977), the Maunder minimum, during which nearly no sunspots were detected, corresponded to the coldest period of the LIA. After that, a large amount of evidence has been supplied for the solar-Earth climate relationship. For example, the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and that of the global average correlate well with the sunspot numbers (see Fig. 1 in Reid, 2000). The concentration of 10Be in Dye3 correlated well with temperature variations of the north hemisphere. Solar irradiance reconstructed from the observed solar cycle length and the observed sunspot numbers correlated well with temperature variations of the north hemisphere (see Fig. 8 in Beer et al., 2000). Solar activity can explain 75% of the total variance of temperature variations on decadal scales at the Arctic area during the last 130 years (Soon, 2005). Solar activity inferred from the concentration of 10Be also synchronized with the D-O events inferred from the variations of ?18O in GISP2 (van Geel, et al., 1999). The temperature variations inferred from ?18O in peat cellulose at Jinchuan, NE China, show nearly a "one to one" relationship with the variation of solar activity (Hong et al., 2000).

We compared the temperature variations at Lake Qinghai and the variation of solar activity during the last 600 years. As shown in Fig. 3, temperature variation at Lake Qinghai is obviously consistent with the solar activity on decadal scales. The cold period inferred from tree ring width during 1400-1500 correlated with the SpĒrer minimum (1402-1516) (Hsu, 1998). The cold period of 1650-1715 corresponded with the Maunder minimum (1645-1715). Hsu (1998) pointed out that the advance of the glacier during the LIA was most significant around 1700. Climate during 1770-1820 was cold, corresponding to the Dalton minimum (Fig. 3). Another cold interval occurred at 1920-1940, which can also be supported by the decrease of solar irradiance at this period of time (Fig. 3).

However, the physics behind the solar-earth climate relationship is not fully understood. The observations during the last two decades indicate a perturbation of 0.1% of the total solar irradiance. Based on the solar cycle length, Zhang et al. (1994) supposed a perturbation of 0.2-0.6% of solar irradiance since the Maunder minimum. Some other studies also showed a perturbation of about 0.2-0.6% based on proxy indices (see Reid, 2000, and references therein). How should such small perturbations of the solar irradiance lead to the observed global warming, what is the mechanism behind it, etc., are still open questions. Much more evidence and discussions are necessary for future studies.

5. Summary

Temperature variations are similar in trends at the NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The three strong decreases in temperature corresponded with the three coldest intervals of the LIA during the past 600 years. These three coldest intervals also correspond with the three solar minimum during the past 600 years, namely the SpĒrer, the Maunder, and the Dalton minimums. Such a relationship suggests that solar activities are possibly the controlling factor of temperature variations at the NE Qinghai-Tibet plateau on decadal scales.



By M.S. Potgieter


Cosmic rays are excellent indicators of the various solar cycle variations. Galactic and anomalous cosmic rays encounter an outward moving solar wind with cyclic magnetic-field fluctuations and turbulence, which constitute the convection and diffusion processes in the heliosphere. They also lose energy as they propagate inwards to Earth, and experience current sheet, global curvature and gradient drifts in the heliospheric magnetic field. As a result, the intensity of cosmic rays directly reflects the various solar cycle variations, from the well-known 11- and 22-year cycles, with the reversal of the solar magnetic field at extreme solar maximum, to highly temporal variations like proton flares, Forbush decreases, corotating interaction regions and a variety of propagating diffusion barriers. All these features contribute and influence space climate and weather at Earth. Recently, the time-dependent extent and the dynamics of the heliosphere, in particular the role of the heliosheath and the location of the heliopause, have been emphasized as important to very long-term space climate. Long-term modulation over 11-22 years is breifly reviewed with emphasis on the compound time-dependent approach in modeling the solar cycle variations of cosmic rays in the heliosphere.



("Shortwave forcing of the Earth's climate: Modern and historical variations in the Sun's irradiance and the Earth's reflectance")

By P.R. Goode et al.


Changes in the Earth's radiation budget are driven by changes in the balance between the thermal emission from the top of the atmosphere and the net sunlight absorbed. The shortwave radiation entering the climate system depends on the Sun's irradiance and the Earth's reflectance. Often, studies replace the net sunlight by proxy measures of solar irradiance, which is an oversimplification used in efforts to probe the Sun's role in past climate change. With new helioseismic data and new measures of the Earth's reflectance, we can usefully separate and constrain the relative roles of the net sunlight's two components, while probing the degree of their linkage. First, this is possible because helioseismic data provide the most precise measure ever of the solar cycle, which ultimately yields more profound physical limits on past irradiance variations. Since irradiance variations are apparently minimal, changes in the Earth's climate that seem to be associated with changes in the level of solar activity-the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age for example-would then seem to be due to terrestrial responses to more subtle changes in the Sun's spectrum of radiative output. This leads naturally to a linkage with terrestrial reflectance, the second component of the net sunlight, as the carrier of the terrestrial amplification of the Sun's varying output. Much progress has also been made in determining this difficult to measure, and not-so-well-known quantity. We review our understanding of these two closely linked, fundamental drivers of climate. [...]

6. Conclusions

In this paper we have reviewed the physical mechanisms behind solar irradiance variation, and we have reviewed how on the timescale of solar evolution, the Sun cannot have been any dimmer than it is at the most recent activity minima. We have also shown how concurrent changes in the Earth's reflectance can produce a much larger climate impact over relatively short time scales. Thus, a possible Sun-albedo link, would have the potential to produce large climate effects without the need for significant excursions in solar irradiance. These could provide an explanation for the apparently large climate response to apparently small solar changes, as well as how the year solar cycle is imprinted on Earth.

Regardless of its possible solar ties, we have seen how the Earth's large scale reflectance-and the short wavelength part of the Earth's radiation budget-is a much more variable climate parameter than previously thought and, thus, deserves to be studied in as much detail as changes in the Sun's output or changes in the Earth's atmospheric infrared emission produced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Long-term records of the Earth's reflectance will provide crucial input for general circulation climate models, and will significantly increase our ability to assess and predict climate change.



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


6 December, 2007

Atmosphere of Uncertainty?

By S. Fred Singer

To support the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that current warming is anthropogenic, William Collins, Robert Colman, James Haywood, Martin R. Manning and Philip Mote assert in "The Physical Science behind Climate Change" that the mismatch between surface and tropospheric warming rates has now been resolved.

This claim is not supported by actual observations. According to the April 2006 Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report, considerable disparity exists between the observed warming-rate patterns and those calculated by greenhouse models. Although the models predict that temperature trends will increase with altitude by 200 to 300 percent, the data from both weather balloons and satellites show the opposite. This result does not deny the existence of a greenhouse effect from the considerable increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases. But it does suggest that present models greatly overestimate the effect's magnitude and significance.


Collins et al. have replied to Singer with the claim that the discrepancies observed are just random errors (or "significant nonclimatic influences", as they put it). Anything that does not fit the theory is just a random error, apparently. The old "Deus ex machina" of Elizabethan theatre has now moved on -- to be found these days in climate science -- where it is called a "significant nonclimatic influence". Forgive me while I laugh!

Congress decides to kill a lot more Americans

Bigger, heavier vehicles are generally safer but they use more fuel. The fuel economy mandates will tend to make all vehicles light and flimsy

The groundbreaking deal in Congress to raise miles-per-gallon standards will compel the auto industry to churn out more fuel-efficient vehicles on a faster timeline than the companies wanted, though with flexibility to get the job done. The auto industry's fleet of new cars, SUVs, pickups and vans will have to average 35 mpg by 2020, according to the agreement that congressional negotiators announced late Friday. That compares with the 2008 requirement of 27.5 mpg average for cars and 22.5 mpg for light trucks. It would be first increase ordered by Congress in three decades.

Majority Democrats plan to include the requirement in broader energy legislation to be debated in the context of $90-per-barrel oil, $3-plus gas pump prices and growing concerns about climate change. The House plans to begin debate this week.

The energy bill will help accelerate plans by automakers to bring more fuel-efficient technologies to conventional engines and alternatives such as gas-electric hybrids and vehicles running on ethanol blends. For the first time, for example, manufacturers will receive credits for building vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel.

Domestic automakers and Toyota opposed a Senate bill approved in June that contained the same mileage requirements and timeline. They warned the measure would limit the choice of vehicles, threaten jobs and drive up costs. The compromise worked out by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate leaders maintains a significant boost in mileage standards while giving the industry more flexibility and certainty as they plan new vehicles.

The proposal would continue separate standards for cars and trucks, extend credits for producing vehicles that run on ethanol blends, and allow automakers to receive separate credits for exceeding the standards and then apply those credits to other model years.

Michigan lawmakers secured an extension of the current 1.2 mpg credit for the production of each "flexible fuel" vehicle, capable of running on ethanol blends of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. Without the extension, the credits might have run out by 2010, but under the deal, they will be phased out by 2020. The United Auto Workers union also won a provision intended to prevent companies from shifting production of less-profitable small cars to foreign plants. At stake are an estimated 17,000 jobs.

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner said the new rules would "pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry." He said GM would tackle the changes "with an array of engineering, research and development resources." Environmental groups estimate the deal could save the country 1.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 while helping motorists save at the pump. "Cars are going to be more attractive to consumers because they won't cost as much to own and operate," said David Doniger, director of the climate center for the Natural Resources Defense Council.



At Bali, where 190 countries are debating on how to safeguard the future of the Earth, India finds itself under siege. But battling for its right to development, India has found its best friends across the borders - China and Pakistan. On the first day of the Bali meet, it was clear that officials of the developed world were working on a script - piling on the pressure on India and China to bring them into the tent of emission cuts. But, in a rare demonstration of solidarity, India and China have teamed up and officials of both countries are working together on every issue - from emission reductions to setting targets for energy intensity.

At the ad-hoc working group meeting on Monday, India was told, "You have the largest number of billionaires. Why can't you accept cuts and targets." The riposte from Indian and Chinese officials was almost instantaneous. "We are large countries. Our poverty is just as large," they said.

