The CRU graph. Note that it is calibrated in tenths of a degree Celsius and that even that tiny amount of warming started long before the late 20th century. The horizontal line is totally arbitrary, just a visual trick. The whole graph would be a horizontal line if it were calibrated in whole degrees -- thus showing ZERO warming

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: Dissecting Leftism. For a list of backups viewable at times when the main blog is "down", see here. (Click "Refresh" on your browser if background colour is missing) See here or here for the archives of this site

17 July, 2014

Climate Change Quackery

“He who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince,” 1532

A truly scientific case for man-made “climate change” has yet to be made, but never underestimate the ability of the “climate changers” to hide that reality – and nowhere does that lack show up more tellingly than in their “Appeal to Authority” campaign to convince lay-people that it’s all “settled science.”

NASA itself, for example, has been stating for years that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities” (“Consensus: 97 percent of climate scientists agree”).

Wow. No kidding? And 100 percent of the people that lived in 1542 believed the Sun orbited the Earth. Believing it, however, just didn’t make it so, as Copernicus was able to demonstrate with his heliocentric theory a mere year later. Need I point out that scientific truth is not determined by the number of a postulate’s adherents?

But this oft-parroted statistic of NASA’s, used to bludgeon any legitimate dissent in the climatology arena, actually merits a little research of its own.

 *  And, upon engaging in such research, one will find that the major source for this figure, W.R.L. Anderegg’s “Expert credibility in climate change,” conducted his research in the following fashion:

“We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers based on authorship of scientific assessment reports and membership on multisignatory statements about anthropogenic climate change (ACC).” And, after that, researchers imposed a criterion “that a researcher must have authored a minimum of 20 climate publications to be considered a climate researcher, thus reducing the database to 908 researchers”… And, then, after that, Mr. Anderegg found that “97percent of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of ACC.” (National Academy of Sciences,” April 9, 2010.)

So… “97 percent of scientists agree”… Unless you’ve only written 19 or less papers. How convenient.

 *  Another leading source of the “97 percent” figure is John Cook’s “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” (Environmental Research Letters, May 15, 2013).

Well, here’s how Mr. Cook reached his conclusions: He analyzed “11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming.’ We find that 66.4 percent of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6 percent AGW, 0.7 percent rejected AGW and 0.3 percent were uncertain about the cause of global warming.”

And, surprise! “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.” I guess we’ll just ignore the fact that more than two-thirds of those papers promoted no position at all.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for scientific “research” today. “It is on the basis of this kind of stuff that you are being pushed into a new Dark Age.” (Ayn Rand, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” 1971.)

Now, since this entire “debate” (as well as the EPA regs that will soon completely hamstring Wyoming’s economy) is being driven by the impact of “greenhouse gases” in general and carbon dioxide in particular on the Earth’s average temperatures, let’s present the actual facts regarding such supposed correlations.

 *  “There have been many warmings and coolings in the past when the CO2 levels did not change. A well-known example is the medieval warming, about the year 1000, when the Vikings settled Greenland… This warm period was followed by the ‘little ice age’ when the Thames would frequently freeze over during the winter. There is no evidence for significant increase of CO2 in the medieval warm period, nor for a significant decrease at the time of the subsequent little ice age.” (William Happer, “Happer on the truth about greenhouse gases,” Watts Up With That, May 21, 2011.)

 *  And, indeed, as Happer continues, when significant correlations between temperature and CO2 levels do exist, such as correlations discovered by examining the ice-core records of glacial and interglacial cycles, the evidence quite clearly shows the exact opposite effect: That “changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that the levels were an effect of temperature changes.” (Emphases mine.)

Oops. Gee, do you think there might just be something wrong with climatology models? “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

But let’s just forget about all of this. We’ll just rush, like lemmings off cliffs, to impose ridiculous “standards” regarding CO2 emissions that will have the sole impact of closing power plants, throwing thousands of Wyomingites out of work and jacking everybody’s utility bills sky-high. And all in the name of environmental “science” that is anything but science.

And more: The fact that you, the American taxpayer, are funding nearly all of this garbage whether you like it or not, with thanks to the collectivization and control such “science” breeds, can only be described as criminal.


Keep the EPA's Hands off Your Wages

The EPA wants to pick your pocket

The Environmental Protection Agency, apparently not content with the obscene amount of power it already possesses, has announced a new rule that further distances itself from the traditional checks and balances in government.

The rule would give the agency the power to garnish the wages of private citizens, without a court order, if it is deemed that a violation of the EPA’s Byzantine environmental regulations has taken place. It’s the same power the IRS has when dealing with tax evasion, with the key difference that environmental regulations are not laws passed by Congress, and most people have no idea what these rules actually comprise.

After imposing a fine for a violation, which can total hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, the EPA claims the right to unilaterally seize up to 15% of a person’s wages without any due process of law. Until now, people have been able to contest rule violations in court before having to submit to fines. The new rule will place the burden of proof on the accused, who is punished as if guilty until he can demonstrate otherwise.

There has always been a concerning lack of accountability in regulatory agencies. Now, the EPA wants to circumvent the courts and just do whatever it wants. It has assumed the role, not only of lawmaker, but of law enforcement as well. It is wrong for one agency, run by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, to both make the rules, determine punishments, and carry out those punishments without any check from the other branches of government.

Several Republican senators, including David Vitter (R-LA), have penned a letter opposing the rule asking that it be withdrawn, and citing the case of a woman who was fined $37,500 per day because rain water running across her property had come in contact with dust, feathers, and manure. These type of fines do not just affect big corporations, but individual farmers who lack the resources to comply with such outrageous demands.

You can read the full text of the rule here. The period for public comment is open until August 1st, and the EPA has indicated that, with enough public opposition, they may reconsider the rule. We need every American to push back against these intrusive regulations that allow government bureaucrats to take your money without court approval.


A “Smart-Growth” Revolt in California

 Larkspur City Council voted unanimously to kill a high-density “smart-growth” development plan for this community of 12,000 people 16 miles north of San Francisco.

The plan called for building 39,500 square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of hotel space, 77,500 square feet of retail space, and up to 920 residential units in a half-mile radius around a proposed Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station in Larkspur. The goal was to jam future residents into high-density housing and high-intensity commercial space near a future rail station to purportedly decrease greenhouse gas emissions. But local residents weren’t buying it.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, about 325 people attended the city council meeting, and all but a handful of speakers opposed the Station Area Plan, as it’s called, and cheered the city council for an “historic” no vote.

The plan was created after Larkspur received $480,000 in 2011 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The city of Larkspur and other agencies, such as the Transportation Authority of Marin, also kicked in $120,000 to complete the plan — money wasted to develop a rejected plan.

Unsurprisingly, the MTC and ABAG bankrolled the Larkspur “stack-and-pack” blueprint. These two unelected regional-government bodies also approved Plan Bay Area in 2013, a master plan for high-density housing, rail-intensive transit, and restricted land use in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area through 2040. Larkspur City Councilman Dan Hillmer has called Plan Bay Area “fundamentally flawed.”

The resident outcry and vote by the Larkspur City Council point to the public’s unwillingness to passively accept Plan Bay Area and its vision of tomorrow, which unelected regionalists want to impose on local communities.

Hopefully, this vote is the opening shot of widespread revolts in the Bay Area and throughout California against similar “smart-growth” plans. But expect the MTC, ABAG, and other unelected regionalists to retaliate.

As reported by the Marin Independent Journal, during the city council meeting, Larkspur Councilwoman Catherine Way asked if “Larkspur could be at a disadvantage when seeking future transportation-project funding because of the council’s decision to stop the Station Area Plan.”

It is almost certain that the MTC will retaliate, withholding transportation funding for Larkspur and other communities that refuse to go along with Plan Bay Area. But preserving local control over communities is more important than accepting MTC bribes.


NASA’s Children’s Climate Change Website, and the book 1984: Creating Spies One Child at a Time

What would you say if your child accused you of a thought crime, and turned you in to the thought police?  Would you say it was ridiculous?

Perhaps you would say, “There is no ‘thought crime’ in the United States.”

Surely your children would never try to accuse you of a crime or try to change your behavior.

Well, think again, because that is exactly what websites like NASA’s Climate Kids intends to do, except they won’t accuse you of thought crime, they will accuse you of a climate crime.

This colorful, fun website has two serious flaws. First, it teaches “pseudo facts” about climate change in a childlike manner that is easy to understand. “Facts” such as

Eleven of the last 12 years have been the warmest on record. Earth has warmed twice as fast in the last 50 years as in the 50 years before that. (Actually, there hasn't been global warming in almost 18 years, and climate alarmist scientists know this.)

Climate change is causing unusual, extreme weather, some places are suffering long droughts and others are getting far too much rain in a short period. (Actually, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is no evidence that global warming has increased the frequency or severity of extreme weather events.)

"We don't know enough about Earth's ice to know just how many meters sea level is likely to rise as ice melts in various locations." (Actually, sea-ice melt makes no difference in sea level, and land-ice melt doesn't appear to have accelerated during the period of recent, allegedly manmade global warming. As a result, there's been no increase in the rate of sea level rise, which has been happening ever since the end of the Ice Age.)

All that carbon stored in all those plants and animals over hundreds of millions of years is getting pumped back into the atmosphere over just one or two hundred years. (Actually, there is good evidence that putting it there is not causing dangerous global warming, but it most certainly is causing improved plant growth all over the world, including of agricultural crops, adding $3.2 trillion worth of crop yield 1960–2011 and a projected $9.8 trillion more by 2050.)

...Since 1979, ice has been getting smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner. Check out the Climate Time Machine and watch the ice shrink. (Actually, both land and sea ice expand and shrink over time in cycles in response to largely natural influences.) [Update, July, 2014: NASA's own National Snow And Ice Data Center show record ice levels at Antarctica currently.]

This is a really interesting slideshow of images across time on various climate topics. The blue image represents 1885 (when humans supposedly weren’t putting out so much CO2), and the red, frightening image represents 2007 when humans have burned the dinosaurs (The CO2 section tells how dead dinosaurs are part of what created the fossil fuels we burn.) in their cars and caused anthropogenic global warming.

There is of course no mention of the fact that the prosperity made possible in large part by converting those fossil fuels into electricity and liquid fuels for transport has raised human life expectancy since that time from under 48 in 1885 to near 80 today. That would reveal to these impressionable children that there are tradeoffs involved. No, the message must be clear, simple, and hideously unbalanced. Fossil fuels are evil. And those who use them are evil.

The entire site is full of “facts” of climate alarmism, scaring children with lies while they have fun “learning” and playing games with NASA.

Of course these children will feel indignation once they learn that their space ship (the metaphor for the Earth) isn’t being properly cared for. “Whatever shall we do!?” They will say. “We must stop evil eco-terrorist man and his dinosaur burning machines!”

Thus we proceed to the “What Can We Do to Help?” section. This contains the second serious flaw, for instead of just teaching bad science, NASA here encourages children to act on that bad science in a way that brings to mind the specter of poor Mrs. Parsons and her two indoctrinated children.

There are, of course, the typical suggestions: plant a tree or a garden; unplug appliances, etc. but there are other suggestions as well.

NASA wants children to grow up and drive energy-efficient cars, put solar panels on their houses, and go into a green career to help prevent climate change. (“Green” careers are the way to help people now, not traditional careers like becoming a doctor or a nurse, or a pastor or a teacher, or a farmer or an inventor, or just a helpful person). Some of these suggestions are good things to do, while some aren’t helpful to the environment at all. But what are really disturbing are the suggestions that children should attempt to control the behavior of the adults in their lives (which means their parents).

According to NASA, a child who cares about the environment is encouraged to:

“... ask your driver to park the car and let you walk inside (at a fast-food restaurant), rather than sitting in a line of cars with the engine running and polluting.”

“Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car everywhere.”

“Ask your parents to buy reusable grocery bags. Help them to remember to get them out of the car and take them into the store.” (Never mind the risk of disease from the contamination of these bags.)

“BYOM.” Bring your own mug. That’s what you can tell your parents when they stop to buy their morning coffee.”

At face value these suggestions may seem innocuous, but at their deepest level they suggest to the child that their parents are guilty of wrongdoing, and that it is the child’s responsibility to correct them. In effect, the government is attempting to coerce parents through their children to further this pseudo-science agenda, and it doesn’t mind driving a wedge between parent and child to accomplish its goal.

The environmental lobby and your government (this is a government website after all) want to use your children against you. They want to indoctrinate your children into envirospies watching your every move and harassing you until you change your behavior.

“Mommy, don’t forget the reusable grocery bags.”

“Daddy, how dare you use a paper cup for your coffee!”

“You are hurting our Space Ship!”

Just further evidence that no federal agency, once created, cannot continue to justify its need for greater and greater power and money, no matter how far removed from its original purpose.

Your tax dollars at work!


Climate change is good for you

Human Evolution Rewritten: We owe our existence to our ancestor’s flexible response to climate change

Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. A large brain, long legs and the ability to craft tools along with prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth’s climate became cooler and drier. Now a paper published in Science today outlines a new theory that the traits that have allowed humans to adapt and thrive in a variety of varying climate conditions evolved in Africa in a piecemeal fashion and at separate times.

These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. (Kenyan fossil casts – Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program; Dmanisi Skull 5 – Guram, Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum)
These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. (Photos: Kenyan fossil casts – Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program; Dmanisi Skull 5 – Guram, Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum)

New climate and fossil evidence analyzed by a team of researchers suggests that these traits did not arise as previously thought, in a single package in response to one specific climatic trend. Rather, these defining Homo traits developed over a much wider time span in response to a much more climatically variable environment, with some traits evolving in earlier Australopithecus ancestors between 3 and 4 million years ago and others emerging in Homo significantly later. The research team includes Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts, Susan Antón, professor of anthropology at New York University, and Leslie Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

“The traits that typify our own species Homo sapiens weren’t there right at the beginning of the evolution of the Homo genus; instead, humanness evolved in much more of a mosaic pattern,” explains Potts, curator of anthropology and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

“Climate instability we have found would have translated to major shifts in resource availability including fresh water and food. This instability favored genetic traits and behaviors that promoted the evolution of flexibility in how well early humans responded to change. This is quite different from the idea of adaptation to a particular ancestral habitat and is a very important change in our thinking” Potts added.

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. ((Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)
A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)

To reach these conclusions, the team took an innovative research approach, including developing a new climate framework based on the Earth’s astronomical cycles from 2.5 million to 1.5 million years ago. This paleoclimatic data was integrated with new fossils and understandings of the genus Homo, archaeological remains and biological studies of a wide range of mammals (including humans). However, it was the recently discovered skeletons of Australopithecus sediba (~1.98 Ma) from Malapa, South Africa, that really cemented the idea for Potts that the evolution of the Homo genus involved a period of evolutionary experimentation and mixing of traits.

“A. sediba possesses a bizarre combination of features. It has a really small brain, the size of a chimpanzee’s, but also a human-like hand. It also has aspects of the face that resemble the genus Homo but has a foot that doesn’t look anything like the genus” Potts explains. “This makes sense from the standpoint of the environment at the time, where habitats were fluctuating between more wooded and more open grassland landscapes due to shifting intensity of wet and dry periods. Small populations would have become isolated at times and later merged, which would have lead to a novel evolutionary combinations of traits.”

This chart depicts hominin evolution from 3.0-1.5 million years ago and reflects the diversity of early human species and behaviors that were critical to how early Homo adapted to variable habitats, a trait that allows people today to occupy diverse habitats around the world. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)
This chart depicts hominin evolution from 3.0-1.5 million years ago and reflects the diversity of early human species and behaviors that were critical to how early Homo adapted to variable habitats, a trait that allows people today to occupy diverse habitats around the world. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)

We live today in a very unusual period where there is only one species that exists in our evolutionary tree. Multiple species of Homo are known to have lived concurrently during the earlier time of morphological experimentation. Along with the climate and fossil data, evidence from ancient stone tools, isotopes found in teeth and cut marks found on animal bones came together in this research to depict how these species may have coexisted.

“Taken together, these data suggest that species of early Homo were more flexible in their dietary choices than other species,” Aiello said. “Their flexible diet—probably containing meat—was aided by stone tool-assisted foraging that allowed our ancestors to exploit a range of resources.

Evolutionary and historic climate studies not only shed light on how we came to be, says Potts, but also give us a broader view of current climate change problems.

“These kinds of studies show that we do live on an unstable Earth in terms of its climate, however, humans are adding totally new influences to the environment in ways perhaps more precarious than we even thought.”

“Human features were selected for adaptability, but our earlier ancestors show there have always been limits to that. Our astonishing ability to adjust to new and changing circumstances is something that I think gives us some hope for the future,” Potts says.

“The question ahead for human beings is whether we can use our capacity for technology, culture and social interaction to a sufficient extent to avoid the kinds of precarious situations even members of our own evolutionary history faced in their past,” he added.

The team concluded that the flexibility demonstrated by our ancestors to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. This flexibility continues to be a hallmark of human biology today, and one that ultimately underpins the ability to occupy diverse habitats throughout the world.

Future research on new fossil and archaeological finds will need to focus on identifying specific adaptive features that originated with early Homo, which will yield a deeper understanding of human evolution.


Ban Ki-moon’s New Climate Envoy Supports Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

Another reason to ban Ki-moon.  Targeting companies despite absolutely no proof that they have done anything wrong o0r even done anything anti-Greenie.  Most are in fact Greenie donors

A new “special envoy” on climate change appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – the fourth in seven months – has voiced support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, which she accuses of helping to fund global warming denialism.

Pushing ahead with a drive to achieve a global climate change agreement by late 2015, Ban announced this week that Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, will become his “special envoy for climate change,” effective immediately.

Robinson’s new task is to interact with world leaders in the run-up to a climate summit Ban is hosting on September 23 in New York. There he hopes leaders from governments, businesses and civil society will help to lay the groundwork for a global deal to be finalized at the next in a long series of U.N. climate megaconferences, in Paris, France in November 2015.

Robinson is an enthusiastic climate activist, who set up a foundation in late 2010 called the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice, focusing on human rights- and development-related aspects of the climate issue.

“Our work on climate justice emphasizes the urgency of action on climate change from a people’s perspective, and I intend to take this approach in my new mandate as special envoy for climate change,” she said in a statement after Ban announced her appointment.

Robinson has voiced support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, which she accuses of helping to fund global warming denialism.

“I know there are deniers, and there’s money supporting these deniers to try to confuse us,” she told the left-wing Democracy Now news program last October. “But we can’t be confused anymore because actually the impacts of climate are undermining human rights all over the world.”

Asked about the source of that money, Robinson replied, “I think a lot of it is coming from those who benefit at the moment from selling fossil fuel, so the coal and oil communities.”

“We can no longer invest in companies that are part of the problem of the climate shocks that we’re suffering from,” she said.

“So I speak openly and encourage students and colleges to be part of that,’ Robinson continued. “It’s to me a little bit like the energy behind the anti-apartheid movement when I was a student. We were all involved because we saw the injustice of it. There’s an injustice in continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies that are part of the problem.”

Robinson is not the only prominent person Ban has recently recruited to the cause.

Last January he announced that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be his “special envoy for cities and climate change,” helping to mobilize support and action from cities to advance climate change efforts at the September summit and beyond.

A month earlier, Ban appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former Ghanaian President John Kufuor as “special envoys on climate change,” saying the two would help to mobilize political will and action ahead of the September summit.

“As part of their work, the special envoys will assist the secretary-general in his consultations with leaders to raise the level of ambition to address climate change and to accelerate action,” the U.N. secretariat said at the time.

It’s not clear why Ban needs multiple special envoys to fulfil this function, although Stoltenberg was recently named NATO’s next secretary-general, a post he will take up from October.

Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, said Robinson succeeds Stoltenberg and will “work closely with special envoys John Kufuor and Michael Bloomberg in her new role.”

Robinson has served since March 2013 in another U.N. role, as Ban’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. She now relinquishes that post, which dealt with efforts to bring a lasting peace to the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding areas.

‘Time is not on our side’

The U.N. has high hopes for the summit Ban will host on Sept. 23.

“The summit will be an important milestone to mobilize political commitment for the conclusion of a global agreement by 2015, as well as to spur enhanced action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilient communities,” it said.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has long voiced anxiety about the need for a far-reaching global agreement to combat and mitigate the effects of the emission of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) blamed for climate change.

As an earlier U.N. climate conference loomed – in Copenhagen in late 2009 – Ban hosted a summit in New York aimed, like this year’s one, to build momentum. In a speech that August, Ban warned that the world had “just four months to secure the future of our planet.”

In the event, Copenhagen came and went without the result activists wanted so badly – a global agreement on binding GHG emission-reduction targets.

Last week Ban was again warning darkly of the threats of climate change.

“[U.N.] member-states have agreed that we cannot exceed two degrees celsius above pre-industrial temperatures,” he said at an event at U.N. headquarters introducing a new report on ways major industrial economies can reduce their GHG emissions.

“Beyond this limit, science indicates that we may face dangerous and irreversible climate disruption,” he said. “We know that we are not on track, and time is not on our side.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


16 July, 2014

Big Green’s lethal agenda

The outstanding presentations at this Ninth International Conference on Climate Change clearly demonstrate that activist climate science is increasingly devoid of evidence … increasingly removed from the scientific method – and yet is increasingly being used to devise, justify and impose policies, laws, and regulations that govern our lives.

Indeed, rules formulated on the basis of “dangerous manmade climate change” allegations control the hydrocarbons that power America and the world, improve and safeguard our lives, lift billions out of abject poverty, and allow us to achieve technologies and dreams never before thought possible.

Put simply, those who control carbon control our lives … our livelihoods, liberties, living standards, and even life spans. It is therefore essential that climate science reflects the utmost in integrity, transparency, and accountability.

Sadly, the opposite is true. As we have seen, far too much of the supposed science used to justify IPCC, US, EU, and other actions is distorted, exaggerated, even fabricated. If it were used to market private sector investments, products or services, the perpetrators would be prosecuted for fraud.

The latest White House claims are no better. The assertion that shutting down affordable, reliable coal-based electricity will somehow reduce asthma and protect children’s health is as baseless as any other arguments advanced in support of claims that we face an imminent manmade climate change catastrophe.

A primary reason for the fervor and longevity of these claims is that global warming is a social movement – or more accurately one manifestation of a social movement. It is a major part of a near religious Deep Ecology movement that is anti-energy, anti-people, and opposed to modern economies, technologies, and civilizations. In its determination to impose its worldview on the rest of humanity, it is dogmatic, imperialistic, and authoritarian.

It is also a Big Green and Big Government movement – with tens of billions of dollars at its disposal: over $13 billion per year just in the United States for Big Green organizations.

Global warming, climate change, climate disruption, and extreme weather mantras are almost interchangeable with sustainable development. When ClimateGate, fizzled confabs in Copenhagen and Durban, and a then-15-year pause in Earth’s warming made the world weary of climate change disaster demagoguery – Rio+20 Summit organizers simply repackaged climate crisis claims under the sustainability mantra. Fossil fuels, they intoned, must be replaced because we are running out of them, and their use is unsustainable.

Like climate change, sustainability is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable.

For other times and audiences, climate and sustainability are replaced – in whole or in part – with over- population, resource depletion, the precautionary principle, mass species extinction … or chemical contamination. That’s why the White House is now talking about carbon pollution and asthma.

Think of the T-1000 android in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This vastly improved villain had the ability to morph into any shape it desired, giving it previously unimaginable powers and near indestructibility – all with the goal of controlling the future of humanity.

And so we have Alexander King, co-founder of the Club of Rome and its concept of Limits to Growth. “When DDT was introduced for civilian use,” King wrote, within 2 years Guyana had almost eliminated malaria. “But at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

The Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich likewise blamed DDT for the “drastic lowering of death rates” in underdeveloped countries. He suggested that, because those countries were not practicing a “birth rate solution” – they needed to have a “death rate solution” imposed on them. Ban DDT.

Global warming, sustainability, and attacks on fossil fuels and biotechnology must therefore be understood as other components of their “death rate solution” and their intense desire to control all human endeavors.

In his 1973 Human Ecology book with Paul Ehrlich, President Obama’s chief science advisor John Holdren put it this way:

“A massive campaign must be launched to … de-develop the United States [and bring] our economic system … into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation…. Once the United States has clearly started on the path of cleaning up its own mess, it can then turn its attention to the problems of the de-development of the other [developed countries] and the ecologically feasible development of the [underdeveloped countries].”

“Limits to growth,” “the global resource situation,” and “ecologically feasible development” of course are synonyms for “resource depletion,” “peak oil,” “sustainable development,” and “dangerous manmade global warming” – with radical Deep Ecologists in and out of government making all the decisions.

Never mind that fracking has obliterated their “peak oil and gas” mantra. Never mind that human ingenuity and innovation – Julian Simon’s ultimate resource – has and will always discover new ways to find and extract the energy and other materials needed to make new technologies that will continue improving lives, living standards and planetary health.

For eco-imperialists, whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. Whatever they support complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates the principle. Or as Competitive Enterprise Institute founder Fred Smith once put it, “For radical environmentalists, ‘sustainable development’ means don’t use it today, and the precautionary principle means don’t produce it tomorrow.”

The precautionary principle always focuses on the alleged risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – such as coal-fired power plants – might cause, but ignores the risks that the technology would reduce or prevent.

That is a major part of the reason why over 700 million people and 300 million Indians (three times the population of the U.S. and Canada combined) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people – nearly a third of our Earth’s population – still lack electricity or have access only to little solar panels or unreliable networks.

That means they must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in widespread lung diseases that kill 2 to 4 million people every year. It means they also lack refrigeration, safe water, and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that kill another 2 million people a year.

But when anyone points out these cold-as-grave realities, the Terminator 2 ideological android morphs yet again – shifting the topic to “global cataclysms” of manmade global warming and unsustainable development. The Deep Ecologists’ callous indifference to these intolerable and immoral death tolls is stunning.

To the extent that they do want to improve these people’s lives, they advocate wind turbines in villages and solar panels on huts – but never abundant, affordable, reliable electricity from large-scale coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, or nuclear facilities. Their opposition to a gas-fired plant in Ghana, coal-fired plant in South Africa, and hydroelectric projects in China, India, and Uganda underscores their inhumane worldview.

So Big Green activists shift the topic again: to mass global species extinctions. But these claims are based on completely irrelevant examples of predators introduced into island populations. Moreover, the true threats to wild plant and animal species are the very technologies that Deep Ecology/Climate Chaos ideologues love the most: biofuels and wind turbines.

Both of these “eco-friendly alternatives” blanket vast acreage that would otherwise be wildlife habitats – and wind turbines slaughter millions of birds and bats annually, nearly wiping out some species across broad areas near industrial wind turbine facilities.

The key point to remember is this. Climate change, sustainability, and these other mantras give Mr. Holdren and his ideological soul-mates the justification and power to determine the fate of nations … to decide how much development each should be allowed to have … to compel rich countries to de-develop and reduce their living standards … and to force poor countries to accept whatever the Deep Ecologists decide is the proper, sustainable, climate-stabilization level of development, population, poverty, disease, malnutrition, and premature death.

On and on it goes, with “climate justice” yet another weapon that these wealthy, powerful, arrogant, intolerant, immoral, mostly white elites are using in their crusade to control the rest of humanity – regardless of the human and animal death tolls. As Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

Their double standards … secret science … morphing mantras … and vicious attacks on anyone who dares to disagree with them – are all designed to seize power over the energy that powers modern civilization … and to control every aspect of our lives, livelihoods, living standards, fundamental liberties, health, welfare, dreams, and aspirations.

These mantras are truly weapons of mass destruction in a movement war on modern civilization. It is a war that pits wealthy elites against poor, minority, elderly, and working classes – and rich nations against poor nations. And in those poor nations, it is a war on women and children, for they are the most vulnerable, and they die in the greatest numbers from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition, and severe diarrhea.

Equally revealing and frightening is the fact that this Big Green/Big Government movement refuses to budge an inch in its opposition to fossil fuels, fracking, and reliable electricity – even when confronted by the turmoil and destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine, the Middle East, Libya, Nigeria, and other parts of the world … many of them energy-rich, and with the prospect of Al Qaeda controlling countless billions of dollars in oil wealth.

The eco-imperialist movement’s focus on distant, conjectural, fabricated risks a century from now remains unchanged. It is truly the great moral and ethical battle of our time.

That is what we’re up against.

We have struck a blow here at this conference for honest, evidence-based science … for transparency and accountability, and open, robust debate … for the freedom and courage to stand up to the forces of tyranny, darkness, and death. But our work is not yet finished.

Like the Thirty Years War and other religious and ideological confrontations of the ages, this battle will go on, and the global death toll will rise.

However, I am heartened by the knowledge that we here gathered today will fight on – for honest science, affordable energy, accountable government, and better lives for billions of people … and against the dark forces of climate fanaticism. I also know we are being joined by more and more countries, as they increasingly understand the true nature of this ideological conflict.

In the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill: “We shall fight in the fields, in the streets and in the hills. We shall never surrender. We shall fight on until victory, however long and hard the road may be. For without victory, there is no survival.”


Greenpeace showcases its anti-human side

Greenpeace activist confirms every negative story you’ve ever read about this activist group

Paul Driessen

It was a surreal experience. As the Heartland Institute’s hugely successful Ninth International Conference on Climate Change ended, I agreed to let Greenpeace activist Connor Gibson interview me.

I’d just given a presentation on Big Green’s lethal agenda, describing how “dangerous manmade climate change” is just one of many mantras invoked by the Deep Ecology movement to advance an agenda that is anti-energy, anti-people, and opposed to modern economies, technologies and civilizations. As readers of my book and articles know, this unaccountable movement inflicts lethal consequences on millions of people every year – the result of malaria, malnutrition, lung and intestinal diseases, and other afflictions of rampant poverty imposed or perpetuated by unelected and unaccountable eco-imperialists.

“I read your book,” he told me, and attended some of the talks by globally renowned experts on climate, weather, species extinction, human health and other topics. If so, he obviously hadn’t listened, or had simply chosen to ignore every fact and explanation presented, as not in accord with his ideologies. That would certainly include the keynote address by Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore, explaining how he left the organization over its increasingly bizarre, irrational and inhumane attitudes and actions.

Gibson’s “interview” quickly became a prosecutorial interrogation, marked by ignorance or denial of basic facts and repeated interruptions to contest my observations. He insisted that hurricanes are more frequent and devastating than ever before (though not one Category 3 or higher ‘cane has made US landfall in eight-plus years, breaking a century-long record, as a panel discussion I had chaired that day made clear); wildfires are worsening (though their number and acres burned are down significantly, and could be driven lower via more intelligent forest management and fire suppression policies); and rising seas will soon drown coastal communities (hardly likely at the current rate of seven inches per century).

He likewise denied the 18-year pause in global warming, even though the IPCC and other alarmists have finally admitted it is real. My references to conference participants and the exhaustive NIPCC report were met with claims that it had not been peer-reviewed. Perhaps not by the closed circle of well-funded IPCC scientists, bureaucrats and activists who rubberstamp one another’s work – while refusing to share data and methodologies, allow outside experts to review their work products, attend Heartland conferences, or debate NIPCC scientists in any forum. (Alarmists know their data, claims, conclusions and economy-killing demands cannot withstand scrutiny.) However, the NIPCC reports and the studies they laboriously analyze and summarize were fully peer-reviewed by numerous scientists.

(Alarmists say twenty years of warming proves Earth is at a “tipping point” for runaway climate chaos, requiring the end of fossil fuels. They say the subsequent 18 years of no warming, and even a slight cooling, is irrelevant and meaningless. Whom do you believe, they ask? Us alarmists and our computer models, or a bunch of “fringe” scientists who cite actual temperature and other evidence?)

After twenty minutes, Gibson got to his real issue: money. Where does CFACT get its funding? The Koch brothers and ExxonMobil? That would be nice, to compliment the cash that Exxon gives to radical green groups. But no, they don’t support us. My mention of Chesapeake Energy’s $26 million to the Sierra Club, to fund anti-coal campaigns, did force him to admit this is a problem for Big Green’s social responsibility mantra. But when I noted Tom Steyer’s billions from hedge fund investments in coal mines and power plants, Gibson insisted that this money was second-hand and thus pure – whereas Koch money was earned directly (via producing energy and creating jobs) and thus was tainted by “self-interest.”

That “ethical” distinction without a difference would also apply, I suppose, to the tens of millions of dollars that Greenpeace and the Greenpeace Fund have received from fat-cat liberal foundations that are heavily invested in fossil fuel and other corporate securities.

Gibson also brought up his organization’s attempted 2003 anti-chemicals rally in New Jersey’s Liberty Park. The event turned into a resounding protest against Greenpeace, when scores of black and Hispanic demonstrators from the Congress of Racial Equality completely flummoxed the Rainbow Warriors with stilt walkers, bongo drums and chants of “Hey hey Greenpeace, what do you say? How many children did you kill today?” He dropped his inquisition when I pointed out that I’m a life-member of CORE.

Indeed, what Gibson really did not want to discuss were the destructive, even lethal effects of Greenpeace policies and campaigns. Some 2.5 billion people still do not have electricity or get it only sporadically, and so must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in widespread lung diseases that kill two to four million people every year. No electricity also means no refrigeration, safe water or decent hospitals, which means virulent intestinal diseases kill another two million annually.

Worldwide, some two billion people still live in malaria-infested areas, 500 million get the disease every year, and nearly a million die. A primary reason is their inability to acquire insecticides to kill mosquitoes and DDT to keep the flying killers out of homes. Another billion people face malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness and death in children. In fact, eight million children have died from Vitamin A deficiency since Golden Rice was invented and made available at no charge to poor farmers.

But the Rainbow Warriors and other callous eco-imperialists wage well-funded campaigns against Golden Rice, insecticides and DDT, and coal-fired, gas-fueled, hydroelectric and nuclear power generation – perpetuating poverty, malnutrition, disease, misery and death. To them, a planet free from the wildly conjectural and exaggerated dangers of these technologies is far more important than the billions of lives improved and millions of lives saved by them. It is a vicious war on dark-skinned women and children, who die in the greatest numbers from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition and severe diarrhea.

Greenpeace actions are akin to denying chemotherapy to cancer patients or antibiotics to pneumonia sufferers. Their anti-technology campaigns are eco-manslaughter and should no longer be tolerated.

Personally, I cannot imagine life without modern technologies. I can’t imagine living in electricity-free, disease-ridden, malnourished, polluted poor nation squalor. As my grandmother used to tell me, “The only good thing about the good old days is that they’re gone.”

But of course, Gibson has an air-conditioned malaria-free home, fine food, access to affordable, reliable electricity and transportation, a refrigerator, video camera and cell phone. He would never give them up, nor would I ask him to. However, some of my African friends would gladly let him “enjoy” a few months in a state-of-the-art, mosquito-infested hut, rely solely on a bed net, drink parasite-infested water, breathe polluted smoke from cooking fires, and walk miles to a clinic when he gets malaria, TB or dysentery – hoping the nurse has some non-fake medicines to treat him. I’d gladly help make the arrangements.

Financially motivated innovators, entrepreneurs and companies have worked wonders to improve and save the lives of billions. Yes, there have been accidents, some of which have killed hundreds of people or thousands of animals. However, the real killers are governments and anti-technology nonprofit activist corporations. Their death tolls are in the millions – via wars and through misguided or intentional policies that institute or perpetuate starvation and disease from denial of food and life-saving technologies.

Gibson is a bright guy. Perhaps one day he will understand all of this, hopefully before the death toll rises much higher. To that end, he and his alarmist colleagues would profit mightily from reading my Eco-Imperialism book and new report Three Faces of Sustainability; the new book About Face: Why the world needs more carbon dioxide; and several recent studies: Climate Change Reconsidered: Physical Science; CCR: Biological Impacts, and Climate Catastrophe: A superstorm for global warming research.

Countless jobs, living standards and lives hang in the balance. The eco-imperialist crimes against humanity must end.

Via email

Murdoch on global warming

Report from Australia

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has dubbed Prime Minister Tony Abbott an admirable, honest and principled man, and said Australians should not be building windmills and "all that rubbish".

In an interview on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Murdoch spoke candidly about climate change, Australia's political environment and its relationship with China.

If the temperature rises 3 degrees in 100 years, "at the very most one of those [degrees] would be man-made," he said.

"If the sea level rises six inches, that's a big deal in the world, the Maldives might disappear or something, but OK, we can't mitigate that, we can't stop it, we have to stop building vast houses on seashores.

"We can be the low-cost energy country in the world. We shouldn't be building windmills and all that rubbish," he said.

"The world has been changing for thousands and thousands of years. It's just a lot more complicated because we are so much more advanced."

On Mr Abbott, Mr Murdoch said he had met him "three, four times, and the impression is that he is an admirable, honest, principled man and somebody that we really need as Prime Minister who we can all look up to and admire.

"However, how much does he understand free markets and what should be happening? I don’t know. Only time will tell. It's too early to make a judgment on this government."


The big All-Star chill: Is the hockey stick broken?

Baseball fans across the nation will be turning their eyes to Minneapolis, Minn. for the next couple of days as the stars of the game congregate to showcase their skills.

But one thing will be missing — summer weather.

Almost as if the Michael Mann hockey stick had been turned upside down, Minneapolis is expected to see record low temperatures on Monday and possibly Tuesday nights as temperatures dip down into the low 50s in another so-called polar vortex. High temperature readings in the Twin Cities for the two days range between the low 60s and 70s Fahrenheit.

With all eyes on Minnesota for two days in July, it suddenly became fall football weather. Is this just some cruel joke by Roger Goodell and his all-powerful NFL shield to cause baseball viewers to pine for the opening of training camp?
Is it an anti-Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce plot designed to keep visitors away from the beautiful and friendly northern city?

Or is it just bad luck for baseball and Minnesota that Arctic air has chosen to put a chill over the festivities for all America to see.

Weather is weather, and obviously no climactic lessons can be derived by the big All-Star chill as a stand-alone event. However, the exact logic that dictates not jumping to conclusions based upon an unfortunately timed bout of mid-July cold weather should also be used to combat those who use each and every tornado or hurricane to somehow justify their global warming theories and the economy-destroying solutions they offer.

President Obama used episodic, individual weather events as the backbone justification for his Climate Action Plan to crush carbon-emitting industry, citing Hurricane Sandy as a pretext. He did so in spite of meteorologists telling us that we haven't had a major hurricane hit the United States in a record period of time (Sandy was not a major hurricane by National Weather Service definitions.)

While Minneapolis is cold for this time of year, it also should be noted that so is Antarctica. The South Pole sea ice hit record wintertime levels with more than 2.1 million square miles more ice than normal this time of year. To put that into perspective, the entire subcontinent of India is only 1.2 million square miles.

What's more, this dramatic growth of Antarctic sea ice is in spite of massive volcanic activity on the ocean floor of the western part of the continent that threatens the collapse of a major glacier system by warming the water beneath it.

Given all the predictions of rising tides, melting polar ice caps, and the decade-long fear campaign used as justification for regulations designed to destroy the U.S. coal and fossil fuel industries, perhaps this cold weather baseball event will remind Americans that the one thing government-grant-driven climate scientists haven't actually delivered is warmer weather.

A point the big All-Star chill is likely to drive home to baseball lovers everywhere.


Renewable Fuel Standards Are a Pain In the Gas

Washington has a long-standing fascination with the nation's energy markets that generates an endless stream of legislation and regulation in pursuit of a wide range of policy objectives, from energy independence to climate change. For almost a decade, the government has been struggling to implement renewable fuel standards with the aim of increasing the role of ethanol and other biofuels. New mandates have been established, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the law has created more questions than solutions. Problems first began to emerge when the economy collapsed, and with it, demand for fuel. What seemed like easily attainable targets in a rosy economy were now out of reach. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office released a study highlighting the ongoing problems with the renewable fuel standard program, raising serious concerns about the viability of the program.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the first renewable fuel standard, a mandate that required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline by 2012. Practically, this meant increasing the quantity of ethanol used in gasoline. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 revised the standard with a 15-year plan, requiring an increase in ethanol use to 9 billion gallons in 2008, with the ultimate goal of 36 billion gallons of ethanol in the gasoline supply by 2022. Not content with simply expanding the use of biofuel, the new law also created mandates for specific types of biofuels: conventional, advanced, cellulosic and biodiesel.