The border dispute and other troubles seem far away for officials at the climate change frontlines - their only brief is to ensure that India and China have the space and opportunity to grow unhindered by cuts and targets. So, anybody expecting India and China to play differently were disappointed - through the day there was a frantic to-ing and fro-ing between the officials to make sure the two countries were on the same page. And they have help - from Pakistan. Pakistan is now the chairman of the G-77 and in that role, has been providing valuable back-up support to the two Asian biggies.

Climate change has now become a huge security issue for the developed and developing worlds, but in vastly different ways. The threat to western lifestyles as a result of emission cuts is becoming difficult politically. So while Australia, under new PM Kevin Rudd, took a U-turn by ratifying Kyoto, Canada, under conservative Stephen Harper, took a different turn.

For the developing world, India's battle is to push the idea of per capita emissions as a unit of measurement. That's not yet acceptable across the pond. The battle is now fairly joined. It continues...



Did a normal climate cycle account for the short period of warming up to 1998?

ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) is the technical name given to the most prominent source of inter-annual variability in weather and climate around the world. Its ocean temperature signatures, the more widely-known La Nina and El Nino, corresponding to different phases of the oscillation, are officially defined as sustained sea surface temperature anomalies of magnitude greater than 0.5ÝC across the central tropical Pacific Ocean.

When ENSO is in the phase known as La Nina, the Pacific trade winds blow true and strong causing sun warmed surface water to pile up against Australia and Indonesia. Cool subsurface water rises in the east. In an El Nino, the trade winds falter and warm water spreads out eastwards across the Pacific Ocean. La Nina and El Nino are the poles of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

ENSO has a influence on global surface temperatures, Australian, American, Indian and African rainfall and Atlantic cyclones. ENSO varies between La Nina and El Nino states over 3 to 7 years but also over periods of decades to centuries. One mode of ENSO variation involves changes in both the frequency and intensity of La Nina and El Nino over at least a few decades.

The Pacific Ocean trade winds set up cloud and rainfall patterns globally with enormous energies transferred between ocean and atmosphere. La Nina conditions see colder water rising in the eastern Pacific and warm, moist air rising over Australia and Indonesia. El Nino conditions see warm water spread across the Pacific. See here

A simple process of heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere occurs. The heat transfer is enhanced in the El Nino state by the enormous area of warm water. Conversely, heat is gained by the Pacific Ocean during cooler La Nina conditions and global surface temperatures dip. This is reflected in the CRU surface temperature anomalies shown below for the period 1990 to 2006. 1997 and 1998 are hot. By contrast, 2000 was relatively cool.

The recent surface temperature record shows rising temperatures in the 1990's -- a period of sustained and intense El Nino peaking in 1997. The temperature period since certainly reflects less intense El Nino and cooling sea surface temperatures. The planet will remain cooler, certainly through 2007 and into 2008, as cooler La Nina influences prevail.

Superimposed on the alternation of La Nina and El Nino are longer term variations in the frequency and intensity of El Nino and La Nina. A period of more frequent and intense La Nina between the mid forties and 1975 followed by more frequent and intense El Nino between 1976 and 1998. The pattern appears in centuries of proxy data - that is in tree and coral rings, sedimentation and rainfall and flood records. Global surface temperatures have a similar trajectory. Falling from 1946 to 1975, rising between 1976 and 1998 and declining since.

ENSO determines rainfall in Australia, Asia and America, and influences rainfall in Africa and the Indian monsoon. The beginning of the hydrological cycle here appears to be the vast heat sink over the Pacific during an El Nino and warm, moist air rising in the western Pacific in a La Nina.

The longer term variation of ENSO in frequency and intensity has not been explained either as a result of internal feedback or external forcing. Even so, it is difficult to explain how ENSO variations have been neglected by so many for so long. ENSO involves 97% of greenhouse gases. The surface temperature impacts are significant. Note the 0.25 0C difference between 1998 and 2000.

ENSO variation goes in both directions. The indications are that ENSO variation added to global surface temperatures between 1976 and 1998. It has been almost 10 years since temperatures peaked in1998. The planet may continue to be cooler over the next few decades as a cool La Nina phase of ENSO emerges.


Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett gagged on climate change

Former Greenie gets no respect from his colleagues. The signal clearly is that the new government will be only light green, with tokenism being its main Green feature

First Peter Garrett had the crucial issue of climate change yanked from his new environment portfolio, now the new minister has been sidelined from answering questions on the matter in parliament. In a further embarrassment for Mr Garrett, it was yesterday revealed he will not represent Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong during Question Time in the Lower House. Questions in the House of Representatives about Senator Wong's role will instead be fielded by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said the extraordinary move showed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had no confidence in the gaffe-prone Mr Garrett's ability as a minister. "I fail to understand why in fact Prime Minister Rudd does not have the confidence in Mr Garrett to be taking questions on climate change," Mr Nelson said. "It was always very interesting to see Mr Garrett attempt to answer questions."

Ms Wong leapt to Mr Garrett's defence, saying he had not been gagged: "Peter has a very clear voice in government, he is a Cabinet minister." She argued that climate change was as much an economic issue as an environmental one. "I think it's quite a good thing, if we reflect that in our representing arrangements - but I wouldn't read too much into it."

The Government yesterday defended sending a quarter of its Cabinet to the climate conference in Bali. Mr Rudd and a record four frontbenchers will attend the UN conference, which will attract delegates from around 190 nations and is designed to establish a road map for international climate change action. Ms Wong said the large Australian delegation highlighted the nation's moment in the sun on global climate politics following the Government's historic decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. "That gives us a leadership position and we intend to use that," she said. "There are meetings specifically for the trade and finance ministers of the world."

Mr Rudd will lead Australia's delegation. He will be joined by Ms Wong as well as Mr Garrett, Mr Swan and Trade Minister Simon Crean, who will attend separate trade and finance meetings over the next fortnight. "We recognise this as an extremely important conference - Australia has signalled its intention to play a leadership role," Ms Wong said. "That really reflects the fact the world is coming to the view that this is an issue of international economic significance." The new Government has also committed to introducing a green car fleet.



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


5 December, 2007

Greenhouse Effect Disproved in 1909

I was re-reading the essay by Dr Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner and found this account of an experiment R.W. Wood conducted in 1909 that disproved the claim about greenhouses being hotter because they trapped radiation.

There appears to be a widespread belief that the comparatively high temperature produced within a closed space covered with glass, exposed to solar radiation, results from a transformation of wave-length, that is, that the heat waves from the Sun, which are able to penetrate the glass, fall upon the walls of the enclosure and raise its temperature: the heat energy is re-emitted by the walls in the form of much longer waves, which are unable to penetrate the glass, the greenhouse acting as a radiation trap.

I have always felt some doubt as to whether this action played any very large part in the elevation of temperature. It appeared much more probable that the part played by the glass was the prevention of the escape of the warm air heated by the ground within the enclosure. If we open the doors of a greenhouse on a cold windy day, the trapping of radiation appears to lose much of its efficacy.

As a matter of fact I am of the opinon that a greenhouse made of a glass transparent to waves of every possible length would show a temperature nearly, if not quite, as high as that observed in a glass house. The transparent screen allows the solar radiation to warm the ground, and the ground in turn warms the air, but only the limited amount within the enclosure. In the "open", the ground is continually brought into contact with cold air by convection currents.

To test the matter I constructed two enclosures of dead black cardboard, one covered with a glass plate, the other with a plate of rock-salt of equal thickness. The bulb of a thermometer was inserted in each enclosure and the whole packed in cotton, with the exception of the transparent plates which were exposed. When exposed to sunlight the temperature rose gradually to 65 C, the enclosure covered with the salt plate keeping a little ahead of the other, owing to the fact that transmitted the longer waves from the Sun, which were stopped by the glass.

In order to eliminate this action the sunlight was first passed through a glass plate. There was now scarcely a difference of one degree between the temperatures of the two enclosures. The maximum temperature reached was about 55 C. From what we know about the distribution of energy in the spectrum of the radiation emitted by a body at 55 C, it is clear that the rock-salt plate is capable of transmitting practically all of it,while the glass plate stops it entirely. This shows us that the loss of temperature of the ground by radiation is very small in comparison to the loss by convection, in other words that we gain very little from the circumstance that the radiation is trapped.

Is it therefore necessary to pay attention to trapped radiation in deducing the temperature of a planet as affected by its atmosphere? The solar rays penetrate the atmosphere. warm the ground which in turn warms the atmosphere by contact and by convection currents. The heat received is thus stored up in the atmosphere, remaining there on account of the very low radiating power of a gas. It seems to me very doubtful if the atmosphere is warmed to any great extent by absorbing the radiation from the ground even under the most favorable conditions.
Originally published in the Philosophical magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320.



Will the U.N. Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) [COP 13/MOP 3, Bali, Indonesia, December 3-14] follow the now well-established pattern of manic-depression that has characterised nearly all such previous mass meetings, including those in The Hague (2000), in Marrakesh, Morocco (2001), in Edinburgh around the G8 Summit (2005), in Montreal (2005), and in Nairobi, Kenya (2006)?

First, key figures will work hard, through the media, to try to lower public expectations - e.g., "This is only about producing a `road map', or timetable, for future negotiations"; "It is just about putting a process in motion rather than taking any substantive decisions."

Then, for the first few days of the Conference nothing much obvious will happen, and there is little for the hordes of environmental reporters to report. Things only start to get `hot' when governments finally let loose their senior figures to `finalise' the key issues during the last three days [for example, the UK will be sending three gunboats to Bali, namely HMS Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, his junior minister, HMS Phil Woolas, and jolly old HMS Sir Nicholas Stern ("For it is he!")].

Then, if things go to plan, the 'meeting' will be reported as "slow and difficult", or even "failing" (as, classically, at Montreal in 2005), with participants walking out, or raising "impossible" issues. "Why do the developing countries keep on insisting that we should carry all the burden and pay for everything?" Ultimately, the `meeting' then extends into the early hours of the morning after the day on which it is meant to have closed, the chair and host nation using every trick in the moral-blackmail book to achieve something for the record and for home consumption.

Finally, a relatively bland agreement is cobbled together at the very last minute. Thousands of participants and journalists emerge from their fierce-small-world euphoric, tears are shed, and the "success" of the meeting is over-hyped and over-spun - "The world can breathe again!"; "We are saved!"; "Real progress has been made!"

Eventually, in the cold light of day, euphoria turns quite quickly to angst and to bitterness as it becomes increasingly obvious that little-to-nothing has really been achieved and that nobody will act on what has been agreed in any case.

The euphoric high is inexorably followed by a long depression - until, that is, the next migration and Conference of 15,000 souls [COP 14, by the way, will be in Pozna?, Poland, from 1-12 December, 2008. Just thought you would like to know].

Medical Symptoms?

If you examine carefully the symptoms exhibited during and after these repeated 'meeting patterns', while analysing in detail the changing media language involved, it becomes obvious that `global warming' hype is leading to clinically-identifiable symptoms closely associated with those presented in `mass psychogenic illness', or `mass sociogenic illness'.

The following two medical papers explain these syndromes, with detailed examples: (a) `Mass psychogenic illness: role of the individual physician' [American Family Physician (2000) 62: 2649-53,2655-6], and (b) `Mass psychogenic illness: a case report and overview' [Psychiatric Times, April 2000, XVII, 4]. Here is a key passage from (a):

"Mass psychogenic illness is characterized by symptoms, occurring among a group of persons with shared beliefs regarding those symptoms, that suggest organic illness but have no identifiable environmental cause and little clinical or laboratory evidence of disease. Mass psychogenic illness typically affects adolescents or children, groups under stress and females disproportionately more than males. Symptoms often follow an environmental trigger or illness in an index case. They can spread rapidly by apparent visual transmission, may be aggravated by a prominent emergency or media response, and frequently resolve after patients are separated from each other and removed from the environment in which the outbreak began. Physicians should consider this diagnosis when faced with a cluster of unexplained acute illness."

Fascinatingly, such mass hysteria can spread rapidly to those who are distant from any original `event'; in such cases, the response is known as `mass hysteria by proxy'. One outbreak of `mass hysteria by proxy', for example, has been documented, in which anxiety transmitted among parents led to reports of serious symptoms in students.

`Global warming' hysteria appears to be a classic example of `mass psychogenic illness', which is triggered and fed by the regular world meetings mentioned above, but which is then transmitted globally through a 24-hour media and Green pressure groups as `mass hysteria by proxy'.

This is hardly surprising, as taking the temperature of the Earth every second of every day, and then reporting it uncritically and apocalyptically via 24-hour-rolling news, constitutes a perfect trigger for folk with a predisposition to hypochondria, or, in this case, to ecochondria. Manic-depression, or bipolar-disorder, then begins to exhibit itself, both in the individual and in the media.

The truth is, therefore, a serious one: 'global warming' hype is bad for your health. Yes, Green hype can be clinically damaging.



It's not the waste that rankles so much as the hypocrisy. Some 15,000 politicians, officials, quangocrats and assorted busybodies are descending on Bali for a jamboree that will produce more than 100,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The purpose of their trip? To discuss how to reduce CO2 emissions.

We wonder whether there would be so many observers and hangers-on if the venue were, say, Duesseldorf. For many of those attending have no direct involvement in the talks. For example, 19 MEPs, accompanied by advisers and staff, are in Bali, staying at a luxurious spa hotel. Not only will their fares, meals and accommodation be paid for by the rest of us, but they will also claim a further 95 pounds per day.

Our purpose is not just to mock the attendees. No, we have a deeper objection. The Bali summit represents much of what is wrong with the green movement, in that it elevates intentions over results. The supposedly ethical aims of the conference are presumed to render irrelevant the pollution engendered by its delegates. Euro-MPs, and politicians generally, often behave this way. When Indonesia was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, MEPs cheerfully voted millions of their constituents' euros in aid. But when it was suggested that they might contribute a single day's attendance allowance - around 190 pounds - to the relief effort, they were horrified. They demand green taxation, yet many of them fly to Strasbourg by the most environmentally unfriendly routes, thereby pocketing higher mileage allowances.

The Kyoto agenda is not principally about affecting climate change. Even if we accept all its proponents' figures, we would succeed in reducing the projected temperature rise by just 0.3F over the next century (at a cost of an almost unbelievable 3 trillion pounds). No, the Bali meeting is not really about doing anything. It is about feeling smug; and getting paid for it.


U.N. scam shows Marxism at heart of warming movement


Apparently, I hit a nerve with a column I wrote a couple of weeks ago on global warming. Many of you took umbrage with my daring to connect the global warming movement to Marxism. Don't get me wrong. I do not believe everyone involved in the global warming movement subscribes to Karl Marx's philosophy. However, make no mistake about it. Those at the epicenter of this movement have ulterior motives, many of them socialist or even Marxist. What I wrote that caused such a fuss was that global warming is being used as a template to rob from the rich nations and give to the poor ones.

Right on cue, the United Nations issued a report last week that made my point. The headline from The Associated Press: "Poor will need $86b from rich to cope, UN says." Ah, here we go. The report says the rich nations will need to cough up $86 billion per year by 2015 to "strengthen the capacity of vulnerable people." Half the money, ostensibly, would go toward "climate-proofing" developing nations' infrastructure, whatever that means, while the other half would help the poor cope with related risks. Of course, the ambiguity is on purpose. You and I know that the bulk of this money will be skimmed off by tinhorn dictators, the same rabble that runs the U.N.

The report was conveniently released just a week before the world's nations gather in Bali to hammer out yet another Kyoto-style climate treaty. This will be another attempt to shame the developed world into turning over their hard-earned gold and silver to the rest of the world. "In Bali, we are going to very seriously discuss the price rich countries have to pay so that poorer countries can preserve their forests," said Brazil's leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Ironically, Brazil is one of the world's biggest emitters of so-called greenhouse gases. They're mowing down the rain forest to beat the band, and now they and the United Nations want us to pay them to stop destroying it. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

The Bali bailout comes at a time when the Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are actually down 1.5 percent. Don't count on that getting much press at the conference. We're also coming off a tame hurricane season, despite the loud rantings from the global-warming crowd that this would be one of the worst seasons on record. Al Gore said in September 2005, "Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming." We're coming off two relatively tame hurricane seasons in a row. Where are all these stronger hurricanes Gore was warning about? Does that mean he's now willing to admit he was wrong? Probably not.

Actually, the only hurricane-force winds clocked in these parts came from the wake of Al Gore's automobile. According to a report by NewsChannel5, ole Spotted Al was clocked doing a not-so-fuel-efficient 95 mph last year. At least, he'll be able to speed in style. The Tennessean's own Beverly Keel reported that Mr. Gore was spotted purchasing a Lexus LS 600h, their new hybrid model. According to a New York Times review, Al's new ride gets a whopping 21 mpg - 1 mpg less than the non-hybrid version. Atta way to save the planet, Al. Maybe there's an opening for you at the U.N.


Another "consensus" scientist

If Georgia writer Richard Noone knew what he was talking about, he'd be dead, and you'd be dead, and the Earth would be one large ice ball hurtling through space. Sometimes failure is the greatest revenge. Today, Noone is living in Bayonet Point, Fla., having survived - along with the rest of us - his forecast in the book, "5/5/2000 Ice: The Ultimate Disaster" that, on Friday, May 5, 2000, the earth's poles would shift and millions would die as the planet was plunged into another ice age.

His theory - the result of years of research, and more than a few giant intuitive leaps - made Noone semi-famous at the turn of the millennium when prognosticators of what will happen next were darlings of a mass media always looking for a fresh hook. He appeared on "Oprah" and CNN and explained how the catastrophe was predicted in encoded inscriptions in the Great Pyramid of Giza and would be set in motion on May 5 by an extraordinary alignment of the planets. That alignment would exert such a gravitational pull the ice caps would be torn loose and continents would shift so that people standing in Georgia would find themselves suddenly whipped at 200 miles an hour to another part of the planet such as Nicaragua.

As far-fetched as that sounded then - and now - Noone still sticks by the research that went into his book, first published in 1982. "The overwhelming majority of articles in my bibliography were from the world's prestigious science journals, such as Scientific American, Smithsonian and Science," he says. "It's not like I quoted some mythical evangelist like Jimbo Billy Euripides."

He might as well have. Back then, by the time his forecast doomsday was about to roll around, Noone conceded his prediction was probably wrong and joked to a reporter that, for all he knew, when May 5 hit "I'll celebrate Cinco de Mayo." He says now, 7 1/2 later, he feels a bit redeemed because of the growing acceptance of the theory of global warming, which he also talked about in his book. At age 63 - 30 years after he went from an Atlanta wig and jewelry importer, to futurist author who wrote the first draft of his book in longhand - he's suddenly in the company of another global weather doom prognosticator: former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore. If Gore hasn't read "Ice," he ought to, says Noone. "The articles in my book are a handy reference for anybody writing on global warming and what we may soon experience," he says.



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


4 December, 2007

Lack of development: that's the real disaster

An Oxfam report suggests climate change has led to a quadrupling of weather-related disasters. It pays to interrogate such heated claims

Are we seeing the disastrous consequences of global warming already? That's the conclusion of a new report, Climate Alarm, by the British aid charity, Oxfam: `Climatic disasters are on the increase as the Earth warms up - in line with scientific observations and computer simulations that model future climate. 2007 has been a year of climatic crises, especially floods, often of an unprecedented nature. The total number of natural disasters has quadrupled in the last two decades - most of them floods, cyclones and storms.' (1)

It certainly sounds like it's been a bad year for bad weather. While much of the UK was under water during a particularly wet summer, the Oxfam report notes that Africa has suffered its worst floods for three decades, affecting 23 countries and nearly two million people. As of August, 248million people in Asia had been affected by flooding, followed by cyclone Sidr hitting Bangladesh in November, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Two category-five hurricanes hit Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, with four-fifths of the Mexican state of Tabasco under water at one point. Meanwhile, heatwaves and forest fires affected more than a million people in Greece and Eastern Europe, and severe drought also contributed to fires in Australia and California.