Washington's ambitious plans to wean the nation off fossil fuels quickly failed the market test. The 2008 economic downturn eviscerated the targets and timetables for introducing renewable fuels. Gasoline consumption declined, which meant that there was less gasoline that needed ethanol. At the same time, cars were becoming more fuel-efficient, which also put downward pressure on gasoline consumption. With less gasoline being used, the amount of ethanol needed fell well below the mandated level.

The problem is exacerbated by the technical limitations defined by the blend wall. Ethanol is corrosive, and too much ethanol, particularly in older cars, can lead to engine troubles. Consequently, E10, or 10-percent ethanol, is the limit for safely blending ethanol. The exception is more recent flex-fuel cars, which are rated for an E85 blend, or 15-percent ethanol.

At the same time, the new mandates for subcategories of renewable fuels have also been problematic. As the CBO report notes, "the supply of cellulosic biofuels is limited because such fuels are complex and expensive to produce." In fact, there is a huge discrepancy between Washington and reality with respect to this particular mandate. As of 2013 there were no commercial plants producing cellulosic biofuels, and the Energy Information Administration estimates capacity in 2022 to be only 327 million gallons - far below the EPA's 16-billion gallon mandate.

With the mandate for renewable fuels relegated to a failing academic exercise, the market for fuel is being increasingly displaced by centrally planned prices contrived in Washington, D.C. Tacitly acknowledging the infeasibility of its regulations, the EPA has been exercising its waiver authority to delay implementation of the mandates. Just recently, the EPA delayed compliance with the 2013 standards until September 2014 while it attempts to establish the 2014 standards.

With such ad hoc and arbitrary changes, it is discretionary decisions in Washington rather than market forces that are shaping America's energy future.

In recent years federal regulations have supplanted market forces in vast swathes of the economy, including health care, financial services and the energy sectors. All too often, federal courts defer to agency expertise when these regulations are challenged. Yet the renewable fuel standard raises serious questions about such expertise. As Friedrich Hayek argued more than 50 years ago, regulators are incapable of incorporating the "particular knowledge of time and place" that markets so effectively exploit. As a result, regulations fall short, disrupting markets and misallocating economic resources.

In the case of renewable fuel standards, the government's forecasts woefully missed their mark with respect to both the demand and supply in energy markets. The government also assumed the existence of technologies that have yet to be proved commercially viable. And finally, technical limitations of ethanol given the composition of the current vehicle fleet were ignored. With the EPA scrambling to keep the program afloat and the CBO acknowledging the "significant challenges" of compliance, Congress should revisit the Energy Independence and Security Act and repeal the renewable fuel standard.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


15 July, 2014

Is Australia drying out because of global warming?

The usual Warmist dishonesty.  They carefully note that it is Southern Australia that has been experiencing lower rainfall but then fail to say what is going on in Northern Australia!  All that has happened is a normal oscillation whereby the rain has moved North.  It is raining outside as I write this (in the North),  during what is normally the driest month  of the year.  The rain will move South again in its own good time

And note that The Australian bureau of statistics says:  "Australia's most severe drought periods since the beginning of European settlement appear to have been those of 1895-1903 and 1958-68".  So the claims below are garbage to the core

The devastating droughts that are plaguing southern Australia are caused by greenhouse gases and ozone depletion - and they will only get worse.

This is according to a new high-resolution climate model by a U.S. government-based organisation which warns the cause was not due to natural events but man made.

Southern Australia has seen a decline in the amount of autumn and winter rain since the 1970s with the decline increasing in pace over the last four decades.

Climatologists claim droughts are predicted to get much worse with a further 40 per cent decrease in rainfall in the southwest around Australia's fourth city Perth by the end of the century.

'This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models,' said Tom Delworth of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

'This model is a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change, particularly involving water resources.'

The study by the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted several climate simulations using the global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe.

Simulating natural and man made climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is largely a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by man made aerosol emissions.

Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun's radiation.

But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.

The model predicts a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources.

The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 per cent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.  [S.W. Australia has always had water shortages]

Mr Delworth said: 'Predicting potential future changes in water resources, including drought, are an immense societal challenge.

'This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level.

'The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.'

Parts of Australia have been gripped by devastating drought and heatwaves in recent years.

In March, the World Meteorological Organisation said record high temperatures in 2013 would have been 'virtually impossible' without human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The 2013-2014 summer saw sweltering temperatures in Perth, in the southwest, and Adelaide, in the south, while Sydney went through its driest summer in 27 years, an independent watchdog, the Climate Council, said.  [There was a similar heatwave in 1790!  Yes. 1790, not 1970]


BBC Wobbles On Ban For Sceptics

Climate change sceptics 'must be heard on the BBC'
BBC shouldn't "squeeze out" climate change sceptics just because scientists say they're wrong, says editor of Today programme

The BBC must air the views of climate change sceptics even though they are in the minority, the editor of Radio 4’s Today programme has said after he was criticised for allowing Nigel Lawson to feature in a debate.

Lord Lawson, the former chancellor, now heads a think tank casting doubt on the science of global warming.

Appearing on the programme in February, Lord Lawson questioned whether extreme weather events - including flooding in the UK - had any link to climate change. Some listeners complained, and the BBC's editorial complaints unit ruled tha his views had been given undue prominence in the debate.

Lord Lawson claims the "Stalinist" BBC has now banned him from appearing on the programme because his views clash with the corporation’s “own party line”.

But Jamie Angus, editor of Today, said Lord Lawson deserved to be heard despite holding a minority view.

“The BBC can’t say, ‘We aren’t going to put that point of view on air because scientists tell us it’s not right’,” Angus said.

“People always raise flat earth at this point, but if you go into a pub on Oxford Street you won’t find anyone who says the earth is flat, but you will probably find a couple of people who are unconvinced by the science of climate change.

“Clearly the BBC has to reflect what is a relatively settled view of the majority of scientists… but absolutely should not squeeze out alternative points of view, and we haven’t.”

A BBC spokesman insisted Lord Lawson had not been banned, but said implying that his views were on “the same footing” as those of the climate scientist who featured in the debate had created "a false balance".


The BBC sings a very different tune when Al Gore is speaking

Paul Homewood points us to this incredibly soft BBC interview with Al Gore, who is in Australia promoting his pet climate project. The powers that be at the corporation seem to have decided that they want to put their considerable weight behind Mr Gore's campaign and interviewer Paul Donnison is right on message, apparently viewing his role as providing the maximum PR opportunity for Mr Gore:  most questions are along the lines of "are your opponents dishonest or irresponsible" and there is litte by way of challenge to the great man.

Not that there weren't opportunities to do so. When An Inconvenient Truth was mentioned, it would have been a great opportunity to question Mr Gore about the UK judicial ruling on the film's "errors", something I don't think Mr Gore has ever discussed. However, a BBC interviewer is never going to tread on the toes of a prominent environmentalist and Gore was left free to propagate some wholly new errors, declaring that we have seen nothing like recent Australian droughts before. This position is, I think, probably without any scientific support whatsoever.

We can now begin to see how the BBC's editorial policy is going to pan out. Sceptics are wrong even when they are right; politicians who question alarmism will therefore be introduced as being "wrong" and will be challenged on everything they say. Greens are right even when they are lying; they will be given a free pass and no challenge of their views is to be permitted.


The key to that 97% consensus:  Scientific publishing is a licence to print money, not the truth

Publicity-hungry journals have created a climate in which dishonest scientists can thrive

Earlier this year, newspapers reported on the discovery of a simple protocol that could turn any kind of cell into a super-pluripotent stem cell – referred to as a Stap cell. The discovery, published in two articles in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, held out the promise that scientists could develop simple procedures to create patient-matched stem cells. These stem cells would then be used to repair damaged or diseased organs.

The story was too good to be true. The Stap phenomenon pushed the envelope of biological plausibility a bit too far, yet its appearance in Nature granted a hefty advance of credibility. Immediately, numerous labs all over the world set out to reproduce the amazing technique and failed, without exception. As the evidence for insidious data manipulation and falsification grew, it was believed that Stap cells never existed in the first place.

Misconduct and even data falsification are much more common in science than one would hope. It's likely that the banal motivation behind this is money, in this case (Stap) public funding. Though it is hardly ever pocketed (there are cases), a scientist is always as big as his funding is.

What turns scientists into money-magnet bigwigs? It's all about where they publish their work. In life sciences, it is the big three: Nature, Science, and Cell, followed by several other, slightly smaller journals, often from the same publisher. The pledge these journals claim to sustain their influence and the tremendous cashflow is that they select only the most relevant and top-quality research.

A licence to print money

For scientists, a publication in the big three is basically a licence to print money. Easily impressed by journals' respectability, the funding bodies throw cash after the big name authors, mistaking their talent for storytelling for great science. In the end, science publishers, combined with eminence- and applicability-obsessed funding agencies, have created a rather unhelpful climate for dishonest and greedy scientists to thrive in.

The scientific quality of a publication is supposed to be ensured by the peer review, where equally-qualified colleagues anonymously examine the research results submitted to the journal by the authors. However, the final decision lies with the journal's editors, who sometimes drop even the basic scientific and editorials standards. Occasionally, such stories are reported to be false or even fake, such as Hwang's never-cloned human embryos.

However, when confronting misconduct, journals tend to lose all enthusiasm. Retractions, which permanently remove an unreliable or fraudulent study from the annals of science, are prestige-damaging and something journals tend to avoid at all costs.

Beginners' blunder

Just as a bad film can boost its audience with a famous actor, so can a scientifically weak study from a bigwig attract attention from big journals. After the Stap crash, these scientists look like gullible dupes. Yet the authors committed a huge beginners' blunder by portraying their Stap method as simple. It took just some days in the lab for people to start getting suspicious.

That is why many studies refer to complicated, time-consuming and knowhow-demanding methods when their reproducibility in other labs is questioned. Now, even Nature sees no way to avoid retracting Stap.

From talking to other scientists I learned the stem cell community has hardly ever really believed the Stap story. However, even now they do not show any anger or indignation.

Researchers have become accustomed and indifferent to results in top-tier journals that can't be reproduced. The only thing that counts is to have published. In this respect, Stap was almost a success for its authors. If they could have resisted retraction for a couple of years, the storm would have blown over.

In one sense, the closed system of research works quite well for the purpose of enabling those who publish in prestigious journals to get funded.

Getting caught on suspicious data or retraction is bad, but there are enough examples that even this is not the career death one might expect.


Boat-owners fight ethanol increases that could damage boat motors

BoatUS is opposing increases in ethanol blends in gasoline, claiming they are damaging outboard motors.

"Ever since 10 percent ethanol gas has been on the market, boaters have experienced problems with engine and fuel systems," said David Kennedy of BoatUS, the Alexandria, Va.-based boating group with more than a half million members. "Now, with higher blends like 15 percent ethanol (E15) coming to the pump, consumers need to be really careful about misfueling."

Gas stations are required to post on the pump that a gasoline contains ethanol, and the list the percentages. Some gas stations in boating areas, such as the Mickey Mart station in Marblehead, Ohio, now advertise non-ethanol fuel being sold at its station.

The BoatUS announcement was made last month after the Missouri Corn Growers Association blaming volatile markets for high gasoline prices. The MCGA called for more corn-based ethanol at the gas pump to lower gas prices.

"On a boat, bad fuel can escalate quickly to a stopped engine, placing those aboard and the boat itself in jeopardy," said Kennedy. "Boaters know higher ethanol blends, such as E15, will only cause more damage to outboard boat engines. The EPA has specifically prohibited the use of E15 in marine engines."


Excellent, so that’s climate change entirely sorted then

Tim Worstall applies some badly needed logic to Warmism

I take this to be exceedingly good news. Our struggles to contain climate change are entirely over and we can all go back to sleep:

Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete

As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.
It’s true that we don’t normally believe The Guardian on matters environmental. But let us just take them seriously here.

As we all know the predictions of future climate change are based upon economic predictions of the future. How many people will there be, how rich will they be and what technologies will they be using to generate the power to create that wealth for that many people. And of the models that are used the one that tells us that we’ve a serious problem with climate change insists that we’ll still be using coal for 50% of our power needs in 2080 or so.

We don’t actually have to believe that in order to be able to observe that that is the central point of the alarmist case.

Excellent, so, if no one is going to be using coal in the future then we’ve not got a problem with climate change, do we?

Do note that this is not to take as being true, nor even seriously, any of the predictions that are being made by anyone. It is, rather, just to point out an important piece of logic. If solar is now, or will be imminently, cheaper than coal so that we all start to use it purely on economic grounds then the problems with climate change are over. For all of the models and predictions insist that we only get major problems if we don’t stop using coal.

It cannot be true that solar is wholly (and unsubsidised) competitive, or cheaper, than coal and we still have a problem. Alternatively, it cannot be true that we still have a problem in hte future if we believe what we are being told about the imminent cost competitiveness of solar.

It’s an either or thing.

Looking at the true numbers, rather than those provided by the boosters of solar power, it’s probably a little early, 2018, to be saying that solar will be truly competitive. But by 2025 (as Bjorn Lomborg has long been saying) it almost certainly will be. Meaning that we don’t actually have a problem and that we can indeed all go back to sleep.

The only way that this cannot be true is if solar doesn’t become so competitive. In which case we shouldn’t be working so hard to install it either, should we?



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


14 July, 2014

Six bucks a gallon? Where gas prices might be without the U.S. energy boom

If you think the price of gas is high, imagine paying up to $6 a gallon.

That’s what energy expert Dan Steffens thinks the price could be if not for the domestic oil boom.

“With what’s going on the Middle East, I think it would five or six bucks (a gallon),” said Steffens, president of the Energy Prospectus Group out of Houston. “If it wasn’t for the shale revolution, you’d be in big trouble.”

Technological breakthroughs in recent years have led to an explosion in the energy industry in the United States.

Just how did fracking save American drivers from $6 gas?

Extraction from shale rock formations in places such as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford Formation in south Texas and the Permian Basin in west Texas and eastern New Mexico has been so dramatic that, last month, the International Energy Agency announced the U.S. surpassed Russia and even Saudi Arabia in oil production.

A report from the commodities division of Bank of America says daily output in the U.S. exceeded 11 million barrels in the first quarter of this year.

“If we didn’t have the oil industry and oil and drill activity, the economy would be much, much slower,” Joseph Dancy, investment partner at LSGI Advisors, Inc., based in Dallas, told New Mexico Watchdog.

Drivers have been grumbling about the increase in the price at the pump. Here’s a look at the average price per gallon for the Fourth of July in the U.S. since 2008:

But the message from energy experts? It could have been much worse.

Violence in Mideast nations such as Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as political unrest in the oil-rich nations of Nigeria and Venezuela, might have sent the price of gasoline through the roof. But benchmark U.S. crude was at $104 a barrel Monday and Brent crude, a benchmark for the international market, was down 33 cents last week to $110.91 a barrel in London.

“There’s no question that this his new-found abundance of oil from shale plays is having a significant impact on the global market,” said Bernard Weinstein, associate director at the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.

“We’d probably be at $150 oil with this thing in Iraq going on,” Steffens said.

“While the situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse, oil prices have actually fallen (in some sectors) because the markets now understand that Iraq could go totally off the market and there’s still plenty of oil going around, not just here in the United States,” Weinstein said. “The world is swimming in oil right now.”

The political irony is that President Obama is a beneficiary of relatively stable gas prices, even though the energy explosion is happening in red states such as North Dakota and Texas, where Obama lost to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 by nearly 20 points and more than 15 points, respectively.

“It’s a wild boom and it’s all generating economic activity for a president who really does not favor the oil and gas sector at all,” Dancy said. “It is really ironic.”

But environmental organizations lament, rather than celebrate, the shale boom because energy producers use hydraulic fracturing — fracking — to get to the oil and natural gas under the earth’s surface.

“We can’t afford to support the extractive industries,” said Eleanor Bravo, senior organizer for Southwest Food and Water Watch. “The earth and the environment cannot afford to be burning any more fuel. Plus, the fracking process, when you count in the amount of methane that escapes during the extraction process, it’s as dirty or dirtier than burning coal.”

But there’s little indication the boom will stop anytime soon.

According to Weinstein’s statistics, there’s been a 60 percent increase in domestic oil production in the past six years, and Dancy cites figures showing global demand increasing 1 percent per year.

“If you look at the amount of refining exports that are going out of the United States, they’re hitting 20- and 30-year highs,” Dancy said.



by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Certain western governments and their science advisers think that alternative energy sources (like wind and solar power) and biofuels in particular are the salvation from “climate change,” previously called “global warming.” biofuels

They view “carbon pollution” (a misnomer, as they actually mean carbon dioxide, CO2) as the root cause of the current economic and environmental malaise in general. That’s why they blessed the nation with the “Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

I think the opposite is true; neither CO2 nor the “carbon footprint” is the cause of today’s many problems. In fact, the world today would be much better off if that (scientifically proven) nonsense had never become a political football.

If anything, the world today is not suffering from excessive “carbon footprints” but from excessive “carbon think” by politicians in cahoots with all kinds of NGO (non-governmental organization) “experts.” The “grow-your-fuel” idea is just one of those NGO-driven and politician-embraced problems that do more harm than good. Let’s look at biofuels more closely.

The push to have a large proportion of corn converted to bio-ethanol for admixture into the nation’s gasoline supplies came from then Vice-President Al Gore as a means to garner votes in his home state of Tennessee. Then termed “global warming” was perceived as the number one threat to mankind’s survival and prosperity on the planet.

Agitators like Maurice Strong, Al Gore, David Suzuki and others promoted the idea of CO2 as a “global evil” that would cause runaway global warming, the starvation of millions of people and, ultimately, the wholesale destruction of life on earth. Thus was born the idea of growing fuel.

The farmers in the corn-growing areas were very receptive to that idea as they could foresee rising demand for their product, supported by the biofuel mandate and government handouts. Since its inception in 2005 this mandate has been expanded at least twice, from an initial 5% ethanol in gasoline to the current 15% (with seasonal and geographical variations) on average. That represents a lot of corn; in fact somewhere in the order of one third of what is grown in the U.S.


But the biofuel mandate goes further than just ethanol in gasoline. Even the U.S. military was compelled to use biofuels for the powering of ships and airplanes. Those types of biofuels come from oil plants like canola that were previously also grown strictly for human consumption. Of course, the canola farmers on the continent were equally receptive to such ideas.

Bio-diesel and bio-jet fuel can certainly be made from plant-derived oils. Chemically, such oils differ from normal diesel or jet fuel by having some oxygen atoms in their structure, but are comparable in many physical properties. However, the cost of growing and refining such oils for use in jets is prohibitive at ten to twenty times the cost of traditional fuel made from fossil oil. So why does the mandate persist? Does it prevent “climate change” or preserve the natural environment?

Are Bio-Fuels Good?

Less CO2?

Whether you believe CO2 to be a “greenhouse gas” or not (it certainly is not) is entirely irrelevant in this context. The question here is only if growing (bio)-fuels and manipulating them to be used for powering various engines will reduce the CO2 output relative to the use of fossil resources. The unequivocal answer to that question is NO.

Every study performed that includes the often hidden costs of plowing the fields, sowing, fertilizing, irrigating, harvesting, drying, storing, transporting, converting, and distributing the fuel shows clearly that there is no energy gain at all but rather a loss. That energy loss automatically translates into a higher “carbon footprint” than otherwise necessary.

Good for nature?

Perhaps you think that pressing the (nearly) last piece of marginal land into agricultural production will enhance the local wildlife like the Monarch butterflies or protect the polar bears in the Arctic or be good for the penguins in the Antarctic.

Unfortunately, none of these is the case. The Monarch butterflies are close to being wiped out by conversion of marginal land which is the prime habitat for the milkweed plant (the preferred food for their caterpillars) and both the bears and penguins don’t give a hoot; they live off the other species in the oceans.

Good for the economy?

If you are a consumer of fuel like gasoline or diesel the biofuel mandate is certainly a part of increased fuel costs in recent years. Those increased costs come out of your pocket and largely go to the governments and biofuel producers by way of direct and indirect transfers. Of course and despite all protestations to the contrary nearly all levels of government are quite happy to see higher fuel prices as such automatically raise the revenue from cost-based taxes. Any claim to the contrary is a bold-faced lie.

Good for your mileage?

If your engine needs to deliver energy output at a certain level, the ethanol biofuel mandate is actually diminishing the available energy output from the ethanol-type fuel. The reason is easy to understand: both bio-ethanol and bio-diesel are, energetically speaking, already partly combusted hydrocarbons. Therefore, they cannot possibly deliver the same amount of energy as “un-combusted” fuel. Your fuel consumption will increase to compensate for that. Even if that were not a critical issue, ethanol in fuel can cause other problems in your vehicle.

Good for your vehicle?

Anything but. In fact most car manufacturers have clearly stated that using gasoline with more than 10 or 15% ethanol will void any and all warranties. Even small amounts of water, for example from the air humidity can lead to phase separation, particularly so for two-cycle engines and in colder weather. Apart from that, ethanol is an excellent solvent that can dissolve many different materials that are fully resistant to pure gasoline.

Very simply, it is bad for your engine.

Good for business?

A considerable part of the bio-ethanol and other biofuel consumed in the U.S. is either imported directly from Brazil or produced in the U.S. from sugar imported from Brazil. For example, at least one U.S. company produces fuels from sugar. Without various government subsidies and mandates in support of such “green” enterprises, none of these alternative energy suppliers would have ever come about at all and most depend on the continuation of these incentive programs.

In reality, the cost for all that green comes right out of taxpayers’ wallets. Too many of such enterprises have gone bust soon after they received their last government “pay check.”

Good for farming?

While many farmers welcomed the original ethanol mandate as it supported demand for their products, new findings show an unexpected flip side: Some weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides, such as glyphosate, that are widely used to increase corn yields, For example, the magazine Nature reports that in the U.S. alone some 60 million acres of farmland are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Indirectly, the biofuel mandate is also to blame for the increased resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides because it spurred reduced crop rotation. All in the name of “saving the climate” from a non-existent “greenhouse gas” effect by the 0.04% CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere,

The EPA is now seeking comments and direction from users on how to cope with the problem they have helped to create in the first place. Their assessment and new regulations to be forthcoming will likely introduce substantial new requirements on corn and soybean farming that will entail additional costs for the farmers in several ways.

I think the time may not be far off when even farmers will come to realize that the biofuel mandate is more of a curse than a blessing.


In apologising for having Nigel Lawson on to discuss climate change, the BBC has breached its charter

Rational debate is poisonous to Warmists

It is only a matter of time before Nigel Lawson — if he is allowed on the BBC at all — has to have his words spoken by an actor in the manner of Gerry Adams at the height of the IRA’s bombing campaign during the 1980s. In the case of Mr Adams, whose voice was banned from the airwaves by the government, the BBC stood up for free speech. But it is quite a different story with Lord Lawson. The BBC has effectively banned the former chancellor (and former editor of this magazine) from appearing on its programmes to debate climate change, unless he is introduced with a statement discrediting his views.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Department this week ruled that the Today programme broke BBC guidelines in February by inviting Lord Lawson to a debate with Sir Brian Hoskins, chairman of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. It bizarrely claimed that his views are ‘not supported by the evidence’ — though he had pointed out, correctly, that the planet has not been warming for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, the BBC politburo warned, listeners should have been warned that Lord Lawson is in a minority and, therefore, his words ‘should not be regarded as carrying equal weight to those of experts such as Sir Brian Hoskins’.

Lord Lawson is, of course, not a scientist. But a great many people speak on the BBC on subjects in which they do not have any formal qualifications: Al Gore, for example. Or Rajendra Pachauri, a railway engineer by training, who now runs the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Neither does the BBC seem to be worried about non-scientists addressing scientific issues when it comes to such things as fracking or GM crops, on which any green activists are welcome to speak, however bizarre their scaremongering theories.

What Lord Lawson is, however, is chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think-tank that has no quarrel with the idea of global warming. Its aim is to appeal to reason, and to engage in mature argument rather than hysteria. Lord Lawson is advised by scientists who until recently included Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading. Professor Bengtsson was hounded off the GWPF board by his fellow scientists.

When people try to close down debate rather than engage with it, there is a pretty clear conclusion to be drawn: they lack confidence in their own case. The suppression of debate was shown again this week when Vladimir Semonov, a climate scientist at the Geomar Institute in Kiel, Germany, revealed that a paper he wrote in 2009 questioning the accuracy of climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was effectively censored by the scientist to whom it was sent for review. Their reasons for demanding passages be removed seems rather less than scientifically rigorous: one wrote that the offending material would ‘lead to unnecessary confusion in the climate science community’ and another said that ‘this entire discussion has to disappear’.

The process of peer review used in the scientific press is often held up as a mark of quality, which enables poorly conducted scientific research to be weeded out before it reaches the eyes of readers less qualified to judge the rigour of the work. This may to some extent be true, even if peer review failed to spot weaknesses in the now discredited Fleischmann-Pons cold fusion experiments of 1989 or stop the MMR scare.

But the peer review process is also open to abuse. Just as the social sciences became infected by political correctness 20 years ago, climate science has become governed by climatic correctness. To question the consensus that the world is facing fire and tempest as a result of anthropocentric global warming is, in the eyes of some working in the field, simply not allowable. That is something which was revealed in the Climategate scandal of 2009 when leaked emails from the University of East Anglia caught out scientists who had been withholding data, trying to keep rivals’ papers out of journals and in one case threatening violence against a sceptical scientist.

The BBC at first declined to go into the content of the emails, preferring to treat the story as a case of data theft. The fact that the emails contained material of extreme public interest seemed to count for nothing. The unknown individuals who leaked the emails can only dream of the hero worship afforded to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange; attitudes on the left towards release of information seem to swing dramatically depending on what information is being released.

The same is true of the BBC’s attitude towards balanced debate — something which is supposed to be guaranteed by its charter. The BBC has decided that it is allowable to debate such issues as whether benefit cuts are causing distress or whether sports-women are being discriminated against by male-dominated bastions — something the Today programme does virtually every morning. But dare to question whether it is wise for the country to embark on the economic experiment of abandoning fossil fuel on the back of some far-from-robust scientific models, and you will have to find another media outlet.


Frack to the Future

"I think it’s appropriate that George Osborne is dieting,” Nigel Lawson says, with a knowing smile.“Controlling public expenditure is about saying ‘No’ and sticking to it. And dieting is exactly the same.”

As a former chancellor of the exchequer and the author of his own best-selling diet book, Lord Lawson of Blaby knows whereof he speaks on the issue of belt-tightening. And with a sprightliness and energy that belie his 82 years, one of the Tory party’s biggest of big beasts is relishing his role as a troublesome éminence grise.

The recipient of The House magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, he’s helped redraft the UK’s banking regulation, runs a thinktank on climate change and is a constant critic of HS2 and the EU. A regular attendee in the House of Lords, Lord Lawson appears to be more politically active than at any time since his departure from Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet 25 years ago. Far from resting on his laurels, he’s as focused on the future as any new intake MP.

Energy policy is one of his chief passions, not least since the creation of his own Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2009. But his keen interest in the issue stretches back to the early 1980s, when he was Margaret Thatcher’s energy secretary. With the coal strike looming, Lawson sought to redefine the way the UK bought and sold energy. Given the way the subject has soared up the political agenda of late, does he think he was ahead of the game?

“I do, if I may say so,” he says. “If you want an impartial witness, the leading energy economist in this country is Professor Dieter Helm, who has written the definitive account of British energy policy since the war. He says that the 1982 speech which I made to a meeting of the International Association of Energy Economists in Cambridge was the most important speech ever made by an energy secretary and it defined the whole of our energy policy for a long time to come.”

The main thrust of that speech was to say there is no reason to treat energy any differently from any other area of policy, despite the habit of British governments to interfere in the largely state-owned industry. “A sensible energy policy should be part and parcel of our economic policy,” Lawson says. “And just as our economic policy was to give the state a reduced role and to give market forces a greater role, so that should apply to energy as well.” Crucially, he prepared the ground for the gas and electricity privatisations to come.

The former chancellor has long defied the conventional wisdom on climate change too. When the world was congratulating itself on the Kyoto Treaty in 2004, Lawson was among those who wrote a letter to the Times warning of uncertainties in the science. Last year, he won a bet with Oliver Letwin that Kyoto would expire without any successor in place.

“I was not the first, but I think that certainly I realised very early on that this had been accepted as gospel by people who had not done any proper analysis,” he says. “It’s a new religion. That is why it is so difficult to change people’s minds, because they are not interested in the facts – it’s a belief system.” The Treasury still strong in his bones, he says the real issue is not so much the science as the policy response and a proper cost-benefit analysis. “What is the extent of the damage? And how does it compare with the benefits from warming? Because there undoubtedly are benefits, even the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] accepts that; it’s where does the balance lie?

“Then there is also the political issue that because it’s an extremely costly policy, it means we go from relatively cheap and reliable energy to relatively expensive and unreliable energy. And you’re not getting any benefit on the climate front because there isn’t a global agreement.”

One Cabinet minister who was brave enough to voice claims that there could actually be benefits from global warming was Owen Paterson. The Environment Secretary’s remarks to a Tory conference fringe last year caused uproar among some green groups. But Lawson is a big fan and says Paterson should not be moved in the coming reshuffle.

“I would be disappointed to see him moved out of government, not just because of this issue but because I think he’s one of the best ministers in the Government. I think he did a very good job in Northern Ireland and I think that he understands the countryside and farming very well, but he also has a very good mind. It would be a great loss to the Government, which needs all the talent it can get.”

He points out that conservation is a key Conservative belief. “Owen Paterson is very conscious of that. The green issue is not just one issue. If you get hung up on the evils of fossil fuel and as a result you litter the countryside with wind farms, not only is that economic nonsense in energy terms, but it is not environmentally friendly either. Solar farms, too, they are appalling environmentally. Wind turbines kill really serious numbers of birds.”

Of course, one of David Cameron’s first acts as Tory leader was to underline his ‘green’ credentials with his infamous trip to the polar ice cap. Lawson understands why David Cameron felt the need to ‘rebrand’ the Conservatives, but clearly feels it was misguided. “Margaret Thatcher, even though she was a really great prime minister, I think the country had got tired of her, as it gets tired of almost anybody after a long period of government,” he says. “But it was largely about her manner, not her policies. So there was no need to get a whole new raft of different policies in a great rebranding exercise. But the ‘hugging huskies’ and all that was part of the rebranding and of ‘going green’ in general.

“I think it was a great mistake. I think that, without really admitting it, I think they are trying quite hard to row back from that. But of course it’s always hard to row back from anything you’ve made a big splash about, but it’s all the harder because of the Coalition.”

Given his own enthusiastic backing for the expansion of the City during the Thatcher years, it’s perhaps not surprising that the former chancellor is not over-keen on the Coalition’s rhetoric about “rebalancing the economy” at the expense of financial services. “I think that is foolish and unwise,” he says. “The only sort of rebalancing I would like is to see the north of England share more in the economic success. But the way to do that is not by building this absurdly expensive High Speed 2, for which there is no sensible case at all.

“The way to do it is by developing shale gas resources in the north of England, particularly in the north-west,” he adds. “We need to go for that. If you look at what’s happened in the United States, it has completely transformed the economies of some of the poorest parts of the United States. We could have that here.”

George Osborne is resolutely behind HS2, but he does appear to have listened to people like Lawson and others who strongly support fracking. How often do the pair of them talk? “I do see him from time to time, but George sees quite a lot of people so I have no special locus,” he explains. The informal ‘council of former chancellors’ (Howe, Lawson and Lamont) no longer meets Osborne, however. “When I see him, which is only infrequently, I see him just à deux.”


The Real Climate Dogmatics

Some people find climate change ‘deniers’ the most irritating people on God’s green earth. On her Telegraph blog Martha Gill equates them with flat-earthers, which says a lot for the depth of her analysis. She points to a piece on the Huffington Post by Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (funded by billionaire Greenpeace contributor Jeremy Grantham, who also sponsors an $80,000 prize for environmental reporting – which this article will stand no chance of winning) and says it demolishes the deniers’ arguments. The problem is that it doesn’t.

Those who think ‘deniers’ are a problem and seek to put them down are in doing so misrepresenting the science they want to uphold. Once they said ‘deniers’ did not believe that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas or that mankind was pumping it into the atmosphere, or even that the globe had warmed in recent decades. And so-called deniers never took issue with any of this. Their questions were at a deeper level, but it took years for the media to notice.

You can make a strong case that all this ‘denial’ has been good for climate science. Some of these ‘deniers’ actually found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s supreme icon – the ‘hockey stick’ graph showing a recent alarming rise in global temperature – was wrong. Then they pointed out that the global annual average surface temperature was not rising as predicted. To some it was an obviously fictitious, mischievous ploy to cast doubt on climate change, a misinterpretation of a minor recent blip in what is obviously an upward trend in global surface temperature that has been going on for well over a century.

But the ‘deniers’ were right. The non-publicity seeking real climate scientists who published their thoughts in peer-reviewed literature knew something was going on with global surface temperatures, and debated its significance and possible causes in unreported papers that only the ‘deniers’ seemed to read. Eventually the pause was recognised for what it is. The journal Nature called it the biggest problem in climate science, and so it is. Something that was said to be a denier’s ploy has now more than a dozen serious scientific possible explanations. The so-called deniers were closer to the science and far ahead of media commentators.

But there is still trouble with climate change ‘denial’ according to Bob Ward. He criticises Lord Lawson for saying that he denies any link between climate change and the weather events of earlier this year. Bob Ward said the Met Office has laid it out. Yes they have, and this is what their report said:-

‘As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.’

Bob Ward also cherry-picks his answer to counter Lord Lawson’s statement that the effect of carbon dioxide on the earth’s atmosphere is probably less than was previously thought. That is actually a fair and scientifically reasonable standpoint to take and were it made amongst scientists at a conference there would be sober discussion. It is significant that the latest IPCC report on climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide does not cite a best estimate, whereas the previous one did. The latest report notes a substantial discrepancy between observation-based estimates of the effect of carbon dioxide and estimates from climate models. This is not settled, there is room for debate.

Regarding the freezing of the Thames in the 17th century and the occurrence of Frost Fairs, Bob Ward says it is a ‘sceptic canard’ that this was due to a cold climate. He believes the narrowness of bridges and not the so-called Little Ice Age was to blame. Actually both had an influence, as did the building of embankments. The Little Ice Age – once thought to be confined to Europe but now recognised to have occurred worldwide – was a definite period of colder climate that had devastating consequences. We still cannot explain what happened.

Few scientists would say that scepticism is not a good thing in science, but somehow those who ask valid questions of climate science are different. Motives are impugned, qualifications questioned. The problem lies not with their questions but with the inflexible and dogmatic way that some commentators and indeed some scientists regard climate science. There is also a major problem with the quality of the scholarship of many commentators who are all too quick to dismiss sensible questions as ‘obviously fantastical rubbish supported only by anecdote and untested assertions.’

Climate science is important. We must deal with it and we must understand it. But it’s complicated. Not everything fits or is settled or consistent. Today’s obvious answers may not be tomorrow’s. Things change, values are revised up and down, and people have different opinions about the same data. Simple answers are seldom totally waterproof. It’s science and science is all about the awkward questions. The ‘deniers’ know this. Some others seem not to.


Holding Greenpeace accountable

Poor countries should hold Big Green groups and directors liable for deaths, ravage they cause

Paul Driessen

Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change,” Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.

Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious,” as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands.

These are novel tactics. But the entire exercise might be little more than a clever attempt to distract people from developments that could create problems for thus far unaccountable Big Green organizations.

I don’t mean Greenpeace International’s $5.2 million loss a couple weeks ago, when a rogue employee (since fired) used company cash to conduct unauthorized trades on global currency markets. Other recent events portend far rougher legal and political waters ahead for radical eco-imperialists, especially if countries and companies take a few more pages out of the Big Green playbook.

India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security,” noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.

The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.

Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.

Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity or must rely on little solar panels on their huts, a single wind turbine in their village or terribly unreliable networks, to charge a cell phone and power a few light bulbs or a tiny refrigerator.

These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.

The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.

As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”

Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? As the Indian government said in banning foreign NGO funding of anti-development groups, poor nations have “a right to grow.”

Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO computer models. Real pollution from modern coal-fired power plants (particulates, sulfates, nitrates and so on) is a tiny fraction of what they emitted 40 years ago – and far less harmful than pollutants from zero-electricity wood fires.

Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable.” Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral.

Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.

In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale. Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.

Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.

But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.

India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.

Actions like these would improve billions of lives and bring some accountability to Big Green(backs).

Via email


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


13 July, 2014

Pop musician creates skeptical video

According to, founding OVERKILL drummer Lee "Rat Skates" Kundrat has written ad directed a new ad that uses graphic Holocaust footage in an apparent attempt to downplay the idea of global warming. Check it out below.

Skates, who grew up in a middle-class household in New Providence, New Jersey, has reportedly been making short videos for conservative causes for the last few years. The 53-year-old former musician raised eyebrows last December when he created a seemingly pro-Christian ad dubbed "War On Christmas" (see below) which was described by one site as "freakish and a bit disturbing." Skates also wrote and directed a short video in 2012 featuring teens puzzling over the policies of President Obama. The clip, which can be seen below, was described by Skates as "the boldness of Bill O'Reilly meets the encouragement of Joel Osteen in this street-level documentary and study guide."

Rat has been professionally involved in the filmmaking industry since 1999, writing and producing a wide variety of projects, from corporate advertising and television commercials to the performing arts. He also worked with director Rick Ernst as associate producer on the documentary "Get Thrashed".

SOURCE  Videos at link

Informing a Slate Reporter (politely) About Heartland’s Climate Skeptic Conference

by Jim Lakely

Slate reporter Will Oremus reached out to me on Tuesday afternoon seeking comment about Heartland’s climate conference in Las Vegas this week. We talked for about 20 minutes and I tried to fill in what he might have missed while he watched the conference from home.

Oremus was cordial enough — as was I — but the information I tried to impart didn’t take in his story for Slate. Below is the email I sent Ormeus to correct the record:


After wrapping up The Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate Change, I saw your piece in Slate titled “The Climate Optimists.” That term has a good ring to it, and is a pretty accurate description of the views expressed at the world’s leading conference of scientific “skeptics” of man-caused global warming. Considering all the doom and gloom the media has reported about the climate over the last couple of decades, the optimistic and data-based truth needs quite a bit more play in the media.

As I explained over the phone to you, the term “denier” is a calumny the eco-left has long employed to equate skepticism of catastrophic man-caused global warming with Holocaust denial. It is shameful, and I’m disappointed to see you employed that slur in your story. Nonetheless, I appreciate your efforts to write a story about Heartland’s latest climate conference remotely by watching some of the live feed.

You would have served yourself and Slate’s readers better, however, if you had come to Las Vegas in person. Your understanding of the data and viewpoints of the speakers and scientists would have been greatly enhanced by a chance to talk to them on the side between sessions, as other journalists did. Since you were not able to do that, let me correct some errors, and fill in some of the facts and context your story lacked.

For starters, a lot more than “several” of the speakers at the conference were scientists. Twenty-eight of the 61 presenters have earned PH.Ds, while others have masters degrees. Also, you note that many of the scientists who presented aren’t “climate scientists.” But what is a “climate scientist”?

Bob Carter, Ph.D., is a paleogeologist. His expertise allows him to closely examine the historical climate record. Is understanding that climatic history irrelevant to examining what’s been happening since the Industrial Revolution? Of course not. So he is a “climate scientist.”

Willie Soon, Ph.D., specializes in solar activity. Indeed, he is among the world’s leading scientists in that field. Sebastian Lüning, Ph.D., is a geologist who has also been keenly focused on how the sun affects the climate and is a leader in this field. Is solar activity irrelevant to the earth’s climate? Of course not. So they are “climate scientists.”