But it is the suggestion that there are now four times as many disasters per year as there were in the early 1980s that has grabbed the media's attention. Between 1980 and 2006, according to the Oxfam report, the number of floods and cyclones quadrupled from 60 to 240 a year, while the number of earthquakes remained approximately the same, at 20 per year. The report suggests that over the past two decades, the number of people annually affected by disasters has increased from an average of 174million to 254million. It notes that `small- and medium-scale disasters are occurring more frequently than the kind of large-scale disasters that hit the headlines', but, if these disasters occur close together in time or location, they can merge to produce a `mega disaster'.

Much of this seems to be down to definition. For example, the Oxfam figures are based on statistics from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) which seems to take a fairly promiscuous approach to `disasters'. An event qualifies as a `disaster' for the CRED statistics if one of the following applies: 10 or more people are killed; 100 or more are affected; there is a state of emergency declared; a call for international assistance is made. A `small- to medium- disaster' involves up to 50 deaths, affects up to 150,000 people, or causes $200million in economic losses.

What the Oxfam report fails to mention is the caution that the CRED itself places on historical trends in disaster statistics (2). There are good reasons to suggest that the statistics may largely reflect increased reporting of disasters rather than an increase in the occurrence of disasters. Firstly, improvements in telecommunications and the media mean we are more likely to hear about disasters. Secondly, there are more agencies dedicated to working in disaster zones. Thirdly, as insurance claims become more common, so insurance companies have become more and more likely to report and document disasters.....

There is another series of statistics on disasters, issued by the insurance company Swiss Re. Its annual reports on disasters have been available online for the past decade (3). From these, it is possible to get an alternative take on the number of flood, storm, fire, drought and extreme cold events, and the number of deaths-by-disaster over the past 10 years. If there was a strong upward trend, we would expect to see it here, too:

While over the course of the decade, the average number of disastrous events does appear to have gone up, it is nothing like the dramatic increase the Oxfam figures describe. Moreover, given increasing wealth and population, the chances of an event hitting an area with sufficient population, or causing enough economic damage, to qualify as a disaster may well have increased even if the weather itself hasn't changed much.

Perhaps more important than the issue of whether and why these events are occurring is the question: what impact are they having? One way their impact can be measured is through looking at death tolls. (This is not to suggest, however, that life is dandy for those left behind: disasters leave a legacy of economic disruption, which is often a severe blow, particularly in poor countries where survival is difficult at the best of times.) Death tolls seem to be extremely variable, but in the current century they don't seem to have changed greatly:

Deaths from earthquakes, on average, seem to outweigh deaths from weather-related events - even when the massive death toll from 2004, which includes the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, is ignored. (Earthquake deaths averaged about 46,000 per year including 2004 and about 20,000 per year excluding 2004; deaths from weather-related disasters average at about 18,000 a year.) And the average annual death toll from all the natural disasters listed by Swiss Re over a 10-year period - even including the 2004 tsunami - is around 65,000 people. That is a terribly tragic loss of life. It would seem that the risk of dying in a noteworthy natural disaster is about 100,000-to-one for the world's six billion-plus people; more prosaic causes of death, including from easily curable diseases and a lack of clean water, have a far more devastating impact around the world.

What the Oxfam report really reveals is how climate change has become the only debate in town. The demand for development has been placed on the back burner, replaced by an overarching concern about carbon emissions. In fairness to Oxfam, the report makes quite clear that natural disasters have a disproportionate impact on the developing world, while emergency aid is extremely variable and tends to focus on high-profile disasters. The report makes some sensible proposals on improving the aid system and increasing the resilience of societies to sudden shocks.

Nonetheless, it seems the Oxfam report hit the headlines because it chimes with our doom-mongering times: that is, it seems to have dramatically overstated the number and impact of serious disasters in recent years. For example, there is a sharp contrast between the worst floods in living memory in the UK this year - which caused a handful of deaths and led to a depressing clearing-up operation - and floods that occur in the developing world, which cause many more deaths and societal dislocation that can last for months and even years. This disaster disparity demonstrates the need for rapid development in the infrastructure and wealth of developing nations.

Even relatively simple measures can make a huge difference, as the Oxfam report notes: `Bangladesh has made great strides in reducing the impact of the hazards that constantly assail it. In 1991 over 138,000 people perished in a cyclone. Subsequent cyclones - even the devastating cyclone that hit on 15 November [this year], the biggest since 1991 - have killed far fewer people, due to the existence of cyclone shelters and greater community-based preparedness including evacuation plans, early warnings and the mobilisation of volunteers. In the Bangladesh countryside, "raised villages" and flood shelters - artificial mounds the size of soccer pitches to which whole communities can retreat from floods - are fairly common sights. Mozambique too has got steadily better at implementing flood contingency plans, including providing essential services for displaced people (reducing recourse to international assistance).'

In Cuba, the report tells us, things have gone even further: `At the national level, Cuba's disaster legislation, public education on disasters, meteorological research, early warning system, effective communication system for emergencies, comprehensive emergency plan, and Civil Defence structure are important resources in avoiding disaster. At the local level, high levels of literacy, developed infrastructure in rural areas, and access to reliable healthcare are crucial for national efforts in disaster mitigation, preparation, and response.'

Instead of pandering to current obsessions about climate change, then, perhaps Oxfam and other aid agencies should make the argument that development, not carbon counting, is key to freeing people from the occasional tyranny of natural disasters. It is only through development that socities can make themselves resilient to extreme weather, and also raise their horizons to more than surviving the next flood or storm. Today, the exaggerated notion that disasters are the fault of man, with his continual carbon-emitting, suggests that meaningful development and industrialisation will only make matters worse. By focusing heavily on climate change, charities like Oxfam ensure that their reports make the front pages - but at the same time they implicitly undermine the case for sweeping development around the globe. That the goal of development is now deemed to be unrealistic - or worse, undesirable - is the real disaster of modern times.


Our Greenie masters might allow us to keep our existing light-fittings yet

Al Gore says switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents can help save the planet from global warming. California, Canada and the European Union are so persuaded he's right, the three governments are in the process of banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs, following the trailblazing paths of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on board, urging American citizens to do their part for the environment and switch to the twisty little CFL bulbs that last longer and use less electricity.

But opposition is building among other environmentalists who say the threat of mercury contamination as a result of hundreds of millions of broken CFLS, each containing about 5 milligrams of the highly toxic substance, outweighs any benefits from a switch from Thomas Edison's trusty old invention. One new voice weighing in against the tide is Andrew Michrowski of the Canadian-based Planetary Association for Clean Energy: "I feel it's very important to warn people these 'green' bulbs contain mercury, which will end up in landfills throughout the country if we make the switch to them. In addition to filling our landfills with mercury, if the bulbs break you will be exposed to the mercury they contain." He says consumers shouldn't buy them - even though they are now showing up in stores all over America.

Even the EPA, which is cheerleading the mania for the switch to CFLs, offers bone-chilling warnings about the dangers of mercury - if you search for them. "Exposure to mercury, a toxic metal, can affect our brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver," says the agency.

When a CFL breaks, the EPA cautions consumers to open a window and leave the room immediately for at least 15 minutes because of the mercury threat. The agency suggests removing all materials by scooping fragments and powder using cardboard or stiff paper. Sticky tape is suggested as a way to get smaller particles. The EPA says vacuum cleaners and bare hands should never be used in such cleanups. After final cleanup with a damp paper towel, the agency warns consumers to place all materials in a plastic bag. "Seal and dispose of properly," says the EPA. "Wash hands."

But disposing of properly might be a tough thing to do, because CFLs never should be thrown in the trash like their old-fashioned incandescent predecessors. They need to be turned into recycling centers, which are few and far between. When laws banning incandescent bulbs take effect, so do the mandatory fines on consumers and businesses that dispose of the new CFLs improperly.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health also offers cautions about mercury. "Exposures to very small amounts of these compounds [mercury] can result in devastating neurological damage and death," says NIH. "For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure, such as result from a mother's consumption of methyl mercury in dietary sources, can adversely affect the brain and nervous system. Impacts on memory, attention, language and other skills have been found in children exposed to moderate levels in the womb."

However, critics are concerned that the EPA and environmentalists are minimizing the dangers of mercury contamination from CFLs. Mercury, an essential component of CFLs, is a neurotoxin that the EPA classifies as a hazardous household material. The craze to get consumers to buy CFLs, instead of the old incandescents, precedes any serious plans for disposal or recycling of the broken or unbroken fluorescents.

A major debate has erupted among architects about the pros and cons of CFLs, with many "now calling for lower mercury in lighting systems," says Michael Driedger, a Vancouver-based architect specializing in green technologies. "Many people, especially in the lighting industry, are waiting for the lighting industry to develop mercury-free light emitting diode (LED) lighting as a safe substitute for CFLs," he says.



GREEN scientists have been accused of overstating the dangers of climate change by researchers who found that the number of people killed each year by weather-related disasters is falling. Their report suggests that a central plank in the global warming argument - that it will result in a big increase in deaths from weather-related disasters - is undermined by the facts. It shows deaths in such disasters peaked in the 1920s and have been declining ever since. Average annual deaths from weather-related events in the period 1990-2006 - considered by scientists to be when global warming has been most intense - were down by 87% on the 1900-89 average. The mortality rate from catastrophes, measured in deaths per million people, dropped by 93%.

The report by the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, a grouping of 41 mainly free-market bodies, comes on the eve of an international meeting on climate change in Bali. Indur Goklany, a US-based expert on weather-related catastrophes, charted global deaths through the 20th century from "extreme" weather events. Compared with the peak rate of deaths from weather-related events in the 1920s of nearly 500,000 a year, the death toll during the period 2000-06 averaged 19,900. "The United Nations has got the issues and their relative importance backward," Goklany said. The number of deaths had fallen sharply because of better warning systems, improved flood defences and other measures. Poor countries remained most vulnerable.