Jennifer Marohasy, Ph.D., specializes in analyzing and interpreting historical rainfall data. Is an examination of precipitation patterns over a long period of time irrelevant to the earth’s climate? Of course not. So she is also a “climate scientist.”

I could do that all day with only the 28 Ph.D.s who presented at our conference. As I explained in our phone interview, gaining the full picture of what is happening to our climate requires bringing together experts in various disciplines to share their data and analysis. Any single person who claims to be strictly a “climate scientist” — and suggests he has definitive authority — is merely preening for the sake of PR. Understanding the climate is a team effort, as the scientists who presented at The Heartland Institute’s latest conference would attest.

You write: “Still, the Heartland crowd is careful to frame its arguments in terms of science and skepticism rather than dogma.”

The “Heartland crowd” was not being “careful” about that. It just happens — because the scientists who speak at our conferences actually do frame their arguments in terms of science. You really should have come to or watched more of the conference, which you can still do here by clicking on the links below the “live feed.”

You write: The nearly 18-years of no global warming “has been a godsend for those looking for holes in the prevailing models of catastrophic future warming.”

Another way to write that sentence would be:

“The lack of global warming for almost 18 years pokes holes in the prevailing models of catastrophic future warming.”

The models the IPCC and alarmists rely upon to make policy have been wrong for decades. (See Dr. Roy Spencer’s presentation at our conference here.) If they couldn’t accurately predict what’s happened for the last 30 years, why should we trust them to be right in predicting the next 100 years? You should have a little more healthy skepticism about that, and be asking the alarmists why their models have failed so spectacularly.

You write: “Many are still focused on disputing the basic link between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. As I watched the conference, it became clear that some have little trouble flipping between the two viewpoints.”

As I explained to you over the phone, unlike the alarmists — who all sing in perfect harmony about man-caused climate calamity from the group-think hymnal — the scientists who speak at our conferences don’t all agree on everything. That’s the nature of bringing together scientists who study the climate from diverse disciplines. That’s healthy for science, as well as the goal of advancing greater public understanding of what is actually happening to the climate.

Also, there is no “basic link” between CO2 levels and global temperatures. As I mentioned to you on the phone, global human-caused CO2 emissions have increased over the last 17 years and 10 months, but global temperatures have not risen along with it. Yet 95 percent of the UN IPCC’s climate models said temperatures would. Doesn’t that tend to disprove the “basic link”?

As Patrick Moore showed in his presentation at the conference — and others did in their turns at bat — the long-term historical record shows no causal connection between CO2 and global temperature. Correlation is not causation, and there isn’t even a strong correlation — as we’ve seen for the last 17 years and 10 months.

You write: “That doesn’t mean, of course, that the evidence on both sides is equal. There’s a reason the climate deniers are losing the scientific debate, and it isn’t because academia is better funded than the energy industry.”

This is a non sequitur that presumes the climate realist side is swimming in “energy industry” money. As I told you on the phone, Heartland’s conference was not funded by the energy industry, and no skeptic scientist is getting rich. To the contrary, many of the scientists at our conferences suffer professionally because they do not toe the alarmist line, but instead concentrate on the data that contradicts the alarmist, always-wrong computer models. That level of basic scientific and personal integrity has cost the skeptic scientists plenty. There’s an excellent story for you in that fact, shared often during the conference.

You single out Patrick Michaels, and dismiss him as receiving “fossil-fuel industry” money. Dr. Michaels was past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He was a professor at the University of Virginia for 30 years. His credentials are impeccable. Michaels’ presentation this year focused on how science has been corrupted because anyone who dares to apply the scientific method to the alarmist conclusions is blackballed from science journals — and also doesn’t receive university support or grants. You really ought to watch Michaels’ presentation. There’s another story just in that.

Academia is better funded than the “energy industry” in the only aspect that matters: funding to support climate research. The federal grants flow only to university professors who will toe the alarmist line. Exxon, which stopped donating to Heartland in 2006 (two years before our first climate conference) donates generously to green groups. Chesapeake Energy has donated (as of 2012) $26 million to the Sierra Club. There are scores more examples of the “fossil fuel industry” supporting alarmists and green groups a whole lot more than any skeptic scientist.

One last thing on the idea that the skeptics are “losing the scientific debate.” A Rasmussen poll released July 9, the last day of Heartland’s conference, showed that only 20 percent of Americans “think the global warming debate is over.” Sixty-three percent said “the debate about global warming is not over” and another 17 percent is “not sure.” That means this: Decades of media and academic alarmist indocrination have left only 20 percent of Americans agreeing with Al Gore, various climate alarmist groups, Hollywood, and the mainstream media’s insistence that “the debate is over” about the hypothesis that human activity is causing a climate crisis.

The Heartland Institute is proud to have played any part in that poll result. For what it’s worth, a Gallup poll from January showed that 23 percent of Americans identify themselves as “liberal.” Most liberals believe in man-caused global warming and have little interest in hearing the other side of the scientific argument. While I’m not a fan of correlation studies, the data match is interesting and something to explore.

You write: “Touting the recent slowdown in global average surface temperatures, for example, implies that such temperatures do in fact tell us a lot about the health of the climate. That will become an awkward stance in a hurry if the temperatures soon resume their climb.”

Again, isn’t the “recent slowdown in global average temperature” a much more troubling problem for the alarmists? None of them predicted it. But for them, the rising temperatures from about 1950 forward in the 20th Century was “proof” that AGW is a “fact” — a huge problem that requires massive, government-directed reorganization of the energy economy. As Patrick Moore and others pointed out at our conference, we’re actually not all that warm today from a long-term (epochal) perspective. And even if you want to shrink that perspective down to the dawn of human history, the earth has still often been significantly warmer in the past than it is today. Those periods of warming, by the way, have been beneficial to humans, plants, and animals.

Indeed, many of the scientists at our conference agree with what Patrick Moore stated in his plenary address: Living things on Earth would benefit from even more CO2 in the atmosphere, not less. You surely think that is a radical statement, but the science backs it up. Again, watch Moore’s presentation.

Finally, “extreme weather events” are not on the rise. Category 3 hurricanes striking the US are at an all-time low since record-keeping began — which means tomorrow and the next day set a new record for major hurricanes not hitting the US. Tornadoes, especially the number of strong ones, are significantly fewer these days than the most recent 20th century peak in the 1970s. And Joe Bastardi was right: Wildfires have burned up less acreage of land in 2013 than in many years past.

That is all directly opposite of what climate alarmists predicted. Maybe you should ask them some questions.


Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation

Panel 11 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation.” The panel was primarily concerned about how climate change, and government responses to it, might affect the quality and extent of human life in the future.

The featured speakers in this panel were Dr. Craig Loehle, Dr. John Dale Dunn, and Myron Ebell. These three panelists argued that the negative health effects touted by the IPCC and the federal government are not realistic and that the real threat people face is regulatory overreach.

In his talk, Dr. Loehle, an ecologist, asks the question at the beginning of his talk: “Will warming increase disease?” This is what the IPCC and the Obama administration’s 2014 Climate Assessment Report contend. But is that the case?

Contrary to the IPCC narrative, Loehle argues that an historical survey of the diseases in question will reveal that warming is not so great a threat as is believed. He explains that most diseases have been fought by improvements in infrastructure and general welfare, not environmental.

In the case of malaria particular, Loehle challenges some of the prevailing narratives. The contention of the IPCC and various public health organizations is that increased temperatures will increase mosquito populations, warm the water and increase the incidence of flooding. Loehle says that malaria is not prevalent because of temperature, but because of other factors. Indeed, he says that malaria was endemic in Russia and Scandinavia until very recently.

The defeat of malaria in the Western world was thanks in large part to elimination of standing water, particularly in rain barrels, in favor of piped water. By denying mosquitoes their breeding grounds near humans, the disease was eradicated. Loehle suggests that the same could be accomplished in the developing world by focusing on economic development over environmental issues. He also favors the widespread use of DDT to control mosquito populations.

Dr. Dunn, a physician, carries the torch of public health further in his presentation. He contends that warmer temperatures tend to be better for humans, as their cardiovascular and circulatory systems tend to be overtaxed in winter. He points to the fact that deaths in winter are 10% higher than in summer. Climate change may thus provide some positive public health benefits to people.

Myron Ebell turns the panel toward the subject of regulations and other responses to the perceived threats of climate change. Ebell argues that the dominant paradigm in which the issue of climate change is viewed is misguided, saying that, “We should not be talking about mitigation of climate change. We should be talking about adaptation to environmental change and environmental challenges.”

Ebell shows particular concern for the Obama administration’s plans to beef up the EPA and policies that will radically increase the scope of the Endangered Species Act. As government projects will be required to take into account climate change impacts before being undertaken, and as “habitat corridors” are carved out of the nation’s landscape, individuals’ freedoms look sure to be curtailed.

The problem with regulations of such a sweeping sort as the Obama administration is rolling out is that they do not allow for much nuance, and invariably stifle the economic development that is at the core of America’s prosperity. It does not seem like the administration realizes the full extent of the damage it might do to the economy. We can only hope they wise up before it’s too late.


EPA Is Desperately in Need of Budget Cuts. Here’s a Few Places to Start

Of late, it seems the Environmental Protection Agency has been acting like a misbehaved child—recklessly doing what it wants at the expense of others without any supervision. And just as parents punish children by taking away their allowance, Congress should do the same to the EPA and cut its budget.

Cutting the EPA’s budget does not mean a world of unchecked polluters and environmental degradation in America. Tightening the agency’s purse will rein in the EPA’s heavy-handed, unilateral reach into the economy.

EPA’s $8 billion-per-year budget has remained steady through the last decade, (see table 5.1) with some significant peaks from the Obama stimulus package. But the EPA has a disproportionately large impact on Americans in terms of both freedom and economic burden that is passed on to states, localities and individuals. It issued 21 major regulations with annual compliance costs of $37.8 billion in President Obama’s first term alone.

Shrinking the EPA budget, then, is more about returning the federal government to a more acceptable size and empowering states and individuals to once again take care of the environment, as they have proven they can do successfully.

Reducing the EPA’s budget and regulatory reach isn’t a question of choosing between clean or unsafe air, water and lands. It’s about putting management back into the right hands. States have unique incentive to manage the environment and have networks that are much bigger and more varied than EPA’s, especially given the size of the area EPA is trying to manage compared to individual states.

Innovation and the free market promote prosperity and improve environmental quality, not command and control under the premise of “partnerships” with and “flexibility” for the states.

Congress should prevent the EPA from implementing regulations that will drive up living costs for American families for little, if any, environmental benefit. These include:

    Regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, including regulations for vehicles, power plants and other major emitters.

    Federalizing all of America’s “navigable waters”, which poses enormous risk to individual freedom, property rights and economic growth

    Implementing more stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

    Imposing a new Stream Buffer Zone rule that fundamentally changes the federal–state relationship in protecting the environment from coal mining and reclaiming abandoned mined lands. Rather than tailor regulatory requirements to regional and local needs, the EPA approach would usurp the role of states.

    Garnishing wages and creating difficult and flawed procedures to collect from those who violate EPA regulations.

    Administering any new regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
Implementing Tier 3 gas regulations to lower the amount of sulfur in gasoline beginning in 2017. More stringent sulfur regulations could add 6 cents to 9 cents per gallon to the cost of manufacturing gasoline—and the EPA has declared no measurable air quality benefits would occur.

    Eliminating New Source Review that stifles innovation and prevents businesses from making major upgrades that would reduce emissions.

    Prohibiting funding for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has been an economic and environmental boondoggle, and artificially raises the price of gasoline.

Further, Congress should cut back EPA spending and eliminate programs that are either wasteful, duplicative or simply not the role of the federal government. A first cut at the EPA’s budget would save $1.38 billion from the FY2013 Continuing Resolution numbers. Programs that Congress should cut immediately include:

    Oil spill programs (Savings from FY2013: $15.3 million). The onus to prepare, prevent and clean up oil spills should be on oil companies, not taxpayers. In fact, the fines received from the Deepwater Horizon spill should offset some of the need for taxpayers to foot the bill for the EPA. According to the agency’s budget support document, the EPA obtained $1.1 billion in federal administrative and civil judicial penalties in FY 2013—a record $1 billion of it from Transocean for its liability in the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 1/8th of the agency’s entire budget. Some money may be necessary to enforce and administer laws and for immediate response, but the large majority of oil spill cleanup activities should be devolved to the state and local level.

    Climate Protection Program (Savings: $47.8 million) The Air, Climate and Energy program spends money on climate reporting, assessing climate impacts, state and local technical assistance programs and on biofuels research. We shouldn’t have a biofuel program to begin with, and the EPA definitely does not need one since the Department of Energy operates several. Moreover, the EPA’s budget justification says money is available to enable “the EPA to investigate the impact of a changing climate on air pollution emissions at a reduced level.” In other words, the EPA not only wants to impose regulations that cost Americans billions but reduce global temperatures by less than a degree, it wants more money to measure that change.
Leasing Underutilized Space (Savings: approximately $21 million) According to a 2013 EPA Inspector General report, the agency could save more than $21 million by leasing underutilized space.
Grant programs and Information Exchange/Outreach: (Savings: $1.14 billion) The EPA should not be funding Environmental Education Grants and other grant programs such as job training grant programs. EPA has allocated taxpayer money to projects that educate and increase awareness about stewardship. Previous education money has gone toward funding for poster contests that have included contests on sun protection, asthma awareness and radon. The majority of grants have been awarded to nonprofits with schools being a distant second, and the most popular topics are biodiversity and general “environmental literacy.” Even the Obama administration has recognized a need to cut back on revolving state grants, reducing its FY2014 budget request by $581 million.
Clean Diesel Program (savings: approximately $30 million) Only $30 million was authorized for the EPA’s clean diesel program in 2012, but hundreds of millions have been spent over the years to develop more than 60,000 pieces of clean diesel technology, such as “emissions and idle control devices, aerodynamic equipment, engine and vehicle replacements, and alternative fuel options.” If these technologies are economically viable and consumer demand exists, these products will be developed without the help of taxpayers.
Regional programs that state and local governments should own and manage ($124.5 million). The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Department of Transportation … and the EPA. Both the Obama administration and Republicans support cuts for GLRI, the entirety of which should be phased out and/or transitioned fully to state ownership.
Environmental Justice (Savings: $7.3 million) The EPA’s environmental justice program is unnecessary and spends money superfluously, such as the $1.6 million it spent on a hotel for a conference this June or the $1.2 million for the “Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program.” Congress should eliminate this program.

The proposed cuts outlined here merely scratch the surface of a rogue agency that has wildly spent and regulated outside its purview. It’s time for Congress to step up and rein in the agency, and a healthy round of budget-cutting is a good place to start.


EPA easing radiation restrictions

Raising the EPA Radiation Limit Will Save Thousands of Lives and Billions of Dollars. Radiation limits were far more restrictive  than science justified and caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic loss to America and the world

The EPA is raising the radiation threat level by a factor of 350. That may sound unbelievable but it is assuredly a good thing: The previous limits were far lower than science justified and caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic loss to America and the world.

The trigger for the change was the government recognizing the ramifications of two things. The first is the reality of nuclear terrorism. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has recently insisted that the EPA establish realistic limits in accordance with the latest science. Under the old limits, a tiny “dirty bomb” explosion in an American city would have meant evacuating hundreds of thousands of people.

The second is Fukushima. After the catastrophic meltdown at the Japanese nuclear power plant in 2011, some 130,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes in accordance with strict radiation standards. This resulted in the unnecessary and unfortunate deaths of some 1600 elderly and ill persons. Yet no residents died—or even became ill—from the radiation. Even so, Japan closed down 48 nuclear plants and Germany announced it would close all of its plants. The cost to their citizenry in higher electricity prices—and higher carbon emissions—is staggering.

The cost to U.S. citizens is staggering as well. Ultra-low limits have delayed and prevented the construction of new nuclear power plants, added billions to the cost of refurbishing old reactors and Superfund clean-up sites, scared Nevada residents into opposing the opening of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facilities, and triggered panic whenever there has been a slight increase in radiation almost anywhere for any reason. One remembers the Three Mile Island nuclear leaks, where residents were exposed to less radiation than they got from the granite building blocks at the Senate hearing room when they testified.

Fortunately, the EPA is making changes that acknowledge the shortcomings of ultra-low radiation limits. The EPA has now asked for public comment on changing its standards for nuclear power plants.  The deadline was June 4.

Further, in Florida, the EPA has given up on enforcing a very expensive radiation cleanup under the old rules. This is a tremendous move that has nevertheless come under attack from environmental extremists who promised to resist the new rules even if “health effects prove reliable.” Some 100 watchdog groups have joined the attack.

Much of the reason for the EPA’s prior low exposure fears comes from a theory in computer models that the cancer risk is directly proportional to the dose of radiation. This is untrue below the 10 REM threshold of exposure as is well detailed in a Forbes article. Yet the theory, called LNT (linear no-threshold model), has done untold damage to America. (Further explanation and links are available in my earlier article Terrorism and Radiation.) The EPA change specifically refers to one time events, although its historic 15 millirem limit barely distinguished between short and long term exposure. Nuclear workers with prolonged exposure face a different risk. The first ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) recommended a “tolerance dose” of no more than 70 REM per year (0.2 roentgen per day), but more research needs to be done in this area, e.g. a 40 hour work week of exposure compared to continuous exposure. EPA’s limit was a maximum 5 REM over a full year.

The new nuclear limits should prompt the EPA to modify the extreme 15-25 millirem limits in other areas under its jurisdiction. Specifically, these should include allowing new nuclear electric plants to follow the same rules. Clean-up of past nuclear waste disposal sites would be another area of multi-billion dollar savings. The difference in cost is astronomical. Southern California Edison has now shut down its San Onofre nuclear plant because of the high cost of replacing steam generators. Higher radiation limits might make the repairs economically viable. The Yucca Mountain storage site costs should be recalculated from the past 15 millirem limit using the new risk numbers. However, the EPA has also specifically stated that the new guide “will not affect the agency’s Superfund authorities, existing cleanup regulations or current health and safety standards.” Currently the EPA’s Superfund clean up standards are based upon a risk factor of 1 person in 10,000 possibly developing cancer under LNT models. LNT theory does not distinguish between one-time exposure and continuous exposure.

Then there is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Using the same old EPA limits, it fanned the flames of panic in Japan by urging Americans up to 50 miles away to flee Fukushima. It should also update its risk analyses.

What’s missing now are some reliable analyses of the billions of dollars in savings that will result from using the new limits. In the nuclear weapons programs, the new limits should be analyzed and new safety rules put in place. Canadian nuclear physicist Jerry Cuttler, to whom I am indebted for much of the above information, suggests that the ALARA limits (as low as reasonably achievable) should be changed to AHARS (as high as reasonably safe).

Equally important, the EPA change brings attention to the issue that economic costs can be considered in its rulings. Historically, EPA denies this premise based upon its original mandate, which does not call on the agency to consider economic costs, it claims. The EPA has won in court with this argument. Most recently, Politico reported that “a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s rule, known as MATS, denying challenges from states, utilities and industry groups which argued the rules came out of a flawed regulatory process and illegally imposed exorbitant costs on power producers that will force dozens of power plants to close down.” The industry argued that this decision would substantially raise electricity rates for consumers in much of the nation. EPA decisions are based on the same linear no-threshold models that any minimal exposure will cause cancer or asthma among some proportion of the population. But under this theory, even tiny amounts of sunlight are a threat to some human beings. As science advances to allow measuring parts per billion or even per trillion, EPA has proceeded to continuously tighten its limits.

Other skeleton in the EPA’s closet are environmental limits caused by its policy of “chasing the last molecule.” If EPA could be forced to modify its radiations limits, what about its other extremes? Take sulfur, for example. Its prevalence has already been reduced by 90 percent. Still, using its now discredited LNT theory, EPA is has ordered refiners to eliminate the last 10 percent. This will add between 6 and 9 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline.

There is another major implication. Many if not most of the EPA's other limits on pollutants and carcinogens are also deduced from the faulty LNT theory. Eliminating 90 percent of some chemical or dust is often easily accomplished, however, eliminating the last 10 percent can cost billions more than the first 90 percent. For example, a Wall Street Journal report on ozone explains that new EPA limits reducing ozone from today’s 75 parts per billion to 60 to 70 ppb would cost industry some $90 billion, according to the EPA itself. These are the costs that many industries are howling about and a real reason that Americans’ standard of living has stopped increasing. Much analysis, beyond the scope of this report, needs to be researched for dozens of other excessive limits imposed by Washington, D.C.

The yearly cost of unnecessary EPA regulations is in the many hundreds of billions of dollars, reducing wages and hurting the world's standard of living. And yet these positive modifications are under severe attack from green extremists. Rather than fighting sensible and cost-saving reforms, they should help rescue the legitimate environmental movement from far-left activists whose hysterical opposition to logical standards truly threatens world prosperity.


Australia: So-called protectors the real marine polluters

LISTEN to the Greens, Labor or their broadcast arm, the ABC, and you might think the biggest threats to the pristine waters of north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef came from the mining industry and the ships that serve our export industry.

Dig a little deeper though and you will find it is the ecoterrorist group Sea Shepherd, a darling of the Leftist media, that has been fouling our northern waters.

Not that you would know about it if you were wedded to the taxpayer-funded broadcaster, Fairfax or the other news services which pander to the group. Yet it was Sea Shepherd Ltd, whose Australian arm is chaired by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which was found guilty of pouring up to 500 litres of diesel into the Trinity Inlet, the mangrove-lined estuary which serves as the port to the city of Cairns, and fined $15,000 last month for marine pollution.

Another case of do what I say, not what I do, for the global green movement. According to court records, Sea Shepherd’s ship New Atlantis pumped diesel fuel into the harbour as the ship was moored alongside the Cairns wharf on October 13, 2012.

It was claimed that a crew member failed to manually flick the “low level” switch during a fuel transfer, despite being aware the switch was faulty.

The court was told Sea Shepherd Australia, which had only recently taken possession of the ship and brought it from Japan a week earlier, had yet to translate signage and manuals or repair the switch.

Crew members had been given basic handover information but the chief engineer had to work out the ship’s systems “by his own devices” due to instruction manuals and other materials all being in Japanese.

All crew members were volunteers and were either German, Dutch or American. Fortunately, a member of the public noticed diesel flowing into the sea and after unsuccessfully attempting to alert crew members notified the master of a ship moored alongside who boarded the New Atlantis and notified its crew.

“She noticed a strong smell of diesel fuel and saw liquid running from the New Atlantis into the water,” the court document read.

“The smell was so strong the passer-by had to put a jumper over her nose ...”

Magistrate Kevin Priestly called the amount “not insignificant” and questioned why a crewmen carried out the fuel transfer and not the chief engineer. No conviction was recorded against Sea Shepherd and the group was given six months to pay.

While Sea Shepherd’s polluting activities were not reported by some, every accusatory claim made by the Greens about the development of the deep water Abbot Point harbour has been unquestioningly repeated, even though they have been baseless



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


11 July, 2014

Warmer Climate Could Mean More Kidney Stones?

Crap!  The underlying journal article is Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time-Series Analysis.  The findings are correlational ones so do not enable inferences about causes.  And the elevation of risk associated with temperature was very slight anyway.  Relative risks were around 1.3.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."

The consequences of global warming and climate change isn’t just limited to the decline in population of endangered species. A new study has now linked warmer climate to an increased risk of kidney stones among the individuals residing in the area.
Rising temperatures, it is believed, may be linked to an increase in the number of people who fall prey to kidney stones and other painful urinary tract obstructions.

“These findings point to potential public health effects associated with global climate change,” study leader Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explained.

The researchers examined medical records of over 60,000 patients who were diagnosed with kidney stones between the years 2005 to 2011, and also compared the information so obtained with the daily temperature data. The patients recruited for the study lived in cities with different climates- Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Careful observation revealed that as the annual temperature rose above 50 degrees, the number of individuals affected by kidney stones rose. Also, the number of kidney stone diagnosis rose within three days of rise in temperature.

“Although 11 percent of the U.S. population has had kidney stones, most people have not,” Tasian added. However, he believes that “it is likely that higher temperatures increase the risk of kidney stones in those people predisposed to stone formation.”
While the exact reason behind this strange relation is not very well understood, researchers believe that warmer temperatures contribute to dehydration, which in turn, cause calcium and other minerals to deposit in the urine, which can spur kidney stone formation.

“Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years, and we can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase,” Tasian concluded.

The results from this study are now published in the journal Environmental Health.


Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters

Accused violators of pollution laws would have little recourse

The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and threatening individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules. In one case, the agency has threatened fines of up to $75,000 per day on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.

Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.

EPA officials did not respond to repeated questions by The Washington Times about why they thought it was necessary to garnish people’s wages.

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”

The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.

Under the law, every federal agency has the authority to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided the agency adopts approved rules for conducting hearings where debtors can challenge the amount of debt or terms of repayment schedule, a Treasury official said.

Still, the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.

The amount of fines raked in by the agency has jumped from $96 million in 2009 to $252 million in 2012, a more than 160 percent increase, according to EPA annual reports.

Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

The negative reactions began almost immediately.

In a comment letter submitted to the EPA, the conservative Heritage Foundation faulted the rule for giving the government “unbridled discretion” in controlling the process for challenging fines and wage garnishment, such as dictating the site of a hearing without consideration of the time and travel expense placed on the accused debtor.

The rule allows the EPA to decide whether a debtor gets a chance to present a defense and then picks whomever it chooses to serve as a hearing officer, even someone not trained as an administrative law judge, wrote David S. Addington, group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation.

It also puts the burden of proof on the debtor, not the EPA, he said.

The EPA has been on the front lines of the battle over Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, including issuing proposed rules that would require coal-fired power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.

Critics say it will cause massive increases in the cost of electricity, lead to power shortages and eliminate jobs, while making scant impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide.

The agency has been a magnet for criticism over new rules on things such as wood-burning stoves and small streams or ponds on private land, including waterways on farms and golf courses.


The EPA’s New Water Rule Leaves the Economy High and Dry

When the Clean Water Act was first conceived, the EPA could only restrict entrepreneurs when they attempted to pollute bodies of water that were used by their fellow businesses, or what the EPA calls ‘navigable waters.’ However, its original mission is far too modest for modern-day bureaucrats.

In March the EPA unveiled their proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule. If finalized, this rule would expand the federal government’s regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and millions of miles of streams. It would place virtually all bodies of water, no matter how small their size or impact on commerce, under EPA authority.

Thankfully, legislators are taking action against this agency’s extraordinary power grab. Last week, 31 senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, introduced The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, a bill that would prevent the EPA from expanding their authority under the CWA.

In the words of Senator Cruz, “The EPA is following in the footsteps of our lawless President. The EPA's unilateral expansion of the Clean Water Act to include regulation of puddles and temporarily flooded areas is an abuse of power that would allow the EPA to march into the backyards of many Americans. Congress must exercise its power to strictly define what the EPA may do under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation's landowners, farmers, and homeowners from undue harassment by the EPA."

In the House of Representatives, the Appropriations Committee approved a bill on June 18 that would fund the Army Corps of Engineers, but with a provision that bars the agency from enforcing the Waters of the US rule, a move in the right direction.

The way the agency justified this exponential expansion of their powers over bodies of water traditionally regulated by states and localities was by making the case that all bodies of water in one way or another flow into these larger navigable waters. In a study published last September, the EPA made the case that because all bodies of water have a connection to one another, pollution in a single stream could flow to the rest. Coincidentally, this study was released to the public the very same day that they proposed the rule.

If the EPA were to expand its authority over even more of America’s waters, its damaging effect on the economy would only grow. A business or property owner who simply wishes to move soil from one area of a body of water to another must apply for a permit, since this movement is considered to be polluting. The average permit can cost upwards of $271,000 and take 788 days to be processed which leads to private companies and municipalities annually being forced to pay $1.7 billion to the EPA for the right to develop or build over bodies of water. And if a developer fails to secure the proper permits, $37,500 in fines can be incurred every day for unlawfully developing a stream or wetland.

This is not the first time that the EPA has overreached in its authority. In 1986 the agency claimed that any body of water that a migratory bird landed in was under its jurisdiction. Its blatant and repeated abuse of its authority was checked first in 2001 and again in 2006 when the Supreme Court ruled in Rapanos v. The United States that the EPA could not block a developer from filling in a wetland in order to build a mall even though it was connected by a stream to a larger body of water. As Justice Kennedy wrote in his decision, the EPA must prove that a “significant nexus (connection)” exists between the body of water the agency claims jurisdiction over and navigable waters. So rather than accept the court’s decision, the EPA concocted a study last year that claims that all bodies of water have a significant connection to navigable waters, and thus should be under its authority.

At a time when it is still unclear if the country is on the road to economic recovery, we can’t afford additional burdensome regulations that inhibit entrepreneurs and farmers from working and investing on their own property.


Bast: If There’s No Global Warming, There’s No Climate Change Problem

  With satellite data showing no global warming for 17 years and 10 months, and even the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledging a “pause” in rising temperatures, it’s time to stop talking about a climate change problem, says Joe Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Foundation.

"Global warming is still at the heart of climate change. All the climate changes are attributable to the increase in temperature in the climate, so even if they might want to talk about sea level rise and heat being stored in the lower ocean and all these indirect climate effects, the engine for that, the cause of all that is global warming,” Bast told

“And if there is no global warming, or if it’s paused, or if it’s less than what they thought, or if the human impact is less than they thought, then that whole paradigm collapses. Whether you call it climate change or global warming, if there’s no warming going on, it’s not a problem.”

“I would say two years ago, we could have concluded that,” Bast added. “NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said 15 years was the cut-off date in an influential [2008] report…. But even the alarmists said that if there was no warming for 15 years, that that would invalidate the models that they were using. So it’s rare that the other side puts a date on something like that, but they did it this time, and I think we ought to hold them to it.”

Noting that the behavior of prominent climate change scientists is “characteristic of a movement that’s about to crash,” Bast pointed out that the “alarmists” invited to debate the “skeptics” at Heartland’s 9th Annual Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas this week declined to defend their contention that the Earth is facing catastrophic warming and that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are to blame.

“We invited scores of scientists who are on the alarmist side of this debate to attend and present their ideas,” Bast told “In the past, we’ve had one or two willing to do that, and they’ve always been treated with great politeness and allowed to debate. But none of them this time agreed to take us up on our offer.”

“Why do you think that is?” asked Bast.

“I think they’re afraid to debate. They’re just afraid,” he replied. “They know in front of an audience of their peers that they will lose.”

On June 25, President Obama mocked those who challenge the theory that man-made global warming is causing catastrophic climate change, telling the League of Conservation Voters that it is a fact despite 17-plus years of evidence to the contrary.

"You can ignore the facts; you can't deny the facts," the president said.

But Bast criticized the Obama administration for doing just that by promulgating energy policies based on flawed computer models’ predictions of global warming, which actual temperature data have since proven to be wrong.

“I don’t think this administration’s policies are based on science at all, which is why they just ignore every report and every scientist who says they’re wrong on this,” Bast told

He also criticized Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for claiming that “97 percent of scientists agree that [carbon dioxide] is leading to dangerous climate change that is affecting our families” at a June 18 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee.

“The scientific community is deeply divided on some of the underlying science issues, like whether or not models can forecast future climate, and what the trade-offs, the feedbacks are in the environment, so there’s just tremendous uncertainty,” Bast said.

“This is one of the big unsolved scientific issues of our day, and for politicians to be saying 97 percent of all scientists agree on this is absurd.”

“Frankly, the science doesn’t matter to President Obama or to any of those Democratic senators. They’ve decided that they want to wage a war on fossil fuels, they’ve decided that they want to subsidize and promote a new energy industry, renewables, and global warming is just a handy excuse, or smoke and mirrors, that they can use to sell this agenda," Bast told

Asked whether most Americans are aware that the Earth has not warmed for close to 18 years, he replied:

“I think the people who are paying attention have figured this out. The American people see prominent left-wing politicians talking about this issue and the more they talk about it, the more the public understands that this is a political issue, not a science debate.”

Now that actual temperature data has confirmed the skeptics’ view that carbon dioxide is not causing catastrophic global warming, Bast says it’s time to move on, especially since billions of dollars have already been spent trying to stop a non-existent threat.

“I think the other side is just going to double down on ad hominen attacks and outrageous lies, like the 97 percent consensus and claims about the weather. They’re going to try to keep the focus away from what the real issue now should be,” he said.

“Going forward, the issue is: what do we do legislatively?  How should public policy be changed, now that we know global warming is not a crisis, now that we know the costs of trying to reduce emissions are enormous and would cause lots of negative consequences?”

“I would love to have that debate,” Bast continued. “We tried to start that debate a good 10, 15 years ago and people were so concerned about the science that they didn’t want to discuss how much it would cost to try to stop this thing. Now that the science has been thrown out, we need to be having a debate about what we should be doing.

“And that debate, I think, logically leads to we should start getting rid of all the subsidies to wind and solar and ethanol, we should start looking at ways of adapting to climate change regardless of whether it’s natural or man-made, and probably encourage innovation, both in the energy sector and manufacturing, because that’s where we have win-win solutions."

Meanwhile, he pointed out, more and more scientists are quietly backing away from their prior claims that the Earth has a “fever,” as former vice-president Al Gore once put it.

“I think the IPCC in its last report kind of hit a dead end, and some very prominent folks are saying that. The editors of Nature editorialized that this should be the last report from the IPCC,” Bast said, characterizing the reports as “massive compilations of obsolete research” trying to prove “a broken paradigm.”

“Now the folks at Nature are still committed alarmists, although I think they’re walking that back, admitting that it’s more complicated, or that it might take longer, or that reducing emissions might not be the way to try to respond to the possible problems,” he said.

Even groups that have been “sitting on the sidelines, not willing to challenge the science,” are now speaking out publicly, he added, noting that the Heartland Institute has done so since its founding in Chicago in 1984.

“We took a lot of bullets, a lot of arrows for doing that,” Bast said. “But it’s great. I love the company.”


Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Halt All EPA Regulations

For one Missouri lawmaker, fighting individual Environmental Protection Agency regulations — like the recent rule on carbon emissions from power plants — isn’t enough.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would halt all EPA rules that are currently in the works and prompt a review of all previous EPA regulations. H.R. 5034, titled the Stop the EPA Act, would also require Congress to approve all previous and new regulations that cost $50 million or more. Under the bill, any that aren’t approved by Congress won’t become law.

“My legislation will give the American people a voice in the regulator’s room when the President and the EPA try and go around Congress,” Graves said in a statement. “EPA aggression has reached an all-time high, and now it must be stopped.”

Graves’ legislation was prompted by the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal, which aims to clarify what streams and rivers are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. It’s also aimed at the EPA’s new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, a proposal that multiple other lawmakers have attempted to undermine or overturn in recent months. House Republicans introduced an EPA funding bill this week that would block the agency’s new power plant rule, and nine states have signed on to coal company Murray Energy’s lawsuit against the agency, claiming that the new rule constitutes EPA overreach.

The EPA has long been the target of attacks from industry and lawmakers, however.

“The Obama EPA has waged an all-out War on Coal, promulgating a series of rules and regulations seeking to eliminate the United States coal industry, and the very good jobs, and low cost electricity, which it provides,” Murray Energy said in a release after filing its lawsuit against the EPA. “Indeed, the lives and livelihoods of entire families in many regions of America are being destroyed.”


Super pollutants

Joe Romm ups the ante below.  CO2 causes only 60% of warming, he says.  We have to fight the 40% caused by "super pollutants" too

Some confusion has been generated on this issue by a Tuesday New York Times piece, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” which frames our optimum climate strategy as a choice between targeting CO2 and targeting super pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, that together cause some 40% of the warming we’re experiencing now.

But that is a “false choice,” as longtime NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell explained to me. We have to do both to maximize lives saved and minimize the chances of dangerous warming. That’s a point Climate Progress has made consistently.

The New York Times piece builds off an analysis by climatologist Raymond Pierrehumbert on “Short-Lived Climate Pollution” (SLCP). He concludes that an “implementation of SLCP mitigation that substitutes to any significant extent for carbon dioxide mitigation will lead to a climate irreversibly warmer than will a strategy with delayed SLCP mitigation. SLCP mitigation does not buy time for implementation of stringent controls on CO2 emissions.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


10 July, 2014

High quality NOAA Data Show U.S. in Decade-Long Cooling

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most accurate, up-to-date temperature data confirm the United States has been cooling for at least the past decade. The NOAA temperature data are driving a stake through the heart of alarmists claiming accelerating global warming.

Responding to widespread criticism that its temperature station readings were corrupted by poor siting issues and suspect adjustments, NOAA established a network of 114 pristinely sited temperature stations spread out fairly uniformly throughout the United States. Because the network, known as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), is so uniformly and pristinely situated, the temperature data require no adjustments to provide an accurate nationwide temperature record. USCRN began compiling temperature data in January 2005. Now, nearly a decade later, NOAA has finally made the USCRN temperature readings available.

According to the USCRN temperature readings, U.S. temperatures are not rising at all – at least not since the network became operational 10 years ago. Instead, the United States has cooled by approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is more than half of the claimed global warming of the twentieth century.

Of course, 10 years is hardly enough to establish a long-term trend. Nevertheless, the 10-year cooling period does present some interesting facts.

First, global warming is not so dramatic and uniform as alarmists claim. For example, prominent alarmist James Hansen claimed in 2010, “Global warming on decadal time scales is continuing without letup … effectively illustrat[ing] the monotonic and substantial warming that is occurring on decadal time scales.” The word “monotonic” means, according to Merriam-Webster Online, “having the property either of never increasing or of never decreasing as the values of the independent variable or the subscripts of the terms increase.” Well, either temperatures are decreasing by 0.4 degrees Celsius every decade or they are not monotonic.

Second, for those who may point out U.S. temperatures do not equate to global temperatures, the USCRN data are entirely consistent with – and indeed lend additional evidentiary support for – the global warming stagnation of the past 17-plus years. While objective temperature data show there has been no global warming since sometime last century, the USCRN data confirm this ongoing stagnation in the United States, also.

Third, the USCRN data debunk claims that rising U.S. temperatures caused wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather events during the past year. The objective data show droughts, wildfires, and other extreme weather events have become less frequent and severe in recent decades as our planet modestly warms. But even ignoring such objective data, it is difficult to claim global warming is causing recent U.S. droughts and wildfires when U.S. temperatures are a full 0.4 degrees Celsius colder than they were in 2005.

Even more importantly than the facts above, the USCRN provides the promise of reliable nationwide temperature data for years to come. No longer will global warming alarmists be able to hide behind thinly veiled excuses to doctor the U.S. temperature record. Now, thanks to the USCRN, the data are what the data are.

Expect global warming alarmists, now and for the foreseeable future, to howl in desperation claiming the USCRN temperature data are irrelevant.

Of course, to global warming alarmists, all real-world data are irrelevant.


Less than Half of Americans Say Humans Causing Global Warming

A newly released poll by the Pew Research Center reveals a majority of Americans believe either there is no solid evidence of recent global warming or recent global warming is caused by nature rather than human activity. According to the poll, merely 40 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence of recent global warming and such warming is caused primarily by humans.

Looking more closely at the numbers, 61 percent say there is solid evidence the Earth is warming while 35 percent say there is no such solid evidence. Within the 61 percent saying there is solid evidence of warming, 40 percent say humans are likely the cause, while 18 percent say nature is the cause and 3 percent are unsure.

According to Pew, political liberals constitute the only group saying global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause. The poll’s results show those same political liberals believe by overwhelming margins that politicians should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”

The same poll shows Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline by a margin of 61 percent to 27 percent.


Salvation and Conservation, or Ruination and Confiscation?

“I’ve preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations, and I am not finished,” President Obama proudly declared before signing a proclamation newly designating the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico in mid-May. “I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up, because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it.”

In the perfect centrally-planned fantasy world inhabited by Obama and his fellow Big-Government progressives, politicized and top-down bureaucratic control really is the smartest and most effective means for ensuring proficient environmental stewardship and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

But back here in the real world, Big Government simply isn’t getting the job done.

Passed at the height of the progressive movement in 1905, the Antiquities Act empowers the executive to unilaterally declare public landmarks and assign the federal government with the seemingly simple and innocuous task of environmental preservation.

Back in March, the president used the act to designate more than 1,600 acres along the Northern California coast as the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. And in March of last year, he used the act to “protect” more than 240,000 acres as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, also in New Mexico. And all of this despite the fact that the National Park Service (which only directly manages about 15 percent of all federal lands) already has an estimated deferred maintenance backlog of at least $12 billion.

Deferred maintenance projects include repairs for roads, bridges, hiking trails, sewer systems, and pollution controls which go unaddressed while the fate of our national parks and natural resources are often left to await the mercy of political and fiscal decisions in Washington, D.C.

The federal government already owns almost a third of the entire surface area of the United States, but is constantly in a position to acquire more through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a funding mechanism derived mostly from offshore oil and gas leases and used as a means for the federal government to grab more land without having to also provide for the funds to steward its existing lands. Obama’s 2014 budget asked that Congress fully fund the LWCF to the tune of $900 million, never mind that it is egregiously irresponsible for the federal government to be in the business of growing the federal estate when it cannot even properly manage the land that it already owns.

It can be quite politically difficult for opponents to argue against any executive action that gets to use something as apparently innocuous as environmental conservation as its ostensible mission statement, and don’t progressive environmentalist know it!

For decades, litigious environmentalist groups have used the growing reams of regulations governing the federal estate to go to court to steer public-land management and policy decisions in the direction that they prefer. That direction reliably means pushing land-use policies away from the sort of dynamism and innovation that allows for diversified, productive uses like cattle grazing, timber harvesting, energy development, and even recreation, and usually toward shutting off entire areas from human use on the supposed behalf of the desert tortoise or the sage grouse or some other almost-approaching- endangered species.

Clinton-era U.S. Forest Service chief Jack Ward Thomas once noted that court battles have tied the agency into a

“Gordian knot” that creates a “vicious cycle of increasing costs, time delays, and inability to carry out management actions.” As a result, the Forest Service is severely limited in their forest- thinning and other fire-suppression activities. This has led to catastrophic wildfires that have ravaged the arid West.

Instead of bringing still more lands under the inept umbrella of top-down management, the federal government needs to start selling off federal lands, both for the sake of the environment and the budget (and if that seems a bridge too far for too many, then the Obama administration can at least open up the federal estate to innovative, more free-market techniques like commercial leasing or public-private park partnerships that can actually generate revenue and court management decision from the people on-the-ground with the most complete knowledge).

Big-Government-loving environmentalist types are all too happy to accept on faith that the federal government is the best possible steward of environmental quality across the American landscape, rather than the hotbed of inefficiency, incompetence, and increasing costliness that ruins ecosystems, restricts access, dampers rural economies, and runs up the national deficit that it actually is



The corporation now seems to take its orders from the green lobby and is generating alarm over the environment

The BBC’s behaviour grows ever more bizarre. Committed by charter to balanced reporting, it has now decided formally that it was wrong to allow balance in a debate between rival guesses about the future. In rebuking itself for having had the gall to interview Nigel Lawson on the Today programme about climate change earlier this year, it issued a statement containing this gem: “Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research.”

The evidence from computer modelling? The phrase is an oxymoron. A model cannot, by definition, provide evidence: it can provide a prediction to test against real evidence. In the debate in question, Lord Lawson said two things: it was not possible to attribute last winter’s heavy rain to climate change with any certainty, and the global surface temperature has not warmed in the past 15 to 17 years. He was right about both, as his debate opponent, Sir Brian Hoskins, confirmed.

As for the models, here is what Dr Vicky Pope of the Met Office said in 2007 about what their models predicted: “By 2014, we’re predicting that we’ll be 0.3 degrees warmer than 2004. Now just to put that into context, the warming over the past century and a half has only been 0.7 degrees, globally . . . So 0.3 degrees, over the next ten years, is pretty significant . . . These are very strong statements about what will happen over the next ten years.”

In fact, global surface temperature, far from accelerating upwards, has cooled slightly in the ten years since 2004 on most measures. The Met Office model was out by a country mile. But the BBC thinks that it was wrong even to allow somebody to challenge the models, even somebody who has written a bestselling book on climate policy, held one of the highest offices of state and founded a think-tank devoted to climate change policy. The BBC regrets even staging a live debate between him and somebody who disagrees with him, in which he was robustly challenged by the excellent Justin Webb (of these pages).

And why, pray, does the BBC think this? Because it had a complaint from a man it coyly describes as a “low-energy expert”, Mr Chit Chong, who accused Lord Lawson of saying on the programme that climate change was “all a conspiracy”.

Lawson said nothing of the kind, as a transcript shows. Mr Chong’s own curriculum vitae boasts that he “has been active in the Green party for 25 years and was the first Green councillor to be elected in London”, and that he “has a draught-proofing and insulation business in Dorset and also works as an environmental consultant”.

So let’s recap. On the inaccurate word of an activist politician with a vested financial and party interest, the BBC has decided that henceforth nobody must be allowed to criticise predictions of the future on which costly policies are based. No more appearances for Ed Balls, then, because George Osborne’s models must go unchallenged.

By the way, don’t bother to write and tell me that Lord Lawson is not a scientist. The BBC also rebuked itself last week for allowing an earth scientist with dissenting views on to Radio 4. Professor Bob Carter was head of the department of earth sciences at James Cook University in Australia for 17 years. He’s published more than 100 papers mainly in the field of paleoclimatology. So bang goes that theory.

The background to this is that the BBC recently spent five years fighting a pensioner named Tony Newbery, including four days in court with six lawyers, to prevent Mr Newbery seeing the list of 28 participants at a BBC seminar in 2006 of what it called “the best scientific experts” on climate change.

This was the seminar that persuaded the BBC it should no longer be balanced in its coverage of climate change. A blogger named Maurizio Morabito then found the list on the internet anyway. Far from consisting of the “best scientific experts” it included just three scientists, the rest being green activists, with a smattering of Dave Spart types from the church, the government and the insurance industry.

Following that debacle, the BBC commissioned a report from a geneticist, Steve Jones, which it revisited in a further report to the BBC Trust last week. The Jones report justified a policy of banning sceptics under the term “false balance”. This takes the entirely sensible proposition that reporters do not have to, say, interview a member of the Flat Earth Society every time they mention a round-the-world yacht race, and stretches it to the climate debate.

Which is barmy for two blindingly obvious reasons: first, the UN’s own climate projections contain a range of outcomes from harmless to catastrophic, so there is clearly room for debate; and second, this is an argument about the future not the present, and you cannot have certainty about the future.

The BBC bends over backwards to give air time to minority campaigners on matters such as fracking, genetically modified crops, and alternative medicine. Biologists who thinks GM crops are dangerous, doctors who thinks homeopathy works and engineers who think fracking has contaminated aquifers are far rarer than climate sceptics. Yet Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth spokesmen are seldom out of Broadcasting House.

So the real reason for the BBC’s double standard becomes clear: dissent in the direction of more alarm is always encouraged; dissent in the direction of less alarm is to be suppressed.

I sense that some presenters are growing irritated by their bosses’ willingness to take orders from the green movement.


Liberal Mega-Donor Wants to ‘Penalize People’ Who Add to ‘Climate Risk’

Speaking in New York City last week, Wall Street billionaire Tom Steyer outlined his vision for penalizing people whose actions may contribute to climate change.

“We need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk and penalize people who add to it,” Steyer said. “If we can get this right, I think there’s no doubt that our economy is going to continue to do very well.”

Steyer’s comments came at an event with several wealthy businessmen—such as former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former bankers and government officials Hank Paulson and Robert Reich—to unveil a report from Risky Business, an economic analysis of the financial impact to be caused by climate change.

Deemed the “liberal answer to the Koch Brothers,” Steyer is one of the richest businessman in America and played a key part in raising millions of dollars to elect President Obama in 2008 once Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination.

Steyer met with Obama this week to discuss what the White House could do to tackle climate change, and the “insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change,” according to Reuters.

That points to a plan to allow insurance companies to begin assessing for “climate risk” in certain industries, a more market-focused approach to discourage industries from emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Some of the people who may be “penalized” for adding to climate risks, however, are workers in plants and factories all over the rust belt of the United States. Although they recognize the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, some believe this shouldn’t come to the detriment of industries and traditional blue-collar workers.

“It is a fact that global warming threatens our planet. Scientists are as certain of this as they are of the dangers of smoking or riding in a car without a seatbelt,” said Tony Montana, spokesman for the local United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh. “Declaring ‘war’ on entire industries, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, however, is not the answer. These industries created and supported a way of life for workers and their communities for generations.”

If the idea of penalizing carbon emitters eventually makes it to the political process, Steyer has assured he will have allies in the fight.

NextGen Climate Action, a multi-million dollar political action committee funded by Steyer, has already beefed up the Democratic Senate Majority PAC with more than $5 million in hopes of guaranteeing the issue of climate change remains a political issue in many key states. Key union groups have similarly received funding by Steyer.


More taxpayer dollars for green energy?

There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out — a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.

This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.

The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to slow a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave as a sales pitch to the American public.

Today, Americans know better.

They knew about Solyndra — which took millions and then folded. Thanks, in large part to my exposé, many now know about Abengoa and the Solana solar project—which took billions of tax-payer dollars and is now functioning and producing electricity but does so by breaking immigration and labor laws, giving foreigners hiring preference, and stiffing American suppliers.

Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up — as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gather to discuss real science and policy.

With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.

Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at

Wind Energy and the Production Tax Credit

Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.

A recent study from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) that examined the state-by-state burden of the PTC, called the PTC “an amazing subsidy” because it can “effectively give a utility a bigger subsidy than the actual market price. It would be as if Uncle Sam allowed car dealers to knock off $60,000 from their tax bill for every $50,000 car they sold. Indeed, the PTC is so generous that it can result in negative wholesale electricity prices.” The “Sharing the Burden of the Wind PTC” report shows which states benefit most from the federal subsidy and which lose—with Texas being the biggest winner having received $394 million in the form of PTC credits.

Texans might be elated at their good fortune, however the IER study points out that individual consumers “still lose from the existence of the wind subsidies.” It states: “it’s not as if the IRS takes the population of Texas and divides $394 million among them, evenly. Rather, the wind subsidies are concentrated in the hands of a small group of wind producers.” As a result, wind serves as a tax shelter for large corporations.

On June 26, wind energy proponents — including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit — sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”

On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.

Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”

He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions” — when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected — to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions — like any other business — that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.”  It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.

In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”

Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer still seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.

As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.

High Cost, Low Benefit

Wind energy is also more expensive than almost all other electricity sources — only solar is higher. A new study from the Brookings Institute on the “best path to a low-carbon future,” assumes that CO2 emissions are causing climate change and therefore must be reduced. It analyzes the costs and benefits of the most common solutions. The study found: “Adding up the net energy cost and the net capacity cost of the five low-carbon alternatives, far and away the most expensive is solar. It costs almost 19 cents more per KWH than power from the coal or gas plants that it displaces. Wind power is the second most expensive. It costs nearly 6 cents more per KWH.” The study puts these additional costs in context: “The average cost of electricity to U.S. consumers in 2012 was 9.84 cents per KWH, including the cost of transmission and distribution of electricity. This means a new wind plant could at least cost 50 percent more per KWH to produce electricity, and a new solar plant at least 200 percent more per KWH, than using coal and gas technologies.” The study concludes: “renewable incentives that are biased in favor of wind and solar and biased against large-scale hydro, nuclear and gas combined cycle are a very expensive and inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Wind energy proponents cling to the idea that we must reduce fossil fuel use and believe, therefore, that the extra cost is worth it. However, because of the intermittency issues with wind and the reliability demand from the consumer, it requires fully dispatchable back-up power generation. Natural gas is the best form of back up because it can be easily adjusted to produce more or less electricity — however the constant adjustment results in less efficient use and more CO2 emissions.

I like to explain the preference for natural-gas back ups this way. Suppose you are going to cook a hamburger. You can cook it over charcoal or natural gas/propane. To use charcoal, you mound up the charcoal in the grill, soak it in lighter fluid, and toss in a match. You then wait 30 minutes for the coals to get nice and hot. Once hot, you put on your burger and cook it for 5-8 minutes. You remove your burger and leave the coals to die down — which could take several hours. On natural gas/propane, you simply turn it on and light the grill. After giving it 5 minutes to heat up, you toss on your burger. When your burger is cooked, you turn off the grill, and it is cool in minutes.

Natural gas is the preferred back up for wind (and solar) energy because, as in the burger example, its production can more easily be increased and decreased to follow the needed output — even though it operates most efficiently at a consistent level. Coal-fueled electricity generation cannot be simply turned up and down.

By way of answering the question: “Why are the costs of wind and solar so much higher, and the benefits not much different from other low-carbon alternatives?” the Brookings study states: “The benefits of reduced emissions from wind and solar are limited because they operate at peak capacity only a fraction of the time.”

It’s Not Just About the Money

If cost issues weren’t enough to make you a wind energy opponent, think of the health issues.

In late June, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) took President Obama up on his “so sue me” challenge and filed a lawsuit over his administration’s modification of the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act that now allows wind energy producers a thirty year permit to kill the majestic birds. According to ABC spokesman Bob Johns, “the Obama administration has gone too far with incentives for the wind industry.” The Washington Times quotes Johns: “Since the 1980s, wind turbines have killed an estimated 2,000-3,000 eagles, but the industry has paid only one fine.”

Wind turbines hurt more than birds. On June 16, a Michigan judge agreed with residents who live near the 56-turbine Lake Winds facility and who complained of health problems that began just after the turbines began operating. A lawsuit filed on April 1, 2013 argued that noise, vibrations, and flickering lights emanating from Lake Winds were adversely affecting their health.

Cape Wind

Despite these, and other harmful impacts — which include a loss of property values when wind turbines are installed in a neighborhood — and opposition from environmental groups and local fisherman, the Department of Energy has just approved a stimulus-funded $150 million loan guarantee for the controversial Cape Wind project planned to be built in the Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind, scheduled to begin construction in 2015, will be the first utility-scale wind facility in U.S. waters.

Addressing the loan guarantee announcement, the Boston Globe states: “Now, with a large portion of financing in place, regulatory approvals in hand, and most legal challenges resolved, the project has finally reached a threshold where it is likely to get done.” Validating my earlier point of higher cost, the Globe says the two largest utilities in Massachusetts “agreed to purchase a total of 77.5 percent of the power generated by Cape Wind at a starting price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour—well above typical wholesale prices.”

Like other wind energy projects, Cape Wind is dependent on the PTC extension. It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives — as Mary Kay Barton did — and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


9 July, 2014

Climate Science Paper Censored By American Meteorological Society Journal

Research that questioned the accuracy of computer models used to predict global warming was “censored” by climate scientists, it was alleged yesterday.

One academic reviewer said that a section should not be published because it “would lead to unnecessary confusion in the climate science community”. Another wrote: “This entire discussion has to disappear.”

The paper suggested that the computer models used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were flawed, resulting in human influence on the climate being exaggerated and the impact of natural variability being underplayed.

The findings could have profound implications. If correct, they could mean that greenhouse gases have less impact than the IPCC has predicted and that the risk of catastrophic global warming has been overstated.

However, the questions raised about the models were deleted from the paper before it was published in 2010 in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. The paper had been submitted in July 2009, when many climate scientists were urging world leaders to agree a global deal on cutting emissions at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December that year.

Vladimir Semenov, a climate scientist at the Geomar institute in Kiel, Germany, said the questions he and six others had posed in the original version of the paper were valid and removing them was “a kind of censorship”.

He decided to speak out after seeing a former colleague, Professor Lennart Bengtsson, vilified for questioning the IPCC’s predictions on global warming.

Professor Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, resigned from the advisory board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lord Lawson of Blaby’s climate sceptic think-tank, in May after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics.

Dr Semenov said some seemed to be trying to suppress suggestions that the climate was less sensitive to rising emissions than the IPCC had claimed.

“If you say there are some indications that the sensitivity is wrong, this breaks the stone on which the whole building is standing,” he said. “People may doubt the whole results.”

Dr Semenov said the reviewers who objected to the questions were technically correct because they “were not explicitly based on our results”. However, he said: “We had a right to discuss it . . . If your opinion is outside the broad consensus then you have more problems with publishing your results.”

A third reviewer was much more supportive of the paper, saying its “very provocative” suggestion that climate models were flawed was “so interesting that it needs to be discussed more fully”.

However, almost the entire paragraph was deleted, along with the conclusion that “the average sensitivity of the IPCC models may be too high”.

The journal chose to publish only the opening sentence: “We would like to emphasise that this study does not question the existence of a long-term anthropogenic warming trend during the 20th century.”

A spokesman for the American Meteorological Society said: “It is a natural part of the review process for the author to be asked to make changes, edits, and rewrites . . . The changes that are made in response to the peer review ensure that the research results are as accurate as possible.”


How Green Activists Were Allowed To Draft Obama’s White House Energy Policy

President Barack Obama’s aggressive and controversial Climate Action Plan grew out of a draft proposal from one of America’s richest environmental activist groups, it emerged Monday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which spent $41 million of its $210 million nest egg last year pushing for changes in energy policy, circulated a 110-page document in 2012 that outlined what would become the president’s latest salvo in the global-warming wars.

Now that the Obama administration has adopted the green-group’s plan, the NRDC’s insider status is widely seen as an in-your-face response to oil, gas and coal companies that had a seat at the table 13 years ago when then-Vice President Dick Cheney convened meetings in secret to chart future energy policy.

While the Bush administration focused on extracting as much energy out of the ground as legally possible, the current White House’s policy is to erect roadblocks in the path of ‘big coal’ while rewarding alternative energy speculators with loan guarantees and other sources of public funds.

The NRDC’s proposal departed from the green movement’s previous one-size-fits-all approaches, allowing states to determine how to meet stringent carbon-emission targets while drawing them all toward the central goal of squeezing coal-generated electricity to the margins of the U.S. national power picture.

As with the Obamacare law, however, state-based solutions could result in a patchwork quilt of crisscrossing rules that aggravate tensions between businesses and the White House, while opening up the floodgates for a wealth of legal avenues by lawsuit-waving opponents.

Environmental Protection Agency regulators were among a narrow group of stakeholders who got private briefings on the proposal beginning in 2012, and based their eventual written rules on what they heard.

‘Once enacted,’ The New York Times reported on Monday, the new EPA regime ‘could do far more than just shut down coal plants; it could spur a transformation of the nation’s electricity sector.’

Such a wholesale shift is high on the list of NRDC’s priorities, and its three activists who wrote the proposal – and frequently advocate for green policies with government agencies – had all the resources they wanted to pull it off, according to an NRDC insider.

‘This was the most talked-about thing going on inside the organization,’ the veteran D.C. activist told MailOnline. ‘Nothing else we were doing – not pollution control or ESA [Endangered Species Act] work or marine protected areas – nothing had as much juice behind it.’

‘Of course, fundraising was always a trump card, but other than that, the carbon policy team got everything it wanted and pretty much had a blank check.’
The statistical analysis alone coast ‘a few hundred thousand dollars,’ NRDC lawyer David Doniger told the Times.

Doniger wrote the document along with fellow lawyer David Hawkins and Daniel Lashof, an activist described by the Times as a ‘climate scientist.’

Lashof holds a Harvard bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics, and a Berkeley Ph.D. from an ‘Energy and Resources’ program that describes its goal not in research terms but as a policy outcome: ‘a sus­tain­able envi­ron­ment and a just society.’

Before co-authoring what became the Obama White House’s latest climate rules, he helped draft the U.S. Senate’s failed ‘cap and trade’ carbon emissions bill.


Data Deleted From UN Climate Report Highlight Controversies

A chart removed from the IPCC summary but published in Science shows that much of the growth in recent greenhouse gas emissions comes from Asia

When the United Nations' last major climate change report was released in April, it omitted some country-specific emissions data for political reasons, a trio of new papers argue, sounding a warning bell about the global politicization of climate science.

Written by thousands of science, policy, and economics experts from around the world, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports represent a synthesis of existing climate research knowledge, focusing on the evidence of a warming climate ("virtually certain"), the global impacts, and the ways we might avert its most catastrophic effects. The Summary for Policy-makers draws on the detailed technical report and offers recommendations on cutting carbon emissions and preparing for climate change.

Although the underlying technical material in the IPCC's fifth major report was widely agreed upon and published intact, "heated negotiations among scientific authors and diplomats led to substantial deletion of figures and text from the influential 'Summary for Policy-makers,'" writes Brad Wible, an editor at the journal Science, in the introduction to three papers published Thursday.

Wible notes there is "some fear that this redaction of content marks an overstepping of political interests, raising questions about division of labor between scientists and policy-makers and the need for new strategies in assessing complex science."

On the other hand, some observers have suggested that the policy summaries be even more explicitly co-produced with national governments, says Wible.

This discussion was sparked just days after the publication of the IPCC report in April, when report co-author and Harvard environmental economics professor Robert Stavins released a controversial open letter to the IPCC leadership. Stavins criticized the last-minute intervention by several governments in the approval process of the IPCC report in Berlin and called the resulting policy summary document "a summary by policy-makers, not a summary for them."

"Over the course of the two hours of the contact group deliberations, it became clear that the only way the assembled government representatives would approve text for SPM.5.2 [the Summary for Policy-makers] was essentially to remove all 'controversial' text (that is, text that was uncomfortable for any one individual government), which meant deleting almost 75 percent of the text," Stavins wrote on his blog on April 25.

Scientists vs. Diplomats

Wible points out that the stated intention of the IPCC since it was founded in 1988 has always been to "balance governmental and scientific input."

That mandate is unlikely to change, says David Victor, one of the lead authors of the policy discussion in the April IPCC report and the head writer of one of the papers published Thursday in Science, called "Getting Serious About Categorizing Countries."

"I think in an ideal world there would be a firmer separation between the diplomats and the scientists" when it comes to the IPCC process, says Victor, who is a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego.

However, Victor adds that he "can't imagine" the national governments from around the world that participate in the IPCC process agreeing to any substantial reforms in that area.

The best that can be hoped for are small changes that streamline the report process, says Victor. "Intergovernmental bodies that require consensus are very bad at handling politically difficult topics," he says. "I don't see a way to fix that problem."

Instead, the public should look more to individual governments and organizations and national climate assessments (such as the one released by the Obama administration May 6) for more concrete action on controversial topics like emissions caps and geoengineering. (See "Climate Report Provides Opportunity for Bridging Political Divide.")

But the second paper in the Science series, "Political Implications of Data Presentation," disagrees. Written by other authors of the last IPCC report, led by Navroz Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, the paper suggests that what is needed are more and earlier discussions between scientists and policymakers in development of future reports.

"Claiming government overreach and calling for greater insulation of the process come from a misleadingly simple interpretation" that would hinder the effectiveness of IPCC reports in actually influencing policy, Dubash and co-authors write. The fact that governments must approve the policy summary gives it more weight than other technical reports, which is a "process worth preserving."

Victor calls that argument "overly optimistic" and says he doubts earlier conversations between scientists and diplomats would have made a difference. In the 38,000 comments received and evaluated over the IPCC report's development, almost none hinted at the battle over individual country data that erupted in Berlin just days before the document was released, he says.

When governments hold the power to approve the policy document, "they are going to use that power to avoid having anything in the summaries that is politically inconvenient," says Victor.

IPCC co-author Charles Kolstad, a Stanford economist who was not involved with any of the papers released in Science, tells National Geographic that there is a "perception that the main product was the summary for policymakers and that it appeared to be a censored version of what we wrote." Kolstad says it would be better if the public had a clearer distinction of the two sides of the report and says "it would be a mistake to move the policymakers away from the process."

Kolstad adds that it was gratifying "how much the diplomats seemed to care about what was in the IPCC product" and says "remaining relevant is of paramount importance."

Value of Individual Country Data

When the IPCC met in Berlin in April to approve the latest report, representatives from several countries objected to a section in the summary that listed emissions by nation and classified countries according to their economies, says Victor. Those objecting countries included Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, he says.

Victor and colleagues wrote in Science that growth in a country's income was the strongest correlating factor with emissions. Developed countries continue to produce the highest emissions on a per capita basis, but most of the growth in global emissions over the past few decades has occurred in developing countries.

A chart removed from the IPCC summary but published in Science shows that much of the growth in recent greenhouse gas emissions comes from Asia, with smaller contributions from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Emissions in developed countries have continued to rise, but at a much slower rate.

To Victor, the logical conclusion of this trend is that "developed countries should be doing more to address climate change, but it is also the case that it is not mathematically possible to stabilize the world's climate unless developing countries are involved."

If the IPCC were to classify countries by their economies, it would "set the stage for political discussions" about what each country's responsibility might be, he says.

However, some governments worried that classification "could be disadvantageous in upcoming negotiations for a new international climate regime," IPCC authors Ottmar Edenhofer and Jan Minx write in the third policy paper in Science, called "Mapmakers and Navigators, Facts and Values."

Still, when all country data was stripped out of the policy summary, other useful information was lost, Victor and colleagues argue. For example, without that data it is harder to understand the impact of trade on emissions.

Reaching Consensus?

Although Dubash and colleagues suggest that the IPCC process can be improved with more collaboration between scientists and policymakers, Victor argues that the fundamental international nature of the group makes it unlikely to be able to reach consensus on controversial topics. "The IPCC is an inherently conservative body," says Victor.

Edenhofer and Minx write that "the real challenge is how the IPCC conducts assessments and deals with entanglement of facts and values at the science-policy interface." They suggest that future reports attempt to allow for different perspectives on policy questions and introduce analysis of how past climate policies have worked.

The IPCC has a choice, say Edenhofer and Minx. It can produce more sanitized reports that are even less relevant to policy or attempt to take on policy questions more directly, with a rational approach that acknowledges different viewpoints.

Stanford's Kolstad says he prefers the latter, although he acknowledges that it can be challenging because "any diplomat can veto any sentence." He adds that colleagues at Stanford and Harvard and their European counterparts are planning a workshop in February on how the IPCC might work better, in preparation for the next round of work.

Despite the most recent report's shortcomings, "when the IPCC says something declarative, such as that humans are responsible for most of the changes to the climate we are seeing, that means there is tremendous consensus around that," says Victor.


There's No Place Like Foam

Washington, DC, being the seat of the U.S. Government, has a higher than average tendency to exert legislative control over its citizens. For some reason, the issue of food storage seems to be a particularly high priority, as evidenced by the city's abhorrent 5 cent tax on plastic grocery bags.

In the latest effort to choke off just a little more freedom from DC residents, the government has announced a ban on single-serving styrofoam containers - the kind used for take out food or to hold inexpensive beverages. In a town where busy workers rely heavily on food trucks and where home cooking is a time-consuming luxury few can afford, this is going to be a major blow to the city’s hungry.

The ban is being justified on environmental grounds. Styrofoam is famously durable, not able to be broken down by the ordinary bacteria that helpfully take care of the rest of our waste. This, it has been decided, poses an unacceptable risk to our planet, and must be stopped, without much - if any - consideration for the costs.

When a business makes a decision to use a certain type of product, it is calculated to be in that business’ best interest. This means not only inexpensive, but providing the customer with a value that will keep them coming back for more. There are very good reasons, apart from mere greed, that so many food service businesses rely upon styrofoam rather than alternative materials. As mentioned above, it’s durable. Food doesn’t leak out of it or gradually render it useless, as tends to happen with plain paper containers. It’s lightweight, it doesn’t impart an alien taste to its contents, and yes, it’s cheap. Simply put, it’s ideally adapted to food service.

So what will be the consequences of a ban on this most perfect of containers? Lower quality products for consumers at a higher price. A basic understanding of supply and demand shows that any kind of cost increase on business will be shared between the customer and the business owner, depending on how responsive consumer demand is to price changes. This means that not only will customers be paying higher prices, but business owners will be making less money. This might not be a problem for national chains like McDonalds and Starbucks, but for businesses on the margin - and a great many of DC’s food trucks are undoubtedly operating on the margin - increased costs could mean the difference between entrepreneurial life and death.

There are further unintended consequences to these kind of bans, as when cities like Los Angeles banned single--use plastic grocery bags in favor of reuasable cloth ones in an effort to be eco-friendly, not realizing that these bags turned out to be breeding grounds for dangerous diseases.

A cost-benefit analysis is only useful, however, once you accept that there is a role for government intervention in the market in the first place. Economic theory, recognizing the benefit of free markets, dictates that a market failure be demonstrated before government gets involved. Let's take a moment to see whether this criterion is met in the case of styrofoam containers.

The argument traditionally offered by economists is the problem of externalities, situations where the full cost of a good’s use is not borne by those who use it. The customer pays for the production of the styrofoam in the price of his food, but the costs to the environment are borne by everyone. Thus, there is a market failure resulting in overproduction of styrofoam, and the government must intervene to correct it.

There are problems with this argument, most notably the tenuous claim that styrofoam results in externalities at all. When someone finishes using a styrofoam container, assuming they don’t violate existing anti-littering laws, they typically contract with a private company to carry the trash away and store it on land designated for that purpose.

If the owners of that land decide they want to store styrofoam there, they are free to refuse (no pun intended) and consumers will have to find another way of dealing with the waste. However, if they are willing to store the trash, then what is the problem? Where is the externality? The environmental cost is borne entirely by landowners voluntarily accepting waste. There is no market failure, and no justification for government intervention.

If the issue is that many landfills are classified as public land, Congress is free to make a law prohibiting the storage of styrofoam on public land, but to outright ban a privately made product that satisfies the needs of consumers and businesses alike simple because it is durable is an unacceptable violation of individual rights from a city that makes a habit out of that sort of thing.


Lord Lawson, The Climate And The BBC: Who’s The Real Expert?

Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is now the [Chairman] of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. So when global warming policy is debated, he has sometimes been invited to debate the issue on television and radio, often with climate scientists.

Last week it was revealed that the Radio 4 Today Programme has been rebuked over a particular exchange between Lord Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London. In the exchange in question, Lord Lawson contended that nobody knows the extent of climate change and that 2013 was unusually quiet for tropical storms. The BBC’s Editorial Complaints unit accepted that it was not made sufficiently clear that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change are not accepted by the majority of climate scientists.

If the debate is about how many storms there were in a particular year, and Lord Lawson got his facts wrong, that is obviously a mistake on his part. But the affair points to a more general issue.  Lord Lawson has no extensive scientific training or track record of peer-reviewed research into climate change science. So when he is invited on to debate climate change policy with some established mainstream climate scientist, is it genuinely a debate between peers, or is it a matter in which viewers and listeners should be clear that one of the debaters is a established expert with a long track record of productive work in the relevant area and the other is, at best, a semi-informed amateur?

I say the latter – it is not a debate between equals. Let’s see why.

A debate about climate change policy is a debate about what policies should be introduced to respond to the consequences or risks of human-induced climate change.  What does that involve and which of the components of the discussion are matters on which Lord Lawson has any relevant knowledge or expertise, and which are those on which his climate scientist adversary is really the expert?

Well, first, we need insights into how humans have induced and/or will  in the future induce climate change (absent any policy change or other human response – e.g. via market forces). The first part of that is an economic model. All models of human-induced climate change include, at their core, economic models – otherwise how would we forecast the human contribution without a model of how much output there will be, how much energy will be used in producing that output, and so on. Who, out of Lord Lawson, former Chancellor the Exchequer and before that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and before becoming an MP for many years an economics writer, and a climate scientist, do you suppose might have the more relevant expertise in the assessment of economic models or forecasts for the future of the economy?

Maybe some climate modellers do in fact have knowledge of the relevant economic models, but many others will actually be experts in the physics of the atmosphere and related matters. Normally, Lord Lawson will have the advantage here.

Next, we need a model of how carbon emissions will affect the climate (absent any automatic equilibrating mechanisms of the earth responding to carbon emissions). On this the climate scientist will clearly have the advantage. But then again, Lord Lawson is most unlikely to disagree with the climate scientist about anything to do with this, since the science on this point is pretty much undisputed by anyone sensible (and certainly not disputed by Lord Lawson).

Third, we need a model of how the earth might respond to changes in CO2 or other greenhouse gases. This is a point on which the climate scientist will undoubtedly have more direct expertise than Lord Lawson. It is also the non-human aspect of the issue that climate science understands the least. For example, see this transcript of the American Physical Society climate change statement review workshop of January this year. The very limited increase in global surface temperatures over the past fifteen years now goes well beyond anything that could be written off as “noise” in climate change models – it simply wasn’t initially predicted.

It obviously in no way follows that climate change is not real or not human-induced. But what does follow is that our models of how the earth responds to increased CO2 could be improved materially. Some researchers have been seeking to explain the current hiatus for a number of years, but the conclusion a number of perfectly respectable mainstream scientists draw is, as per the American Physical Society workshop transcript (p105): errors in current models “raise serious questions about the ability to simulate processes and feedbacks that are temperature dependent“. So, to be sure, the climate scientist will probably understand more about the detailed drawbacks of such models than Lord Lawson does, but it is a hotly debated topic (genuinely hotly debated, not 99pc vs 1pc) with each climate scientist having her own pet theory and no consensus at this time. Let’s score this one to the scientist.

Since government policy interventions only become an issue if market processes or other forms of natural ingenuity would not address climate change automatically, the next element we need is a view about how market processes and ingenuity might respond to climate change. That’s obviously again an economics question, on which Lord Lawson will be fairly expert and most climate scientists almost nowhere. [...]

So, overall, I agree. Given that how, if at all, we should respond to climate change is a matter of economics and political judgement, not (emphatically not) atmospheric physics (for nothing whatever follows from any climate change model about what policy should be adopted in response to its findings), I entirely agree that when Lord Lawson debates climate change policy with climate scientists there is only one person there with relevant expertise and the other party is, at best, a semi-informed amateur. The relevant expert is Lord Lawson.

The sooner people grasp that climate change policy is not a scientific question, the sooner our debate on this matter will become a whole lot more rational and balanced.


The Rage of the Climate Central Planners

The conversation with a good friend — brilliant man but a head full of confidence in the planning state — was going well. We’ve agreed on so much, such as war, civil liberties, the dangers of religious intolerance and so on. We’ve always argued about points concerning economics and property rights but it has always been polite.

Then the other day that changed. For the first time ever, the topic of climate change and policy response came up. I casually dismissed the idea that mandatory steps away from industrialization plus global regulatory controls could accomplish anything. Plus, how can we really know the relation between cause and effect, cost and benefit, problem and solution?

These are not radical points. The same crew — tax-funded experts and functionaries — that claims to be able to fix global temperature and save humanity from melting ice caps decades from now also said 25 years ago that they would bring peace, happiness, and understanding to Iraq. They spent $2.4 trillion and smashed a civilization.

This is what bureaucrats do. They always pretend to know what they cannot really know, and are more than happy to squander other people’s money and liberty in order to realize their dreams. When they screw up, no one pays the price. This is why government almost always, make that always, gets it wrong.

Whatever the problem, government is not the answer. Hardly any proposition concerning life on earth strikes me as more obvious.

So, my tossed-off, slightly dismissive comments on the global warming crusade didn’t seem so outlandish to me. I was merely extending F.A. Hayek’s “knowledge problem.”

We can’t know with certainty whether, to what extent, and with what result, and in light of possible countervailing factors, how climate change (especially not 50 years from now) really affects life on earth. We can’t know the precise causal factors and their weight relative to the noise in our models, much less the kinds of coercive solutions to apply and whether they have been applied correctly and with what outcomes, much less the costs and benefits.

We can’t know any of that before or after such possible solutions have been applied. Science requires a process and unrelenting trial and error, learning and experimentation, the humility to admit error and the driving passion to discover truth. In other words, real science requires freedom, not central planning. The idea that any panel of experts can have the requisite knowledge to make such grand decisions for the globe is outlandish and contrary to pretty much everything we know.

Plus, throw politics into the mix and matters get worse. From everything I’ve read, I’m convinced that fear over climate change (the ultimate public goods “problem”) is the last and best hope for those lustful to rule the world by force. Some people just want to run the world, and this entire nightmare scenario that posits that our high standard of living is causing the world to heat up and burn is the latest and greatest excuse. And that remains true whether or not everything they claim to be true is all true or all nonsense.

In my conversation with my friend, I didn’t say all of this; I just hinted at it vaguely. It was enough. He began to shake. He turned white and began to pace. He called me a denialist. He was horrified to discover that his good friend turns out to be some kind of extremist weirdo who disparages science. He began to accuse me of believing in things I never said, of failing to read the science (though later admitting that he hadn’t read the science).

I stood there stunned that I could have so quickly and inadvertently changed the whole dynamic of our conversation and even friendship — all for having suggested that something seemed a bit out of whack with mainstream opinion on this topic.

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, I should have come to expect it by now. Every time this subject comes up with anyone who favors government action on climate change, the result has been the same. We seem to be unable to have a rational conversation. It’s like an article of faith for them, and I’m suddenly the dangerous heretic who believes the world is flat.

Now, in light of this, I read Paul Krugman this morning. He writes in his column: “Read or watch any extended debate over climate policy and you’ll be struck by the venom, the sheer rage, of the denialists.”

The denialists? My whole experience has been the opposite. By denialists, I’m assuming he means people who doubt the merit of his grand central plan for the world economy. Among them, I’ve found a vast range of views, an open mindedness, and curiosity about the full range of opinion, and, quite often, an attitude that seems to me — if anything — to be far too quick to defer to all main conventions of this debate.

I have no interest in taking on the science of climatology but every time I’ve looked into this in depth, I’ve found that the consensus is far more loose than people like Krugman would suggest. Real scientists do not have the intensity of certainty that the politicians and pundits demand they have.

Discerning cause and effect, cost and benefit, problem and solution, in a field that touches on the whole of the social and natural science — come on. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is just one way to look at this.

If you want tolerance and humility, and a willingness to defer to the evidence and gradual process of scientific discovery, you will find it among those who have no desire to manage the world from the top down.

What can we say about those who want to empower a global coterie of elites to make the decision about what technologies we can use and how much under the guise of controlling something so gigantically amorphous and difficult to measure, detect, and precisely manage as earth’s surface temperature?

This is a level of chutzpah that surpasses the wildest fantasies of any socialist planner.

Even without knowing anything of the literature, without having read any of the best science on the topic, anyone with knowledge of the politics of science and the politics of public policy can know this much: this is not going to end well.

And perhaps this explains the incredible intolerance, belligerance, and stunning dogmatism of those who are demanding we shut down the free market in order to accommodate their wishes.

They really can’t allow a debate, because they will certainly and absolutely and rightly lose.

When that is certain, the only way forward is to rage.

Which is precisely what I expect to happen in the wake of what I’ve just written.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


8 July, 2014

Could Consuming MORE Energy Help Humans Save Nature?

By John Horgan

Even before I arrived at the annual “Dialogue” of the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, California, think tank that challenges mainstream environmental positions, I was arguing about it.

"Ecopragmatists" contend that higher energy consumption may help us "decouple" from, or reduce our impact on, the environment. Photo: Breakthrough Institute.

When I explained some of the institute’s positions to two green friends, they were aghast that I would hobnob with a group that favors nuclear power, natural gas, genetically-modified food—and, more generally, the notion that environmentalism is or should be compatible with rapid economic growth.

My friends agree with ethicist Clive Hamilton that the Institute’s “ecopragmatist” policies (other common descriptors are ecomodernist, neogreen and techno-utopian) “will lead us to disaster.” Hamilton argues in Scientific American that Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, founders of the Breakthrough Institute, “do not deny global warming; instead they skate over the top of it, insisting that whatever limits and tipping points the Earth system might throw up, human technology and ingenuity will transcend them.”

Like environmental journalists Andrew Revkin and Keith Kloor, who are friends, I admire the work of Shellenberger and Nordhaus. We share (I think) several basic assumptions, which for me are emotional as well as intellectual. First, optimism about the future is reasonable, given how much progress humans have already achieved in the realms of medicine, human rights, prosperity and even the environment. Second, optimism, even wishful thinking, are more conducive to achieving further progress than alarmism and despair. Third, we can solve our problems by being more open-minded and creative–and scrutinizing all our assumptions.