Greenpeace attacked the International Policy Network, one of the Civil Society organisations, which is publishing the report in Britain. ďThe International Policy Network is known for being in the pay of the worldís biggest oil company,Ē a spokesman said. The network said: ďFunding for this project has come entirely from private individuals and foundations.Ē


For US, Carbon Dioxide Ranks Last Among Climate Factors and is Decreasing

The now familiar plot of the US climate network since 1895 shows a cyclical pattern with a rise from 1895 to a peak near 1930 and decline into the 1970s and then another rise with an apparent peak around 2000. Note the minor warming from the peak in 1930 to the peak in 2000.

The short term fluctuations are driven by factors such as ENSO and volcanic eruptions. The longer term cycles are mainly driven by cycles in the sun and oceans although changes in the last half century have been increasingly blamed on anthropogenic factors. Let's look at the three longer term factors mentioned and how well they atcually correlated with the observed temperatures

Clearly the US annul temperatures over the last century have correlated far better with cycles in the sun and oceans than carbon dioxide. Whatsmore, this correlation with carbon dioxide seems to be weakening further in the last decade. Read full details about how this analysis was done here.


Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit

This paper is authored by Ivy League award winning forecaster J. Scott Armstrong and Monash U. Kesten Green and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Willie Soon

Excerpt from Abstract: Our audit of the second most relevant paper, H6, found that it was also based on faulty forecasting methodology. For example, it extrapolated nearly 100 years into the future on the basis of only five years data - and data for these years were of doubtful validity. In summary, experts' predictions, unaided by evidence-based forecasting procedures, should play no role in this decision. Without scientific forecasts of a substantial decline of the polar bear population and of net benefits from feasible policies arising from listing polar bears, a decision to list polar bears as threatened or endangered would be irresponsible.

Excerpt from Conclusion: The issue of listing a species under the Endangered Species Act should be based on credible scientific forecasts. Based on our Internet search of the published scholarly research and on appeals to other researchers we have been unable to locate any papers that referred to scientific procedures for making forecasts of polar bear populations. Furthermore, a review of the references in the nine government reports written to support the listing of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act failed to find any papers relevant to scientific forecasting procedures. We take no issue with the scientific work of the researchers whose work we have reviewed as it relates to the past. Our concern is that there are currently no scientific forecasts of the polar bear population; nor of direction or magnitude of changes. Without scientific forecasts of a substantial decline of the polar bear population and of net benefits from feasible policies arising from listing polar bears, a decision to list polar bears as threatened or endangered would be irresponsible.

Full Paper Here


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


3 December, 2007


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced four massive assessments of climate-change science since 1990. Its efforts culminated this year in a summary report that many argue delivers solid answers to the biggest questions - whether and to what extent humans are contributing to global warming - while laying a strong foundation for dealing with the possible dangers and finding potential solutions. Now, some are beginning to argue, it's time for the IPCC to change gear and alter the way it works.

In a policy forum piece published today in Science (1), two scientists argue that the IPCC must become a nimbler body if it is to remain relevant in the coming years.

Until now, the IPCC has produced a set of reports over the course of a year once every five or six years. But waiting until 2012 for another summary report isn't an option, argues Frank Raes, a climate scientist with the European Commission's Institute for Environment and Sustainability in Ispra, Italy, and one of two authors on the Science commentary. "We cannot wait another five, seven years for an assessment," he says. "We have to act." Action, he argues, will require swifter input from the IPCC.

"It's an open debate, and this is the right time to have it really," says Peter Cox, a climate modeller with the Met Office at the University of Exeter, UK. "In some sense, we've taken step one of the IPCC path, which is to demonstrate that climate change is an issue and that it's due to human activities." Step two, Cox says, is to reorganize the process "from end to end" around adaptation and mitigation. "Rather than just elucidating the climate problem, it's got to be more focused on solutions."

IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri is currently circulating a paper discussing the panel's future and raising questions about structural reforms - including whether there should be more targeted assessments or fewer comprehensive assessments. He says he personally sees no need for major changes. Major assessments on the order of five or six years will remain useful, he says, while IPCC can respond to demand from policy makers with targeted assessments as needed.

"We definitely need a larger social science dimension," he says, as well as more analysis of economic impacts of adaptation and mitigation. "That's my personal view, but I will be guided by what governments want."

Quick answers

Raes and colleague Rob Swart, who manages the European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, suggest that the IPCC consider the United Nations' acid-rain programme as a model. The Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, which covers Europe and North America, went through an initial period of broad assessments on the science itself, Raes says, and then entered a second stage that has brought together industry, environmentalists and policy-makers to address specific policy questions.

Raes and Swart suggest that the IPCC do something similar. Although it would remain a purely scientific body that doesn't give policy advice, it could shift to providing specific information driven by policy questions.

This might involve a reorganization of the panel. The IPCC currently has one working group that assesses the basic science of global warming, a second working on risks and adaptation, and a third analysing mitigation options. That system could continue to provide broad assessments on a longer timeline, Raes says, but policy questions about how to treat biofuels and deforestation require a more integrated approach.

Martin Parry, who co-chairs the IPCC's second working group, says there is broad acknowledgement that faster, targeted assessments will be needed. But he adds that there is still a role for a body that produces broad scientific assessments independent of the policy process. "I'm somewhat skeptical of integrated assessments," Parry says. "There's something to be said for keeping the science assessment clean and at a distance [from policy]."

Special reports

Few people question the idea that the IPCC will need to adjust its sights, but some say a drastic overhaul of the organization might not be necessary. Leonard Bernstein, an author of the fourth synthesis report issued in Valencia, Spain, earlier this month, said the IPCC already has a model for this in the way it handles "special reports" on specific topics such as carbon sequestration and renewable energies.

"If you use the special report model, it's not even a matter of adapting the IPCC," Bernstein says, adding that special reports are interdisciplinary and can be issued within a couple of years. "That would make the process quicker, more flexible and more integrated because these reports do cover policy, economics and technology."

The IPCC could also shift its timing, such that one of the working groups releases a report every two years, as opposed to all three releasing simultaneous reports, says Cox. He says such a system would allow each group to build on the latest work done by the other groups, and would naturally encourage scientists in each group to help those currently working on a report.

Pachauri says he hopes the IPCC's future can be discussed and ultimately settled when the panel meets in April 2008, so the new leadership has a "clear mandate" when it takes office in September 2008.


Warmist polar expedition cancelled due to extreme cold

You can't make stuff like this up. The snicker factor just keeps mounting over the antics of global warming alarmists. Patrick Condon of the Associated Press reported last March:
A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment. "Ann said losing toes and going forward at all costs was never part of the journey," said Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition. On Monday, the pair was at Canada's Ward Hunt Island, awaiting a plane to take them to Resolute, Canada, where they were to return to Minneapolis later this week.
While losing toes to frostbite is no joke, one has to wonder if these two publicity-seekers were undone by believing their own propaganda. Did visions of an ice-free North Pole lure them into pressing onward after some equipment was damaged? Extreme cold is to be expected if one is visiting polar regions, and presumably, as experienced polar trekkers, they brought along adequate gear. So why did they not abort the mission when they suffered gear problems? And how many purportedly harmful carbon dioxide molecules were generated by the rescue airplane to be sent to save them from their folly? I hope the two recover fully and come to realize that it can still be really, really cold in the arctic, no matter what Al Gore tells them.
The explorers had planned to call in regular updates to school groups by satellite phone, and had planned online posts with photographic evidence of global warming. In contrast to Bancroft's 1986 trek across the Arctic with fellow Minnesota explorer Will Steger, this time she and Arnesen were prepared to don body suits and swim through areas where polar ice has melted.
I hope they are now letting those school groups know that it is foolish to plan to swim in the Arctric beacuse it gets really, really cold there.



Says the Warmist Nicholas Stern below:

The Bali summit on climate change, which starts next week, will seek to lay the foundations for a new global agreement on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause rising temperatures and climate change. Ambitious targets for emission reduction must be at the heart of that agreement, together with effective market mechanisms that encourage emission trading between countries, rich and poor. The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay. Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen.

The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction is now overwhelming. We risk damage on a scale larger than the two world wars of the past century. The problem is global and the response must be collaboration on a global scale. The rich countries must lead the way in taking action. And in thinking about global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must invoke three basic criteria.

The first is effectiveness: the scale of the response must be commensurate with the challenge. This means setting a target for emission reduction that can keep the risks at acceptable levels.

The overall targets of 50% reductions in emissions by 2050 (relative to 1990) agreed at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm last June are essential if we are to have a reasonable chance of keeping temperature increases below 2C or 3C. While these targets involve strong action, they are not overambitious relative to the risk of failing to achieve them.

The second criterion is efficiency: we must keep down the costs of emission reduction, using prices or taxes wherever possible. Emission trading between countries must be a central part of the story. And helping poor countries cover their costs of emission reduction gives them an incentive to join a global deal.

Third, we should be concerned about equity. Our starting point is deeply inequitable with poor countries certain to be hit earliest and hardest by climate change. But rich countries are responsible for the bulk of past emissions: US emissions are currently more than 20 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, Europe's are 10-15 tonnes, China's five or more tonnes, India's around one tonne, and most of Africa much less than one.

For a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2050, the world average per capita must drop from seven tonnes to two or three. Within these global targets, even a minimal view of equity demands that the rich countries' reductions should be at least 80% - either made directly or purchased. An 80% target for rich countries would bring equality of only the flow of current emissions - around the two to three tonnes per capita level. In fact, they will have consumed the big majority of the available space in the atmosphere.

Rich countries also need to provide funding for three more key elements of a global deal. First, there should be an international programme to combat deforestation, which contributes 15-20% of emissions. For $10bn-$15bn per year, half the deforestation could be stopped.


Countries Missing Kyoto Targets, Taxpayers to Foot the Bill

As climate alarmists around the world head to a tropical paradise on Bali next week to discuss how developed nations should pay to solve global warming, an inconvenient truth has emerged: many countries that are part of the Kyoto Protocol are going to dramatically overshoot their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits.