Take, for example, the provocative agenda of the 2014 Dialogue, which was held in Sausalito, California, June 22-24, and was titled “High-energy Planet.” (See also the institute’s recent report “Our High-Energy Planet.”) Here is how the Dialogue brochure introduces the agenda:

"For the past 40 years, rising energy production and consumption have been widely viewed as inherently destructive of nature. A steady stream of government, United Nations, and environmental proposals have identified lowered energy consumption as the highest goal of climate and environmental policy. But during that same period, global per capita energy consumption has risen by 30 percent. And over the next century, global energy consumption is anticipated to double, triple, or more. The reality of our high-energy planet demands that we rethink environmental protection. The question for Breakthrough Dialogue 2014 is, ‘How might a high-energy planet save nature?’

Universal energy is a fundamental requisite of development. The transformation of natural energy assets into usable energy services allows not just for household lighting and electricity, but also modern infrastructures and societies. Affordable energy is used to power tractors, create fertilizers, and power irrigation pumps, all of which improve agricultural yields and raise income. Cheap and reliable grid electricity allows factory owners to increase output and hire more workers. Electricity allows hospitals to refrigerate lifesaving vaccines and power medical equipment. It liberates children and women from manual labor and provides light, heat, and ventilation for the schools that educate the workforce.

A world with cheaper and cleaner energy could be a world where humans tread more lightly, leaving more space for other species while reducing pollution. Cheap, clean energy could power advanced water treatment plants that remove phosphorus from livestock effluents, returning clean water to rivers and recycling phosphorous as a fertilizer. Desalination could spare aquifers, rivers, and lakes, while rehabilitating freshwater ecosystems. Materials recycling and incineration could make landfills a thing of the past. And vertical agriculture could spare more land for nonhumans.

There is no guarantee that a high-energy planet will be a better place for nature. While land used for agriculture has grown only modestly, frontier agriculture continues to devastate old-growth rainforests in Indonesia and Brazil. Coal continues to be the fastest-growing fuel, and the carbon intensity of the global economy has been increasing in recent years. And while consumption of some key resource inputs such as wood and non-agricultural water appear to have peaked, demand for others is still growing rapidly.

Ultimately, what will determine whether our high-energy planet is better or worse for nature will be the ways in which our technologies, our economies, our values, and our politics evolve. What are the ways that we might shape the trajectory of the current transition and what are the ways that we won’t? What does an ecomodernist politics look like that is simultaneously realistic and aspirational about the future of the planet?

Agricultural innovations have boosted the productivity of farmland over the last 50 years, sparing enormous swathes of land, according to a 2012 analysis by Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and co-authors. Other energy-consuming innovations could help further reduce humanity's impact on nature, according to Ausubel."

Breakthrough speakers did not all find the concept of a sustainable, high-energy planet plausible. Far from it. The vision of a prosperous, green, “high-energy planet” was supported by some speakers, notably environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University, who received the 2014 “Breakthrough Paradigm Award.”

Ausubel emphasized that energy-consuming advances such as tractors and synthetic fertilizers already enable humans to produce food far more efficiently, using less land and water. Ausubel asserted that our technologies are allowing us to “decouple” from nature–that is, to meet our needs with much less impact on the environment. Environmental researcher Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado argued, moreover, that large increases in energy consumption are required to eradicate the poverty that still afflicts a large proportion of humanity.

But key tenets of the high-energy proposal were criticized by other speakers. Energy analyst Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis questioned whether nuclear energy will ever be as economically viable as proponents hope. Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity feared that by the time humans achieve their green, high-energy utopia, much of the planet’s biodiversity will have already been wiped out.

I saw these disagreements as productive. The conference fulfilled its goal of “achieving disagreement,” defined as “overcoming misunderstandings to get at genuine disagreements.”

I have one suggestion for the Breakthrough Institute: I hope it considers how militarism can exacerbate our environmental problems, and, conversely, how reducing militarism can benefit environmentalism and other social causes. Perhaps a topic for a future Dialogue?


“Demand-side management”: Blackouts by another name

UK: In a recent speech Ed Davey announced that energy intensive companies would be paid to switch off their machinery during times of high demand. As many have noted, this not what happens in healthy energy markets. Although this policy is called ‘demand-side management’, jargon does not disguise what is still a blackout. But simple economics can determine a much better approach to energy policy than the managed decline preferred by the deeply unpopular minority party in the coalition.

The problem of the UK’s diminished capacity is caused by energy policies, (not shortages of fuel), largely but not entirely driven by EU directives to reduce CO2 and other emissions from power stations.  Much of the UK’s generating capacity has been forced to close by the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), followed by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), both of which are intended to reduce the emissions responsible for pollution. Nobody is against clean air, but the combination of these policies has compounded the UK’s energy problems, leaving an energy gap which threatens wide-spread blackouts.

The LCPD and IED force the operators of coal-fired power stations either to shut down within a given time (17,500 operational hours between 2016 and 2023), or to add systems to comply with the standards they set out.  Retro-fitting older but still serviceable plants may not be economically viable, so the operational lifespan of these plants is reduced by a decade or more.  Somewhat late in the day, the Department for Energy and Climate Change commissioned a report on the feasibility of building new gas and coal-fired capacity and extending the life of the UK’s existing power plants by making them compliant with the IED.

The existence of the report demonstrates that the current and previous governments’ plans for a greener energy sector have not materialised, and cannot now be achieved. No amount of wind turbines and domestic solar PV installations can replace the capacity that has already been lost to the LCPD and will be lost to the IED. So the government is now forced to face the consequences: begging energy companies to keep remaining coal and legacy gas plants operational for as long as possible in order to avert a deeper crisis.

Along the way, the report shows some interesting things about the history of the UK’s fleet of power stations. The following graph shows two main periods of building. Approximately 3.3GW a year of coal plant between 1965-75 and 2.5GW a year between 1990 and 2000, under different economic regimes.

This demonstrates that relatively rapid deployment of conventional plant is technically feasible. In contrast, the UK’s onshore wind fleet expanded by an average of just 0.5GW a year between 2004-12, equivalent to just 0.15GW when we take into account the variability of wind energy. At this rate, it would take nearly 80 years for onshore wind to replace the 11.8GW of coal and gas-fired capacity that will have been shut down by 2020, by the LCPD and IED. If we include the 6.1GW of nuclear capacity that will have been closed by 2020, the current rate of onshore wind farm construction will take 120 years to replace what took fewer than 6 years to build in the 1960s. So much for green economic ‘progress’.

And the cost? The report rules out building new coal-fired plants, but more interestingly finds that new gas-fired plants can be built for around £500 per KW of capacity – £500 million per GW at a build rate of up to 6GW a year. This is consistent with DECC’s own estimates, which includes onshore wind at £960 per KWh of capacity, or £3,300, when we take into account wind variability. That’s £3.3 billion per GW.  So to close the energy gap with gas-fired capacity would cost around £9 billion, and take three years. But closing the gap with onshore wind energy would cost £59 billion (not including the cost of extensive changes to the Grid to cope with intermittent sources like wind) and take longer than a century. And we’d still need to spend the £9 billion on gas-fired back-up anyway.

It is remarkable, given these facts, that the government should ever doubt the need to keep the legacy power stations open. According to research by The Tax Payer’s Alliance, green energy subsidies will amount to £5.8 billion a year by 2018-19. That could pay for the energy gap to be closed in just 18 months.

These are of course, rough calculations. And they don’t take into account the cost of fuel. But the cost of financing £59 billion worth of wind farms – interest payments – would be far greater than the cost of fuel for gas plants, which is one reason why wind farms need to be so heavily subsidised. No wonder green campaigners are so violently opposed to fracking, and so resistant to a second ‘dash for gas’. The argument for closing down coal and gas-fired power stations, and replacing them with wind farms and other renewables is factually, empirically and morally bankrupt. And no wonder the government is so worried about keeping the lights on that it is asking factories to shut down. It is policies, not technical, economic or environmental challenges, that have caused the energy gap to open up.


U.S. Fracking Has 'Cut Carbon More Than The Whole World's Wind And Solar'

Fracking in the US has led to a greater reduction in carbon emissions than all the wind turbines and solar panels across the entire globe put together. This is the stark fact presented at a meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week.

Chris Faulkner, who is chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation based in Texas, explained: "Fracking has succeeded where Kyoto and carbon taxes have failed. Due to the shale boom in the US, the use of clean burning natural gas has replaced much more polluting coal by ten per cent. In 2012, the shift to gas has managed to reduce CO? emissions by about 300 megatonnes (Mt).

"Compare this to the fact that all the wind turbines and solar panels in the world reduce CO? emissions, at a maximum, by 275 Mt. In other words, the US shale gas revolution has by itself reduced global emissions more than all the well-intentioned solar and wind in the world.”

The economic impacts of fracking and shale gas are also indisputable: as natural gas prices in the European Union have doubled since the year 2000, US prices have fallen by about 75 per cent in the past few years. Annually, the global solar and wind subsidies cost $60B, whereas the US is saving at least $100B from cheaper energy

The Economist predicts that by 2020 the fracking revolution will have added 2 to 4 per cent ($380–$690B) to American GDP and created more than twice as many jobs as car makers provide today. US GDP today is about $16T, and US car makers employ about 800,000 people.

Chris Faulkner continued: "Many countries in Europe, and across the world, have similar opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, and to experience the same economic benefits.”

"These are not opportunities governments should overlook, or discount, as carbon reduction targets will not be achieved through renewables or any other current energy generation technology.

"But shale is not a silver bullet, it is a stop-gap fuel while other energy generation technologies are developed, which will replace carbon-based fuels in the coming years.

"Opponents of fracking and shale exploitations cite various risks. Yet a million and a half wells have been fracked in the US since 1947 and 95 per cent of all wells in the US are fracked today. It is a very safe method of exploration and production. Fracking occurs at several thousand feet below freshwater aquifers. It is virtually impossible for any of the fracking fluid to climb back up through the rock formations between the shale gas deposits and the aquifer.

"As with any energy source,” added Chris Faulkner, "there are risks. But if there is proper regulation and enforcement, those risks can be managed and minimized. In many states in the US there are effective regulations and monitoring in place.”

Chris Faulkner was invited to present at the Council of Europe by UK MP David Davies. The 'fringe' meeting was attended by over 30 Council of Europe members from across Europe, including eight UK MPs.

"The UK is the only country in Europe which is progressing with shale exploration,” added Chris Faulkner. "The rest of Europe is watching the UK very closely to see what happens.

"The UK government is making every effort to get this right, albeit without much help from the shale industry which has spectacularly failed to properly engage with governments and, more importantly, with the public at large.

"The handful of companies operating in the field have not made any real effort to engage with local communities around sites, enter into proper discussions with local councils, or discussed fracking with environmentalists, allowing them free range to influence public perceptions using inaccurate, misinterpreted or exaggerated information mainly from the US experience.

"The industry has also failed to come forward with any suggestions for compensating landowners and local communities, seemingly leaving it to government to regulate.

"The UK government has suggested a lump sum payment and then 1 per cent of revenue going forward. This is very limited compared to the model that operates in the US where landowners can get over 20 per cent of revenue over the life of a well.”


UK: Green ‘smart meters’ are plain stupid

Ideology is a bad guide to action in the real world. It makes otherwise sensible people ignore important facts and pursue policies which are obviously flawed.

The current Green dogma is constantly pushing governments, businesses and much of the media into policies and actions which we will later regret.

The plan for ‘smart meters’ is one such mistake. Even those who now promote them do not fully understand them. Experience in other countries shows they will not fulfil their optimistic official targets and that they are fraught with risks.

They do not work properly in several types of building. Their complex technology could take years to bed down.

Yet the policy is to be implemented anyway, publicised at great expense with a launch event starring Bob Geldof. And we, the actual consumers, will pay for it for many years ahead in higher charges, even if we opt not to have the new equipment in our homes.

This is a classic example of starting with a theory and trying to force reality to fit. Similar attitudes led to the sclerosis and ultimate collapse of the old Communist systems, which promised utopia and produced poverty, concrete-headed official obduracy and rust.

The Green fashion has gone unchallenged long enough.

It is time for Ministers, MPs and the media to re-examine the claims of a belief system which has so far brought nothing but higher prices, diminished efficiency and ugly blights on the landscape.


Report from a British summer

By the end of this week, the Met Office is predicting it will be Phew, What A Scorcher! time again. It’s called the British summer.

Not according to the Government, it isn’t. Officially, we don’t have weather any more.

We have ‘climate change’, a catch-all excuse for everything from raising taxes and refusing to empty the bins to exploding manhole covers.

That’s right, exploding manhole covers. The Health and Safety Executive has warned pedestrians to be on the alert after a series of manhole cover explosions in London’s West End.

There have been 64 such incidents already this year, compared with just nine in 2011. ‘Experts’ blame the ‘wettest winter on record’ for rainwater damaging underground electric cables.

The heavy rainfall, which brought flooding to many parts of the country, is naturally attributed to ‘climate change’, which is also allegedly responsible for last week’s hot weather and the subsequent deluge at the weekend.

Today’s political class thinks the answer to unpredictable weather is to close perfectly serviceable coal-fired power stations, litter the landscape with useless windmills and jack up the cost of fuel to meet ‘green’ energy targets.

They also assume the right to lecture us about our behaviour. An outfit called ‘Public Health England’ has taken it upon itself to draw up a ‘Heatwave Plan 2014’ to be distributed to all homes.

I only became aware of this patronising drivel when Mail reader Tony Singleton sent me a copy of a leaflet which had been pushed through his letter box by Devon County Council’s ‘Emergency Management’ team.

It begins: ‘Although many of us enjoy the sunshine, as a result of climate change we are increasingly likely to experience summer temperatures that may be harmful to health.’

We are instructed to obey a shopping list of precautions to keep us safe. For instance: ‘Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm. If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.

‘Eat cold foods, particularly salads. Take a cool shower, bath or body wash. Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.’ (I never leave home without one.)

As if this isn’t sufficiently insulting to our intelligence, we are also told how to act in our own homes.

‘Close curtains that receive morning and afternoon sun. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat. Consider replacing or putting reflective material in between them and the window space.’

What? Covering your windows with Bacofoil is normally associated with lunatics who are convinced they are being targeted by invisible death rays from alien space ships. It’s the kind of thing which gets people sectioned.

Now, though, it appears to be official Government policy. After reading this rubbish, I presumed it couldn’t be confined only to Devon.

I was right. The Heatwave Plan 2014 has been adopted by councils and NHS Trusts all over Britain as part of a national action plan.

I’ve stumbled across websites called ‘Norfolk Prepared’ and ‘Staffordshire Prepared’ giving identical advice.

The author of this extraordinary 45-page document is Professor  Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health.

She has drawn on the expertise of a wide range of healthcare ‘professionals’ from across the public sector. It even contains advice to Muslims on how to avoid becoming dehydrated in the event of a heat wave coinciding with fasting during Ramadan.

They think of everything, don’t they? It was only a matter of time before the ‘climate change’ and ‘diversity’ agendas collided. Goodness knows how much all this madness is costing us.

Meanwhile, in other news, the BBC has decided to stop giving airtime to ‘unqualified climate change deniers’ and the EU is issuing new recycling rules and demanding higher petrol taxes to ‘combat climate change’.


‘Energy Independence’: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

    “Unfortunately, at the first sign of political and economic trouble most people are spontaneously inclined to put the brakes on international trade and to increase local production of critical things such as food and energy. This stance often has dire consequences.”

As some apparently inexplicable behaviour illustrates (say, being a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs), humans are profoundly territorial creatures. According to evolutionary psychologists, this is because for approximately 90% of their time on this planet, modern humans belonged to small groups that were constantly fighting each other over the possession of land and resources. Deep down, most people’s behaviour is not all that different from that observed on Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor…

Peace and Open Trade

As recent events in the Ukraine remind us, sometimes the other tribe is still out there to get us. By and large, however, the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker demonstrates in his book The Better Angels of our Nature that we are living “in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence,” a relatively blessed state of affairs made possible through ever greater international trade and the worldwide exchange of ideas and culture over the last few centuries.

More than two centuries before Pinker, the French philosopher Montesquieu had similarly observed:

Commerce is a cure for the most destructive prejudices; for it is almost a general rule, that wherever we find agreeable manners, there commerce flourishes; and that wherever there is commerce, there we meet with agreeable manners… Peace is the natural effect of trade.” In the immortal words of another French thinker of the time, Voltaire: “Go into the [Stock] Exchange in London, that place more venerable than many a court, and you will see representatives of all the nations assembled there for the profit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian deal with one another as if they were of the same religion, and reserve the name of infidel for those who go bankrupt.

Unfortunately, at the first sign of political and economic trouble most people are spontaneously inclined to put the brakes on international trade and to increase local production of critical things such as food and energy. This stance often has dire consequences. As the old saying goes, if goods don’t cross borders, armies eventually will.

Less dramatically though, these policies typically deliver lower standards of living (after all, no one would bother moving good over long distances if they did not provide better and cheaper alternatives to local productions) and greater insecurity (for instance, promoting “food security” through increased local production essentially amounts to putting more of our agricultural eggs in one regional basket, a recipe for disaster when droughts, floods and other unavoidable natural calamities strike).

Energy No Exception

Energy security is no different. Policies in this respect typically involve a combination of reduced dependence on any one foreign supplier by increasing their number, ramping up domestic production and reducing overall demand through energy conservation measures. While none of these things are inherently bad when they occur spontaneously (such as when new profitable local energy sources are developed), they are counterproductive when they occur solely as a result of government subsidies, mandates or barriers to trade, as the history of U.S. energy markets abundantly illustrates.

Over a century ago, the United States was the most important oil producer in the world with significant drilling operations in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and California. The country’s only serious global rival back then was Russia whose large oilfields around the Caspian sea (in what is now Azerbaidjan) had been developed largely at the instigation of Robert and Ludvig Nobel, brothers of the better known Alfred (of Nobel Prizes fame). In later decades though, the rapid development of the American economy and the discovery gigantic petroleum reserves in the Middle East, Venezuela, Canada and other places turned the USA into a net importer.

Greater dependence on foreign imports was not problematic until the energy crisis of the early 1970s that prompted President Nixon to launch the Project Independence whose goal was to make the United States self-sufficient. Similar policies were later embraced by many politicians. As many readers know, one of the main goals of the Obama administration was to create millions of well-paid, abundant, stable, unionized (with full benefits), healthy, environmentally beneficial, and geographically dispersed “green jobs” in everything from electric cars to wind turbines.

Unfortunately, overturning the laws of physics and economics proved more challenging than herding free-range and grass-fed unicorns. Try as they might, no visionary policy maker found a way to convert the Green Job Kool-Aid into an affordable, convenient, and reliable energy drink.

But while green schemes were falling apart, production of the much-maligned hydrocarbons soared to such an extent that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, US crude oil imports peaked in 2005, while in 2013 the country became the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Of course, the sheer size of the U.S. economy means that its petroleum consumption still depends for about 40% on imports of crude oil and petroleum products, but BP’s Energy Outlook now forecasts that the U.S. will produce 101% of its energy needs by 2035, making the country de facto energy independent. While such forecasts should be taken with a grain of salt, the possibility of an energy “Independence Day” is now, for the first time in several decades, eminently plausible. This type of self-sufficiency is desirable, for it rests on superior local alternatives to those that the rest of the world could provide.

If history is any guide, however, something completely unexpected could emerge in energy markets in the coming two decades and foreign alternatives might again become more desirable. If that was the case, the U.S. would be ill advised to cling to less desirable local alternatives. As was the case before the fracking boom, energy security would be best achieved not by reducing the physical volume of imported oil, but by diversifying supplies and letting creative people in the private sector come up with better alternatives.

Risk Management 101 tells us to diversify our investment portfolio. The same is true from the perspective of energy consumers and national governments. If energy security is the goal, then strengthening energy interdependence the world over is the way to achieve it. The more suppliers you depend on, the more secure you will be. As Andy Grove put it, out true goal should be energy resilience through adaptability and substitutability.  In fact, resilience is one of the best features of market processes as individual buyers and sellers can adapt, each in their own way, to changes in supply and demand conditions conveyed through market prices.


World markets not only deliver cheaper and better goods, but they also make countries and consumers more secure and resilient. Now as in the past, for most of the world more energy security means less energy independence. The U.S. is now in the unique position of benefitting from a significant local energy boom and should enjoy it while it lasts, but this should not detract from this greater truth.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


7 July, 2014

Lame, lame, lame

There's some lame stuff written about global warming but the nonsense below takes the cake.  Hair colour is determined by your genes, not by the temperature.  The only way the frequency of a particular gene can be reduced in nature is for that gene to be  selected against in mating.  And why a slight increase in temperature would make redheads less desirable in bed is not explained

Global warming could lead to the extinction of Scotland's redheads, expects have claimed.

Experts believe that Scotland’s gloomy climate has led to a red hair emerging as a genetic adaptation to help exploit rare sunny days and boost Vitamin D production.

But as the world warms up, some predict that the change in climate will lead to more sunny days for the Scots - meaning they will no longer be so well adapted to their environment.

Only about 1-2 per cent of the world’s population has red hair but in Scotland the figure is much higher, with about 13 per cent, or 650,000 people, with flaming locks.

Alastair Moffat, managing director of genetic testing company ScotlandsDNA, said the country’s dull weather was responsible for a larger number of flame-haired men and women being born.

Dr Moffat told the Daily Record: 'We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England is adaptation to the climate. We do not get enough sun and have to get all the vitamin D we can.

'If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.'

Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16, which causes a mutation.

That means a person who does not have red hair can still produce red-haired children if they and their partner is a carrier of the gene.

Despite concerns that red hair dying out, many experts say it is likely to continue for many generations.

Research publised last year by BritainsDNA found that 20million people in the UK and Ireland have ginger genes.

The most red-headed part of Britain and Ireland is the South-East of Scotland with Edinburgh as a red-hotspot where 40 per cent carry one of the three common red hair gene variants.

But the biggest surprise revealed by the research is just over 34 per cent of the population of parts of the north of England are carriers, making Yorkshire and Humberside as red-headed as Ireland.


Global warming computer models confounded as Antarctic sea ice hits new record high with 2.1million square miles more than is usual for time of year

The levels of Antarctic sea-ice last week hit an all-time high – confounding climate change computer models which say it should be in decline.

America’s National Snow And Ice Data Center, which is funded by Nasa, revealed that ice around the southern continent covers about 16million sq km, more than 2.1?million more than is usual for the time of year.

It is by far the highest level since satellite observations on which the figures depend began in 1979.
In statistical terms, the extent of the ice cover is hugely significant.

It represents the latest stage in a trend that started ten years ago, and means that an area the size of Greenland, which would normally be open water, is now frozen.

The Antarctic surge is so big that overall, although Arctic ice has decreased, the frozen area around both poles is one million square kilometres more than the long-term average.

In its authoritative Fifth Assessment Report released last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted that the computer models on which scientists base their projections say Antarctic ice should be in decline, not increasing.

The report said: ‘There is low confidence in the scientific understanding of the observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent since 1979, due to… incomplete and competing scientific explanations for the causes of change.’

Some scientists have suggested the Antarctic ice increase may itself be caused by global warming. But Professor Judith Curry, head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said the arguments were not convincing.

She added: ‘We do not have a quantitative, predictive understanding of the rise in Antarctic sea ice extent.’ She said it was becoming increasingly apparent that long-term cycles in ocean temperatures were responsible for a significant proportion of the ice decline in the Arctic – a process that may be starting to reverse.

Prof Curry also revealed that because of the ‘pause’, in which world average temperatures have not risen for more than 16 years, the Arctic ice decline has been ‘touted’ by many as the most important evidence for continued global warming.

But in her view, climate scientists have to consider evidence from  both Poles.  She added: ‘Convincing arguments regarding the causes of sea-ice  variations require understanding and ability to model both the Arctic and Antarctic.’


It's politics, not science, driving climate mania: Why are environmentalists and scientists so reluctant to discuss long-term increases in southern hemisphere sea ice?

For years, computer simulations have predicted that sea ice should be disappearing from the Poles.  Now, with the news that Antarctic sea-ice levels have hit new highs, comes yet another mishap to tarnish the credibility of climate science.

Climatologists base their doom-laden predictions of the Earth’s climate on computer simulations.

But these have long been the subject of ridicule because of their stunning failure to predict the pause in warming – nearly 18 years long on some measures – since the turn of the last century.

It’s the same with sea ice. We hear a great deal about the decline in Arctic sea ice, in line with or even ahead of predictions.

But why are environmentalists and scientists so much less  keen to discuss the long-term increase in the southern hemisphere?

In fact, across the globe, there are about one million square kilometres more sea ice than 35 years ago, which is when satellite measurements began.

It’s fair to say that this has been something of an embarrassment for climate modellers. But it doesn’t stop there.

In recent days a new scandal over the integrity of temperature data has emerged, this time in America, where it has been revealed as much as 40 per cent  of temperature data there are not real thermometer readings.

Many temperature stations have closed, but rather than stop recording data from these posts, the authorities have taken the remarkable step of ‘estimating’ temperatures based on the records of surrounding stations.

So vast swathes of the data are actually from ‘zombie’ stations that have long since disappeared.  This is bad enough, but it has also been discovered that the  US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using estimates even when perfectly good raw data is available to it – and that it has adjusted historical records.

Why should it do this? Many have noted that the effect of all these changes is to produce a warmer present and a colder past, with the net result being  the impression of much faster warming.

They draw their conclusions accordingly.

Naturally, if the US temperature records are indeed found to have been manipulated, this is unlikely to greatly affect our overall picture of rising temperatures at the end of the last century and  a standstill thereafter.

The US is, after all, only a  small proportion of the globe.

Similarly, climatologists’ difficulties with the sea ice may be of little scientific significance in the greater scheme of things.

We have only a few decades of data, and in climate terms this is probably too short to demonstrate that either the Antarctic increase or the Arctic decrease is anything other than natural variability.

But the relentless focus by activist scientists on the Arctic decline does suggest a political imperative rather than a scientific one – and when put together with the story of the US temperature records, it’s hard to avoid the impression that what the public is being told is less than the unvarnished truth.

As their credulity is stretched more and more, the public will – quite rightly – treat demands for action with increasing caution…


Climate Scientist Who Got It Right Predicts 20 More Years of Global Cooling

Dr. Don Easterbrook – a climate scientist and glacier expert from Washington State who correctly predicted back in 2000 that the Earth was entering a cooling phase – says to expect colder temperatures for at least the next two decades.

Easterbrook’s predictions were “right on the money” seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which Gore called a “planetary emergency.”

“When we check their projections against what actually happened in that time interval, they’re not even close. They’re off by a full degree in one decade, which is huge. That’s more than the entire amount of warming we’ve had in the past century. So their models have failed just miserably, nowhere near close. And maybe it’s luck, who knows, but mine have been right on the button,” Easterbrook told

“For the next 20 years, I predict global cooling of about 3/10ths of a degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the one-degree warming predicted by the IPCC,” said Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University and  author of 150 scientific journal articles and 10 books, including “Evidence Based Climate Science,” which was published in 2011. (See EasterbrookL coming-century-predictions.pdf)

In contrast, Gore and the IPCC’s computer models predicted “a big increase” in global warming by as much as one degree per decade. But the climate models used by the IPCC have proved to be wrong, with many places in Europe and North America now experiencing record-breaking cold.

Easterbrook noted that his 20-year prediction was the “mildest” one of four possible scenarios, all of which involve lower temperatures, and added that only time will tell whether the Earth continues to cool slightly or plunges into another Little Ice Age as it did between 1650 and 1790.

“There’s no way to tell ‘til you get there,” he told But he lamented the fact that governments worldwide have already spent a trillion dollars fighting the wrong threat.

“How does it feel to have been right?” asked Easterbrook.

“To be really truthful, it’s wonderful. There’s nothing that makes you feel better than to be right and be able to say, ‘I told you so,’” replied Easterbrook, who was also an official reviewer of the IPCC reports. “But I’m not gloating about it because it’s not good news. It’s bad news.

“And in many respects, I hope that I’m wrong. And the reason I hope that I’m wrong is because it’s going to cost several million people their lives if I’m right. In Third World countries where food and water are a problem right now, it’s going to get worse. Cold is way worse for humanity than warm is.”

Easterbrook said he made his earlier prediction by tracing back “a consistently recurring pattern” of alternating warm and cool ocean cycles called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that occurs naturally every 25 to 30 years. He discovered that the PDO corresponded with a similar temperature cycle demonstrated by isotope ratios found in Greenland ice cores going all the way back to 1480.

“We don’t know what the driving mechanism is, but it’s very consistent. It’s happened five times a century and every time it’s happened, there’s been a corresponding change in global temperature, either warm or cool,” Easterbrook told

“What I did was I projected this same pattern forward to see what it would look like. And so in 1999, which was the year after the second warmest year on record, the PDO said we’re due for a climate change, and so I said okay. It looks as though we’re going to be entering a period of about three decades or so of global cooling.

“And so in 2000, I published a paper with the Geological Society of America in which I predicted that we were going to stop warming and begin cooling for about 25 or 30 years, on the basis of taking the temperature records that go back a century or more and simply repeating the pattern of warming and cooling, warming and cooling, and so on.

“And that in fact has happened. We have now had 17 years with no global warming and my original prediction was right so far. But we have still probably another 20 years or so to see if the cooling trend continues, and if it does, then my prediction will be right and my methods will be right. And so what it boils down to is, so far so good.”

Easterbrook added that his long-term prediction until the end of century is “a lot more nebulous” due to the still-unknown effect of the sun, which has entered a “grand solar minimum” occurring every 200 years.  “Everything we think depends on what’s going to happen with the sun.”

But based on past climate data, he says the most likely scenarios are “either deep cooling, or a return to another 25-year cycle of light warming/cooling, but nothing even approaching the 10 degrees warming the IPCC folks are predicting.”

When asked Easterbrook if anybody from the IPCC, which “ignored all the data I gave them,” ever admitted that he had been right, he laughed.“No, every time I say something about the projection of climate into the future based on real data, they come out with some modeled data that says this is just a temporary pause, like a tiger waiting under the rug.”

Easterbrook noted that 32,000 American scientists have signed a statement that there’s no correlation between climate change and carbon dioxide levels. “I am absolutely dumbfounded by the totally absurd and stupid things said every day by people who are purportedly scientists that make absolutely no sense whatsoever….

“These people are simply ignoring real-time data that has been substantiated and can be replicated and are simply making up stuff,” he told Driven by a quest for money and power, he added, “what they’re doing in the U.S. is using CO2 to impose all kinds of restrictions to push a socialist government.”

“One thing many people don’t realize is that CO2 by itself is incapable of causing significant climate change. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 39/1,000ths of one percent. It’s nothing. Ninety-five percent of the greenhouse effect is water vapor, and water vapor is not changing. …

“No doubt CO2 has been climbing, but the total change in atmospheric composition [since 1945, when CO2 levels began to increase] is one 9/1,000ths of one percent. So how are you going to have a 10 degree climate change by changing this tiny amount? You can’t do it,” he says, which is why the trillion dollars already spent worldwide on reducing carbon dioxide has had little effect.

“The people who are climate deniers are the people who are denying global cooling," Easterbrook told "We haven’t had any global warming in 17 years, and they are denying that. And so we’re not the deniers. They’re the deniers.”


Humidity and the Greenhouse effect

A study done by John Christy (IRRIGATION-INDUCED WARMING IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA?) has been touted by some as being “proof” that humidity causes an enhanced “greenhouse effect”.

The conclusions drawn in the paper are based on the following two graphs (the red trend lines were added for clarity):

At first glance the increase in the daily minimum temperature (just before sunrise) exceeds the decrease in daily maximum temperature (~2:30PM) giving the impression that there was an over-all increase in the daily mean temperature from 1930-2000, but look at the scale. Each line in the TMin graph is 2 °C while each line in the TMax scale is 4 °C.

So, as you can see the daily minimum temperature increased about 2 °C while the daily maximum temperature decreased by about 2 °C meaning that the overall affect of irrigation on the daily mean temperature was nil. Rather, the affect of irrigation in this study shows that ground water decreases the diurnal temperature swing. This is not surprising since water has a higher specific heat than does dry soil. As a result the specific heat of wet soil is nearly double that of dry soil.

Specific heat water = 4.179 j/g/°C

Specific heat dry soil = 0.19 j/g/°C

Specific heat wet soil = 0.35 j/g/°C

Ergo, wet soil both warms and cools more slowly than does dry soil given the same thermal input/output. Thus any assertion that this study demonstrates that irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley during the 19th century caused a net increase in average daily temperature is false unless you both milk the data and ignore the warm temperatures present in the 1930’s. For example, if you were to start the nighttime minimum trend line in the 1940’s instead of the 1930’s then the nighttime warming trend would appear to have increased about 3 °C compared to the actual nighttime warming trend of about 2 °C, which is cancelled out by an equivalent amount of daytime cooling.

It is interesting to note that the original paper does not quantify the total increase in the daily minimum nighttime temperatures over the time period studied, but only says that it was “positive”. It was a commentary on his paper that quantified the increase to have been ~3 °C, which, if true, would suggest that the study showed a ~1 °C net increase in daily mean temperatures from 1930-2000. In other words, whether the data shows a nil effect on the daily mean temperature or a slight increase depends upon where one arbitrarily places the trend line on the graphs.

Let’s keep something else in mind. Water vapor at a global average of 70% R/H is said to increase the global mean temperature by some 22 °C all by itself (2/3rds of the total 33 °C of “greenhouse effect” warming that is said to exist.)

This is roughly 3 °C for every 10% increase in humidity. If therefore the irrigation of this otherwise desert landscape caused even a doubling of the R/H from about 35% to 70% (70% is the current yearly mean humidity in the San Joaquin Valley) then a water vapor enhanced “greenhouse effect” should have been around 10 °C! Instead the data has to be milked and the daytime cooling ignored in order to suggest that the 35% increase in the San Joaquin Valley’s humidity has caused a significant increase in the daily mean temperature via an enhanced “greenhouse effect”.

What is odd about this paper is that it purports to assess the affect of humidity on the nighttime temperature increase within the San Joaquin Valley yet fails to report what the humidity actually was in that valley prior it being irrigated to grow crops or even when the irrigation reached sufficient levels to affect the regional climate.

All that it says is, “With very low humidity, such an environment saw diurnal temperature ranges of over 15°C in the dry season. Additionally, the hard, dry natural surface had little heat capacity and relatively high albedo.” Curiously in this statement Christy accurately attributes the change that the regional climate has experienced to 1) a change in the ground’s heat capacity [as mentioned above] and 2) to a change in the ground’s albedo.

Yet within his summary statement he drops mention of the change in heat capacity and adds the “greenhouse effect” to his list of hypothetical causes of the increased nighttime temperatures measured within the San Joaquin Valley during the 20th century.

So, let’s jump to the summary of the paper that again ignores the daytime cooling trend and bases its conclusions exclusively on the increase in nighttime minimum temperatures. “Our hypothesis at this point is that irrigation has altered the surface energy balance of the valley floor, causing nighttime temperatures to remain warm.” The paper then advances three possible reasons why irrigation might be the cause an increase in the nighttime temperatures seen in the San Joaquin Valley.

1) “The additional water vapor supplied through evaporation, not present formerly, enhances the downward flux of thermal radiation.” In other words increases the “greenhouse effect”.

2) “Second, the additional vapor allows aerosols to reach the swelling point at which they become very active in the thermal spectrum.”

3) “Last, the moist ground and vegetation absorb solar energy during the ubiquitous cloudless days, and release the energy in the evening.”

Since Christy only hypothesizes about the cause of the increase in nighttime temperatures and ignores in his summary the concurrent decrease in daytime temperatures, he is only looking at one half of a dampened diurnal temperature swing. Do the laws of physics change when the sun goes down? Why a doubling of the humidity wouldn’t also cause an enhanced “greenhouse effect” during the day is not explored.

To be fair to Christy, this question is never explored because doing so would not support the meme being advanced. It is an observable phenomenon that both up going long-wave radiation and the absolute humidity are the highest during the daytime hours yet the daytime temperatures in humid climates are seen to be significantly less than the daytime temperatures in arid climates.

This would suggest that the hypothetical “greenhouse effect” is only a mirage and that something else is causing the increased nighttime temperatures in humid climates.


James Cameron wants you to eat all the plants to stop global warming

Bad news: Plants can hear themselves being eaten

Remember, this is the same guy who dove to the bottom of Challenger Deep, so he probably knows something about, er… something. Apparently, one of the next big projects for James Cameron has nothing to do with 100 year old wrecks or ten foot tall blue people who plug their pony tails into their dragons. The director and his wife are ready to convince all of you to eat nothing but plants. For your health? Not just that… it’s also to stop global warming, of course.

Film director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, an actor and model, are planning a global campaign to persuade people to move towards a plant-only diet (where no animals or animal products are consumed) in order to sharply reduce global carbon emissions and improve their health…

“The project will include many different modes of communication that will reach as many different demographics as we possibly can from children to 90-year-olds. We want to bring awareness around the connection between livestock production and our environment to leave the planet a better place for our future generations to grow up in.”…

As they delved further into the subject, they recognised that the meat and dairy industry is also the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change.
I suppose this is a topic that’s drawing all sorts of attention around the world. Cameron is no doubt interested in the results of a recent study from across the pond with the rather unfortunate name, Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.

The production of animal-based foods is associated with higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than plant-based foods. The objective of this study was to estimate the difference in dietary GHG emissions between self-selected meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Subjects were participants in the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. The diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters and 29,589 meat-eaters aged 20–79 were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire…

In conclusion, dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans. It is likely that reductions in meat consumption would lead to reductions in dietary GHG emissions.
Throughout the summary of the study results, the authors stubbornly refuse to hone in on the one detail that I’m sure we’re all wondering. Are they talking about the average carbon output from beef farming when divided by the number of people who eat steak? Because both the title and the descriptions in the following paragraph make it sound like they’re measuring the personal, er… gaseous emissions of the meat eaters in the study.

I know the climate warriors are a dedicated bunch and can find an angle to tie climate change into virtually every discussion, but this may have been a bit above and beyond the call here. I mean, who is it that was doing the “measuring” of these “emissions” and how was that managed? Inquiring minds want to know! (Okay… most of us probably don’t, actually.)



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


6 July, 2014

This is what happens when you express global temperature in simple degrees Fahrenheit instead of as an "anomaly"

Calibrated in whole degrees

And here it is in Celsius:

Odd that Warmists always use "anomalies", isn't it?

The Trouble With Climate Change Denial (?)

Bob Ward below must get tired talking about global warming.  It's the same old story from him over and over:  Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse.  No room for the facts about global warming  -- such as we see above.  Odd that skeptics are always using graphs but Warmists rarely do.  The graphs are just too pesky

Over the past few months, the Global Warming Policy Foundation has been strongly pushing a campaign pamphlet on 'The trouble with climate change', written by its founder and chair, Lord Lawson of Blaby. It provides a fascinating demonstration of the trouble with climate change denial.

The pamphlet is a grumpy polemic by Lord Lawson in which he complains bitterly about being subjected to "extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification" because of his views on climate change, while also condemning "climate scientists and their hangers-on who have become the high priests of a new age of unreason".

It shows that he is still filled with the same intense dislike of climate scientists that he felt when he first produced an essay on the issue for the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing lobby group, in 2006.

That essay, which provided the basis for his book 'An Appeal to Reason', suggested that "the new religion is eco-fundamentalism", which he compared with "the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism", and "the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than clerics of the established religions".

Like his first contribution, Lord Lawson's latest pamphlet is imbued with contempt for climate scientists, and depends on denying their findings about the scale of the risks that are being created by unmanaged climate change.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has no scientific training or qualifications, accepts the undeniable fact that "by burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - we are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus, other things being equal, increasing the earth's temperature". But beyond this, he presents a distorted account of the science, apparently based on whether it is in line with his ideological opposition to climate change policies.

For instance, Lord Lawson claims that "the effect of carbon dioxide on the earth's temperature is probably less than was previously thought". This is simply false. The most authoritative review of the scientific evidence, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September 2013, found that the long-term sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was likely (66 per cent chance) to cause global average surface temperature to rise by between 1.5 and 4.5 centigrade degrees.

This compares with the previous assessment in 2007 which concluded that the value of the long-term climate sensitivity is between 2.0 and 4.5 centigrade degrees. So although the lower bound is slightly lower in the new assessment, it is not true that the value is "probably less than previously thought".

And as the new report shows, if atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to grow at the current rate, even assuming a low value of climate sensitivity, global warming will substantially exceed two degrees by the end of this century, resulting in a global average surface temperature that, as the IPCC points out, has not been experienced for a sustained period on Earth since the Pliocene Epoch about 3 million years ago, when the polar ice caps were much smaller and global sea level was up to 20 metres higher than it is today.

However, 82-year-old Lord Lawson seems unperturbed by the prospect of creating a prehistoric climate for future generations to deal with. He argues that "over millennia, the temperature of the earth has varied a great deal". That may be so, but human civilisation has developed over the past 12,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age during a period when global average temperature has only varied by a couple of centigrade degrees at most.

Lord Lawson offers proof of our resilience against climate change by citing the Little Ice Age in the 17th century, "when the Thames frequently froze in winter and substantial ice fairs were held on it". This is a 'sceptic' canard. The River Thames froze over only 23 times between 1408 and 1814, and was due to the old London Bridge restricting tidal flows. After the Bridge was replaced in the 1830, the river did not freeze over even though London experienced many colder winters.

Finally Lord Lawson argues that even if the Earth is warming, the consequences are nothing to worry about. He claims that it is "still uncertain whether there is any impact on extreme weather events as a result of warming", yet the IPCC concluded that "changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950", and, for instance, "the frequency or intensity of heavy precipitation events has likely increased in North America and Europe".

Lord Lawson also denies any link between climate change and the floods that hit the UK earlier this year during the wettest winter on record, even though the Met Office has laid out the evidence for a connection. Instead, he accuses the Met Office of "weasel words" and accuses its chief scientist, Professor Julia Slingo, of being "publicity-hungry".

The pamphlet provides stunning proof that the arguments put forward by Lord Lawson and other climate change 'sceptics' require not just a dogmatic rejection of the expert views of climate scientists, but also a denigration of their professional competence and integrity.

That is the trouble with climate change denial.


BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes

The Vatican of Global Warming

BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’

The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.

The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.

Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’

“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” wrote the report authors.

“Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”

The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.

In April the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about climate change and creating ‘false balance’ by allowing unqualified sceptics to have too much air-time.

In a damning parliamentary report, the corporation was criticised for distorting the debate, with Radio 4’s Today and World at One programmes coming in for particular criticism.

The BBC’s determination to give a balanced view has seen it pit scientists arguing for climate change against far less qualified opponents such as Lord Lawson who heads a campaign group lobbying against the government’s climate change policies.

Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill climate sceptic blog, former children’s television presenter Johnny Ball and Bob Carter, a retired Australian geologist, are among the other climate sceptics that have appeared on the BBC.

The report highlighted World at One edition in September of a landmark UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research project which found concluded with 95 per cent certainty that the climate is changing and that human activity is the main cause.

The programme’s producers tried more than a dozen qualified UK scientists to give an opposing view but could not find one willing to do so – so they went to Mr Carter in Australia.

Pitted against Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Mr Carter described the findings of the most authoritative report ever undertaken into the science of climate change – put together by hundreds of scientists around the world – as “hocus-pocus science”.


There is zero evidence that plastic bags kill fish, birds or the planet

The British government should be ashamed of itself, says Jill Bell, of the Marine Conservation Society, for letting supermarket chain Tesco hand out plastic bags for free.

Prime minister David Cameron has apparently heeded the message since he now proposes to use some of his limited remaining time in power passing a law that will oblige customers to pay five pence per bag.

Why? Because ‘animals are dying from ingesting plastic and it is entering the food chain’, Bell told the Daily Mail, a newspaper that has become an evangelist for the bob-a-bag cause. Seabirds and marine mammals have died from ingesting and being entangled in disposable shopping bags, we are told.

The number of creatures polished off by plastic in, say, the last 12 months is impossible to establish, so environmental campaigners are obliged to make up the stats. The fatalities are ‘countless’, says Greenpeace, ‘numerous’ in fact. ‘An increasing number’, says the United Nations Environmental Programme; ‘thousands’, reports the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Between 100,000 and 500,000’, says the Winterlife Cooperative in Seattle. The death toll for seabirds alone is ‘around one million’, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), plus ‘100,000 marine animals’.

Chris Davies MEP, the environment spokesman for the UK Liberal Democrats, confidently assures the Mail that ‘discarded plastic bags are killing millions of marine animals each year’, which is why the European Parliament has declared jihad, or as they prefer to call it, a ‘Binding European Union Target’ on plastic bags. Shoppers in Britain face the prospect of a five-pence polybag tax because ‘it’s become a massive problem across Europe’, says Davies, ‘one we must deal with together’.

The phantasmal qualities of discarded plastic pouches have become part of modern folklore. Plastic bags are seen as the harbinger of wider eco-calamity that strikes fear into our hearts, much like the dreaded medieval Welsh king Gwynn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Dead, with his powers to summon the souls of unbaptised children. ‘We must change our habits’, say the sages at the AMCS, ‘and break the deadly cycle’.

For advice on matters of impending doom, the ancient Assyrians turned to the soothsayer, ‘the frenzied woman from whose lips the god speaks’. Her prophecies were self-evidently beyond question; to deny her word was tantamount to apostasy. Today we ascribe environmentalists with the omniscient virtues of the soothsayer. Their wild claims on the deleterious qualities of plastic, like their wild long-term weather forecasts, are seldom questioned.

Plastic sceptics are assumed to be in the pay of Big Checkout and lacking in compassion for our suffering airborne and aquatic friends. When Tesco says it has reduced the number of bags it gives away, its claims are regarded as dubious, since it has a ‘vested interest’ in lining its own pocket. Not-for-profit campaigners, on the other hand, are afforded great respect in media interviews. As valiant campaigners against callous slaughter, they are immune to baser motives, like raising money for a cause that allows them to pay their mortgage.

Curiously for a newspaper that has shown admirable scepticism towards climate claims, the Mail appears to have swallowed the checkout catastrophe theory hook, line and sinker. The tabloid and its readers are understandably fed up with Eurocrats who presume to impose national law, yet Westminster’s craven response to this particularly moral crusade is treated with indifference. The Mail, an organ that presents itself as a supporter of consumer rights, seems unconcerned at this regressive impost on supermarket shoppers. Five pence a bag will be of little, if any, consequence to the average merchant banker; it is a tenth of the price of Waitrose gourmet pork sausages with black pepper and nutmeg. For the price-conscious shoppers in Morrisons, however, a shilling is half the cost of a banger.

Those who make a virtue of their compassion for the poor and vulnerable have been notably silent on this point, for turtles trump people in the ecological hierarchy of concerns. Looking for logic or consistency in the arguments of the bob-a-bag vigilantes, however, is a futile exercise. This is public policy based on gut instinct rather than evidence.

The Productivity Commission, the Australian government’s independent policy research body, considered the case for regulating plastic bags in 2006 and concluded: ‘The case for proceeding with the phase out of plastic bags appears particularly weak.’ Plastic bags accounted for a mere 0.2 per cent of solid waste in landfill disposal. The inert nature of plastic meant its environmental impact was low and there was some evidence that it helped stabilise landfill and reduce leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. An Australian government report in 2002 concluded: ‘Actual numbers of animals injured or killed annually by plastic-bag litter is obviously nearly impossible to determine.’

The most commonly-quoted death toll – 100,000 – came from a 20-year-old Canadian study on fishing nets and tackle. ‘A more cost-effective approach to addressing the underlying issues of concern would be to target plastic-bag litter directly’, the Productivity Commission recommended. Anti-littering and anti-dumping laws should be enforced. Community education and action schemes should be encouraged. Tidy-town awards and volunteer clean-up days have a double benefit; they produce a healthier environment and healthier communities.

Under Australia’s federal system, the state of South Australia is the equivalent of the crash-test dummy when it comes to appraising the efficacy of nanny-state legislation. It is the state that banned smoking in mental hospitals to ‘provide a clear message to the community’ but still allows smoking in prisons.  It is the state that set up a Cat and Dog Management Board to lecture citizens about responsible pet ownership and gives free surfing lessons to graffiti vandals to try to wean them off aerosols. And it is home to the parliament that passed the Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Act 2008 because it could not trust its citizens to throw them in the bin.

Under the legislation, a South Australian shopkeeper who fails to charge for a lightweight plastic bag, ‘as a means of carrying goods purchased, or to be purchased, from the retailer’, faces a $5,000 fine. The retailer can gain exemption if ‘he or she believed on reasonable grounds that the bag was not a plastic shopping bag’. The law comes down hard, however, on a person who attempts to present a plastic shopping bag as something other than a plastic shopping bag. Section 6 of the 2008 Act is clear: ‘If a person sells, supplies or provides a bag to another knowing that it is a plastic shopping bag; and… represents to the other that the bag is not a plastic shopping bag, the person is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: $20,000.’

The South Australian government claims that it ‘leads the nation’ in the crusade against lightweight, single-use, disposable bags, and that there will be 40million fewer of them as a result. That figure, like every other statistic in this field, is dubious to say the least.

The inconvenience to customers has been considerable and there are unintended consequences; householders are running out of bags to line the bin. Zero Waste SA, one of South Australia’s many statutory authorities, has stepped in with a handy factsheet titled ‘The Bin-Liner Dilemma’. It notes that abandoning the bin liner altogether would reduce the volume of solid waste entering landfill, but would introduce other problems. Water use increases, since bins require washing more frequently. The use of bin-cleaning products has increased, along with the associated environmental impacts.

Plastic bags, it transpires, have their good points after all. Plastic-lined dustbins are odourless and discourage vermin. Naked bins, on the other hand, pose health risks for garbage collectors, and burden them with additional work. The risk of accidental littering increases, the factsheet notes, particularly ‘if waste is collected in windy conditions’. Zero Waste concludes: ‘There remains no clear “environmental impact-free” solution to the bin-liner dilemma.’

And in any case, is the consumption of plastic bags really that bad, or is our aversion to them just another food fad? It may seem a flippant question, but a recent report in the Mail suggests it is not. ‘Man addicted to eating plastic bags’, reads the headline. ‘They’re delicious’, says Robert, 23, from Oakland, Tennessee, who claims to have been eating plastic bags since he was seven years old. We are led to believe he has eaten 60,000 in his lifetime and cruises the neighbourhood when he gets peckish in search of a discarded bag. His fiance persuaded him to see a doctor, but ‘even though eating plastic can cause liver damage and intestinal blockages, Robert’s tests come back OK’.

It’s a story that just about sums up everything the Mail has published about plastic bags. Hard to swallow.


Cellulosic alcohol hits  a rock

Contrary to popular ‘green’ beliefs, a study funded by the US federal government argues that corn-based biofuels are actually worse for the environment than gasoline, as they emit more greenhouse gasses and deplete soil carbon.

The $500,000 peer-reviewed analysis by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, published in an issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, claims that cellulosic biofuels like ethanol, produced from residue, the byproduct of harvested corn (left-over leaves, cobs etc.) lead to a 7-percent increase in emissions, as well as 62 grams above the 60-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions stipulated in the law on energy targets of 2007.

This is a setback for those lobbying for cleaner fuels, who wish to combat climate change. The federal government has been trying to push through mandates for increasing ethanol production to promote the idea of clean alternatives to gasoline. They invested over $1 billion in federal funds to support cellulosic biofuel research. But ethanol-based fuel alternatives have so far been a more expensive, cumbersome venture.

This should make farmers happy, as soil erosion has always been a problem, as well as the issue of retaining residue for nourishing and preserving soil quality.

According to experts in the field, the research is long overdue and is the first attempt to quantify the effect of ethanol-based biofuel on carbon depletion in soil. It looked at production in 12 Corn Belt states.

The key conclusion is that when left to be absorbed naturally by the soil, the leaves, stalks and cobs are more beneficial for the soil than when it is later burned as fuel and the residue gives off carbon into the atmosphere. As a result, the study concludes the process contributes to global warming.

"If less residue is removed, there is less decrease in soil carbon, but it results in a smaller biofuel energy yield," Adam Liska, the professor in charge of the study said, adding that the results of the study were in line with his expectations and that he’s “amazed [the findings have] not come out more solidly until now.”

As a preventive measure against depriving the soil of carbon it gets from corn residue – and to reduce carbon emissions - the research suggests planting more crops to give the earth the carbon it needs; it also talks of using alternative feed stocks and sources of residue, as well as harnessing more electricity from carbon-fuel stations, as opposed to coal-operated ones.

The study received a swift response from government officials and oil businesses, who say the research is flawed, as it uses scenarios that are firstly too simplistic, because they don’t account for variations in carbon depletion from soil in a given field; secondly, they are seen as too extreme in overestimating how much residue is removed.

According to Jan Koninckx, who is the global business director for bio refineries at DuPont, a chemical company, “no responsible farmer or business would ever employ [the study’s suggestions], because it would ruin both the land and the long-term supply of feedstock. It makes no agronomic or business sense.”

But Liska believes that this is, in fact, the first study that got the carbon depletion math as close to the truth as possible.

And, as professor David Tilman of the University of Minnesota said in support of the study: “It will be very hard to make a biofuel that has a better greenhouse gas impact than gasoline using corn residue,”


Germany Shelves Shale-Gas Drilling For Next Seven Years

Planned Regulations Come Amid Political Standoff With Russia, Germany's Main Gas Supplier

Germany plans to halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over concerns that exploration techniques could pollute groundwater.

"There won't be [shale-gas] fracking in Germany for the foreseeable future," Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Friday.

The planned regulations come amid a political standoff with Russia, Germany's main natural gas supplier, and following intensive lobbying from environmentalists and brewers concerned about possible drinking-water contamination.

The production of shale gas requires the application of the hydraulic fracturing technology known as fracking, which involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart rocks to release the gas. The government plans to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for drilling operations shallower than 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) and hopes to get a bill ready early next year.

The government will reassess the ban in 2021.

"Protecting drinking water and health has the highest value for us," Ms. Hendricks said.

Fracking technology has been used since the 1960s in Germany, allowing the industry to maximize the output of conventional gas fields. Although there is currently an oversupply of natural gas in Europe, prices in Germany are much higher than in the U.S. where fracking is used extensively.

But Germans are suspicious of fracking, fearing that it could pollute drinking water. Shale-gas carrying rock formations tend to be closer to the surface, and therefore closer to groundwater deposits.

While fracking for conventional gas deposits will remain permitted, the government will tighten rules aimed at preventing water contamination from fluids released during the fracking process.

A ban on fracking for shale gas is consistent with previous comments from leading lawmakers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. In its coalition agreement, the government last year stated that it "rejects the application of toxic substances" in oil and gas extraction. The coalition, which groups Ms. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, has said fracking should pose no risk to water supplies.

It has said, however, that it could change its mind if the energy industry were to improve its environmental track record and replace toxic substances with harmless ones.

While the new regulations are aimed at cementing an effective moratorium on shale-gas production in Germany, they also pave the way for a reinvigoration of conventional gas production.

Public opposition to fracking had prompted state regulators to restrict almost all gas extraction that involves fracking. And the gas industry has blamed dwindling domestic gas production on the authorities' restrictive approval practices.

German domestic gas production declined by around 10% in 2012 and again in 2013, due partly to the fracking ban, according to Wintershall AG, Germany's largest gas and oil producer.

Declining gas production has already hit public budgets. Before the fracking ban, Germany's gas industry contributed roughly €600 million ($816 million) annually in taxes and other income to Lower Saxony's budget. In the coming years, the state is projecting income of around €400 million, the state government has said.

Fracking proponents in Germany have said it could boost the country's economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The West's rising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine has also prompted calls for more indigenous gas production to reduce reliance on Russian energy supplies.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


4 July, 2014

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Hoax

A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could mean bad news for environmental doomsayers. Forget all those warnings about the million tons of plastic debris floating in the ocean. Ignore the photos that you think show the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Andres Cozar of the University of Cadiz in Spain is the man who once extrapolated the 1 million-ton estimate. Since then, however, he has led research that collected samples at 141 ocean sites. Cozar's new estimate: Between 7,000 and 35,000 tons of plastic are floating in the ocean.

Cozar's team didn't find country-sized islands of plastic bags strangling baby birds and sea turtles. It found "micro plastics." What people think of as a dump doesn't look like floating junk. Instead, ocean current "convergence zones" are swirling with flecks of plastic -- like a snow globe a half-minute after you shake it -- and with considerably less plastic trash than expected.

Not that plastic in the ocean is a good thing, but it's looking to be less of a peril to the planet than once suggested.

As I read about the Cozar study, I could not help but think of California state Sen. Alex Padilla and his Senate Bill 270, which would ban single-use plastic bags. San Francisco started the plastic bag ban craze in 2007. More than 100 cities in the state have followed as bag ban proponents have shopped two images -- of bags in the ocean and of dead marine life.

The thing is that you don't find whole shopping bags in convergence zones. Peter Davison, an oceanographer with California's Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research, told me he frequently has seen plastic bags littering harbors, but in the ocean, one is likelier to come across debris from a fishing fleet and bits of plastic from many sources.

In support of bag bans, the Surfrider Foundation has posted a video that asserts, "Plastics kill 1.5 million marine animals each year."

"I have no idea where they got that number," Joel Baker, environmental science professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, told me. He has assigned students to track down that number, and "the trail goes cold."

Surfrider now uses a different number -- 100,000 marine animals. As for the 1.5 million figure, Surfrider senior staff scientist Rick Wilson referred me to a United Nations paper with no specific sourcing. Then he said, "I will admit it's difficult to track down a definitive scientific study source for it."

Factoids are almost as indestructible as plastic.

Both Davison and Baker can think of animals that have died from plastic; you can see photos on the Internet. But from bags? Davison found chunks of plastic in about 10 percent of 150 ocean fish he dissected. "We don't know if it kills them or not."

Neither Davison nor Baker likes the idea of plastic in the ocean, and neither would say it is not a problem. As Baker put it, "we don't know what effect it's having on organisms."

We do know, however, that single-use plastic bags require fewer resources than reusable bags -- which you have to wash -- and paper bags. Plastic bags litter harbors but also represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. municipal waste stream. It's a mistake to believe that what might replace them would have no downside.


BBC spends £500k to ask 33,000 Asians 5,000 miles from UK what they think of climate change

The BBC has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money asking 33,000 people in Asian countries how climate change is affecting them.

The £519,000 campaigning survey by little-known BBC Media Action is designed to persuade the world to adopt more hard-line policies to combat global warming.

It was immediately condemned yesterday as a flagrant abuse of the Corporation’s rules on impartiality and ‘a spectacular waste of money’ by a top academic expert.

Every year, BBC Media Action gets £22.2?million from the taxpayer via the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.

Its climate survey, published this month, is called From The Ground Up: Changing The Conversation On Climate Change. In it, farmers and villagers in India, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia were asked how climate change was ‘affecting their lives already’ and about their future concerns.

They described less predictable rainfall, droughts, declining harvests and an increase in respiratory disease caused by dustier soil, and blamed them on global warming.

The survey does not clarify whether these descriptions are supported by data, nor whether climate change is indeed the cause. It also includes graphs showing a steep rise in global temperatures – but they end abruptly in 2000, when temperatures stopped rising at all.

The report ends with advice, apparently written for climate activists: ‘Do not talk about scientific or technical abstractions. Talk about the problems they face in their daily lives… Speak in language that makes sense to people in terms of how they experience climate change.’

Its website states it ‘belongs to the BBC’, and ‘builds on the fundamental values of the BBC  to guide its work’. Its chairman is Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group. Trustees include newsreader George Alagiah.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Media and Culture, said last night he was ‘astonished’ to see the BBC involved with a survey of this kind.

He added: ‘The BBC brand carries with it a huge reputation for impartiality and objectivity. Even though this is not a mainstream, licence-fee-funded activity, for the BBC to attach its label to something which is so politically controversial is unwise.

The BBC has already been attacked for paying too little attention to climate change sceptics, and this bears those criticisms out.’

Richard Tol, professor of economics at Sussex University and a leading authority on climate change impacts, said the BBC ‘would have been better advised to invest this money in proper research’.

He said the survey’s assertions are often contradicted by more reliable sources. He said: ‘Objective data  do not corroborate the survey’s reported impacts on health, droughts, predictability of rainfall, and crop yields. Attribution of any of these effects to climate change  is by and large beyond the current level of scientific knowledge.’

Prof Tol was one of the ‘co-ordinating lead authors’ of a report on the consequences of warming by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in March.

UN figures show harvests have been rising across Asia for decades. The March IPCC report stated: ‘The worldwide burden of ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified.’

On rainfall, it stated: ‘There is now low confidence in the attribution of changes in drought since the mid-20th Century to human influence.’

Prof Tol said the survey results were academically worthless: ‘Interviewing 30,000 people across six countries is expensive, and cannot tell us much – previous research has shown people’s recollection of past weather and climate is very unreliable, and people’s attribution of observations to causes is worse.’

The BBC survey’s campaigning intention is suggested by a chapter entitled The Policy Context which tells readers that next year, world leaders will meet at a UN summit in Paris to hammer out a new treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

‘2015 is a propitious moment for reorienting the way that we talk about climate change,’ the survey report says. The Paris talks will ‘open a window of opportunity… to articulate a climate change perspective rooted in people’s needs’.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which argues that the threat from climate change is overblown, said it seemed Media Action was ‘the campaigning arm of the BBC, [its] propaganda bureau’ and the survey is ‘a blatant abuse of the BBC charter’.

A spokesman for BBC Media Action confirmed the survey’s £519,000 cost but declined to comment on its alleged lack of impartiality.


Death by Delay

by Viv Forbes

There was a time, before the baby-boom generation took over, when we took pride in the achievements of our builders, producers and innovators. There was always great celebration when settler families got a phone, a tractor, a bitumen road or electric power. An oil strike or a gold discovery made headlines, and people welcomed new businesses, new railways and new inventions. Science and engineering were revered and the wealth delivered by these human achievements enabled the builders and their children to live more rewarding lives, with more leisure, more time for culture and crusades, and greater interest in taking more care of their environment.

Then a green snake entered the Garden of Eden.

Many of the genuine conservationists from the original environmental societies were replaced by political extremists who felt lost after the Comrade Societies collapsed and China joined the trading world. These zealots were mainly interested in promoting environmental alarms in order to push a consistent agenda of world control of production, distribution and exchange – a new global utopia run by unelected all-knowing people just like them.

The old Reds became the new Greens.

They used every credible-sounding scare to recruit support – peak resources, acid rain, ozone holes, global cooling, species extinction, food security, Barrier Reef threats, global warming or extreme weather to justify global controls, no-go areas and international taxes to limit all human activities. However the public became disenchanted with their politics of denial, and their opposition to human progress, so they have adopted a new tactic – death by delay.

“We are not opposed to all development, but we want to ensure all environmental concerns are fully investigated before new developments get approval.”

In fact, their goal is to kill projects with costly regulations, investigations and delay. Their technique is to grab control of bureaucratic bodies like the US EPA which, since 2009, has issued 2,827 new regulations totalling 24,915,000 words. A current example of death by delay is the Keystone Oil pipeline proposal which would have taken crude oil from Alberta in Canada to refineries on the US Gulf Coast – far better than sending it by rail tankers. It was first proposed in 2005, and immediately opposed by the anti-industry, anti-carbon zealots who control the EPA and other arms of the US federal government. The proposal was studied to death by US officials and green busybodies for nine long years.

This week the Canadians lost patience and approved an alternative proposal to take a pipeline to the west coast of Canada, allowing more Albertan oil to be exported to Asia. Jobs and resources that would have benefitted Americans will now go to Asia. Naturally the Green delayers will also attempt to throttle this proposal. Over in Europe, shale gas exploration is also being subject to death by delay. In Britain, the pioneering company, Caudrilla, has been waiting for seven long years for approvals to explore. In France, all such exploration is banned.

No wonder India recently accused Greenpeace and other delayers of being “a threat to national economic security”.


Turning off street lights to save money blamed for six deaths

Switching off street lights to save money has contributed to at least six deaths in five years, the AA has warned.

Five pedestrians and one cyclist have been knocked over and killed on roads where councils turned off the lights, according to the motoring group.

It said accident investigators at the inquests ruled drivers had little or no chance of avoiding the collisions on unlit streets with speed limits of 40mph or higher. And it  predicted the problem would ‘get worse’ as councils continued to black out lights.

Road safety campaigners have long warned of the dangers of unlit streets as councils continue to dim or turn off their lights to make savings and meet climate change targets. The AA said some town halls were failing to ‘recognise the dangers’.

In one of the most alarming cases, a coroner blasted a council over its trial of switching off street lights following the death of a 76-year-old widow.

Margaret Beeson was hit by a car on the A40 between Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in the early evening of January 21, 2009.

The inquest exonerated driver Phillip Galligan, who was travelling below the speed limit, as the darkness meant he had ‘no chance at all’ of avoiding her.

In another case, father-of-five Dr John Bendor-Samuel, 81, died after being hit by a car while crossing the road in Studley Green, Buckinghamshire, on January 6, 2011.

Collision investigators told his inquest the vehicle appeared to be travelling within the speed limit.

Police said street lighting, which had been turned off along the 40mph stretch of road by Buckinghamshire County Council as part of a cost-cutting exercise, could have saved his life.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘There is growing evidence that cost savings from councils turning off street lights are being paid for with lives. Inquests point to a particular danger on roads with speed limits of 40mph or higher.

‘For that reason, drivers have no choice but to slow down and switch to full beam on faster town roads where late-night street lighting used to make roads and streets safer places to travel.

‘Many of these inquests clear the drivers of blame, which means these tragic deaths are accidents waiting to happen. With many more councils switching off their street lights for at least part of the night, the tragedy will just get worse.

‘At what point will the Government take action or help councils to finance the switch to energy-saving street lights: 10, 15, 20 inquests later?’

The AA investigation followed research in April which showed there were fewer accident reductions between 2007 and 2012 on 40mph roads where street lights had been switched off.

Last year, a survey found that a third of councils have switched off street lights to save money, while nearly half are making streets darker by dimming bulbs.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England found that of 71 local authorities which responded, 23 switched off street lights - typically between midnight and 5am - and 32 dimmed lights.

Councils were mainly motivated by a desire to save energy and money, with the reduction of light pollution ‘an additional benefit’.

Bradford council is running a dimming scheme designed to save £400,000 a year and reduce power consumption by 25 per cent. Essex County Council expects to save £1million per year by introducing a part-night lighting scheme.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: ‘Councils always consider the safety implications before turning off street lights, monitor subsequent safety statistics and act if presented with evidence of a public safety risk.’


UK green taxes hit record high of £43 billion

UK households and businesses paid a record £43 billion in green taxes last year, new official figures show.  The Treasury’s revenues from environmental levies increased by £1.7 billion last year, from £41.3 billion in 2012. They have soared from £30.4 billion in 2003.

The total green tax revenues for 2013 are the equivalent of £1,629 for every household - up from £1,564 in 2012 and £1,221 per household in 2003.

However, the ONS said that the majority of the bill was paid by businesses, not domestic consumers.

More than £500 million of the increase in the green taxes last year was due to rising renewable energy levies to subsidise the construction of wind and solar farms and other green technologies

These levies accounted for £2.4 billion of the total last year, up from just £382 million a decade ago, reflecting the huge expansion of heavily-subsidised green technologies to meet climate change targets.

Each UK household paid a £30 levy on their energy bill to subsidise such large-scale renewable energy projects through the Renewable Obligation in 2013, according to energy department figures.

The cost to consumers of such green taxes has become increasingly controversial. Ministers have pledged to roll back green levies on bills to help ease the burden for consumers.

However, the Treasury has already approved a significant increase in such levies, to £7.6 billion in 2020. By that point subsidies for large green energy projects could cost £71 per household.

Of the £43 billion green tax revenues last year, the biggest chunk was £26.7 billion paid in taxes on fuels such as petrol and diesel. Revenues from this kind of tax have risen from £22.5 billion in 2003.

Over the decade, tax revenues from petrol decreased, as rising prices prompted motorists to economise or switch to diesel vehicles. Takings from diesel rose significantly.

Motoring groups have long complained that takes on fuels in the UK are some of the highest Europe.

Other transport taxes have also soared from £5.6 billion a decade ago to £10.3 billion.

The introduction of a banding system for vehicle excise duty in the mid-2000s contributed to this increase, as did a big increase in revenues from air passenger duty - reflecting both a higher levy and rising passenger numbers.

The ONS was unable to say how much of the £43 billion each household would pay but said that “commercial and industrial revenue would account for the majority of this total”.

“This doesn’t mean each household is paying £1,629,” they said.

“Revenue from environmentally related taxes (in current prices) has gradually increased over the past two decades, peaking at £43.0 billion in 2013.

“This represented 7.5 per cent of total revenue from taxes and social contributions in the UK and was equivalent to 2.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” it said.

The figures are all expressed in today’s prices, which strip out the impact of inflation.


Australian Greens in turmoil over fuel tax

You would think that Greens would welcome a fuel tax increase but this lot show their complete lack of principle by opposing it.  To them hate of the conservative government comes first

Continuing anger within the Greens over the party's "perverse" decision to block inflation-based adjustments to the federal petrol tax rate could spell fresh trouble for its leader, Christine Milne.

The Abbott government wants to restore indexation to the excise, which has been frozen at 38¢ a litre for 12 years.

The move would add between 40¢ and 60¢ a week to the average household fuel bill.

Senator Milne, who first flagged supporting the change and then announced her party's opposition after losing the debate in her party room, could now face pressure for a second U-turn, this time led by a grassroots members' revolt.

NSW senator Lee Rhiannon is pushing to overturn the stance amid what one Greens member called "despair" across the green base.

A meeting has been called for Saturday at the Sydney Mechanics Institute, where NSW branch members are expected to advocate a return to the party's original position in the interests of policy integrity.

In a sign of the intense divisions over the issue, Senator Rhiannon has invited members to have their say, even though the policy has been finalised, setting up a situation in which the party room has one policy and the membership another.

The Greens' constitution in NSW means Senator Rhiannon could be compelled by the membership to vote contrary to her leader, although that would have to come from a formal council meeting.

Despite that risk, Senator Rhiannon used a party-wide email to declare she was "interested to hear from members" about the issue.

Last week Senator Milne said the party would block the increase because the government would not use the money raised to invest in public transport, or to cut fuel subsidies for large mining companies.

But Greens inside the party room and in the broader movement conceded that the main reason for opposing the increase was "political".

The main advocates of the change were Deputy Leader Adam Bandt, Ms Milne's fellow Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson, and West Australian senator Scott Ludlam.

A senior Greens source called it politics over policy.  "They just can't come at giving Tony Abbott a win, even where it is consistent with our own policy," the exasperated member complained.

The decision appears to have doomed the $4 billion budget measure because the Coalition had been relying on support from the Greens to get it through the Senate.

It was not an unreasonable expectation. Historically, the Greens have favoured higher relative prices for polluting fossil fuels.

Greens senators have received "stacks" of emails from disappointed constituents over the reversal, as well as official correspondence from at least one state branch protesting against the decision.

The fight over petrol comes as some in the renewable energy sector expressed concerns over the Greens' handling of the Clive Palmer compromise to ditch the carbon tax but keep the renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Climate Change Authority



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


3 July, 2014

Goddard was right after all

Anthony Watts climbs down below. A climate record that people rely on to justify billions of dollars  of panic spending is now admitted to contain extensive "zombie" data.  Watts is still apologizing for the Warmist "scientists" as he obviously wants to be loved.  But he has no explanation for the fact that most of the "errors" are in the Warmist direction.  If you are aware of the extensive exposition of crookedness at NOAA by Roger Pielke Sr., you would be much less optimistic about the Warmist "scientists" than Watts is

Sometimes, you can believe you are entirely right while simultaneously believing that you’ve done due diligence. That’s what confirmation bias is all about. In this case, a whole bunch of people, including me, got a severe case of it.

I’m talking about the claim made by Steve Goddard that 40% of the USHCN data is “fabricated”. which I and few other people thought was clearly wrong.

Dr. Judith Curry and I have been conversing a lot via email over the past two days, and she has written an illuminating essay that explores the issue raised by Goddard and the sociology going on. See her essay:

Steve Goddard aka Tony Heller deserves the credit for the initial finding, Paul Homewood deserves the credit for taking the finding and establishing it in a more comprehensible way that opened closed eyes, including mine, in his post entitled Massive Temperature Adjustments At Luling, Texas.  Along with that is his latest followup, showing the problem isn’t limited to Texas, but also in Kansas. And there’s more about this below.

Goddard early on (June 2) gave me his source code that made his graph, but I couldn’t get it to compile and run. That’s probably more my fault than his, as I’m not an expert in C++ computer language. Had I been able to, things might have gone differently. Then there was the fact that the problem Goddard noted doesn’t show up in GHCN data and I didn’t see the problem in any of the data we had for our USHCN surface stations analysis.

But, the thing that really put up a wall for me was this moment on June 1st, shortly after getting Goddard’s first email with his finding, which I pointed out in On ‘denying’ Hockey Sticks, USHCN data, and all that – part 1.

Goddard initially claimed 40% of the STATIONS were missing, which I said right away was not possible. It raised my hackles, and prompted my “you need to do better” statement. Then he switched the text in his post from stations to data while I was away for a couple of hours at my daughter’s music recital. When I returned, I noted the change, with no note of the change on his post, and that is what really put up the wall for me. He probably looked at it like he was just fixing a typo, I looked at it like it was sweeping an important distinction under the rug.

All of that added up to a big heap of confirmation bias, I was so used to Goddard being wrong, I expected it again, but this time Steve Goddard was right and my confirmation bias prevented me from seeing that there was in fact a real issue in the data and that NCDC has dead stations that are reporting data that isn’t real: mea culpa.

But, that’s the same problem many climate scientists have, they are used to some skeptics being wrong on some issues, so they put up a wall. That is why the careful and exacting analyses we see from Steve McIntyre should be a model for us all. We have to “do better” to make sure that claims we make are credible, documented, phrased in non-inflammatory language, understandable, and most importantly, right.

Otherwise, walls go up, confirmation bias sets in.

Now that the wall is down, NCDC won’t be able to ignore this, even John Nielsen-Gammon, who was critical of Goddard along with me in the Polifact story now says there is a real problem. So does Zeke, and we have all sent or forwarded email to NCDC advising them of it.

I’ve also been on the phone Friday with the assistant director of NCDC and chief scientist (Tom Peterson), and also with the person in charge of USHCN (Matt Menne). Both were quality, professional conversations, and both thanked me for bringing it to their attention.  There is lots of email flying back and forth too.

They are taking this seriously, they have to, as final data as currently presented for USHCN is clearly wrong. John Neilsen-Gammon sent me a cursory analysis for Texas USHCN stations, noting he found a number of stations that had “estimated” data in place of actual good data that NCDC has in hand, and appears in the RAW USHCN data file on their FTP site

What is going on is that the USHCN code is that while the RAW data file has the actual measurements, for some reason the final data they publish doesn’t get the memo that good data is actually present for these stations, so it “infills” it with estimated data using data from surrounding stations. It’s a bug, a big one. And as Zeke did a cursory analysis Thursday night, he discovered it was systemic to the entire record, and up to 10% of stations have “estimated” data spanning over a century:

And here is the real kicker, “Zombie weather stations” exist in the USHCN final data set that are still generating data, even though they have been closed.

Remember Marysville, CA, the poster child for bad station siting? It was the station that gave me my “light bulb moment” on the issue of station siting.

It was closed just a couple of months after I introduced it to the world as the prime example of “How not to measure temperature”. The MMTS sensor was in a parking lot, with hot air from a/c units from the nearby electronics sheds for the cell phone tower:

Guess what? Like Luling, TX, which is still open, but getting estimated data in place of the actual data in the final USHCN data file, even though it was marked closed in 2007 by NOAA’s own metadata, Marysville is still producing estimated monthly data, marked with an “E” flag:

There are quite a few “zombie weather stations” in the USHCN final dataset, possibly up to 25% out of the 1218 that is the total number of stations. In my conversations with NCDC on Friday, I’m told these were kept in and “reporting” as a policy decision to provide a “continuity” of data for scientific purposes. While there “might” be some justification for that sort of thinking, few people know about it there’s no disclaimer or caveat in the USHCN FTP folder at NCDC or in the readme file that describes this, they “hint” at it saying:

"The composition of the network remains unchanged at 1218 stations"

But that really isn’t true, as some USHCN stations out of the 1218 have been closed and are no longer reporting real data, but instead are reporting estimated data.

NCDC really should make this clear, and while it “might” be OK to produce a datafile that has estimated data in it, not everyone is going to understand what that means, and that the stations that have been long dead are producing estimated data. NCDC has failed in notifying the public, and even their colleagues of this. Even the Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon didn’t know about these “zombie” stations until I showed him. If he had known, his opinion might have been different on the Goddard issue. When even professional people in your sphere of influence don’t know you are doing dead weather station data infills like this, you can be sure that your primary mission to provide useful data is FUBAR.

NCDC needs to step up and fix this along with other problems that have been identified.

And they are, I expect some sort of a statement, and possibly a correction next week. In the meantime, let’s let them do their work and go through their methodology. It will not be helpful to ANYONE if we start beating up the people at NCDC ahead of such a statement and/or correction.

And there is yet another issue: The recent change of something called “climate divisions” to calculate the national and state temperatures.

Certified Consulting Meteorologist and Fellow of the AMS Joe D’Aleo writes in with this:

"I had downloaded the Maine annual temperature plot from NCDC Climate at a Glance in 2013 for a talk. There was no statistically significant trend since 1895. Note the spike in 1913 following super blocking from Novarupta in Alaska (similar to the high latitude volcanoes in late 2000s which helped with the blocking and maritime influence that spiked 2010 as snow was gone by March with a steady northeast maritime Atlantic flow). 1913 was close to 46F. and the long term mean just over 41F.

Seemingly in a panic change late this frigid winter to NCDC, big changes occurred. I wanted to update the Maine plot for another talk and got this from NCDC CAAG.

Note that 1913 was cooled nearly 5 degrees F and does not stand out. There is a warming of at least 3 degrees F since 1895 (they list 0.23/decade) and the new mean is close to 40F.

Does anybody know what the REAL temperature of Maine is/was/is supposed to be? I sure as hell don’t. I don’t think NCDC really does either."

In closing…

Besides moving toward a more accurate temperature record, the best thing about all this hoopla over the USHCN data set is the Polifact story where we have all these experts lined up (including me as the token skeptic) that stated without a doubt that Goddard was wrong and rated the claim “pants of fire”.

They’ll all be eating some crow, as will I, but now that I have Gavin for dinner company, I don’t really mind at all.

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

What a nit!

"There is no such thing as right and wrong"  -- except when it suits Leftists, of course.  And climate change is WRONG!


The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth”. This is a remarkable conclusion to his magisterial survey of the state of the planet. Climatic and other environmental changes are showing us not only the extent of human influence on the planet, but also the limits of programmatic management of this influence, whether through political, economic, technological or social engineering. A changing climate is a condition of modernity, but a condition which modernity seems uncomfortable with. Inspired by the recent “environmental turn” in the humanities—and calls from a range of environmental scholars and scientists such as Flannery—I wish to suggest a different, non-programmatic response to climate change: a reacquaintance with the ancient and religious ideas of virtue and its renaissance in the field of virtue ethics. Drawing upon work by Alasdair MacIntyre, Melissa Lane and Tom Wright, I outline an apologetic for why the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate response to the challenges of climate change.