While it seems a metaphysical certitude that America's green media will largely boycott such revelations so as not to put a damper on the hysterical proceedings, the fact that taxpayers in countries missing these targets will end up footing the bill also appears likely to be ignored. As reported by Bloomberg Friday:

Japan, Italy and Spain face fines of as much as $33 billion combined for failing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions as promised under the Kyoto treaty. The three countries are the worst performers among 36 nations that agreed to curb carbon dioxide gases that cause climate change. The 1997 Kyoto accord designed to slow global warming demands that polluting nations buy credits for their excess emissions from other industrial polluters or investors. ``They're looking at a huge bill now,'' said Mike Rosenberg, management professor at the University of Navarra's IESE Business School in Barcelona. ``That is because none would pay to reconvert factories, power plants and paper mills'' to trim gases blamed for the planet-warming ``greenhouse effect.''
Why will they miss these targets? Hold on to your seats:
Spain, Italy and Japan are likely to miss their Kyoto commitments because they underestimated economic growth and future emissions from factories and utilities.
Hmmm. So, Spain, Italy, and Japan emitted more GHGs than they thought because their economies were stronger than expected. Think Spanish, Italian, and Japanese citizens benefited from this added growth? Yet, because this expansion was better than forecast, businesses and citizens in these countries will be penalized:
Spain will pass 40 percent of the cost for the extra emissions on to businesses, Secretary of State for Energy Ignasi Nieto told journalists in Madrid July 31. The rest will come from taxes.
Do the math: that means in Spain, 60 percent of the penalties will be paid by the citizens. Interesting form of capitalism, dontcha think: grow your economy too much, pay a fine! But there's more:
In Italy, taxpayers will foot 75 percent of the bill for extra permits. ``Italy's behind, and we need to keep cutting emissions,'' said Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio on Sept. 13 in Rome. Japanese taxpayers will pay for two-thirds of that nation's excess, New Carbon Finance estimated, based on the current sharing between state funding and industry.
And, as reported by the Irish Independent Wednesday, Ireland faces similar difficulties:
TAXPAYERS face having to fork out more than _270m so that Ireland can "buy its way" into meeting the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland is set to overshoot its Kyoto targets by almost 100pc as things stand, according to the latest figures from the European Commission.
Welcome to green capitalism, coming to a country near you without any warning from your media.


CBS Seeking 'Irreverent,' 'Hip' Journalist for Eco-Beat (No Knowledge Required)

CBS is getting desperate. The network has posted an ad seeking a reporter to cover the "eco beat" - with some interesting requirements. "CBS is expanding its coverage of the environment," the ad reads. "We seek a talented reporter/host for Internet video broadcast. We are looking for smart, creative, hard working up and comers, who can bring great energy, creativity and a dash of humor to our coverage. A deep interest in the environment and sustainability issues will serve you well."

So you would think such a job would require a science background or years of covering environmental news? Not exactly. "You are wicked smart, funny, irreverent and hip, oozing enthusiasm and creative energy," the ad reads. "This position requires strong people, reporting, story telling and writing skills. Managing tight deadlines should be second nature. Knowledge of the enviro beat is a big plus, but not a requirement."

Ironically, the ad shows irreverence to what kind of carbon footprint the job duties might require. The ad includes: "Be prepared to see America. Heavy domestic travel." That would continue CBS's efforts across the country. In September, CBS's "The Early Show" showed viewers how one Florida family went to extraordinary lengths with high costs to lower their carbon footprint.



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


2 December, 2007

Global Temperatures are Uncorrelated with Carbon Dioxide Trends This Last Decade

Temperatures peaked in 1998 and have shown no warming for a decade now. Many scientists have been remarking about this trend for several years but no one takes heed, preferring to believe models than actual data. Here is the satellite derived global temperature trend since 1979. Note the cooling globally near the volcanically active periods of the early 1980s and 1990s. Note also the warm spike associated with the super El Nino that seemingly marked the beginning of the end of the warm Pacific trend that began in 1978.

Note the subsequent cooling as a series of 3 La Ninas in 4 years helped cool the earth in the late 1990s. Temperatures rebounded a bit in the early 2000s with a slight rebound in the Pacific warmth, three El Ninos and a volcanic aerosol-free stratosphere, but the trend since 2001 has been flat and at a level considerably below the peak of 1998. This lack of warming has occurred despite the increases in carbon dioxide.

Indeed, when comparing this satellite derived temperature trend the last decade with the carbon dioxide increases as seasonally adjusted from Scripps, we find NO CORRELATION (just 0.07 r squared!!!)

Global warming is over. Man was never responsible.


America the virtuous: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Declined 1.5 Percent in 2006

This all happened without benefit of the U.S. ratifying Kyoto. Odd that America does what Europe just blathers about. Will Europe decide on the basis of this that the American way is the right way? No way! European self-esteem depends on America being wrong so they will just ignore this

Total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 7,075.6 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2006, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 2005 level according to Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2006, a report released today by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Since 1990, U.S. GHG emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent. The 2006 emissions decrease is only the third decline in annual emissions since 1990.

U.S. GHG emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or "U.S. GHG-intensity," fell from 653 metric tons per million 2000 constant dollars of GDP (MTCO2e/$Million GDP) in 2005 to 625 MTCO2e /$Million GDP in 2006, a decline of 4.2 percent. Since 1990, the annual average decline in GHG-intensity has been 2.0 percent.

Total estimated U.S. GHG emissions in 2006 consisted of 5,934.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (83.8 percent of total emissions), 605.1 MMTCO2e of methane (8.6 percent of total emissions), 378.6 MMTCO2e of nitrous oxide (5.4 percent of total emissions), and 157.6 MMTCO2e of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) (2.2 percent of total emissions).

Emissions of carbon dioxide from energy consumption and industrial processes, which had risen at an average annual rate of 1.2 percent per year from 1990 to 2005, declined by 1.8 percent in 2006. The decline in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 to 2006 can be attributed to a one-half percent decline in overall energy demand and a decrease in the carbon intensity of electricity generation. Favorable weather patterns, where both heating and cooling degree-days were lower in 2006 than 2005, and higher energy prices, were the primary causes of lower total energy consumption. The decline in carbon intensity of electricity generation was driven by increased use of natural gas, the least carbon-intensive fossil fuel, and greater reliance on non-fossil fuel energy sources. Methane emissions, meanwhile, decreased by 0.4 percent, while nitrous oxide emissions rose by 2.9 percent. Emissions of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6, a group labeled collectively as "high-GWP gases" because their high heat trapping capabilities, fell by 2.2 percent.


Canadians should brace for coldest winter in almost 15 years: forecast

How can this happen in the midst of record CO2 levels? They don't tell us

After years of warmer-than-normal winters that spurred constant talk of global warming, winter this year is expected to be the coldest in almost 15 years and should remind everyone of what real Canadian cold feels like, Environment Canada said Friday. With the exception of only small pockets of northern Canada and southwestern Ontario, this December through February is forecast to be one of the harshest winters in recent memory across the country, said senior climatologist David Phillips.

"It is somewhat remarkable that we're seeing the same situation from coast to coast to almost coast - from Vancouver Island to Bonavista, Nfld., we're showing the country as being colder than normal," Phillips said. "The last time Canada had a significantly cold winter was back in 1994, more than a decade ago, and this may very well rival that one in terms of coldness." 1994 started with a bang of winter weather and Canadians across the country shivered through temperatures as cold as -42C - and that was before factoring in the wind chill.

Environment Canada's forecast for precipitation suggests much of the country is due for normal amounts of snow, although some cities could get more than usual, including Calgary, Regina and Toronto, which infamously called in the army in January 1999 to deal with a heavy snowfall. The precipitation forecasts are less reliable, but Phillips said a colder winter would likely result in a lot of white Christmases across the country - defined as two centimetres of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. on Christmas Day.

Even if the forecasts don't hold true, Phillips said the weather will almost certainly be worse than the last couple years for much of the country. Last year, a number of traditionally cold and snow-covered cities like Quebec City, Ottawa and Timmins, Ont., had a green Christmas for the first time in decades. And places like Moncton, all of Prince Edward Island and Toronto had only two-thirds of their normal snowfall.

If there is a bright side to the gloomy forecast that most Canadians will probably curse, it's that snow and cold in the winter is good for the economy, Phillips said. When Canadians see snow outside their windows they'll likely get into the Christmas spirit and start shopping, he said. And others will see the snow and make immediate plans to head south. "I always think it's good for the economy when weather is behaving like it should, when winters are cold and summers are hot," Phillips said. "With the Canadian dollar the way it is and with this colder than normal weather, it very well may be that the busiest people in the country are travel agents."

Phillips said the forecast for cold weather is being triggered in part by La Nina, a period of lower than normal temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.


Official American weather body inflating storm numbers and aiding Political Campaign for Carbon Restrictions

End of 2007 Hurricane Season Shows NOAA Forecasts Wrong for Second Year in a Row

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is inflating the count of tropical storms and aiding a political campaign to regulate energy use in the process, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research. Today marks the official end of the 2007 hurricane season, and for the second year in a row the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's forecast for the season was wrong. NOAA had predicted there would be seven to nine hurricanes, three to five major hurricanes and 13-17 "named storms." The season ended with just five hurricanes, two of which were major (category three or above) and 14 named storms.

"NOAA correctly predicted the number of named storms, but it's not clear this statistic has any meaning, as the agency is inflating today's storm numbers relative to storms in the past," said David A. Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research and author of a forthcoming new report on this year's hurricane season. "NOAA is doing so both by changing the criteria for naming storms and by failing to account for changes in technology that make detection of storms much easier." In its annual hurricane season forecast and subsequent tropical cyclone reports, for example, NOAA makes no mention that it started naming subtropical storms for the first time in 2002. This year, one storm - equal to 7% of named storms - was a subtropical storm.

State-of-the art equipment is also enabling observers to detect cyclones they would have missed in the past. The QuikScat, an orbiting satellite that measures the ocean's surface winds, produces more than 200 times the amount of ocean wind information that had been available from ships. "Unfortunately, NOAA's forecasts and cyclone reports suggesting increased activity are being seized upon by activists to support their campaign government take-over of energy," said Ridenour. "There's not truth to the claim that global warming is putting cyclones on steroids, unless we're talking about one of the side-effect of long-term steroid use - impotency."

The National Center's observations mirror the findings of Neil Frank, former director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, who says that as many as six of this year's named storms wouldn't have been named in past decades. Bill Read, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, disputed this in published reports saying, "For at least the last two decades, I am certain most, if not all, the storms named this year would have also been named."

"The National Hurricane Center started naming subtropical storms for the first time just five years ago," said Ridenour. "To suggest that the criteria for naming storms hasn't changed is simply dishonest."



OVER the past half-century we have become used to planetary scares of one kind or another. But the latest such scare - global warming - has engaged the political and opinion-forming classes to a greater extent than anything since, a little over 200 years ago, Malthus warned that, unless radical measures were taken to limit population growth, the world would run up against the limits of subsistence, leading inevitably to war, pestilence and famine.

This is partly perhaps because, at least in the richer countries of the world, we have rightly become more concerned with environmental issues. But that is no excuse for abandoning reason. It is time to take a cool look at global warming.

It is frequently claimed, by those who wish to stifle discussion, that the science of global warming is "settled". Even if it were, that would not be the end of the matter. But in fact, while some of the science is settled, there is much that is not. So let's start with the facts. It is customary to focus on three of them.

The first is that, over the past hundred years, the earth has become slightly warmer. To be precise, there has been a rise in global mean annual temperature of about 0.7C. The second is that, over the past hundred years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has risen sharply, by well over 30 per cent, largely as a result of carbon-based industrialisation, in particular, electricity generated in coal and oil-fired power stations and motorised transport.

And the third fact (and this is the settled science) is that carbon dioxide is one of a number of so-called greenhouse gases - of which far and away the most important is water vapour, including water suspended in clouds - that in effect trap some of the heat we receive from the sun and thus keep the planet warmer than it would otherwise be.

So is it not clear that the warming we have seen over the past hundred years must be due to the massive rise in man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and that unless we substantially decarbonise the world economy the warming will continue, bringing doom and disaster in its wake? No: it is not at all clear.

In the first place, while atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have grown steadily over the past hundred years, and indeed continue to grow briskly, the warming has occurred in fits and starts. To be precise, it has been confined entirely to two periods: from 1920 to 1940, and from 1975 to 1998. Between 1940 and 1975 there was a slight cooling, and so far this century (and contrary to all predictions) there has been no trend one way or the other.

So clearly carbon dioxide is only part of the global temperature story: it is very far from being the whole story. This is borne out by the longer term historical record. It is well established, for example, that a thousand years ago, well before the onset of industrialisation, there was what has become known as the medieval warm period, when temperatures were probably at least as high as, if not higher, than they are today. Going back even further, during the Roman Empire, agricultural records suggest that it was probably even warmer.

So we are left with a double uncertainty. First, while we know that, other things being equal, rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide will warm the planet, we have no true understanding of how much they will do so. And second, we know that in fact other things are very far from equal. So even if we did know the answer to the first question, we would still be unable to predict what the world's temperature will be a hundred years from now. These uncertainties clearly have a profound bearing on the economics of global warming, and thus on the policies it is sensible to pursue.

For while we can do our best to make an estimate of the cost of substantially decarbonising the world economy, we have no idea of what benefit that will bring in terms of a lower mean global temperature than would otherwise be the case. Not that it is clear, even if we could predict the temperature of the planet a hundred years from now (which we can't), how much economic damage a given rise in temperature would do.

It was to advise governments on these issues that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up in 1988, under the auspices of the UN. The IPCC concludes, on the basis of to say the least very slender evidence, that "most" - note, not all - of the warming that occurred during the last quarter of the 20th century was very likely to be due to the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. But even if - and there is clearly a case for erring on the side of caution - this is so, and even if, as the IPCC blithely assumes, the natural forces that affect the world's temperature in often unpredictable ways can be safely ignored, the policy conclusions which are widely believed to follow from this are very suspect indeed.

Is it really plausible that there is an ideal average world temperature, which by some happy chance has recently been visited on us, from which small departures in either direction would spell disaster? Moreover, while a sudden change would indeed be disruptive, what is at issue here is the prospect of a very gradual change over a hundred years and more. In any case, average world temperature is simply a statistical artefact. The actual experienced temperature varies enormously in different parts of the globe and man, whose greatest quality is his adaptability, has successfully colonised most of it. Two countries that are generally considered to be economic success stories, are Finland and Singapore.

The average annual temperature in Helsinki is less than 5C. That in Singapore is in excess of 27C, a difference of more than 22C. If man can successfully cope with that, it is not immediately apparent why he should not be able to adapt to a change of 3C, when he is given a hundred years in which to do so.



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


1 December, 2007

Carbon Emissions Don't Cause Global Warming

By David Evans. David is a mathematician, a computer and electrical engineer and is head of Science Speak. David is also a former believer in man-made warming who converted to skeptic. The summary below is an introduction to a larger paper that can be read here (PDF)

Our scientific understanding of global warming has gone through three stages:

1. 1985 - 2003. Old ice core data led us strongly suspect that CO2 causes global warming.

2. 2003 - 2007. New ice core data eliminated previous reason for suspecting CO2. No evidence to suspect or exonerate CO2.

3. From Aug 2007: Know for sure that greenhouse is not causing global warming. CO2 no longer a suspect.

The paper discusses how the ice core changes, missing greenhouse signature in the real data and the recent waning of the warming all suggest that carbon emissions are not behind the changes we have experienced in recent decades.

The IPCC 2007 report (the latest and greatest from the IPCC) is based on all scientific literature up to mid 2006. The Bali Conference is the bureaucratic response to that report. Too bad that the data has changed since then!


It's the Sun, Stupid

When the international global warming alarm-ocracy gathers for its annual convention on the balmy island of Bali next week, is there any chance that the delegates will look up at the big yellow ball in the sky and ask, "Could it be the Sun, stupid?" New research suggests that would be a great question for them to consider. A recent study from the Journal of Geophysical Research (November 2007) reports that the sun may have contributed 50 percent or more of the global warming thought to have occurred since 1900.

Researchers from Duke University and the U.S. Army Research Office report that climate appears to be insensitive to solar variation if you accept the global temperature trend for the past 1,000 years as represented by the so-called "hockey stick" graph - which claims to show essentially unchanging temperatures between from 1000 to 1900 and then a sharp uptick from 1900 to the present.

But the hockey stick-graph has been relegated to the ash heap of global warming history. Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) no longer mentions the graph in its reports. The researchers instead used a temperature reconstruction developed by Stockholm University researcher Ander Moberg and others that shows more variation in pre-industrial temperatures. Using Moberg's reconstruction, the researchers found that "the climate is very sensitive to solar changes and a significant fraction of the global warming that occurred during the last century should be solar induced." The researchers conclude that the current large-scale computer models - which, by the way, don't work as they don't even accurately reproduce historical temperature trends - could be significantly improved by adding sun-climate coupling mechanisms. Unfortunately, the reconsideration of the climate models isn't on the agenda at Bali.

Another interesting bit of data comes by way of the Solar Science blog, which on Nov. 15 spotlighted a letter in the Green County Daily World (Indiana) that starts out, "Each morning I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. Lately I am greeted with the message `The sun is blank - no sunspots.'" The letter goes on to state that, "We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, solar cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because the sun is a major force controlling natural climate change on Earth." "For the past few months, the actual sunspot numbers have been below [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's] lower predicted threshold, approaching zero," according to the letter, leading some to conclude that we may be headed into another "solar minimum" period. The solar minimum, known as the Maunder Minimum, corresponds to the temperature depths of the Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling lasting from the 14th century to the 19th century.

As you can see from this graph of solar activity since the mid-18th century, low sunspot activity matches up nicely with well-known Little Ice Age climatic events like George Washington's Christmas-night 1776 crossing of the ice-strewn Delaware River and Napoleon Bonaparte's retreat from Moscow in the horrifically-cold winter of 1812-1813. The letter writer goes on to mention that not too long ago the Mississippi River froze solid above St. Louis, permitting westward wagon trains to cross in the winter and that you can still see old two-story houses in Wisconsin with second floor doors that allowed inhabitants to exit their homes in the middle of winter when snow depths reached 8-feet and more. If sunspot activity continues to be so markedly low, then we should prepare for the possibility of a significant global cooling trend that could reduce agricultural yields and bring on the sort of food shortages that occurred during the Little Ice Age.

There's also a new study out this week claiming that the expansion of above-ground tree vegetation in Europe has absorbed 126 million tons of carbon, equivalent to 11 percent of the region's carbon emissions. While this seems like a positive development - at least for those bent on removing carbon from the atmosphere in order to reduce global temperature - it may actually backfire in terms of preventing global warming.

As reported in this column last April, forests in northern regions actually contribute to global warming through the albedo effect. Researchers estimated that this effect may contribute as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit to regional temperatures. So while expanding European forests may take more carbon out of the atmosphere - a dubious proposition for reducing global warming - the forests will also be absorbing more sunlight producing a net effect of warmer temperatures.

Finally, let's not forget about last year's experimental validation of the sun's impact on cloud cover. That research indicated that climatic impact of sun-influenced cloud cover during the 20th century could be as much as seven times greater than the alleged effect of 200 years worth of manmade carbon dioxide. So while the global warming crowd parties in Bali amid its plotting and planning to subjugate western economies to global government based on a dubious hypothesis about trace levels of invisible manmade gases acting as some sort of atmospheric thermostat, the sun will be there shining down on their folly. Would it be too much to ask for someone to look upwards and see the light?


Terminating Warming? A Look at California

Many manly men around our country were undoubtedly thrilled to see super-hero Arnold Schwarzenegger become the leader of one of the largest and most powerful states in the nation, and we all knew that the Terminator would tackle problems in new and authoritative ways. However, the manly men have been a bit surprised that Governor Schwarzenegger has become such an outspoken leader in the fight against emission of carbon dioxide. Taking on a naturally-occurring molecule exhaled every minute by 150 pound weaklings seems a bit too soft for one of the physically strongest men to ever live.

The manly man governor recently attended, for the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Auto Show showcasing 1,000 of the newest vehicles from 47 of the world's automobile manufacturers. Governor Schwarzenegger spent his time praising the hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles, and seemed in love with environmentally-friendly cars and trucks. Among the quotes from the event, he boldly stated "It is fantastic to see that the world's automakers are developing the technology to help us meet our goals in California. These cars come in every size and shape and they prove that we can give consumers the choices they want and still protect the environment."

Superhero Arnold also said "Imagine what we can accomplish if we improve efficiency and put more alternatives on the road, whether it is biofuels, electric cars, hydrogen or hybrids. This will also help our families with fuel prices because it's all about supply and demand. By providing more alternatives, we can drive down oil prices from the $100 a barrel everyone is expecting."

This is another in a long line of his "accomplishments"; in April 2004, the Governor signed an executive order creating a public and private partnership to build the Hydrogen Highway in California by 2010. Last year, the Governor signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that according to his official website is "California's landmark bill that established a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases. The law will reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050."

Good luck, because of California's massive and growing economy, the state is the 12th largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world despite arguably leading the nation in energy efficiency standards and taking a lead role in protecting its environment. Targeting an 80% reduction below 1990 levels should be as easy as reducing California's fiscal budget by 80% by 2050; nothing personal to the manly man, but we are a bit skeptical on this one.

If you want more information on global warming and California, literally 1,000s of websites are now devoted to the topic. You will find no end of claims that ongoing warming is reducing the snow pack of the Sierra, and producing ominous increasing trends in sea level, heat wave days, dry years, heat-related deaths, electrical demand, ozone formation, wildfires (popular this year), species extinctions, and on and on.

With so much focus on California's fight against global warming, we were drawn to a very interesting article in a recent issue of Climate Research. Scientists from California State University, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories, and the University of Utah examined temperature trends from 1950 to 2000 for hundreds of stations in Governor Schwarzenegger's California. They calculated the trend in the mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and their results are really not all that surprising.

As seen in Figure 1 below, California seems to have warmed at a rate of 0.13 of a degree C per decade over the past half century. But no Ph.D. in urban climate is required to immediately see that many rural locations are barely warming, not warming, or even cooling, while the heavily urbanized stations in the Bay Area and Southern California are warming at a significant rate. LaDochy et al. showed that the "urban" stations warmed at a rate of 0.20 of a degree C per decade while the "non-urban" stations warmed only 0.08 of a degree C per decade. Furthermore, they state that "Large urban sites showed rates over twice those for the state, for the mean maximum temperatures, and over 5 times the state's mean rate for the minimum temperatures." The research team concludes that "Some of the largest temperature increases occur in the vicinity of urban centers, particularly for minimum temperatures. Few rural stations show significant increases in minimum or maximum temperatures."

We have covered this topic time and time again, and many of the greenhouse advocates absolutely dismiss the obvious implications of this research. Many websites claim that California is warming at an alarming rate, and depending on how one defines "alarming," there could be validity to the claim. However, LaDochy et al. show that the warming is strangely confined to the growing urban areas, and they find little to no warming in the rural stations.

Heaven forbid, but 41% of the stations had no significant warming and 6% actually had cooling. Despite the undisputed buildup of greenhouse gases from 1950 to 2000, almost half of the stations in California showed no significant warming!


A Catholic view of climate alarmism

End-of-the-world alarmism has been a perpetual feature of human existence for as long as we have recorded history. Generally, it occurs within a religious framework: Whether it is Apocalypse mania, or a fear that any moment now Ragnarok is going to erupt in earnest, lavish claims of total world destruction have always furnished the necessary motivation for extremist agendas.

The new craze about global warming ought not to surprise us. Christ warned us, in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, that we would hear rumors of war, that there will be famines and earthquakes, that false prophets would arise and lead people astray, and so forth. And what does he say that we are to do?

First, "see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet." Scripture's repeated admonition to "be not afraid" - the very admonition with which Pope John Paul II ushered in his papacy - is reiterated. Christ belabors this point several times over the course of the Gospels, encouraging us not to worry, reminding us that there are innumerable things in heaven and earth that we do not have it in our power to affect, and reassuring us that God has it all in hand.

This does not mean that we should never take action to prevent evil, or should sit back and wait for God to do something. It does mean that we should not panic, or become needlessly anxious, or jump to rash conclusions, which may cause more harm than good.

At the moment, scientific consensus suggests that the climate of the world is changing, and that human activities are having an impact on the amount and kind of change that we are seeing. This means that, as Benedict XVI said in a letter to the patriarch of Constantinople, "Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family."

It is immoral to overlook these issues because they happen to be inconvenient. On the other hand, it is foolish and imprudent to dedicate ourselves to quixotic schemes that do more to salve our consciences than to change the impact of our lifestyle on the world, and it is gravely immoral to overlook the needs and rights of human beings in favor of "saving the planet."

Consider, for example, the environmental alarmism in the 1960s that said that DDT was poisoning bird populations - a supposition about which the scientific community had yet to come to a genuine consensus. Exaggerated propaganda about a "Silent Spring" devoid of birds led to an ill-considered ban on DDT as a means of controlling malarial mosquito populations in tropical countries.

Over the ensuing years, cases of malaria in Africa and the Indian subcontinent rose substantially, causing millions of preventable deaths before finally, almost 40 years later, the scientific community decided that DDT wasn't as pernicious as originally feared.

Fear and uncertainty are a recipe for bad decisions. Good solutions require accurate, relatively complete data, and they require thoughtful, long-term, holistic planning. Alarmists claim that we don't have time - that we have to do something drastic, and we have to do it now or the planet is going to die. The result is that both time and money get wasted on projects that have little impact or even that have a negative impact overall.

The practice of pushing ethanol-based fuels is a good example: These fuels must be moved by trucks because they corrode pipelines. The cars that burn the fuel may have a moderately reduced "carbon footprint," but the cost, in carbon dioxide exhaled by transport trucks, more than offsets the gain.

Problems like this are foolish, but they are not cause for moral concern. If ill-conceived environmentalism was the only risk, we could let the alarmists go on tilting at windmills and wait for the responsible scientists and statesmen to come up with better solutions. After all, ad hoc environmentalism is unlikely to do any serious damage to the planet or to society.

Unfortunately, the climate change alarmists are, predictably, allied with the population control advocates. The sloppy thinking on this matter is absolutely typical: If human beings are radically increasing their carbon emissions with every passing year, and the human population is growing to levels never before seen in history, then the easiest way to reduce carbon output is to eliminate large numbers of human beings. "Population limitation should," according to the British-based Optimum Population Trust, "be seen as the most cost-effective carbon offsetting strategy available to individuals and nations."

In other words, once we have realized that a human being is not an exciting new creation, a person who will share in the trials and joys of earthly life, and enjoy the chance to join the heavenly hosts in the life of the world to come; that, on the contrary, a human being is nothing more than a pesky producer of unwanted carbon dioxide, we can get down to the real business of cleaning up this planet.

Most environmentalists (though, distressingly, not all) don't think that this should actually lead to the direct extermination of human populations, but they do think that it should lead to an increase in pressures on Third World governments to impose contraception, sterilization and abortion on their citizens.

A familiar story. In many ways, it is the story of the 20th century. The excuses have varied: neo-Malthusian prophecies of massive global food shortages, claims that population growth is bad for developing economies, predictions of rampant disease spread in concentrated populations, or even utter absurdities like "population growth leads to the spread of communism" or "Muslim terrorism is caused by overpopulation."

Serious global and local problems have been consistently met with the asinine reasoning that since people cause problems, more people will cause more problems, and the best broad-band solution to the ills of humanity is to stop having humans.

One hardly needs to belabor the consequences. Population controllers have arranged forced sterilizations in Third World countries, the strings tied to U.N. aid packages often have IUDs at the other end, influential population control advocates have been consistent in their support for China's one-child policy, and in the first world, children are routinely taught that it is morally responsible to kill their unborn children in order to avoid burdening an "already overburdened" planet.

The result is not responsible environmentalism, nor is it the salvation of earth's ecology. Rather, the modern population control alarmists, like the prophets of Moloch or the Aztec priests of Tlaloc, demand that human children be sacrificed in order to prevent storms, floods and disease.


Let the Bali Eurospin Begin

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas gave a press conference to claim victory where there is none, which message was picked up by the home-grown press and doubtless to be recycled at the upcoming talks in Bali, and reminding us more than any other issue "climate change" statements out of Europe require parsing. To wit, pulled from the EUObserver (ellipses in original):

"`Our emissions are currently 2 percent below [1990] levels (.) while our economy has grown by more than 35 percent over the same period."

The commissioner also said that `it is almost certain' that Europe will meet its goal of cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent by 2012 - a target agreed and shared under the Kyoto protocol by 15 EU member states in the late 1990s."

Reader, beware. Europe has quietly swapped out one "we" for another, such that the "we" Dimas refers to now is the EU-27, a whole `nother kettle of fish. This does not reflect the performance of "Europe" according to Kyoto, which is the EU-15, or "Old Europe".* The remaining States only afford such rhetoric by bringing to the table an emissions inventory well below their 1990 baseline, due to economic collapse, an artifact of political history unrelated to the Kyoto agenda.

This is not pedantic picking of nits, but revelation of a rhetorical ploy meant to assist political pressure against, well, us. Instead, it is significant because Europe as Kyoto recognizes it cannot ride the post-1990 economic collapse to a claim of "emission reductions, while growing the economy!" Even in the EU-27, emissions are actually well above where they were when the economic growth to which he refers began, in the late 1990s.

It is also a breathtaking statement to claim not that Europe will meet its Kyoto promise - which allows for the purchase of offsets for their emissions overage - but to assert that it will cut emissions by the promised amount. In truth, the most optimistic (that is, Brussels') projection of EU performance has them leveling emissions off at 1990 levels, which means they would buy the entirety of their "reduction". Others aren't quite so rosy. Still, that's fine if that's the game we agree to play. But drop the breast-beating about having "reduced emissions" by 8% through the courageous act of paying the Chinese to ramp down their HFC production.



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