Swapping Climate Models for a Roll of the Dice

One of the greatest failures of climate science has been the dismal performance of general circulation models (GCM) to accurately predict Earth's future climate. For more than three decades huge predictive models, run on the biggest supercomputers available, have labored mighty and turned out garbage. Their most obvious failure was missing the now almost eighteen year “hiatus,” the pause in temperature rise that has confounded climate alarmists and serious scientists alike. So poor has been the models' performance that some climate scientists are calling for them to be torn down and built anew, this time using different principles. They want to adopt stochastic methods—so called Monte Carlo simulations based on probabilities and randomness—in place of today’s physics based models.

It is an open secret that computer climate models just aren't very good. Recently scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compared the predictions of 20 major climate models against the past six decades of climate data. According to Ben Kirtman, a climate scientist at the University of Miami in Florida and IPCC AR5 coordinating author, the results were disappointing. According to a report in Science, “the models performed well in predicting the global mean surface temperature and had some predictive value in the Atlantic Ocean, but they were virtually useless at forecasting conditions over the vast Pacific Ocean.”

Just how bad the models are can be seen in a graph that has been widely seen around the Internet. Generated by John Christy, Richard McNider, and Roy Spencer, the graph has generated more heat than global warming, with climate modeling apologists firing off rebuttal after rebuttal. Problem is, the models still suck, as you can see from the figure below.

Regardless of the warmists' quibbles the truth is plain to see, climate models miss the mark. But then, this comes as no surprise to those who work with climate models. In the Science article, “A touch of the random,” science writer Colin Macilwain lays out the problem: “researchers have usually aimed for a deterministic solution: a single scenario for how climate will respond to inputs such as greenhouse gases, obtained through increasingly detailed and sophisticated numerical simulations. The results have been scientifically informative—but critics charge that the models have become unwieldy, hobbled by their own complexity. And no matter how complex they become, they struggle to forecast the future.”

Macliwain describes the current crop of models this way:

"One key reason climate simulations are bad at forecasting is that it's not what they were designed to do. Researchers devised them, in the main, for another purpose: exploring how different components of the system interact on a global scale. The models start by dividing the atmosphere into a huge 3D grid of boxlike elements, with horizontal edges typically 100 kilometers long and up to 1 kilometer high. Equations based on physical laws describe how variables in each box—mainly pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed—influence matching variables in adjacent ones. For processes that operate at scales much smaller than the grid, such as cloud formation, scientists represent typical behavior across the grid element with deterministic formulas that they have refined over many years. The equations are then solved by crunching the whole grid in a supercomputer."

It's not that the modelers haven't tried to improve their play toys. Over the years all sorts of new factors have been added, each adding more complexity to the calculations and hence slowing down the computation. But that is not where the real problem lies. The irreducible source of error in current models is the grid size.

Indeed, I have complained many times in this blog that the fineness of the grid is insufficient to the problem at hand. This is because many phenomena are much smaller than the grid boxes, tropical storms for instance represent huge energy transfers from the ocean surface to the upper atmosphere and can be totally missed. Other factors—things like rainfall and cloud formation—also happen at sub-grid size scales.

“The truth is that the level of detail in the models isn't really determined by scientific constraints,” says Tim Palmer, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who advocates stochastic approaches to climate modeling. “It is determined entirely by the size of the computers.”

The problem is that to halve the sized of the grid divisions requires an order-of-magnitude increase in computer power. Making the grid fine enough is just not possible with today's technology.

In light of this insurmountable problem, some researchers go so far as to demand a major overhaul, scrapping the current crop of models altogether. Taking clues from meteorology and other sciences, the model reformers say the old physics based models should be abandoned and new models, based on stochastic methods, need to be written from the ground up. Pursuing this goal, a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A will publish 14 papers setting out a framework for stochastic climate modeling. Here is a description of the topic:

"This Special Issue is based on a workshop at Oriel College Oxford in 2013 that brought together, for the first time, weather and climate modellers on the one hand and computer scientists on the other, to discuss the role of inexact and stochastic computation in weather and climate prediction. The scientific basis for inexact and stochastic computing is that the closure (or parametrisation) problem for weather and climate models is inherently stochastic. Small-scale variables in the model necessarily inherit this stochasticity. As such it is wasteful to represent these small scales with excessive precision and determinism. Inexact and stochastic computing could be used to reduce the computational costs of weather and climate simulations due to savings in power consumption and an increase in computational performance without loss of accuracy. This could in turn open the door to higher resolution simulations and hence more accurate forecasts."

In one of the papers in the special edition, “Stochastic modelling and energy-efficient computing for weather and climate prediction,” Tim Palmer, Peter Düben, and Hugh McNamara state the stochastic modeler's case:

"[A] new paradigm for solving the equations of motion of weather and climate is beginning to emerge. The basis for this paradigm is the power-law structure observed in many climate variables. This power-law structure indicates that there is no natural way to delineate variables as ‘large’ or ‘small’—in other words, there is no absolute basis for the separation in numerical models between resolved and unresolved variables."

In other words, we are going to estimate what we don't understand and hope those pesky problems of scale just go away. “A first step towards making this division less artificial in numerical models has been the generalization of the parametrization process to include inherently stochastic representations of unresolved processes,” they state. “A knowledge of scale-dependent information content will help determine the optimal numerical precision with which the variables of a weather or climate model should be represented as a function of scale.” It should also be noted that these guys are pushing “inexact” or fuzzy computer hardware to better accommodate their ideas, but that does not change the importance of their criticism of current modeling techniques.

So what is this “stochastic computing” that is supposed to cure all of climate modeling's ills? It is actually something quite old, often referred to as Monte Carlo simulation. In probability theory, a purely stochastic system is one whose state is non-deterministic—in other words, random. The subsequent state of the system is determined probabilistically using randomly generated numbers, the computer equivalent of throwing dice. Any system or process that must be analyzed using probability theory is stochastic at least in part. Perhaps the most famous early use was by Enrico Fermi in 1930, when he used a random method to calculate the properties of the newly discovered neutron. Nowadays, the technique is used by professionals in such widely disparate fields as finance, project management, energy, manufacturing, engineering, research and development, insurance, oil & gas, transportation, and the environment.

Monte Carlo simulation generates a range of possible outcomes and the probabilities with which they will occur. Monte Carlo techniques are quite useful for simulating systems with many coupled degrees of freedom, such as fluids, disordered materials, strongly coupled solids, and weather forecasts. Other examples include modeling phenomena with significant uncertainty in inputs, which certainly applies to climate modeling. Unlike current GCM, this approach does not seek to simulate natural, physical processes, but rather to capture the random nature of various factors and then make many simulations, called an ensemble.

Since the 1990s, ensemble forecasts have been used as routine forecasts to account for the inherent uncertainty of weather processes. This involves analyzing multiple forecasts created with an individual forecast model by using different physical parameters and/or varying the initial conditions. Such ensemble forecasts have been used to help define forecast uncertainty and to extend forecasting further into the future than otherwise possible. Still, as we all know, even the best weather forecasts are only good for five or six days before they diverge from reality.

An example can be seen in the tracking of Atlantic hurricanes. It is now common for the nightly weather forecast during hurricane season to include a probable track for a hurricane approaching the US mainland. The probable track is derived from many individual model runs.

Can stochastic models be successfully applied to climate change? Such models are based on a current state which is the starting point for generating many future forecasts. The outputs are based on randomness filtered through observed (or guessed at) probabilities. This, in theory, can account for such random events as tropical cyclones and volcanic eruptions more accurately than today's method of just applying an average guess across all simulation cells. The probabilities are based on previous observations, which means that the simulations are only valid if the system does not change in any significant way in the future.

And here in lies the problem with shifting to stochastic simulations of climate change. It is well know that Earth's climate system is constantly changing, creating what statisticians term nonstationary time series data. You can fit a model to previous conditions by tweaking the probabilities and inputs, but you cannot make it forecast the future because the future requires a model of something that has not taken form yet. Add to that the nature of climate according to the IPCC: “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

If such models had been constructed before the current hiatus—the 17+ year pause in rising global temperatures that nobody saw coming—they would have been at as much a loss as the current crop of GCM. You cannot accurately predict that which you have not previously experienced, measured, and parametrized, and our detailed climate data are laughingly limited. With perhaps a half century of detailed measurements, there is no possibility of constructing models that would encompass the warm and cold periods of the Holocene interglacial, let alone the events that marked the last deglaciation (or those that will mark the start of the next glacial period).

Economists had been forced to deal with this type of system because the economic system of the world is not static but always changing (see “Econometrics vs Climate Science”). They have developed a number of tools that can provide some insight but not a solution to this situation. While economists have led the way for climate forecasters, look at how untrustworthy economic forecasts remain. The sad truth is that this effort will also not work for long-range prediction, anymore than economists can tell us what the economic outlook is for 2100. It is time for climate scientists to get out of the forecasting game and go back to doing real, empirically based science.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.


Jim Hansen's 400,000 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat per day produces RECORD Antarctic sea ice

Amid much wriggling by the Warmists

The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which, as I reported in my book, has been steadily increasing throughout the period of satellite measurement that began in 1979, has hit a new all-time record high for areal coverage.

The new record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, the ice encircling the southernmost continent, is 2.074 million square kilometers and was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s The Cryosphere Today early Sunday morning.

It was not immediately apparent whether the record had occurred on Friday or Saturday. Requests for comment to Bill Chapman, who runs The Cryosphere Today, were not immediately returned.

The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007.

Global sea ice area, as of Sunday morning, stood at 0.991 million square kilometers above average. (The figure was arrived at by adding the Northern Hemisphere anomaly and the Southern Hemisphere anomaly. A graph provided by The Cryosphere Today showed the global anomaly as 1.005 million square kilometers.)

Although early computer models predicted a diminishment of both Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere sea ice due to anthropogenic global warming, subsequent modeling has posited that the results of warming around Antarctica would, counter-intuitively, generate sea ice growth.

A freshening of the waters surrounding the southernmost continent as well as the strengthening of the winds circling it were both theorized as explanations for the steady growth of Antarctica’s sea ice during the period of satellite measurement.

A number of prominent climatologists have discounted the growth of Antarctic sea ice, arguing that it is less significant to global circulation than ice in the Arctic basin.

Walt Meier, formerly of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and currently of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has previously said that Antarctic sea ice, which has little ice that survives year to year, is less significant than Arctic sea ice to the climate system.

“While the Arctic has seen large decreases through the year in all sectors, the Antarctic has a very regional signal – with highs in some areas and lows in others,” Meier said in 2013. “And of course, the Arctic volume is decreasing substantially through the loss of old ice. The Antarctic, which has very little old ice, hasn’t much of a volume change, relatively speaking.”

The new Antarctic record anomaly was more than 10 percent greater than the previous record.

The steady growth of Antarctic sea ice and its influence on global sea ice appeared to provide a public relations problem, at a minimum, for those warning of global warming’s menace. According to Meier and some other climatologists, global sea ice area is simply not a metric to consider when examining the climate system.

“A plot of global sea ice is just not informative or useful,” Meier said.

Global sea ice, during the course of the last year and a half, has seen its most robust 18-month period of the last 13 years, maintaining, on average, a positive anomaly for an 18-month period for the first time since 2001.

Phil Jones, of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, waded into the global sea ice analysis in 2013 as well.

“Adding the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents doesn’t make that much sense as the two regions are at opposite ends of the world, and the seasons are opposite,” Jones said at the time.

As I also reported in Don’t Sell Your Coat, the temperature at the South Pole has been declining during the past four decades as well.


What Is The Right Level Of Response To Anthropogenic Induced Climate Change?


What Is The Right Level Of Response To Anthropogenic Induced Climate Change?

Held at The Royal Society on 16th June, 2014

Chair: The Earl of Selborne GBE FRS
Chairman, The Foundation for Science and Technology


Sir Mark Walport FRS FMedSci
Government Chief Scientific Adviser

David Davies MP
MP for Monmouth

Professor Jim Skea CBE
Imperial College London and Committee on Climate Change

The Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP
MP for Hitchin and Harpenden

THE EARL OF SELBORNE opened the debate by explaining that the Foundation welcomed the opportunity to provide a neutral platform for both sides of the climate change debate to come together. He hoped that the debate would help to identify common ground.

SIR MARK WALPORT said that it was clear that climate change was happening; the question was ‘what should be our response?’ The physics was accepted; the changing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) was leading to warming of the atmosphere. We know levels of carbon dioxide are higher than ever before and that global emissions are rising. 36 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted in 2013. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)1 report discusses the decline in Arctic ice extent and thickness, the rise in sea levels and indications that there is an increasing likelihood of extreme weather patterns and temperatures, such as intense rainstorms and periods of excess temperatures.

We can respond to climate change through mitigation, adaptation or enduring suffering. In all probability we will need all three. We can mitigate through reducing GHG emissions, and physical works; we can adapt - but there are limits of resources available, security issues, and human will, and we can change lifestyles. We cannot accurately predict regional effects of global warming, but are sure that most effects will be negative. Limiting the rise in atmospheric temperature is vital - if the temperature range were an increase from 2 oC to 5 oC it could, at the upper end of the range, lead to the extinction of many species. Above 2 oC it was possible that “tipping points” such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, could occur over a very long period. So we must try to limit global GHG emissions to keep temperature rises below 2oC. Many countries are legislating in an effort to do this, but international agreement is important. As a contribution to meeting the global 2oC target the UK has set a target of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

We need an urgent debate between scientists and politicians about how to do this at affordable cost, while maintaining sustainability and security. There is no magic single bullet - we need greater energy efficiency, reduction of emissions from all carbon fuels wherever used - in transport or industry or domestically - and development of low carbon supply options and increased research and innovation in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

We cannot wait and see; this generation must choose what to do now to safeguard the planet for future generations.

DAVID DAVIES said that he knew no one who denied the fact that climate was changing, because of the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The activities of mankind and society lead to carbon dioxide emissions but it does not follow that the observed increase in atmospheric temperatures in the last 150 years comes from human activity.

There is great variability in global temperature arising from natural causes, as the effect of ice ages throughout history makes clear. Even within historical memory we know that there were warmer and colder periods (the little ice age of the 17th century) and it may be that we are moving from a colder period to a warmer one simply through natural variation. So how can we be sure that the observed 0.8 oC global temperature rise over the last 150 years comes from anthropogenic sources?

There is no clear correlation between temperature rises and carbon dioxide emissions. There was no correlation in the early 20th century and since 1997 there has been no global temperature rising trend.

There are many other causes which can effect temperature changes, such as volcanic emissions. We need to be able to distinguish increases in temperature due to human activity from changes from natural causes. This we cannot do; so to base policies on the need to reduce emission from human activities is unsound.

The precautionary principle is often evoked - we must do something in case disaster might otherwise happen. But this ignores the possibility that disasters can happen in other areas – pandemic disease or financial meltdown for example. What response should be made to these or other possible disasters? By pursuing policies which raise energy costs, the government is driving manufacturing abroad, where manufacturing facilities will continue to emit just as much carbon dioxide.

The UK is being expected to pay the equivalent of an insurance premium for risks which other countries are also responsible for. He did not accept that the increase in emissions from developing countries will be disastrous for them because these countries will become much wealthier and will be able to spend their increased wealth on coping with climate change.

He welcomed the debate because he doubted whether scientists were as open as they should be about the data they held and their models. Environmental groups should be challenged for pursuing contradictory agendas - wanting to limit carbon emissions, yet opposing nuclear new build and the development of shale gas. Gas could displace coal in power generation reducing carbon emissions.

PROFESSOR SKEA said he sat on Working Group III of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The principal concern of Working Group III was to address the options to mitigate climate change. A key concern was how to respond to the upward trend of the change in temperature rise in the 20th century.

More than 190 countries have signed up to agreements to the UN goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2 oC. This meant according to the IPCC report reducing global emissions by 40% to 70% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels. This could only be done by a massive increase in low carbon energy production through developing nuclear power, renewables or deploying cost effective carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems, and promoting energy efficiency, particularly in transport.

This meant a change in investment priorities, away from fossil fuels towards other energy options. We do not have sufficient information about costs to judge between expenditure on mitigation and adaptation, but overall, if the 2 oC target is to be reached, we will need to forego 1% to 4% of consumption by 2030. But these estimates do not take into account the reduced impacts and benefits from better air quality and greater energy security.

Climate change is a global problem; dealing with it is a common responsibility. The UK is not alone - consider the actions taken in the US and China. Of course economic development is good - but it brings unwelcome side effects which need government action. The policy response should be based on scientific evidence. He cited the early resistance to the passing of the Public Health Acts after the cholera epidemics in the 19th century and the Clean Air Act of the 1950s which eventually gained wide acceptance. Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges. The UK is right in its response.

PETER LILLEY said that he did not doubt the science of climate change, but he was concerned about the refusal of those committed to the environmental cause to engage in debate about the economic consequences of proposals. He was particularly concerned about the effects premature decarbonisation would have on the poor and in developing countries. He had voted against the Climate Change Act because he had read the cost benefit analysis provided when the Bill was debated in the House. The analysis showed that the potential cost was twice the benefit from global warming. No one wanted to discuss the cost; they simply wished to demonstrate moral superiority.

He particularly doubted the way that models had been used to forecast the future path of global average temperatures. He showed a chart of 50 model plots of global temperature versus time. Only two models in his diagram correlated with historical date. But all 50 were cited as evidence. In short, we do not know the path of future long-term temperature trends. Asked if the current pause is temporary or long-term, a scientist’s reply was that they would only know in 50 years what were the long term trends.

The poor in developing countries were vulnerable because they were poor, not because they suffered from the weather. If their energy costs rise - because of renewables- they will consume less energy and remain poorer than they would otherwise be. They would be less healthy as a result. Lord Stern in his report to HM Treasury in advocated spending now, so that our descendants would have to spend less in the future. But this meant in practice, sacrificing the poor - the great multitude - in Africa and Asia.

We do not know what the effects of a 4 oC rise will be - whether it will mean the extinction of the human race, or great inconvenience. Society can adapt to a great deal of change; and knowledge of how to respond increases continually. Global warming has benefits; it will reduce temperature variability between the poles and tropics; which might be a benefit. Our policies should be to focus on promoting energy efficiency, innovative energy storage and developing shale gas and drop expensive uncertain technologies such as biofuels, wind and solar generation. Above all we should link any increases in carbon tax to actual increases in global temperatures.



'The unaffordable energy capital of the world': Tony Abbott blames green companies for increasing power prices in Australia

Three current articles below

Tony Abbott has hit out at the green energy sector claiming the renewable energy target (RET) is the cause of rising energy prices in Australia.

The Prime Minister said the country is well on its way to being 'the unaffordable energy capital of the world' and that's the reason for the government's review of the RET, report The Financial Review.

'We should be the affordable energy capital of the world, not the unaffordable energy capital of the world and that’s why the carbon tax must go and that’s why we’re reviewing the RET,' he told the publication.

Clean energy companies have responded to these claims saying Mr Abbott completely exaggerated the impact that the target would have, and in the long run the nation would be better off financially and environmentally from the scheme.

The RET currently states that by 2020, 20 percent of energy should come from renewable sources, however this could be subject to change under the government's upcoming review.

In the Senate next week the government will try to abolish the carbon tax, but opposition leader Bill Shorten has vowed to continue the crusade for action against climate change.

Clive Palmer is set to block the government from lowering or abandoning the RET until after the election in 2016.

Infigen, Pacific Hydro, Senvion and the Clean Energy Council are all among the companies who have disagreed with the Prime Minister's comments, and a spokesperson for Senvion said if the RET is kept in place the price of power bills will drop off by 2020.

Clean Energy Council director Russell March agreed, claiming the only other alternative to the target is a switch to gas-fired power, but the price of that resource is on the up.

The consensus in the renewable energy industry is that power prices will drop as more forms of renewable energy are being utilised, with some companies citing the decrease in power bills around the $50 mark.

This week saw the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum take place in Canberra, and economists from around the world including Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Warwick McKibbin were among the experts calling for Australia to have a price on carbon, according to AFR.

Professor Stiglitz described putting a price on carbon as a 'no-brainer' and said it is more practical than taxing labour or capital, plus it would set Australia up for the future.

By pricing carbon now Australia would be taking a step forward to combating climate change he said, and the world would soon follow.

Aluminium refineries are also a big player in the RET debate, which are currently said to be 90 percent exempt from paying for renewable energy.

The government is expected to make a move from the backbench to completely clear the refineries from paying for any form of green energy.


Australia: Power price hikes bite in Queensland

QUEENSLANDERS face a dramatic hike in power bills with the start of the new financial year, and households with solar panels are also likely to take a hit to the hip pocket.

The average power bill is expected to rise by $191, or 13.6 per cent, pushed up by green policies and the increasing cost of poles, wires, and electricity generation.

However, prices will only go up by about 5.1 per cent if the federal government's carbon tax is repealed.

Queensland's Energy Minister Mark McArdle has blamed much of the hike on the former Labor government's over-investment in the power distribution network.

"Every power bill that is issued, 54 per cent of that bill relates to the cost of poles and wires - the gold-plated legacy of Labor that we're now having to unravel," Mr McArdle told ABC radio.

Pensioners and seniors will be able to apply for an electricity rebate of $320 after the government upped concessions to $165 million for this financial year.

"The Queensland government promised to lower the cost of living wherever we could and we're making sure that pensioners and other vulnerable Queenslanders get some relief on household costs," Mr McArdle said.

Consumers are forking out 50 per cent more for electricity than they did three years ago, and shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt says price hikes under the Newman government total $560.

"Campbell Newman arrogantly promised to lower Queenslanders' electricity bills, yet ever since he's become premier they've just gone up and up and up," he said.

This financial year, about 50,000 homeowners who have solar panels will no longer be guaranteed a feed-in tariff of eight cents.

Government-owned distributors will no longer be responsible for paying the tariff and households will have to negotiate directly with electricity retailers for the price they are paid for the solar power they generate.

The 44 cent tariff, paid to some 284,000 people who were first to sign up to the scheme, will remain unchanged.

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes says consumers need to shop around, or join forces to negotiate as a block with electricity retailers.

"As an independent customer, with an average-size system on your roof, you really have little leverage when talking to a utility," Mr Grimes told ABC radio.


Motorized climate change??

ADVOCATES for action against climate change do themselves few favours when they turn legitimate concerns into outright political propaganda.

Current editions of the official NSW government handbook for learner drivers carry a bizarre warning about the future risks of climate change, claiming that a changed climate could cause "unpredictable weather events” due to "greenhouse gas emissions”.

The excuse for including this information is that drivers should beware of taking to the roads in extreme conditions brought about by climate change.

This is more than a little absurd. If this approach was taken to logical extremes, we could see government climate change warnings attached to almost every conceivable human activity.

Impressively, state Coalition government roads minister Duncan Gay recognises the warning for the political sloganeering that it is and has vowed to cut the lines in future editions of the handbook.

The public might be more inclined to listen to climate activists if the activists’ messages were more realistic and less evangelical.

Which brings us to Scott Ferguson of Haberfield, who brought this to The Daily Telegraph’s attention after a copy of the handbook was given to his young daughter Riley.

"I haven’t been this annoyed since Riley’s old primary school made her sit in scripture class,” Mr Ferguson said. That’s a very good comparison. When climate change activists take their views to extremes, they sound more like religious zealots than like advocates for a better planet.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


2 July, 2014

Breaking EPA’s climate science secrecy barriers

FOIA request seeks hidden data and analyses that agency claims back up its climate rulings

Paul Driessen and Lawrence Kogan

Can you imagine telling the IRS you don’t need to complete all their forms or provide records to back up your claim for a tax refund? Or saying your company’s assurances that its medical products are safe and effective should satisfy the FDA? Especially if some of your data don’t actually support your claims – or you “can’t find” key data, research and other records, because your hard drive conveniently crashed? But, you tell them, people you paid to review your information said it’s accurate, so there’s no problem.

Do you suppose the government would accept your assurance that there’s “not a smidgen” of corruption, error or doubt – perhaps because 97% of your close colleagues agree with you? Or that your actions affect only a small amount of tax money, or a small number of customers – so the agencies shouldn’t worry?

If you were the Environmental Protection Agency, White House-operated US Global Change Research Program and their participating agencies (NOAA, NASA, NSF, etc.), you’d get away with all of that.

Using billions of our tax dollars, these government entities fund the research they use, select research that supports their regulatory agenda (while ignoring studies that do not), and handpick the “independent” experts who peer-review the research. As a recent analysis reveals, the agencies also give “significant financial support” to United Nations and other organizations that prepare computer models and other assessments. They then use the results to justify regulations that will cost countless billions of dollars and affect the lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards, health, welfare and life spans of every American.

EPA utilized this clever maneuver to determine that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases “endanger” public health and welfare. It then devised devious reports, including national climate change assessments – and expensive, punitive regulations to control emissions of those gases from vehicles, electrical generating plants and countless other sources.

At the very least, you would expect that this supposedly “scientific” review process – and the data and studies involved in it – should be subject to rigorous, least-discretionary standards designed to ensure their quality, integrity, credibility and reliability, as well as truly independent expert review. Indeed they are.

The Information Quality Act of 2000 and subsequent Office of Management and Budget guidelines require that all federal agencies ensure and maximize “the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information disseminated by Federal agencies.” The rules also call for proper peer review of all “influential scientific information” and “highly influential scientific assessments,” particularly if they could be used as the basis for regulatory action. Finally, they direct federal agencies to provide adequate administrative mechanisms enabling affected parties to review agency failures to respond to requests for correction or reconsideration of the scientific information.

EPA and other agencies apparently think these rules are burdensome, inconvenient, and a threat to their independence and regulatory agenda. They routinely ignore the rules, and resist attempts by outside experts to gain access to data and studies. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said she intends to “protect” them from people and organizations she decides “are not qualified to analyze” the materials.

Thus EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee reviews the agency’s CO2 and pollution data, studies and conclusions – for which EPA has paid CASAC’s 15 members $180.8 million since 2000. The American Lung Association has received $24.7 million in EPA grants over the past 15 years and $43 million overall via a total of 591 federal grants, for applauding and promoting government agency decisions. Big Green foundations bankrolled the ALA with an additional $76 million, under 2,806 grants.

These payoffs raise serious questions about EPA, CASAC and ALA integrity and credibility.

Meanwhile, real stakeholders – families and companies that will be severely impacted by the rules, and organizations and experts trying to protect their interests – are systematically denied access to data, studies, scientific assessments and other information. CASAC excludes from its ranks industry and other experts who might question EPA findings. EPA stonewalls and slow-walks FOIA requests and denies requests for correction and reconsideration. One lawyer who’s filed FOIA cases since 1978 says the Obama Administration is bar-none “the worst” in history on transparency. Even members of Congress get nowhere, resulting in testy confrontations with Ms. McCarthy and other EPA officials.

The stakes are high, particularly in view of the Obama EPA’s war on coal mining, coal-fired power plants, businesses and industries that require reliable, affordable electricity – and families, communities and entire states whose jobs, health and welfare will suffer under this anti-fossil fuel agenda. States that mine and use coal will be bludgeoned. Because they pay a larger portion of their incomes on energy and food, elderly, minority and poor families are especially vulnerable and will suffer greatly.

That is why the House of Representatives is moving forward on the Secret Science Reform Act. It is why the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development is again filing new FOIA requests with EPA and other agencies that are hiding their junk science, manipulating laws and strangling our economy.

The agencies’ benefit-cost analyses are equally deceptive. EPA claims its latest coal-fueled power plant rules (requiring an impossible 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030) would bring $30 billion in “climate benefits” versus $7.3 billion in costs. Even the left-leaning Brookings Institution has trashed the agency’s analysis – pointing out that the low-balled costs will be paid by American taxpayers, consumers, businesses and workers, whereas the highly conjectural benefits will be accrued globally.

That violates President Clinton’s 1993 Executive Order 12688, which requires that agencies “assess both the costs and benefits” of a proposed regulation, and adopt it “only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits … justify its costs.” EO 12866 specifies that only benefits to US citizens be counted. Once that’s done, the EPA benefits plummet to between $2.1 billion and $6.9 billion. That means its kill-coal rules cost Americans $400 million to $4.8 billion more than the clearly inflated benefits, using EPA’s own numbers.

Moreover, the US Chamber of Commerce calculates that the regulations will actually penalize the United States $51 billion. Energy analyst Roger Bezdek estimates that the benefits of using carbon-based fuels outweigh any hypothesized “social costs of carbon” by orders of magnitude: 50-to-1 (using the inflated SCC of $36/ton of CO2 concocted by EPA and other federal agencies in 2013) – and 500-to-1 (using the equally arbitrary $22/ton estimate that they cooked up in 2010).

Even more intolerable, these punitive EPA rules will have virtually no effect on atmospheric CO2 levels, because China, India, Germany and other countries will continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels. They will likewise have no effect on global temperatures, even accepting the Obama/EPA/IPCC notion that carbon dioxide is now the primary cause of climate change. Even EPA models acknowledge that its rules will prevent an undetectable 0.018 degrees Celsius (0.032 deg F) of total global warming in 100 years!

Fortunately, the Supreme Court recently ruled that EPA does not have the authority to rewrite federal laws to serve its power-grabbing agendas. FOIA requests seeking disclosure of EPA records that could reveal a rigged climate science peer review process – and legal actions under the Information Quality Act seeking correction of resultant data corruption – could compel courts to reconsider their all-too-common practice of deferring to “agency discretion” on scientific and regulatory matters. That clearly scares these federales.

The feds have become accustomed to saying “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” The prospect of having to share their data, methodologies and research with experts outside their closed circle of regulators, collaborators and eco-activists almost makes them soil their shorts.

Bright sunlight has always been the best disinfectant for mold, slime and corruption. With America’s economy, international competitiveness, jobs, health and welfare at stake, we need that sunlight now.

Via email

High Energy Costs Kill Manufacturing Jobs In Wales

Around 400 jobs are to go at the Tata steelmaking plant in Port Talbot, the company has announced.  Chief executive Karl Koehler said the changes were vital if the company was to remain competitive.

He pointed to the UK's high business rates and "uncompetitive" energy costs as factors in the decision.

In 2012, 600 jobs went from Tata sites in Wales. It still has 7,000 staff with just over half working at Port Talbot.

The Welsh government said the news would be of concern to Tata staff, but was encouraged that the company planned to make the redundancies through voluntary means.  A consultation process lasting at least 45 days will begin shortly.

The company said in statement the job losses would reduce costs and enable it to compete in an era of lower market demand.

Mr Koehler said: "Steel demand and prices are likely to be under pressure for some years. Our business rates in the UK are much higher than other EU countries' and our UK energy costs will remain uncompetitive until new mitigation measures come into effect.

"These proposed changes then are vital if we are to build a competitive future for our strip products business in the UK."

The company spends £60m on electricity in Wales alone, and pays about 40% more for the electricity than competitors in continental Europe.

The government introduced measures in the last budget to reduce energy costs for heavy industries but they do not come into force until 2016.

Steel has been produced on the current site for over 60 years
Mr Koehler said they would do everything possible to support staff "through this unsettling time".

He added the company had invested over £250m in the past two years in state-of-the-art technology and were making further investments in its hot strip mill in Port Talbot and at a site in Llanwern in Newport.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This is understandably a difficult time for the workforce at Tata Steel in south Wales as the company tries to weather challenging market conditions.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "Tata has demonstrated its commitment to Wales by investing nearly £400m in the strip business over the past two years. Despite this investment it is clear that the industry is still being adversely affected by high energy costs in the UK.

"We continue to work with Tata to ensure we create and sustain a thriving steel industry in Wales but repeat our calls for the UK government to implement measures to reduce the burden faced by energy intensive companies in Wales."


Ethanol mandate Is One Reason the Price of Gas Will Increase

Not thinking things through is a chronic problem with policy-makers in Washington. Superficial and easily sound-bite-able policies dominate the thoughtful-but-complex ones. For instance mandates for biofuel use would seem to be driven by basic supply and demand—more domestic fuel would lead to lower fuel prices for consumers. But the reality is more complex.

On June 26, the Congressional Budget Office released a study on the impacts of the Renewable Fuels Standard and found that, if unchanged, the RFS will increase gasoline prices by 13 to 26 cents per gallon and increase the price of diesel fuel by 30 to 51 cents per gallon by 2017. Part of the popular, bi-partisan and totally misguided Energy Independence and Security Act, the RFS promoted increased production of various forms of ethanol and biodiesel with a host of mandates and subsidies.

The failure of advanced biofuels—especially cellulosic ethanol—to meet targets,along with the constraints of blend walls and consumer rejection of E85 gasohol, would force the oil industry to pay fines for producing fuels consumers do want and take huge losses on forced production of fuels consumers don’t want.

The chart below, from the CBO report, illustrates how miserably the mandate-it-and-they-will-make-it energy policy is failing. Proponents assured Congress and the president that commercially viable production of cellulosic ethanol made from non-edible plant material was just around the corner. Not only were they wrong, but as we see from the chart, there is no end of the tunnel in sight.

On the other hand, the corn-ethanol producers responded so vigorously to production incentives that they have been meeting targets but produce more ethanol than can be blended into regular gasoline. In the industry jargon, refiners have hit the 10-percent blend wall established by the EPA to prevent damage to engines and fuel systems not designed for the moisture-attracting higher-blend levels.

Lower energy content per gallon makes ethanol fuels unattractive to most drivers. To a certain extent, this weakness was hidden because most gasoline contains only 10 percent of the lower-energy ethanol. But refiners cannot legally add any more ethanol to E10 gasoline—the most common gasoline sold, which is comprised of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol—and cannot get consumers to buy E85 (a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol) without selling it below cost of production.

The CBO estimates that to induce enough consumption of E85 to allow refiners to meet the targets set by Washington, they would have push down the price of E85 by as much as $1.27 per gallon. The necessary losses on the E85 are what, in large part, would drive up the cost of E10 gasoline used by the vast majority of drivers.

The failure of cellulosic ethanol to meet the fantasy-world targets set years ago means that the ethanol burned in our vehicles primarily comes from diverting food to fuel—nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes to ethanol production. So, the net effects of the RFS are to drive up farm commodity prices (and subsequently food prices), drive up the cost of diesel fuel, drive up the cost of the gasoline used by the vast majority of drivers, and provide little, at best, environmental benefit. It’s not a simple case of supply and demand where more ethanol means lower fuel costs. Understanding the complete picture is more complex. But one thing is clear: The RFS is simply a bad idea whose time to go has come.


NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record

Good to see that Anthony Watts has stopped apologizing for NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, criticized for manipulating temperature records to create a warming trend, has now been caught warming the past and cooling the present.

July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the U.S. during a summer that was declared “too hot to handle” by NASA scientists. That summer more than half the country was experiencing drought and wildfires had scorched more than 1.3 million acres of land, according to NASA.

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in 2012, the “average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the warmest July and all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895.”

“The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936, when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F,” NOAA said in 2012.

This statement by NOAA was still available on their website when checked by The Daily Caller News Foundation. But when meteorologist and climate blogger Anthony Watts went to check the NOAA data on Sunday he found that the science agency had quietly reinstated July 1936 as the hottest month on record in the U.S.

“Two years ago during the scorching summer of 2012, July 1936 lost its place on the leaderboard and July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the United States,” Watts wrote. “Now, as if by magic, and according to NOAA’s own data, July 1936 is now the hottest month on record again. The past, present, and future all seems to be ‘adjustable’ in NOAA’s world.”

Watts had data from NOAA’s “Climate at a Glance” plots from 2012, which shows that July 2012 was the hottest month on record at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit. July 1936 is only at 77.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watts ran the same data plot again on Sunday and found that NOAA inserted a new number in for July 1936. The average temperature for July 1936 was made slightly higher than July 2012, meaning, once again, July 1936 is the hottest year on record.

“You can’t get any clearer proof of NOAA adjusting past temperatures,” Watts wrote. “This isn’t just some issue with gridding, or anomalies, or method, it is about NOAA not being able to present historical climate information of the United States accurately.”

“In one report they give one number, and in another they give a different one with no explanation to the public as to why,” Watts continued. “This is not acceptable. It is not being honest with the public. It is not scientific. It violates the Data Quality Act.”

Watts’ accusation of NOAA climate data manipulation comes after reports that the agency had been lowering past temperatures to create a warming trend in the U.S. that does not exist in the raw data.

The ex-post facto data manipulation has been cataloged by climate blogger Steven Goddard and was reported by the UK Telegraph earlier this month.

“Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been ‘adjusting’ its record by replacing real temperatures with data ‘fabricated’ by computer models,” writes Christopher Booker for the Telegraph.

“The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data,” Booker writes. “In several posts headed ‘Data tampering at USHCN/GISS,’ Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time.”

“These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on ‘fabricated’ data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century,” Booker adds.

When asked about climate data adjustments by the DCNF back in April, NOAA send there have been “several scientific developments since 1989 and 1999 that have improved the understanding of the U.S. surface temperature record.”

“Many station observations that were confined to paper, especially from early in the 20th century, have been scanned and keyed and are now digitally available to inform these time series,” Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch, told TheDCNF.

“In addition to the much larger number of stations available, the U.S. temperature time series is now informed by an improved suite of quality assurance algorithms than it was in the late 20th Century,” Deke said in an emailed statement.

But NOAA has apparently not just been adjusting temperatures downward, but also adjusting them upwards.

“This constant change from year to year of what is or is not the hottest month on record for the USA is not only unprofessional and embarrassing for NOAA, it’s bullshit of the highest order,” Watts wrote. “It can easily be solved by NOAA stopping the unsupportable practice of adjusting temperatures of the past so that the present looks different in context with the adjusted past and stop making data for weather stations that have long since closed.”


India & Developing Nations Defeat Obama’s Green Agenda

India will strengthen its climate change negotiation team and will do "better homework" before discussing with all stakeholders, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday.

Fresh from India's "success" at the Nairobi environment conference, Javadekar said the country has decided to "reposition" its role in the global stage on climate change issues by intensely "lobbying" for a "good strategic relationship" with like-minded nations on the matter.

"And we will do more meaningful representation in the world events," Javadekar said.

He was speaking after leading the Indian delegation in the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme held at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi last week.

He said the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Paris in 2015 was "very important" and it is one year window in which the post Kyoto Protocol will be decided.

"From 2020, the new protocol will start....We will strengthen our Climate Change negotiation team," the minister said.

Javadekar said unlike the past UN Climate Conferences, India will organise side events and dinner meetings to highlight the world's largest democracy's role in tackling the Climate Change.

"There will be big preparation....Dinner, breakfast meetings and exhibitions to strengthen the lobbying. On international forum we have to put forth our points very strongly and take everyone along and we are working out plans for that," he said.

Speaking about the Nairobi Environment Conference, he said India lobbied with Arab countries, G-77 plus China and BRICS to defeat the US position that Rio principles should not be made part of its final outcome document, official sources said here today.

"In negotiations, we were active this time. America was saying that don't refer to Kyoto Protocol, CBDR, Rio principles.

We resisted that...we lobbied...all Arab countries, BRICS, G-77 plus China...all came together to oppose America's position and ultimately Rio principles were part of the final outcome document," he said.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development met at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 had proclaimed 10 principles which include human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development and they are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.


Bill Gates gets the need to stop shafting poor countries

For years, I took energy for granted. There’s no telling how many times I walked into my office, flipped a light switch, and powered up a PC without thinking at all about the magic of getting electricity any time I wanted it. But then I started traveling to poor and middle-income countries, and I had a very different experience.

I remember going to Buenos Aires and seeing where the government had run big wires to distribute electricity. But people couldn’t afford it, so they tapped their own power cables into the government’s and stole the electricity. This is a very common experience—according to the United Nations, some 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity, and a billion more only have access to unreliable electricity networks. I’ve talked to women in rural Africa who spent hours every day hauling wood so they could cook food and light their homes. Others buy fuel to run a generator, which pumps out pollutants that cause asthma and lung cancer and, at 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, is more than twice as expensive as what the average American homeowner pays for electricity. Another example of the high cost of being poor.

Here is a picture of some students in Conakry, Guinea. They’re studying under street lamps, because they don’t have reliable lights at home. This is one of the most vivid examples of life without electricity at home that I’ve seen.

Think about what it has meant to America to have access to affordable, reliable energy. Electricity powers the streetlights that make our cities far safer than they were a century ago. The American construction industry never would have taken off if we didn’t have lots of affordable energy for making cement and steel.

Our farmers became much more productive when they replaced their plows and oxen with tractors—but only because they had fuel to run these new machines. The historian Vaclav Smil found that in the 20th century the average American’s energy use jumped roughly 60-fold. At the same time, the price we pay for electricity fell by roughly 98 percent.

That’s why I think any anti-poverty agenda has to look at giving more people access to affordable energy. For countries to lift themselves out of poverty, they need lights in schools so students can study when it’s dark out. Refrigerators in health clinics to keep vaccines cold. Pumps to irrigate farmland and provide clean water.

In the rich world, we are right to worry about conserving energy, but in poor places, people need more energy.

There is also a demand side to this equation. As people get richer, they want more energy-consuming goods, like computers and refrigerators, and energy-hungry services like health care. We’ve seen it already in Brazil, India, China, and other countries, and it’s a trend that will continue well into the future. The U.S. government estimates that the world’s energy needs will increase by more than 50 percent by 2040, but I think it could go even higher as the global population grows and incomes continue to rise. We want to provide this energy as efficiently as possible, but that’s no reason to deny the poor access to the services that rich countries enjoy.

What about climate change?

It’s a huge problem, one of the biggest we face today. The more energy we produce with today’s technology, the more carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. While there is some uncertainty about the exact impact, there is nearly universal scientific agreement that these effects will be bad. And they will be worst for the poorest people on earth, who have done the least to cause the problem. Energy can’t just be affordable—it also has to be clean.

That’s why it’s so important for the United States and other rich countries to invest more in research into clean energy. A few years ago, I shared a few thoughts on this subject in a TED talk about developing energy sources that produce zero carbon. And I’m investing in a number of projects to develop cleaner, more affordable sources of energy. I hope to have more to share about them as they move through the R&D cycle.

These days, I don’t take energy for granted. I know what a difference it can make in the lives of the poorest, and I’m committed to helping them get it.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 July, 2014

The Global Climate Status Report (GCSR)

SUMMARY CLIMATE ASSESSMENT REPORT June 10, 2014, A product of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) Orlando, Florida, USA

After a thorough review of the selected climate status parameters up through June 10, 2014, the current status and predicted climate assessment for the Earth is as follows:

1. Current Climate Status

a. Overall Climate Status. The Earth is presently in a strong and sustained phase of GLOBAL COOLING. Though there is new evidence of moderation in this rate during the 2013- 2014 period, the rate of temperature decline on a 100 year trend line is the steepest seen during that time frame going back to 1914. We conclude that the past period of global warming, as a natural phase of climate variation caused by the Sun, has ended, and a new cold climate epoch has begun.

b. Two Hundred Year Solar Cycle Continues to Dominate Global Climate. The most recent multi-centennial climate epoch which began around 1830, has begun to reverse direction from a global temperature standpoint. The past period of generally increasing warmth for the Earth, which was caused by the Sun’s natural and regular cycles of activity, reached a peak of warming between 2007 and 2008 as measured by global atmospheric temperatures in the lower troposphere. This change was observed in oceanic temperatures as early as 2003.

Acting primarily under the influence of a repeating 206 year solar cycle, a new “solar hibernation” has begun, and is marked by a significant decline in the Sun’s energy output. Starting with solar cycle #24, this energy reduction has initiated an expected reversal from the past warm era to a new cold era.

c. Near Term Trends. Major features of the Earth’s current climate status include the following sustained trends:

(1) There has been no effective growth in global temperature for seventeen (17) years. Temperatures in the lower troposphere have temporarily stabilized from a previously declining short term trend because of 2013-2014 warming. This trend is expected to revert to cooling in the next year or two.

(2) Integrated Global Atmospheric Temperatures continue to show a long term COOLING trend that began in 2007. (100 year trend). The Tropics which are an especially important indicator, continue their steep drop in temperatures which began in 2004.

(3) Integrated Global Oceanic Temperatures continue to show a long term COOLING trend that began in 2003. The rate of oceanic temperature decline has been slightly reduced over the past year but is expected to continue its long term decline. Though the Indian Ocean continues its warming trend, the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperatures down to the first 100 meters depth are experiencing rapid reductions that began in 2005.

2. Climate Prediction for the Next Thirty Years.

Based on the SSRC’s Relational Cycle Theory (RC Theory) using natural cycles as a means for climate prediction and in view of the trends demonstrated by the twenty four global climate parameters, the following climate prediction is believed to be the most accurate available for the period of 2014 to 2044:

a. Highly variable and extreme weather events are expected during the transition from the past warm period to one of rapid global cooling.

b. This next climate change to a long and deep cold era is expected to last for at least the next thirty to forty years.

c. The extent and depth of the cold weather produced in this new climate era is estimated to be the worst in over two hundred years producing a global temperature reduction of 1.0 to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

3. Likely Future Climate Scenarios.

The SSRC believes existing climate change indicators support the assessment that a new potentially dangerous cold climate age has begun. It should be emphasized that unless a significant unexpected and rapid change in the present declining ocean and atmosphere temperature trends occurs, there are only two climate scenarios that appear likely at this time over the next forty years. Each scenario results in a new cold climate era:

a. Scenario 1. A solar hibernation similar to the Dalton Minimum (1793-1830). This would result in routine establishment of new 200 year cold weather records. b. Scenario

2. A solar hibernation similar to the one during the Maunder Minimum (1615- 1745). A climate period like this would see 400 year temperature records and widespread climate and weather extremes.


Obama Continues his Attack on U.S. Energy

By Alan Caruba

The delay of the Keystone XL pipeline is a perfect example of the way President Obama and his administration has engaged in, not just a war on coal, but on all forms of energy the nation has and needs. Even his State Department admits there is no reason to refuse its construction and, as turmoil affects the Middle East, there is an increased need to tap our own oil and welcome Canada’s.

The latest news, however, is that Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil—to Asia.

The pure evil of the delay is compounded by the loss of the many jobs the pipeline—that will not require taxpayer funding—represents to help reduce the nation’s obscene rate of unemployment and to generate new revenue for the nation. That’s what oil, coal, and natural gas does.

Less visible has been the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency that has, since Obama took office on January 20, 2009, issued 2,827 new final regulations totally 24,915,000 words to fill 24,915 pages of the Federal Register. As a CNSnews article reported, “The Obama EPA regulations have 22 times as many words as the entire Harry Potter series which includes seven books with 1,084,170 words.” Every one of the EPA regulations affects some aspect of life in America, crushing economic development in every conceivable way.

The worst part of the EPA regulation orgy is the fact that virtually all of it is based on a hoax. As reported by James Delingpole, a British journalist, “19 million jobs lost plus $4,335 trillion spent equals a global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees Celsius. Yes, horrible but true. These are the costs to the U.S. economy, by 2100, of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants by 30% before 2005 levels.”

Citing a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Delingpole reported that the new regulations will cost the economy another $51 billion annually, result in the 224,000 more lost jobs every year, and cost every American household $3,400 per year in higher prices for energy, food, and other necessities.”

This is an all-out attack on industry, business, and the use of electricity by all Americans.

There is absolutely no reason, nor need to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas on which all life on Earth depends because it is to vegetation what oxygen is to all living creatures. It is the “food” on which every blade of grass depends. More CO2 means more crops and healthier forests.

The EPA’s regulations would yield“Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

Disastrously, even the Supreme Court—the same one that signed off on Obamacare as a tax—has not ruled against the EPA’s false assertions about CO2. In late June, however, it did place limits on the EPA’s effort to limit power plant and factory emissions blamed for a global warming that does not exist. The Earth has been cooling for seventeen years, but the Court ruled that the EPA lacked authority in some cases to force companies to evaluate ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

As Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of the free market think tank, CFACT, points out, “The Court served notice that the Executive Branch cannot unilaterally write its own laws. This is an important principle. However, the United States still remains fated to suffer most of the economic damage EPA’s regulations will cause. True reform will require congressional action.”

Thanks to the lies that have been taught about “global warming”, now called “climate change”, in the nation’s schools to a generation of Americans, and the deluge of lies about the environment that have been repeated in the nation’s media, too many Americans still do not make the connection between the use of the nation’s vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, and their personal lifestyles and the nation’s economic growth.

The attacks on the energy industries by environmental organizations have been attacks on all Americans who turn on the lights or drive anywhere. Their mantra has been “dirty coal” and “dirty oil” along with lies about the way energy industries contribute billions to the nation’s revenue in taxes.

An example of these attacks have been those directed against “fracking”, the short term for hydraulic fracturing, a technology that has been in use for more than a half century and whose development has generated a boom in natural gas these days. Claims about fracking pollution have no basis in fact.

A new book, “The Fracking Truth—America’s Energy Revolution: The Inside, Untold Story”, by Chris Faulkner is well worth reading for the extraordinary way he explains fracking and the facts he provides about energy in America. It is published by Platform Press.

America has huge reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. “This phenomenon of energy abundance and efficiency,” says Faulkner, “makes it almost a certainty that the cost of powering our nation—already a bargain by international standards—is going to become even less of a burden for our economy for many decades to come.” But not if the EPA and other Obama government agencies such as the Department of the Interior have their way.

One example: “According to the American Petroleum Institute, at least 87% of our federal offshore acreage is off-limits to drilling. API commissioned the consultancy Wood Mackenzie to assess the foregone offshore opportunity in specific terms. The upshot: Increased access to oil and gas reserves underlying federal waters could, by 2025, generate an additional 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, add $150 billion to government revenues, and create 530,00 jobs.”

“In fact, since 2007, about 96% of the increase in America’s oil and gas production occurred on private lands in the United States. Meanwhile, oil and gas production on federal lands declined to a ten-year low in fiscal years 2011-2012.”

Who is forcing coal-fired electricity plants to close? The Obama administration. Who is denying access to vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas on federal lands? The Obama administration. Who continues to lie about “climate change” pegged to carbon dioxide emissions? The Obama administration. And this is happening as China and India cannot build new coal-fired plants fast enough and Europe abandons wind and solar energy.

Who is the enemy of energy, current and future, in the United States? Barack Obama.


Climate change: The moment I became a climate skeptic

By Zev Chafets

I got my first lesson on the subject of climate change more than 10 years ago. My tutor was an internationally famous climate scientist at a major Ivy League university. Unlike most lectures I have heard from professors, this one was brief, to the point and extremely enlightening.

At the time I was a columnist for the New York Daily News, recently arrived in the United States after more than 30 years in Israel. I had heard about global warming, of course, but I hadn’t thought much about it. Israel has other, more pressing issues.

In May 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its third report, which got a lot of media attention. I looked through it and realized immediately that I had no chance of understanding the science.

I was in good company – I doubt there are half a dozen journalists in captivity who can actually understand the mathematical and chemical formulas and computer projections. That’s what press releases are for.

One item got my attention. It said: “Projections based on the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios suggest warming over the 21st Century at a more rapid rate than that experienced for at least the last 10,000 years.”

I called the professor, one of the authors of the report, for a clarification (he remains nameless because we were off the record). “If global warming is caused by man-made emissions,” I asked, “what accounts for the world warming to this same level 10,000 years ago?”

There was a long silence. Then the professor said, “Are you serious?”

I admitted that I was.

The professor loudly informed me that my question was stupid. The panel’s conclusion was indisputable science, arrived at after years of research by a conclave of the world’s leading climate scholars. Who was I to dispute it?

I told him I wasn’t disputing it, just trying to understand how, you know, the world could have been this hot before without the help of human agency. Maybe this is just a natural climate change like ice ages that once connected continents and warming periods that caused them to drift apart or …

At which point I heard a click. The professor hung up on me. At that exact moment I became a climate skeptic. I may not know anything about science, but I have learned over a long career that when an expert hangs up in the middle of a question, it means that he doesn’t know the answer.

This isn’t shocking. Experts, even on subjects less complicated than what the world’s temperature will be in 200 years, are often wrong. One tip-off is when they argue by assuring you that everybody smart already knows they are right.

I was reminded of this encounter the other day while reading a Time Magazine cover story titled, “Eat Butter: Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” The article chronicled the decades-long consensus, backed by official U.S. government policy as well as a militant (and self-interested) scientific establishment, that fat was a killer. According to Time, this was “so embedded in modern medicine and nutrition that it became nearly impossible to challenge the consensus.” Scientific journals refused to publish data challenging this orthodoxy. People who did, like Dr. Robert Atkins, were derided as quacks.

Now that consensus has flipped (Time Magazine doesn’t publish articles outside any current consensus). It may flip again someday as we learn even more about nutrition and health. But for now, the danger of eating fat – once an unshakable tenet of settled science – is out of intellectual fashion. People who have virtuously deprived themselves of t-bones, ice cream and cheesecake are now left with egg on their faces. It is a reminder that bad science, backed by a politicized posse of experts, can have distasteful consequences.

Another recent article, this one in the New York Times, also caught my eye. It reported that a submerged forest in Wales has suddenly re-emerged, revealing traces that humans had lived there before the sea rose after the last ice age. “About 10,000 years ago, temperatures warmed sharply, by eight to ten degrees Fahrenheit,” said Dr. Martin Bates, a geoarcheologist called in to examine the situation. The footprints found in the sediment belonged to “refugees of prehistoric climate change,” he said (happily, Wales has since been repopulated).

Dr. Nicholas Ashton of the British Museum, a participant in the project, was philosophical. “We can reconstruct the climate and climate change nearly one million years ago,” he said. “The big lesson is, we have to adapt. Whether we like it or not the climate will change – it always has.” He quickly added that human beings were now “accelerating that change.” The Times reporter didn’t ask him how much the change was accelerating, or what, besides people, might be causing an eons-old phenomenon. Perhaps she didn’t wonder. Or maybe she didn’t feel like getting hung up on by an expert.


Prince Charles 'consorted with Labour on climate change and grammar schools'

The Prince of Wales “consorted” with Labour ministers to get tougher Government policies on climate change, it has been claimed.

The prince also helped persuade Tony Blair to turn against genetically modified food, Michael Meacher, the former environment minister, said.

The Prince also tried to push the Labour government into expanding grammar schools, it is claimed.

The claims were made in a BBC programme that sheds new light on how far the Prince is said to have gone to lobby ministers to adopt his pet policies on health and the environment.

It comes amid a legal battle between the Guardian newspaper and the Government over the release of so-called “black spider memos” – hand-written notes sent by the Prince to ministers. Ministers say the letters should remain private as releasing them would be “seriously damaging to his role as future monarch” because it means he could “forfeit his position of political neutrality as heir to the throne.”

Mr Meacher said the Prince helped him push Tony Blair for more radical action on climate change and to block GM foods.

“We would consort together quietly in order to try and ensure that we increased our influence within government. There were always tensions within government. And I knew that he largely agreed with me and he knew that I largely agreed with him,” Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 4’s The Royal Activist.

“I know he spoke to Tony Blair, obviously he would regularly speak to the Prime Minister, and I’m sure he told him his views, so we were together in trying to persuade Tony Blair to change course.”

Asked whether such lobbying caused a “constitutional problem,” Mr Meacher said: “Well, over GM I suppose you could well say that. Maybe he was pushing it a bit. I was delighted, of course.”

Peter Hain, the former Northern Ireland secretary, said the Prince encouraged him to introduce complementary medicine on the NHS – a position Mr Hain shared.

“He had been constantly frustrated at his inability to persuade any health ministers anywhere that that was a good idea, and so he, as he once described it to me, found me unique from this point of view, in being somebody that actually agreed with him on this, and might want to deliver it.”

Mr Hain allowed it to be introduced in Northern Ireland – a move that delighted the Prince.


British consumer energy bills to rise to keep power plants open

To subsidize standby power for when the wind isn't blowing  -- or for when it is blowing too hard!

Households will fund retainer payments to keep more than 53GW of power stations ready to fire up when needed

Consumer energy bills will rise in order to pay retainers to dozens of power stations to guarantee they are available to keep the lights on, ministers have announced.

Under a so-called “capacity market”, ministers plan to recruit more than 53GW of power stations - enough to meet 80 per cent of Britain’s peak demand – to ensure they can fire up when needed.

Households will each pay an average of £13 a year to the power plants, to guarantee they are ready on the system from 2018-19.

The Government has previously described the system, which will be paid for through levies on household bills as an “insurance premium against the risk of blackouts”. It hopes the scheme will keep existing gas and coal power plants from mothballing and encourage the construction of dozens of new gas plants by helping to guarantee their profitability.

Building new gas plants is otherwise unattractive, because as Britain builds more wind farms, gas plants may only run for short periods of time when the wind isn’t blowing.

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said that the policy would add £2 to consumer bills.  However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change later clarified that the £2 impact was compared with a future scenario in which there was no capacity market, rather than compared with today's prices.

DECC said it forecast that the new capacity market would cost consumers about £13. However, it also predicts that it will also save consumers about £11 by preventing future power price spikes that would otherwise occur in the event of shortages, giving the net forecast impact of £2.

DECC had previously estimated that the policy would have a net impact of £13-£14 to bills, again compared with a future scenario with price spikes and blackouts. It has since significantly changed its modelling, predicting far more severe price spikes in the absence of the policy, resulting in the £2 net impact.

Mr Davey said: "There was a real risk back in 2010 that an energy crunch would hit Britain in the middle of this decade and lead to damaging power cuts.  "But the excellent news is that with [this] announcement we have the final piece of the jigsaw of our detailed energy security plans and can now say with confidence that we have defused the ticking time bomb of electricity supply risks we inherited."

Analyst Peter Atherton at Liberum Capital said that total payments to energy companies under the scheme could be in the region of £1.6bn, implying payments of at least £20 per household.



The BBC has ruled that a radio debate about climate change involving former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson should have been censored. Fraser Steel, head of the BBC complaints unit, said a Radio 4 Today programme about the causes of last winter’s storms should never have been broadcast.

Here is the transcript of the debate on the BBC Today Programme from 13 February between Sir Brian Hoskins and Nigel Lawson.

Justin Webb, BBC: Is there a link, Sir Brian, between the rain we have seen falling in recent days and global warming?

Sir Brian Hoskins: There’s no simple link – we can’t say yes or no this is climate change. However, there’s a number of reasons to think that such events are now more likely. One of those is that a warmer atmosphere that we have can contain more water vapour and so a storm can bring that water vapour out of the atmosphere and we’re seeing more heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve certainly seen those here.

Justin Webb: So it’s the heavy rainfall; it’s the severity of the event that points us in this direction?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Well, in this event we’ve had severe rainfall but we’ve also had persistence, and that’s where I say we just don’t know whether the persistence of this event is due to climate change or not. Another aspect is sea level rise – the sea level has risen about 20cm over the 20th Century and is continuing to rise as the system warms, and that, of course, makes damage in the coastal region that much greater when we get some event there.

Justin Webb: But can a reasonable person – possessed of the evidence as it is known to us at the moment – say look at the rain we’ve had recently and say “I do not believe that the evidence exists that links that rain to global warming?”

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think the reasonable person should look at this event – they should look at extremes around the world: the general rise in temperature that’s well recorded, the reduction in Arctic sea ice, the rise in sea level, the number of extreme rainfall events around the world, the number of extreme events that we’ve had – we’ve had persistent droughts, we’ve had floods, we’ve had cold spells and very warm spells. The number of records being broken is just that much greater.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson, it’s joining the dots isn’t it?

Lord Lawson: No, I think that Sir Brian is right on a number of points. He’s right, first of all, that nobody knows. Certainly it is not the case, of course, that this rainfall is due to global warming – the question is whether global warming has marginally exacerbated it. Nobody knows that. He’s right too to say that you have to look at the global picture, and contrary to what he may have implied, people have done studies to show that globally there has been no increase in extreme weather events. For example, tropical storms – perhaps the most dramatic form of weather event – the past year has been unusually quiet year for tropical storms. And again going back to the “nobody knows,” only a couple of months ago the Met Office were forecasting that this would be an unusually dry winter.

Justin Webb: Do you accept that, Sir Brian, just on that important point about the global picture  – do you accept that we haven’t seen the extreme conditions that we might have expected?

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think we have seen these heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve seen a number of places breaking records – Australia with the temperatures going to new levels.

Justin Webb: The trouble is we report those, and we’re interested in them, but there is an effect that is possibly an obfuscatory effect on the real picture, and you accept that that might be the case?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Absolutely, and we have to be very careful to not say “oh there’s records everywhere therefore climate is changing.” But we are very sure that the temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees, the arctic sea ice has reached a minimum level in the summer which hasn’t been seen for a very, very long time, the Greenland ice sheet and the west Antarctic ice sheet have been measured to be decreasing. There are all the signs that we are changing this climate system. Now as we do this – as the system warms – it doesn’t just warm uniformly, the temperature changes by different amounts in different regions. That means that the weather that feeds off those temperature contrasts is changing and will change. It’s not just a smooth change – it’s a change in the weather. It’s a change in the regional climate we can expect.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson?

Lord Lawson: I think we want to focus not on this extremely speculative and uncertain area – I don’t blame the climate scientists for not knowing. Climate and weather is quite extraordinarily complex and this is a very new form of science. All I blame them for is pretending they know when they don’t. Anyhow, what we ought to focus on is what we’re going to do. I think this is a wake-up call. We need to abandon this crazy and costly policy of spending untold millions on littering the countryside with useless wind turbines and solar panels, and moving from a sensible energy policy of having cheap and reliable forms of energy to a policy of having unreliable and costly energy. Give up that. What we want to focus on – it’s very important – is making sure this country is really resilient and robust to whatever nature throws at us, whether there’s a climate element or not. Flood defences, sea defences – that’s what we want to focus on.

Justin Webb: Can I just put this to you? If there is a chance – and some people would say there is a strong chance that man-made global warming exists and is having an impact on us; doesn’t it make sense whether or not you believe that’s a 95% chance or a 50% chance or whatever, does it not make sense to take care to try to avoid the kind of emissions that may be contributing to it? What could be wrong with that?

Lord Lawson: Everything. First of all, even if there is warming – and there’s been no recorded warming over the past 15, 16, 17 years.

Justin Webb: Well, there is a lot of controversy about that.

Lord Lawson: No there’s not, that’s a fact. That is accepted even by the IPCC.

Justin Webb: There’s no measured warming.

Lord Lawson: Can I continue my sentence?

Justin Webb: Well alright, we’ll get back to that.

Lord Lawson: No measured warming, exactly. Well that measurement is not unimportant. But even if there is some problem, it is not going to affect any of the dangers except marginally. What we want to do is focus with the problems there are with climate – drought, floods and so on. These have happened in the past – they’re not new. As for emissions, this country is responsible for less than 2% of global emissions. Even if we cut our emissions to 0 – which would put us back to the pre-industrial revolution and the poverty that that gave – even if we did that, it would be outweighed by China’s increase in emissions in a single year. So it is absolutely crazy this policy. It cannot make sense at all.

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think we have to learn two lessons from this. The first one is that by increasing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, to levels not seen for millions of years on this planet, we are performing a very risky experiment. We’re pretty confident that that means if we go on like we are the temperatures are going to rise somewhere between 3-5 degrees by the end of this Century, sea levels up to half to 1 metre rise.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson was saying there that there had been a pause – which you hear a lot about – a pause of 10 / 15 years in measured rising of temperature. That is the case isn’t it?

Sir Brian Hoskins: It hasn’t risen very much over the last 10-15 years. If you measure the climate from the globally averaged surface temperature, during that time the excess energy has still been absorbed by the climate system and is being absorbed by the oceans.

Justin Webb: So it’s there somewhere?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans.

Lord Lawson: That is pure speculation.

Sir Brian Hoskins: No, it’s a measurement.

Lord Lawson: No, it’s not. It’s speculation.

Justin Webb: Well, it’s a combination of the two isn’t it? As this whole discussion is…. Lord Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins, thank you very much.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


This site is in favour of things that ARE good for the environment. That the usual Greenie causes are good for the environment is however disputed.

Context for the minute average temperature change recorded: At any given time surface air temperatures around the world range over about 100°C. Even in the same place they can vary by nearly that much seasonally and as much as 30°C or more in a day. A minute rise in average temperature in that context is trivial if it is not meaningless altogether. Warmism is a money-grubbing racket, not science.

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia.


"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" -- Karl Popper

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" – Richard Feynman

"The desire to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it" -- H L Mencken

'Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action' -- Goethe

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” -- Voltaire

Lord Salisbury: "No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe soldiers, nothing is safe."

Calvin Coolidge said, "If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." He could have been talking about Warmists.

Some advice from long ago for Warmists: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans,there'd be no room for tinkers". It's a nursery rhyme harking back to Middle English times when "an" could mean "if". Tinkers were semi-skilled itinerant workers who fixed holes and handles in pots and pans -- which were valuable household items for most of our history. Warmists are very big on "ifs", mays", "might" etc. But all sorts of things "may" happen, including global cooling

Bertrand Russell knew about consensus: "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts. - Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist (1613-1680)

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" -- William of Occam

"In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy". (Bob Parks, Physics, U of Maryland). No prizes for guessing how global warming skepticism is normally responded to.

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin." -- Thomas H. Huxley

Time was, people warning the world "Repent - the end is nigh!" were snickered at as fruitcakes. Now they own the media and run the schools.

"One of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world" -- George Orwell, 1943 in Can Socialists Be Happy?

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts -- Bertrand Russell

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.” -- John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama. Published in Science 9 February 2001

The closer science looks at the real world processes involved in climate regulation the more absurd the IPCC's computer driven fairy tale appears. Instead of blithely modeling climate based on hunches and suppositions, climate scientists would be better off abandoning their ivory towers and actually measuring what happens in the real world.' -- Doug L Hoffman

Something no Warmist could take on board: "Knuth once warned a correspondent, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it." -- Prof. Donald Knuth, whom some regard as the world's smartest man

"To be green is to be irrational, misanthropic and morally defective. They are the barbarians at the gate we have to stand against" -- Rich Kozlovich


This is one of TWO skeptical blogs that I update daily. During my research career as a social scientist, I was appalled at how much writing in my field was scientifically lacking -- and I often said so in detail in the many academic journal articles I had published in that field. I eventually gave up social science research, however, because no data ever seemed to change the views of its practitioners. I hoped that such obtuseness was confined to the social scientists but now that I have shifted my attention to health related science and climate related science, I find the same impermeability to facts and logic. Hence this blog and my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. I may add that I did not come to either health or environmental research entirely without credentials. I had several academic papers published in both fields during my social science research career

Update: After 8 years of confronting the frankly childish standard of reasoning that pervades the medical journals, I have given up. I have put the blog into hibernation. In extreme cases I may put up here some of the more egregious examples of medical "wisdom" that I encounter. Greenies and food freaks seem to be largely coterminous. My regular bacon & egg breakfasts would certainly offend both -- if only because of the resultant methane output

Since my academic background is in the social sciences, it is reasonable to ask what a social scientist is doing talking about global warming. My view is that my expertise is the most relevant of all. It seems clear to me from what you will see on this blog that belief in global warming is very poorly explained by history, chemistry, physics or statistics.

Warmism is prophecy, not science. Science cannot foretell the future. Science can make very accurate predictions based on known regularities in nature (e.g. predicting the orbits of the inner planets) but Warmism is the exact opposite of that. It predicts a DEPARTURE from the known regularities of nature. If we go by the regularities of nature, we are on the brink of an ice age.

And from a philosophy of science viewpoint, far from being "the science", Warmism is not even an attempt at a factual statement, let alone being science. It is not a meaningful statement about the world. Why? Because it is unfalsifiable -- making it a religious, not a scientific statement. To be a scientific statement, there would have to be some conceivable event that disproved it -- but there appears to be none. ANY event is hailed by Warmists as proving their contentions. Only if Warmists were able to specify some fact or event that would disprove their theory would it have any claim to being a scientific statement. So the explanation for Warmist beliefs has to be primarily a psychological and political one -- which makes it my field

And, after all, Al Gore's academic qualifications are in social science also -- albeit very pissant qualifications.

A "geriatric" revolt: The scientists who reject Warmism tend to be OLD! Your present blogger is one of those. There are tremendous pressures to conformity in academe and the generally Leftist orientation of academe tends to pressure everyone within it to agree to ideas that suit the Left. And Warmism is certainly one of those ideas. So old guys are the only ones who can AFFORD to declare the Warmists to be unclothed. They either have their careers well-established (with tenure) or have reached financial independence (retirement) and so can afford to call it like they see it. In general, seniors in society today are not remotely as helpful to younger people as they once were. But their opposition to the Warmist hysteria will one day show that seniors are not completely irrelevant after all. Experience does count (we have seen many such hysterias in the past and we have a broader base of knowledge to call on) and our independence is certainly an enormous strength. Some of us are already dead. (Reid Bryson and John Daly are particularly mourned) and some of us are very senior indeed (e.g. Bill Gray and Vince Gray) but the revolt we have fostered is ever growing so we have not labored in vain.


Climate is just the sum of weather. So if you cannot forecast the weather a month in advance, you will not be able to forecast the climate 50 years in advance. And official meteorologists such as Britain's Met Office and Australia's BOM, are very poor forecasters of weather. The Met office has in fact given up on making seasonal forecasts because they have so often got such forecasts embarrassingly wrong. Their global-warming-powered "models" just did not deliver

Here's how that "97% consensus" figure was arrived at

A strange Green/Left conceit: They seem to think (e.g. here) that no-one should spend money opposing them and that conservative donors must not support the election campaigns of Congressmen they agree with

To Greenies, Genghis Khan was a good guy, believe it or not. They love that he killed so many people.

Greenie antisemitism

After three exceptionally cold winters in the Northern hemisphere, the Warmists are chanting: "Warming causes cold". Even if we give that a pass for logic, it still inspires the question: "Well, what are we worried about"? Cold is not going to melt the icecaps is it?"

It's a central (but unproven) assumption of the Warmist "models" that clouds cause warming. Odd that it seems to cool the temperature down when clouds appear overhead!

To make out that the essentially trivial warming of the last 150 years poses some sort of threat, Warmists postulate positive feedbacks that might cut in to make the warming accelerate in the near future. Amid their theories about feedbacks, however, they ignore the one feedback that is no theory: The reaction of plants to CO2. Plants gobble up CO2 and the more CO2 there is the more plants will flourish and hence gobble up yet more CO2. And the increasing crop yields of recent years show that plantlife is already flourishing more. The recent rise in CO2 will therefore soon be gobbled up and will no longer be around to bother anyone. Plants provide a huge NEGATIVE feedback in response to increases in atmospheric CO2

Every green plant around us is made out of carbon dioxide that the plant has grabbed out of the atmosphere. That the plant can get its carbon from such a trace gas is one of the miracles of life. It admittedly uses the huge power of the sun to accomplish such a vast filtrative task but the fact that a dumb plant can harness the power of the sun so effectively is also a wonder. We live on a rather improbable planet. If a science fiction writer elsewhere in the universe described a world like ours he might well be ridiculed for making up such an implausible tale.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "HEAT TRAPPING GAS". A gas can become warmer by contact with something warmer or by infrared radiation shining on it or by adiabatic (pressure) effects but it cannot trap anything. Air is a gas. Try trapping something with it!

Greenies are the sand in the gears of modern civilization -- and they intend to be.

The Greenie message is entirely emotional and devoid of all logic. They say that polar ice will melt and cause a big sea-level rise. Yet 91% of the world's glacial ice is in Antarctica, where the average temperature is around minus 40 degrees Celsius. The melting point of ice is zero degrees. So for the ice to melt on any scale the Antarctic temperature would need to rise by around 40 degrees, which NOBODY is predicting. The median Greenie prediction is about 4 degrees. So where is the huge sea level rise going to come from? Mars? And the North polar area is mostly sea ice and melting sea ice does not raise the sea level at all. Yet Warmists constantly hail any sign of Arctic melting. That the melting of floating ice does not raise the water level is known as Archimedes' principle. Archimedes demonstrated it around 2,500 years ago. That Warmists have not yet caught up with that must be just about the most inspissated ignorance imaginable. The whole Warmist scare defies the most basic physics. Yet at the opening of 2011 we find the following unashamed lying by James Hansen: "We will lose all the ice in the polar ice cap in a couple of decades". Sadly, what the Vulgate says in John 1:5 is still only very partially true: "Lux in tenebris lucet". There is still much darkness in the minds of men.

The repeated refusal of Warmist "scientists" to make their raw data available to critics is such a breach of scientific protocol that it amounts to a confession in itself. Note, for instance Phil Jones' Feb 21, 2005 response to Warwick Hughes' request for his raw climate data: "We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" Looking for things that might be wrong with a given conclusion is of course central to science. But Warmism cannot survive such scrutiny. So even after "Climategate", the secrecy goes on.

Most Greenie causes are at best distractions from real environmental concerns (such as land degradation) and are more motivated by a hatred of people than by any care for the environment

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

‘Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices. -- Prof. P. Stott

Comparing climate alarmist Hansen to Cassandra is WRONG. Cassandra's (Greek mythology) dire prophecies were never believed but were always right. Hansen's dire prophecies are usually believed but are always wrong (Prof. Laurence Gould, U of Hartford, CT)

The modern environmental movement arose out of the wreckage of the New Left. They call themselves Green because they're too yellow to admit they're really Reds. So Lenin's birthday was chosen to be the date of Earth Day. Even a moderate politician like Al Gore has been clear as to what is needed. In "Earth in the Balance", he wrote that saving the planet would require a "wrenching transformation of society".

For centuries there was a scientific consensus which said that fire was explained by the release of an invisible element called phlogiston. That theory is universally ridiculed today. Global warming is the new phlogiston. Though, now that we know how deliberate the hoax has been, it might be more accurate to call global warming the New Piltdown Man. The Piltdown hoax took 40 years to unwind. I wonder....

Motives: Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Policies: The only underlying theme that makes sense of all Greenie policies is hatred of people. Hatred of other people has been a Greenie theme from way back. In a report titled "The First Global Revolution" (1991, p. 104) published by the "Club of Rome", a Greenie panic outfit, we find the following statement: "In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... All these dangers are caused by human intervention... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself." See here for many more examples of prominent Greenies saying how much and how furiously they hate you.

The conventional wisdom of the day is often spectacularly wrong. The most popular and successful opera of all time is undoubtedly "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Yet it was much criticized when first performed and the unfortunate Bizet died believing that it was a flop. Similarly, when the most iconic piece of 20th century music was first performed in 1913-- Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" -- half the audience walked out. Those of us who defy the conventional wisdom about climate are actually better off than that. Unlike Bizet and Stravinsky in 1913, we KNOW that we will eventually be vindicated -- because all that supports Warmism is a crumbling edifice of guesswork ("models").

Al Gore won a political prize for an alleged work of science. That rather speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Jim Hansen and his twin

Getting rich and famous through alarmism: Al Gore is well-known but note also James Hansen. He has for decades been a senior, presumably well-paid, employee at NASA. In 2001 he was the recipient of a $250,000 Heinz Award. In 2007 Time magazine designated him a Hero of the Environment. That same year he pocketed one-third of a $1 million Dan David Prize. In 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented him with its Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award. In 2010 he landed a $100,000 Sophie Prize. He pulled in a total of $1.2 million in 2010. Not bad for a government bureaucrat.

See the original global Warmist in action here: "The icecaps are melting and all world is drowning to wash away the sin"

I am not a global warming skeptic nor am I a global warming denier. I am a global warming atheist. I don't believe one bit of it. That the earth's climate changes is undeniable. Only ignoramuses believe that climate stability is normal. But I see NO evidence to say that mankind has had anything to do with any of the changes observed -- and much evidence against that claim.

Seeing that we are all made of carbon, the time will come when people will look back on the carbon phobia of the early 21st century as too incredible to be believed

Meanwhile, however, let me venture a tentative prophecy. Prophecies are almost always wrong but here goes: Given the common hatred of carbon (Warmists) and salt (Food freaks) and given the fact that we are all made of carbon, salt, water and calcium (with a few additives), I am going to prophecy that at some time in the future a hatred of nitrogen will emerge. Why? Because most of the air that we breathe is nitrogen. We live at the bottom of a nitrogen sea. Logical to hate nitrogen? NO. But probable: Maybe. The Green/Left is mad enough. After all, nitrogen is a CHEMICAL -- and we can't have that!

UPDATE to the above: It seems that I am a true prophet

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) must have foreseen Global Warmism. He said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?

For many people, global warming seems to have taken the place of "The Jews" -- a convenient but false explanation for any disliked event. Prof. Brignell has some examples.

Global warming skeptics are real party-poopers. It's so wonderful to believe that you have a mission to save the world.

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

The claim that oil is a fossil fuel is another great myth and folly of the age. They are now finding oil at around seven MILES beneath the sea bed -- which is incomparably further down than any known fossil. The abiotic oil theory is not as yet well enough developed to generate useful predictions but that is also true of fossil fuel theory

Help keep the planet Green! Maximize your CO2 and CH4 output!

Global Warming=More Life; Global Cooling=More Death.

The inconvenient truth about biological effects of "Ocean Acidification"

Cook the crook who cooks the books

The great and fraudulent scare about lead

Green/Left denial of the facts explained: "Rejection lies in this, that when the light came into the world men preferred darkness to light; preferred it, because their doings were evil. Anyone who acts shamefully hates the light, will not come into the light, for fear that his doings will be found out. Whereas the man whose life is true comes to the light" John 3:19-21 (Knox)

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

Recent NASA figures tell us that there was NO warming trend in the USA during the 20th century. If global warming is occurring, how come it forgot the USA?

Warmists say that the revised NASA figures do not matter because they cover only the USA -- and the rest of the world is warming nicely. But it is not. There has NEVER been any evidence that the Southern hemisphere is warming. See here. So the warming pattern sure is looking moth-eaten.

The latest scare is the possible effect of extra CO2 on the world’s oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

In fact, ocean acidification is a scientific impossibility. Henry's Law mandates that warming oceans will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere (as the UN's own documents predict it will), making the oceans less acid. Also, more CO2 would increase calcification rates. No comprehensive, reliable measurement of worldwide oceanic acid/base balance has ever been carried out: therefore, there is no observational basis for the computer models' guess that acidification of 0.1 pH units has occurred in recent decades.

The chaos theory people have told us for years that the air movement from a single butterfly's wing in Brazil can cause an unforeseen change in our weather here. Now we are told that climate experts can "model" the input of zillions of such incalculable variables over periods of decades to accurately forecast global warming 50 years hence. Give us all a break!

If you doubt the arrogance [of the global warming crowd, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue

Scientists have politics too -- sometimes extreme politics. Read this: "This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child." -- Albert Einstein

The "precautionary principle" is a favourite Greenie idea -- but isn't that what George Bush was doing when he invaded Iraq? Wasn't that a precaution against Saddam getting or having any WMDs? So Greenies all agree with the Iraq intervention? If not, why not?

A classic example of how the sensationalist media distort science to create climate panic is here.

There is a very readable summary of the "Hockey Stick" fraud here

The Lockwood & Froehlich paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even have been the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and very detailed critiques here and here and here for more on the Lockwood paper and its weaknesses.

As the Greenies are now learning, even strong statistical correlations may disappear if a longer time series is used. A remarkable example from Sociology: "The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre’s yield of cotton. He calculated the correla­tion coefficient between the two series at –0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi­tions and lynchings in Raper’s data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal­ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi­tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added." So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. In the Greenie case, the correlation between CO2 rise and global temperature rise stopped in 1998 -- but that could have been foreseen if measurements taken in the first half of the 20th century had been considered.

Relying on the popular wisdom can even hurt you personally: "The scientific consensus of a quarter-century ago turned into the arthritic nightmare of today."

Greenie-approved sources of electricity (windmills and solar cells) require heavy government subsidies to be competitive with normal electricity generators so a Dutch word for Greenie power seems graphic to me: "subsidieslurpers" (subsidy gobblers)

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: