Tracking the politics of fear....  

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

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

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31 March, 2008

Zebras endangered

This just in from Greenpeace UK media centre: 020 7865 8255 Fax 7865 8200

ALL THREE surviving species of African zebras could lose their stripes in as little as 50-70 years as global warming threatens their habitat and way of life, Greenpeace UK reveals. Zebras, horses and wild asses are all equids: long-lived animals that move quickly for their large size. Their teeth have evolved to crop and grind grass. Zebras have horse-like bodies, similar to stocky ponies. The most noticeable difference between zebras and horses -- for now -- is the zebras' distinctive striped coats, making them one of the most instantly-recognizable of Africa's ruminants, and a particular favourite with children.

The most numerous and widespread species in East Africa is the common or Burchell's zebra. Grevy's zebra, chiefly found in northern Kenya, was named for Jules Grevy, a president of France in the 1880s who received one from Ethiopia as a gift. The mountain zebra, Equus zebra, is, found in southern and southwestern Africa.

The zebra's coat can vary greatly in pattern, number and width of stripes. The stripes' disruptive coloration breaks up the outline of the body. At twilight, when their predators are most active, zebras appear indistinct.

Zebras' shiny coats dissipate over 70% of incoming heat. In one of the strange coincidences of science, the albedo or reflectance of a typical zebra's coat -- at around 31% - is identical to that of the entire planet Earth as seen from space. Sir John Houghton, the first chair of the IPCC's science working group, says albedo is a scientific measure of the percentage of radiant energy incident upon a surface that is reflected off that surface rather than transmitted through it or absorbed and emitted by it.

But this uncanny coincidence will not last long. As the Earth warms and polar or glacial ice melts, the planetary albedo is set to fall, causing a temperature feedback that will amplify global warming. Zebras, however, according to Dr. Ieuan ap Rhyl of the African Union's new International Zoological Survey Division, are responding to increasingly warmer ambient temperatures by a progressive reduction in the breadth of the black stripes on their coats. In each new generation, the mean thickness of each stripe is reduced by up to 6%, so that more of the zebra's coat will be able to reflect the sun's rays, helping to keep the zebra cool. In 50-70 years, says Dr. Ap Rhyl, the zebras' coats will appear very similar to grey horses' coats. The stripes will be gone.

Al Gore spoke up for the zebras on CBS 60 Minutes yesterday: "This is another wake-up call for the planet. How much more hard evidence do our leaders need before they act to protect the Earth's most precious creatures from the selfishness and greed of humankind? Political will, unlike zebra stripes, is a renewable resource."

Greenpeace stands for positive change through action. We defend the natural world and promote peace. We investigate, expose and confront environmental abuse by governments and corporations throughout the world. We champion environmentally responsible and socially just solutions, including scientific innovation. Our goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity. We have been working with the Zoological Survey of the African Union on this and other projects to save the continent's threatened wildlife.

Yes. It's a spoof -- from the inimitable Christopher Monckton. It came out a couple of days ago and fooled even some knowledgeable people -- showing how hard it is to send up people as absurd as the Warmists are. They have made so many outlandish claims in the past that it is hard to think of something more absurd that what they have already said. See below for another instance of wild-eyed panic

Another heroic effort to save the world

More fighting in Iraq. Somalia in chaos. People in this country can't afford their mortgages and in some places now they can't even afford rice. None of this nor the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth - and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely - though they have done some checking just to make sure. The world's physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a "strangelet" that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called "strange matter." Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Although it sounds bizarre, the case touches on a serious issue that has bothered scholars and scientists in recent years - namely how to estimate the risk of new groundbreaking experiments and who gets to decide whether or not to go ahead.

The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Federal District Court, in Honolulu, seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment. It names the federal Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and CERN as defendants. According to a spokesman for the Justice Department, which is representing the Department of Energy, a scheduling meeting has been set for June 16.

Why should CERN, an organization of European nations based in Switzerland, even show up in a Hawaiian courtroom? In an interview, Mr. Wagner said, "I don't know if they're going to show up." CERN would have to voluntarily submit to the court's jurisdiction, he said, adding that he and Mr. Sancho could have sued in France or Switzerland, but to save expenses they had added CERN to the docket here. He claimed that a restraining order on Fermilab and the Energy Department, which helps to supply and maintain the accelerator's massive superconducting magnets, would shut down the project anyway.

James Gillies, head of communications at CERN, said the laboratory as of yet had no comment on the suit. "It's hard to see how a district court in Hawaii has jurisdiction over an intergovernmental organization in Europe," Mr. Gillies said. "There is nothing new to suggest that the L.H.C. is unsafe," he said, adding that its safety had been confirmed by two reports, with a third on the way, and would be the subject of a discussion during an open house at the lab on April 6. "Scientifically, we're not hiding away," he said.

But Mr. Wagner is not mollified. "They've got a lot of propaganda saying it's safe," he said in an interview, "but basically it's propaganda." In an e-mail message, Mr. Wagner called the CERN safety review "fundamentally flawed" and said it had been initiated too late. The review process violates the European Commission's standards for adhering to the "Precautionary Principle," he wrote, "and has not been done by `arms length' scientists."

Physicists in and out of CERN say a variety of studies, including an official CERN report in 2003, have concluded there is no problem. But just to be sure, last year the anonymous Safety Assessment Group was set up to do the review again. "The possibility that a black hole eats up the Earth is too serious a threat to leave it as a matter of argument among crackpots," said Michelangelo Mangano, a CERN theorist who said he was part of the group. The others prefer to remain anonymous, Mr. Mangano said, for various reasons. Their report was due in January.

This is not the first time around for Mr. Wagner. He filed similar suits in 1999 and 2000 to prevent the Brookhaven National Laboratory from operating the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. That suit was dismissed in 2001. The collider, which smashes together gold ions in the hopes of creating what is called a "quark-gluon plasma," has been operating without incident since 2000.



Now for some real science: A recent paper showing that clouds and the sun have important climate effects and that disentangling the various sources of warming is problematic. From Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 9, 09636, 2007

Solar- and greenhouse radiative forcings and the rapid temperature rise in Europe during the last two decades

By R. Philipona et al.


During the last two decades, surface temperature rise over mainland Europe is twice as large than over the northern hemisphere, and considerably larger than expected from anthropogenic greenhouse warming. Solar radiative forcing, also termed solar brightening, and water vapor feedback, apparently added to the temperature rise. Recent aerosol optical depth (AOD) analyses from six measurement sites from the North Sea to the central Alps show aerosols decreasing by about 60 percent from 1986 to 2000, followed by reduced decline and a present stabilization of AOD. Concurrent, solar radiation measured under cloud-free skies and averaged over 30 Swiss radiation stations, shows significant increase of 1.3 ~0.7 Wm-2dec-1 between 1981 and 2005, which reduces to 0.6 ~1.0 Wm-2dec-1 after 1995. Also, from 1995 to 2005 measurements show high correlation between cloud-free longwave downward radiation and increasing temperature and absolute humidity, demonstrating greenhouse forcing with strong water vapor feedback. The strong AOD decline and consequent solar brightening apparently led to the steep temperature rise at the end of the century, whereas, the observed aerosol stabilization after 2000, which ends solar brightening, suggests reduced temperature rise in the new century that is just due to greenhouse warming.

Atmospheric chemical explosions celebrate opening of Earth Hour?

The enemies of carbon show their typical confusion of mind. They celebrate the opening of Earth Hour by exploding carbon-based ordnance in the atmosphere -- no doubt giving off lots of that condemned CO2 in the process!

From the Sydney Opera House to Rome's Colosseum to the Sears Tower's famous antennas in Chicago, floodlit icons of civilization went dark Saturday for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the threat of climate change.

The environmental group WWF urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m. wherever they were.

The campaign began last year in Australia, and traveled this year from the South Pacific to Europe to North America in cadence with the setting of the sun.

"What's amazing is that it's transcending political boundaries and happening in places like China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea," said Andy Ridley, executive director of Earth Hour. "It really seems to have resonated with anybody and everybody."

Earth Hour officials hoped 100 million people would turn off their nonessential lights and electronic goods for the hour. Electricity plants produce greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.


It is Gore who is the denier of science

Al Gore says that those of us who are skeptical that man is warming the planet have a flat-Earth mind-set. But if Gore would open his mind, he'd learn that more than likely the opposite is true.

In Sunday's appearance on CBS' "60 Minutes," Gore tells reporter Lesley Stahl that the skeptics of man-made global warming are "almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat.""That demeans them a little bit," he says, "but it's not that far off."

In addition to being gratingly sanctimonious, Gore is wrong. A study conducted by Texas A&M professors found that the more Americans know about global warming, the more likely they are to dismiss it."More informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming," the researchers write in "Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the USA," an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Risk Analysis.

The authors of the study and the accompanying article believe that Americans' strong confidence in scientists has made them less concerned about global warming. It seems the public believes science can solve any problems that might arise. Just as plausible, though, is the probability that when Americans learn about the facts, they understand that the anthropogenic global warming theory is filled with holes. That would explain why the "more informed respondents . . . feel less personally responsible for global warming."

The study was no put-up job by oil interests. It was conducted by Paul M. Kellstedt, a Texas A&M associate professor of political science, who said the findings that were "just the opposite" of what they were expected out to be. Co-authors were Arnold Vedlitz, the Bob Bullock chair in government and public policy at A&M's George Bush School of Government and Public Service, and Sammy Zahran, now an assistant professor of sociology at Colorado State University.

That sociologists tend to back candidates from the Democratic Party, such as Gore, is no secret. But the Nobel Prize/Oscar winner isn't running this time. He has, however, been nominated by columnist Joe Klein, who wrote in Time magazine last week that Gore would be "the answer to the Democratic Party's dilemma" that has been created by the Clinton-Obama brawl.

To Klein's suggestion we say: Run, Al, run. His candidacy would let us get this global warming issue aired out so we can finally be done with it. Maybe then the country will think back to this weekend's asinine Earth Hour, when we were all expected to turn off our lights, and realize it was a metaphor for the darkness that global warming alarmists have been operating under.



Canadians and the citizens of other Western industrialized countries are growing increasingly worried about the losses of high-paying manufacturing jobs to low-wage developing countries, particularly China and India. Yet, as these jobs go up in smoke in the West, the jobs replacing them in Asia are themselves creating a lot of real smoke with all its attendant pollutants and carbon emissions.

As CIBC economist Jeff Rubin put it this week: "It becomes absurdly quixotic to ban coal plants in North America while at the same time China's got 570 coal plants slated to go into production between now and 2012, 30 plants between now and the Olympics."

With the growing realization in the West that the economy and the environment are but two sides of the same coin, a consensus is emerging that the only sure way to halt climate change is to put a realistic price on carbon that captures the environmental damage it is doing. This view, however, is being fiercely resisted on the other side of the planet, where carbon emissions are surpassing those of the West.

But putting a carbon price on goods produced in the West, through either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, will raise the price of those goods and thus lead to the export of even more jobs to countries that refuse to impose a price on the carbon that goes into the goods they produce. The net effect would be an economic loss in the West without any gain on the global climate change front.

When the link between trade and climate change are viewed from that perspective, the solutions become obvious. If developing countries are not willing to incorporate the price of carbon into the prices of the goods they produce, the industrialized world will have no choice but to impose a carbon tariff on imports from those countries.

By levelling the playing field in that way, the West would not only give these other countries a real incentive to start cutting their own carbon emissions, but it could also win back some of the jobs in industries where the reduction or elimination of carbon content more than offsets the developing world's low-wage advantage.

The time has come to recognize that globalization doesn't simply mean mutual dependence in trade and investment; it has to be reinterpreted to mean interdependence on a far broader scale.



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30 March, 2008

Media Hype on `Melting' Antarctic Ignores Record Ice Growth

Post below recycled from Marc Morano -- minus the fonts

The media is once again hyping an allegedly dire consequence of man-made global warming. This time the media is promoting the ice loss of one tiny fraction of the giant ice-covered continent and completely ignoring the current record ice growth on Antarctica. Contrary to media hype, the vast majority of Antarctica has cooled over the past 50 years and ice coverage has grown to record levels since satellite monitoring began in the 1979, according to peer-reviewed studies and scientists who study the area. (LINK)

Former Weather Channel Meteorologist Joe D’Aleo rejected the hype surrounding the recent Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse in Western Antarctica. “Theshattered part of the Wilkins ice sheet was 160 square miles in area, which is just 0.01% of the total current Antarctic icecover, like an icicle falling from a snow and ice covered roof,” D’Aleo wrote on March 25. ( LINK) “We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record [for Southern Hemisphere ice extent]. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear,” D’Aleo added.

Climate scientist Dr. Ben Herman, past director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, stated, “It is interesting that all of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) stories concerning Antarctica are always about what's happening around the [western] peninsula, which seems to be the only place on Antarctica that has shown warming. How about the net ‘no change’ or ‘cooling’ over the rest of the continent, which is probably about 95% of the land mass, not to mention the record sea ice coverage recently.”

Former Colorado State Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., presently senior scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, chastised the media’s Antarctic reporting as “typical of the bias that many journalists have.”Pielke wrote on March 25, “Themedia has ignored in their reportingthe increase in Antarctic sea ice cover in recent years, with, at present, a coverage that is well one million square kilometers above average.” Pielke added,“Unfortunately, it appears that most journalists just parrot the perspective of the first news release on these climate issues, without doing any further investigation. If this is inadvertent, they need to be educated in climate science. If deliberate bias, they are clearly advocates and the reporters should be clearly and publically identified as having such a bias. In either case, the public is being misinformed!” (LINK)

But the news media sadly tossed out objectivity and balance when it came to this new Antarctic story. Media headlines blared: Bye-bye, Antarctica? (Salon Magazine 3-26-08); Massive ice shelf collapsing off Antarctica (C/Net News 3- 26-08); Slab of Antarctic ice shelf collapses amid warming (Reuters 3-26-08); Ice shelf 'hangs by a thread' (Sydney Morning Herald 2-26-08).

True to form, Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein could not allow himself to include any scientists or peer-reviewed studies countering alarm over the allegedly “melting” Antarctic. Borenstein instead hyped alarm by writing on March 27, “Scientists said they are not concerned about a rise in sea level from the latest event, but say it's a sign of worsening global warming.”

[Note: Borenstein has a long history of incomplete reporting on global warming. See here, and here . Also see related links section below for examples of the media's shoddy environmental reporting. In addition,ABC World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris this week produced a low brow smear segment on atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer, a prominent dissenter of man-made climate fears. ABC News violated basic journalistic standards by citing "anonymous" scientists to attack Dr. Singer. See: here, here, here and here. ]
Yet, if only the media would spend a moment to get beyond the hype and alarmism, they would discover that scientists are already thoroughly debunking the media characterization of the “melting” Antarctic.
[Note: 2007 and now 2008 are overwhelmingly turning into the “tipping points” for climate alarmism as new peer-reviewed studies continue to debunk rising CO2 fears, a U.S. Senate minority report reveals over 400 scientists dissented from man-made climate fears, and more and more scientists continue in 2008 to declare themselves skeptical of a man-made climate “crisis.” The Earth’s failure to continue warming has also confounded promoters of man-made climate fear.

Here is a sampling of inconvenient developments for climate alarmists in 2008 alone: 1) Oceans Cooling! Scientists puzzled by “mystery of global warming's missing heat”- LINK 2) New Data from NASA’s Aqua satellite is showing “greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide.”- LINK 3) Former NASA Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer found not one peer-reviewed paper has 'ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth' – LINK 4) UN IPCC in 'Panic Mode' as Earth Fails to Warm, Scientist says – LINK 5) UN IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri “to look into the apparent temperature plateau so far this century.”- LINK 6) New scientific analysis shows Sun “could account for as much as 69% of the increase in Earth's average temperature” – LINK & LINK. 7) An International team of scientists released a March 2008 report to counter UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” – LINK 8) MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen’s new analysis finds the Earth has had “No statistically significant warming since 1995.”- LINK ]
Below are a few samples of what scientists have said in the past few days since the Antarctic “melting” stories have hit the media:

1) Climate Scientist Dr. Ben Herman, past director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, isa member of both the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth’s Executive Committee and the Committee on Global Change. Herman commented on March 25:

“That ice [the media is hyping] is just a tiny fraction of the Antarctic ice and probably the increase each winter more than compensates. The ice loss does not show up, at least not yet on the Illinois site,, which still shows increasing sea ice heading into [Southern Hemisphere’s] winter. It is interesting that all of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) stories concerning Antarctica are always about what's happening around the (Western) peninsula, which seems to be the only place on Antarctica that has shown warming. How about the net ‘no change’ or ‘cooling’ over the rest of the continent, which is probably about 95% of the land mass, not to mention the record sea ice coverage recently,” Herman wrote on March 25.
2) Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo served as the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel,was the Chief Meteorologist at Weather Services International Corporation and served as chairman of the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. D’Aleo commented on his website on March 25:

“Theshattered part of the Wilkins ice sheet was 160 square miles in area, which is just 0.01% of the total current Antarctic icecover (just 0.003% of the extent last September), like an icicle falling from a snow and ice covered roof. And this winter is coming on quickly. The latest satellite images and reports suggest the ice has already refrozen around the broken pieces. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The total ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere fall season and 6 months ahead of the peak. We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record [for Southern Hemisphere ice extent]. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear,”
D’Aleo wrote on march 25. (LINK). Other scientists and peer-reviewed studies have recently debunked the notion of a “melting” Antarctic as well.

3) Former Virginia State Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, a senior researcher with New Hope Environmental Services posted comments on Antarctica in February on their website Michaels and Knappenberger wrote a February 27, 2008, article titled “Antarctica Ain’t Cooperating”: “Another major article on temperature trends in the Antarctic has appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research by a team of scientists from Ohio State University, the University of Illinois, and the Goddard Space Flight Center; the research was funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs Glaciology Program. […] That is correct – despite all you have heard elsewhere on the subject, the South Pole has been cooling over the past half century. The previous research team also reported that any warming in Antarctica has slowed and the cooling has accelerated in the more recent three decades. According to Monaghan et al., yet another team previously examined Antarctic temperatures and “noted that prior to 1965 the continent-wide annual trends (through 2002) are slightly positive, but after 1965 they are mainly negative (despite warming over the Antarctic Peninsula).” The truth from Antarctica is hard for the greenhouse crusade to accept, and in the long run, the truth from Antarctica might melt away the flimsy, well-publicized claims about global climate change—especially the concerns of a rapid sea level rise.”

4) In addition, the media’s reporting on the alleged “melting” of Antarctica fails to take into account other factors. “Volcano, Not Global Warming Effects, May be Melting an Antarctic Glacier” read a headline in a January 21, 2008, article. The article read in part: Scientists have discovered a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards in Antarctica, evidence of an old eruption by a still active volcano that researchers believe may be contributing to the thinning of Antarctic glacial ice. Hugh F.J. Corr and David G. Vaughan, two scientists with the British Antarctic Survey, recently published their discovery of the volcanic layer in the journal Nature Geoscience. The discovery is unique, according to Dr. Vaughan. He said, “This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet.” The volcano’s heat could possibly be melting and thinning the ice and raising the speed of the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. (Other links on Antarctic Volcanoes: Map of volcanoes in Antarctica; and NASA Image of Antarctic Peninsula and pacific ring of fire groups of volcanoes. )

5) Another inconvenient fact that the media likes to avoid is Antarctica ice extent GREW to record levels in 2007. A September 11, 2007, article on IceCap.US explained: “While the news focus has been on the lowest ice extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979 for the Arctic, the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) has quietly set a new record for most ice extent since 1979. This can be seen on this graphic from this University of Illinois site, The Cryosphere Today, which updated snow and ice extent for both hemispheres daily. The Southern Hemispheric areal coverage is the highest in the satellite record, just beating out 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Since 1979, the trend has been up for the total Antarctic ice extent.” (LINK)

6) A January 12, 2008, peer-reviewed paper in AGU (American Geophysical Union) found “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” The abstract of the paper by Thomas, E. R., G. J. Marshall, and J. R. McConnell, states: We present results from a new medium depth (136 metres) ice core drilled in a high accumulation site (73.59°S, 70.36°W) on the south-western Antarctic Peninsula during 2007. The Gomez record reveals a doubling of accumulation since the 1850s, from a decadal average of 0.49 mweq y−1 in 1855–1864 to 1.10 mweq y−1 in 1997–2006, with acceleration in recent decades. Comparison with published accumulation records indicates that this rapid increase is the largest observed across the region. (LINK) & (LINK)

7) A February 2007 study reveals Antarctica is notfollowing predictedglobal warming models. Excerpt: “A new report on climate over the world's southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models." The research was led by David Bromwich, professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography, and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. [See: Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions - (LINK)]

8) Dr. Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling, has presented evidence that Antarctic ice is growing. According to a December 15, 2006, article in Canada's National Post, "Early last year at a European Union Space Conference in Brussels, for example, Dr. Wingham revealed that data from a European Space Agency satellite showed Antarctic thinning was no more common than thickening, and concluded that the spectacular collapse of the ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula was much more likely to have followed natural current fluctuations than global warming." "One cannot be certain, because packets of heat in the atmosphere do not come conveniently labeled 'the contribution of anthropogenic warming,' " Wingham said, noting that the evidence is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming." Wingham and his colleagues found that 72% of the ice sheet covering the entire land mass of Antarctica is growing at the rate of 5 millimeters per year. "That makes Antarctica a sink, not a source, of ocean water. According to their best estimates, Antarctica will ‘lower global sea levels by 0.08 mm' per year" the National Post article reported. (LINK)

9) Statistician Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and professor at the Copenhagen Business School, questioned former Vice President Al Gore's claims about Antarctica in a January 21, 2007, Wall Street Journal op-ed. "[Gore] considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but doesn’t mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts?" Lomborg added. (LINK)

10) UN scientist Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar, a retired Environment Canada scientist and an expert IPCC reviewer, noted in 2007 that the Southern Hemisphere is COOLING. Dr. Khandekar wrote on August 6, 2007: "In the Southern Hemisphere, the land-area mean temperature has slowly but surely declined in the last few years. The city of Buenos Aires in Argentina received several centimeters of snowfall in early July, and the last time it snowed in Buenos Aires was in 1918! Most of Australia experienced one of its coldest months of June this year. Several other locations in the Southern Hemisphere have experienced lower temperatures in the last few years. Further, the sea surface temperatures over world oceans are slowly declining since mid-1998, according to a recent world-wide analysis of ocean surface temperatures.” ( LINK)

11) Ivy League Geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack, the chair of Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that the Earth has been warming for about 20,000 years, and humans have only been collecting data for about 200 years. "For most of earth's history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has only rarely been cooler," Giegengack said according to a February 2007 article. (LINK) Giegengack further explained that extremely long geologic timescales reveal that "only about 5% of that time has been characterized by conditions on Earth that were so cold that the poles could support masses of permanent ice."


by Jeffrey A. Glassman, PhD


Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the product of oceanic respiration due to the well-known but under-appreciated solubility pump. Carbon dioxide rises out of warm ocean waters where it is added to the atmosphere. There it is mixed with residual and accidental CO2, and circulated, to be absorbed into the sink of the cold ocean waters. Next the thermohaline circulation carries the CO2?rich sea water deep into the ocean. A millennium later it appears at the surface in warm waters, saturated by lower pressure and higher temperature, to be exhausted back into the atmosphere.

Throughout the past 420 millennia, comprising four interglacial periods, the Vostok record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is imprinted with, and fully characterized by, the physics of the solubility of CO2 in water, along with the lag in the deep ocean circulation. Notwithstanding that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, atmospheric carbon dioxide has neither caused nor amplified global temperature increases. Increased carbon dioxide has been an effect of global warming, not a cause. Technically, carbon dioxide is a lagging proxy for ocean temperatures. When global temperature, and along with it, ocean temperature rises, the physics of solubility causes atmospheric CO2 to increase. If increases in carbon dioxide, or any other greenhouse gas, could have in turn raised global temperatures, the positive feedback would have been catastrophic. While the conditions for such a catastrophe were present in the Vostok record from natural causes, the runaway event did not occur. Carbon dioxide does not accumulate in the atmosphere.

Source. Also see here

The cynical global warming bubble

By Steve Milloy

You didn't have to be a rocket scientist in the 1990s to figure that speculative investment in dot-coms with no revenues would be disastrous. The same goes for lenders giving mortgages to borrowers with no job, no income and no assets. So after surviving the tech bubble and while trying to extricate the economy from the housing bubble, why are we bent on heading into the global warming bubble?

Just this week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its economic analysis of the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill that is now being considered by the Senate. The EPA projects that, if the bill is enacted, the size of our economy as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by as much as $2.9 trillion by the year 2050. That's a 6.9 percent smaller economy than we might otherwise have if no action was taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For an idea of what that might mean, consider our current economic crisis. During the fourth quarter of 2007, GDP actually increased by 0.6 percent, yet trepidation still spread among businesses, consumers and the financial markets. Though the EPA says that Lieberman-Warner would send our economy in the opposite direction by more than a factor of 10, few in Congress seem concerned. For more perspective, consider that during 1929 and 1930, the first two years of the Great Depression, GDP declined by 8.6 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

And what would we get for such a massive self-inflicted wound? It ought to be something that is climatically spectacular, right? You be the judge. The EPA says that by the year 2095-45 years after GDP has been slashed by 6.9 percent-atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels would be 25 parts per million (ppm) lower than if no greenhouse gas regulation was implemented.

Keeping in mind that the current atmospheric CO2 level is 380 ppm and the projected 2095 CO2 level is about 500 ppm, according to the EPA, what are the potential global temperature implications for such a slight change in atmospheric CO2 concentration? Not much, as average global temperature would only be reduced by a maximum of about 0.10 to 0.20 degrees Celsius, according to existing research. Sacrificing many trillions of dollars of GDP for a trivial, 45-year-delayed and merely hypothetical reduction in average global temperature must be considered as exponentially more asinine than the dot-bombs of the late-1990s and the NINJA subprime loans that we now look upon scornfully.

So who in their right mind would push for this? I met many of them up-close-and-personal last week at a major Wall Street Journal conference at which I was an invited speaker. My fellow speakers included many CEOs (from General Electric, Wal-Mart, Duke Energy, and Dow Chemical, to name just a few), California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the heads of several environmental activist groups.

The audience-a sold-out crowd of hundreds who had to apply to be admitted and pay a $3,500 fee-consisted of representatives of the myriad businesses that seek to make a financial killing from climate alarmism. There were representatives of the solar, wind, and biofuel industries that profit from taxpayer mandates and subsidies, representatives from financial services companies that want to trade permits to emit CO2, and public relations and strategic consultants to all of the above.

We libertarians would call such an event a rent-seekers ball-the vast majority of the audience was there to plot how they could lock-in profits from government mandates on taxpayers and consumers. It was an amazing collection of pseudo-entrepreneurs who were absolutely impervious to the scientific and economic facts that ought to deflate the global warming bubble.

In the interlude between presentations by the CEOs of Dow Chemical and Duke Energy, for example, the audience was shown a slide-similar to this one-of the diverging relationship between atmospheric CO2 levels and average global temperature since 1998. That slide should have caused jaws to drop and audience members to ponder why anyone is considering regulating CO2 emissions in hopes of taming global climate. Instead, it was as if the audience did a collective blink and missed the slide entirely. When I tried to draw attention to the slide during my presentation, it was as if I was speaking in a foreign dialect.

The only conclusion I could come to was that the audience is so steeped in anticipation of climate profiteering that there is no fact that will cause them to reconsider whether or not manmade global warming is a reality. The callousness of their blind greed was also on display at the conference. In an instantaneous poll, the Wall Street Journal asked the audience to select the most pressing societal problem from a list of five that included infectious disease (malaria, AIDs, etc.), terrorism, and global warming.

Global warming was the most popular response, receiving 31 percent of the vote, while infectious disease was far behind in last place with only 3 percent of the vote. It's an amazing result given that billions are sickened, and millions die every year from infectious disease. The consequences of future global warming, on the other hand, are entirely speculative.

Finally, I was astounded by the double-speak practiced by the global warmers. Virtually every speaker at the conference professed that they were either in favor of free markets or that they supported a free-market solution to global warming. But invariably in their next breath, they would plead for government regulation of greenhouse gases and government subsidies for alternative energy. It's hard to conceive of any good coming from a public policy in which facts play no substantial role in its development and words have no meaning in its public debate.


A skeptical Congressman in Washington State

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings took aim Tuesday at believers in global warming, telling Yakima Rotarians that "the same people" who want to reverse the planet's climb in temperature also want to tear down the dams and prevent a revival of nuclear power. Hastings acknowledges the planet is heating but said scientists are far from an agreement that humans and their carbon footprint are the main cause. "Count me as being skeptical," said the Pasco native, who is in his seventh term as representative of the sprawling 4th Congressional District. "Global warming is a political battle."

Hastings has been touring the district nearly nonstop during the two-week Congressional spring recess, which ends next week. His talk at the Southwest Rotary at the Clarion Hotel was unmistakably conservative, and the surest sign yet that Hastings, a Republican, will run for an eighth term against Tri-Cities Democrat George Fearing, who has announced his candidacy. Hastings, 66, hasn't made a formal announcement but has also said there's no reason to think he won't be running.

Pointing out what he called "inconsistencies" in the environmentalist point of view on energy, Hastings complained that nuclear power using recycled fuel rods isn't viewed as "green," and that hydropower doesn't qualify as renewable under a 2006 voter-approved ballot initiative. "If solar power and wind generating electricity through a turbine are green, why isn't water running downhill?" said Hastings, referring to the new law, which requires utilities with 25,000 or more customers to meet specific renewable energy goals by 2020.

In his talk, Hastings also criticized the House Democrats' budget bill, which doesn't renew the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. Set to expire in 2010, the measures cut taxes on dividends, capital gains and inherited wealth while doubling the child tax credit and reducing the marriage penalty. Critics say the cuts benefited the wealthy, drove up taxes on the middle class and did little to help lower-income workers, who don't pay much in taxes anyway.

But Hastings has maintained that the cuts are responsible for the economic recovery after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. To eliminate them would be to raise taxes, he said. "The budget blueprint says these tax cuts will go away, and in my view that's a tax increase," he said.

Health care policy will be a welcome topic of debate during the presidential campaign, he said. "Frankly, I think we need it." But he said anything that gives the federal government a greater role in health care would be a mistake. One member of the audience spoke up in support of the publicly funded health care system in Canada, pointing out that the United States ranks low on several measures of health, including low birth weights.

But Hastings wasn't buying the Canadian model. He noted that a Calgary woman last summer delivered four identical girls at a hospital in Montana because of a shortage of neonatal beds in Canada. If he were to look to another country as a model for anything, Hastings said it would be France because it relies heavily on nuclear power.



About a year ago, Canadian environmentalist and journalist Lawrence Solomon began a series of articles in the National Post examining the credentials of and arguments made by scientists and economists labeled "deniers" by various environmentalists, a number of mainstream environmental reporters, and some politicians. Solomon, true to the finest tenets of his profession, sought the truth concerning whether there was in fact a consensus on the headline-grabbing issue of global warming, or whether in fact any "real" scientists actually dissented from the Al Gore/UN line that global warming is happening, is largely caused by humans, and threatens all manner of catastrophies.

As many people - policy wonks and fellow travelers - on this blog are well aware, dissenting scientists are not in fact rare: There are serious scholars whose views should, but too often do not, inform the debate. Solomon's columns were important because they brought this message to a wider audience. As Solomon's knowledge grew, he found that the genre limits of newspaper writing precluded an adequately in-depth exploration of these skeptical scientists' important observations. Accordingly, selecting some of the scientists discussed in his columns, Solomon has written a book: The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**and those who are too fearful to do so. As a jacket blurb puts it, "What he found shocked him. Solomon discovered that on every "headline" global warming issue, not only were there serious scientists who dissented, consistently the dissenters were by far the more accomplished and eminent scientists."

This book does not attempt to settle the science, or show that humans are or are not responsible for the present warming trend, or settle what we can expect the future harms/benefits of continued warming (or cooling) might be. Rather, the genius of the book is that it shows in a manner accessible to a lay audience that uncertainties concerning each important facet of the "consensus" view on warming abound, and that the dissenting views are at least as plausible (and often more compelling) than the IPCC/Gore camps.

The Deniers, examines what should be the active debates concerning the plausibility of the argument that human CO2 emissions (or CO2 per se) is a driver for climate change, what role the sun may play in warming, what role the present warming trend (and human activities) play in hurricane and tropical/parasitic disease patterns, and the reliability of the climate models, among other issues. In addition, Solomon notes the harsh treatment that many scientists have endured simply because they followed the scientific method, the evidence from their research, and their own consciences, all of which led them to the conclusion that this or that facet of the global-warming consensus view was woefully incomplete or flat-out wrong. This treatment has had the effect intended by global warming scaremongers - to shut down promising areas of research and to silence credible critics. As I put it in an earlier column:

"The term skeptic has historically been a badge of honor proudly worn by scientists as indicating their commitment to the idea that in the pursuit of truth, nothing is beyond question, every bit of knowledge is open to improvement and/or refutation as new evidence or better theories emerge. However, in the topsy-turvy field of climate science, "skeptic" is a term of opprobrium and to be labeled a skeptic is to be dismissed as a hack. Being a skeptic concerning global warming today is akin to being a heretic in the Middle Ages - you may not be literally burned at the stake, but your reputation will be put to flames.

"In response, many scientists whose research calls into question one or more of the fundamental tenets of global warming orthodoxy, have learned to couch their conclusions carefully. They argue, for instance, that while their research does not match up with this or that point in global warming theory, or would seem to undermine this or that conclusion, they are not denying that humans are causing global warming and they cannot account for the discrepancy between their work and the theory's predictions. These scientists have learned the hard lesson that when reality and the theory conflict, for professional reasons, they'd better cling to the theory: shades of Galileo recanting his theory that the earth revolves around the sun under pressure from the Inquisition."

Though there are many good books on global warming, The Deniers is among the most effective in showing how science is being fundamentally undermined in the current politicized atmosphere of climate research. In addition, like no other book or paper I know, it provides a concise but thorough overview of the myriad weaknesses of the consensus view, the quality and substance of the criticisms of that view, and the stellar qualifications of those scientists labeled derisively as "deniers."

This book should be read by anyone who seriously wants to understand where and why substantive debate remains concerning climate change and why there is so much vitriol surrounding what until recently was a relatively quiet, unheralded, or unnoticed (except by its practitioners) field of science. If a person could read only one book this year on climate change, this is the one I'd pick.



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


29 March, 2008


An email from Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.), Slagelse, Denmark []

Sweden has experienced the coldest Easter in more than a century:

"A violent cold front moved down from the Arctic. And places like Nikkaloukta in Northern Lappland experienced the iciest Easter in more than 100 years. 41 degrees below zero had the most hardened Nikkaloukta citizen contemplate, if it was really necessary to go outside."
See here ("En valdsam kallfront drog ner fran Arktis. Och stallen som Nikkaloukta i norra Lappland fick uppleva den iskallaste pasken pa over 100 ar. 41 minusgrader fick den mest hardade Nikkalouktabo att fundera pa om det verkligen var nodvandigt att ga ut").

Gore fails to respond to challenge from forecasting expert

Communication from Scott Armstrong below:

The extended due date for the Global Warming Challenge passed with no word from Mr. Gore. Although he and Professor Armstrong have had a number of communications, Mr. Gore offered no response to the key question:

"When and under what conditions would you be willing to engage in a scientific test of your forecasts?"

Validation of forecasting methods is a key issue in climate change because, although we know that climate varies, we have been unable to locate a single scientific forecast that supports global warming. If Mr. Gore or anyone else is aware of such a forecast, they should reveal the source to the scientific community. Claims that science supports global warming forecasts have, to date, failed to provide sources.

A history of the Global Warning Challenge is provided here. It includes all correspondence between Scott Armstrong and Al Gore. The site will post all papers that purport to provide scientific forecasts of global warming. The papers must provide full disclosure on how the forecasts were made, as full disclosure is one of the basic principles of science.

Sunspots Erupt Suddenly

Nice to see below an admission of how little we understand about variations in solar activity

After months of relative quietude, a trio of new sunspot groups appeared this week and they are all growing rapidly. But there's something strange about these spots.

Sunspots are cool regions of intense, twisted magnetic activity at the solar surface. They act like caps on the upwelling of energy, and when the caps pop, flares of radiation and ejections of charged particles are unleashed. Major solar storms can disrupt communications on Earth and even disable satellites.

The sun goes through an 11-year cycle of activity. The last peak, when sunspots were common and flares frequent, was in 2001 and 2002. The new cycle, Solar Cycle 24, began recently, scientists figure, based on a sunspot with reversed polarity appearing. But pinning down exactly when the shift occurred has proven challenging - it might have been in 2006, sun-watching scientists reported initially, or perhaps 2007, they later said.

Adding to the tangle of understanding, the new sunspots have a magnetic polarity consistent with Solar Cycle 23 rather than the new cycle, proving yet again that much remains to be learned about the temperamental sun.

One of the new sunspots, No. 989, kicked up a moderate solar flare Tuesday. NOAA forecasters put the odds at 50-50 for additional moderate flares today. Solar storms sometimes generate colorful auroras above Earth's polar regions. No significant auroral displays are expected this week, however. Though forecasts vary wildly, some scientists predict Solar Cycle 24 will be intense. If so, "it could have significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems," according to a NASA statement issued in December. [Odd that they left out climate there]



A two-day bilateral summit is to culminate today (27 March) with the signing of a new accord that will see France help the UK develop a new generation of nuclear power stations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown are to seal the agreement on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium in North London, the home of Arsenal football club.

Speaking on Tuesday on the eve of Sarkozy's arrival, UK Business Minister John Hutton said he wanted Britain to become "the number one place in the world for companies to do business in new nuclear". "I believe that the revival of nuclear power in Britain today [.] has the potential to be the most significant opportunity for our energy economy since the exploitation of North Sea oil and gas," said Hutton, according to Reuters.

EDF, the state-controlled French power utility, said it wanted to build four new plants to help replace Britain's ageing stock of 23 nuclear power stations, which currently provide about 20% of the UK's electricity. The new reactor would be the state-of-the-art EPR model developed by French group Areva, which is also partially state-owned. The deal would allow Britain to regain the expertise in nuclear power engineering that it lost following a planned phase-out of atomic power. The last of Britain's existing nuclear plants is scheduled for closure by 2035, leaving the country with a potential energy gap.

In Brussels, the European Commission has recently backed the technology, saying it will be needed if Europe is to meet its ambitious climate change goals and reduce CO2 emissions by a quarter by 2020. "Energy consumption worldwide is likely to double between 2000 and 2050, and nuclear energy will remain a key element in future low-carbon energy systems," the Commission said in September last year, presenting its new Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP)

Speaking in October 2007, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU must hold a "full and frank" debate on the nuclear issue. "Member states cannot avoid the question of nuclear energy," he said. Environmental groups have applauded the Commission's move to open the nuclear debate but argue that the technology is dangerous and not required to reduce CO2 emissions.



Senior German energy executives warned yesterday that Europe's biggest economy faces growing blackouts unless it follows the Franco-British lead in promoting new nuclear power stations. They seized on a weekend report in the Guardian that Gordon Brown and French president Nicolas Sarkozy will unveil an alliance to build nuclear plants and export the modern technology worldwide at their "Arsenal" summit at the Emirates Stadium this week to press the case for Germany to pursue its own new nuclear renaissance.

As commentators said Germany risked being left behind, Wulf Bernotat, E.ON chief executive, said the country could face an electricity shortage of 12 to 21 gigawatts (GW), according to official estimates from the German energy agency (Dena). "The conclusion arises: we still need nuclear power and we need modern gas- and coal-fired power stations that emit significantly less CO2," he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

His comments echo similar warnings from Jrgen Grossmann, his opposite number at RWE, Germany's second-biggest energy group. Grossmann said that blackouts could occur as early as this summer because of problems with wind power and cooling difficulties in other power plants. RWE estimates Germany could face a 30GW power gap by 2015.

E.ON and RWE, among Britain's top five energy suppliers, have both said they are keen to build new-generation nuclear plants in the UK. Along with British Gas owner Centrica, they are cited as would-be purchasers of British Energy, the nuclear operator put up for sale a week ago.

France relies on nuclear power for 80% of its primary energy need. It is building a new-generation plant on the Channel coast and Brown has given the go-ahead for new plants in Britain, probably on existing sites already connected to the grid.

Bernotat, head of Germany's biggest power group, warned that prices were bound to rise if demand outstripped supply and said the easiest way to overcome the gap was to prolong the life of Germany's existing 17 nuclear power plants. Under an agreement between the ruling grand coalition partners, Germany will close all of its plants by 2021 and build no new ones.

Germany's nuclear plants account for 21GW of capacity, a quarter of its power production. Chancellor Angela Merkel favours prolonging their lives and building new nuclear plants, but is bound by the agreement - which could fall by the wayside if she forms a different government after next year's general election.


Earth Hour should be grounded

Comment from Andrew Bolt in Australia

A lot of hot air is going into tomorrow's Earth Hour, and I don't just mean the hot-air balloon sent up last Saturday to promote this hour-long switch-off. But, good God, why did the organisers choose that way to promote a campaign to make us cut our gases? Sending up the 32-metre light globe-shaped billboard burned so much gas - and emitted so much carbon dioxide - that we'll have to switch off 10,000 lights tomorrow just to make it up.

Perfect, then, that it landed in the Peanut Farm Reserve, and equally symbolic that The Age gave this wildly inappropriate stunt fawning coverage. Why? Because Earth Hour proves that what threatens us is not so much global warming, but lousy journalism. Asking us to turn off lights between 8pm and 9pm is a crusade by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. And already one light is staying on and flashing alarm.

You see, it's always a danger when newspapers take up campaigns. Suddenly they get tempted to report only stuff that pushes their agenda, and to ignore facts that don't. The Age and SMH - already giddy with global warming evangelism - perfectly illustrate this danger.

Earth Hour started last year in Sydney, where the SMH campaigned furiously to get everyone in the CBD to turn off their lights for an hour after dusk to "raise awareness" that our gases from electricity use were allegedly warming the world to hell. But it was a flop - lights blazed on - yet you won't read that in The Age or SMH. On the contrary, the SMH's Sunday paper, The Sun-Herald, instead ran "before and after" pictures purporting to show Sydney plunge from a blaze of light into a great gloom. But the dark "after" picture turned out to have been badly under-exposed compared with the "before" picture. And the "before" picture turned out to have been taken not just before Earth Hour but two days earlier, when, as Media Watch reported, "weather conditions helped make the whole scene look much lighter".

Nothing dishonest was done, of course. It's just that these two "mistakes" suited the paper's agenda. It didn't stop there. Check how The Age now routinely reports last year's "success":

"Last year's first Earth Hour had as many as 2.2 million Sydneysiders and 2000 businesses turn off their lights, causing a 10 per cent drop in the city's energy use."

Really? First, it's mad to think half of Sydney's population switched off for a stunt centred on the CBD. This figure is actually a huge extrapolation from a poll of fewer than 800 guilty people who claimed they'd maybe switched off something or other during the hour. Second, the claimed dip in power was just for the CBD, not all Sydney. Third, the 10 per cent cut claimed for the CBD is itself a gross exaggeration.

A cut so tiny is trivial - equal to taking six cars off the road for a year. But David Solomon, a finance PhD student at the Chicago University's graduate school of business, crunched Sydney's power figures to exclude seasonal and daily fluctuations, and concluded there was actually close to no power saving at all. "When a fixed effect is included for the whole day, the drop in electricity use during Earth Hour is statistically indistinguishable from zero."

So why does The Age exaggerate? Because it's on a campaign to persuade, not inform, which is why it also won't report other awkward facts. Here's one: global temperatures have fallen since 1998. Indeed, all four big global temperature tracking outlets, including Britain's Hadley Centre, now say global temperatures over the past year have dropped sharply. NASA adds that the oceans have also cooled for the past few years.

Why doesn't The Age tell its readers this, instead of scaring them with reports, and balloons, that are just hot air? That's crusading, not reporting.



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


28 March, 2008


An email from Kirtland C. Griffin [] of Guilford, CT

In an article in the Economist, Feb 21st 2008, it talks about the acidification of the oceans caused by anthropogenic CO2. It says that if something doesn't change, portions of the world's oceans could no longer support certain forms of aquatic life. Specifically at risk are sponges, corals and brachiopods. The concern relates in part to the huge volcanic eruptions at the end of the Permian Period 252 million years ago. They say that CO2 spewed from the volcanos caused the world's oceans to become more acidic, or probably more correctly, less alkaline.

The origin of the concern is a mathematical model. Where have we heard that before? They say that it is not only the reduction in alkalinity that is a concern but that, in conjunction with increasing ocean temperature, is more detrimental than either alone. Of course, the claim is made that this could lead to a domino effect and who knows what could happen if we continue to emit green house gas pollution?

What is important is not so much what the article says but rather how I became aware of it as well as what it does not say. An associate of mine had shown me a news release by a prominent US University. Not surprisingly, it espoused the UN IPCC line of alarmist AGW catastrophes. Knowing how I felt about the subject he asked what I thought of it because he was going there over the coming weekend and would be able to ask those responsible for the news release to comment on my input. I gave him what I though was a good assortment of scientific and political arguments and off he went as I eagerly awaited the outcome. Well, since he was "one of them" working with the department on a project, they actually told him they didn't buy the global warming thing either. That was a story for the general public to force them to do the right thing for the wrong reason. The world has to change their lifestyle for its own good. One can only imagine my surprise to hear that what many had thought, was really true.

This would have been a significant enough revelation to make this story interesting to any skeptic, but there was more to come. After relating the story to me, this individual went back a second time. This time they presented him with the article from the Economist and asked for further comment thinking that this time he had me. Now I am no ocean scientist, nor am I a chemist, but something smelled. After a little looking I found my information on the CO2, carbonic acid, calcite system.

The oceans are a vast reservoir of Carbon in various forms and there is a well regulated compensation system that covers a wide range of CO2 concentrations and temperature variation that has worked over billions of years. The other thing was that volcanos spew out CO2 but also SO2 as the Number 2 gas. Sorry, no pun intended. SO2 dissolved in water yields sulfurous acid, so I am told by Oliver Manuel, which is a much stronger acid than carbonic acid. So the effects associated with volcanic eruptions are unrelated to the current situation and was more severe. But that has never bothered the DAGW proponents. When I presented my rebuttal, the response was that this has nothing to do with the AGW agenda. This is different. IT CLEARLY IS NOT!

As sure as I am sitting here writing this, acidification is the next hoax to be perpetrated on the world to rein in our fossil fuel appetite. As the average global temperature continues to decline, the socialist opportunists will have to find another way to control the world and collect their carbon taxes to support their agenda and profit motives. Has anyone ever wondered that the primary architect of the Kyoto Protocol is a buddy of Al Gore and sells carbon credits?

The recent report of ocean temperatures cooling will not help their cause but even the National Jet Propulsion Laboratory suspects there might be a problem with the measurements. Apparently, the results did not conform to their preconceived notion of the outcome. The ocean temperature data may be a revelation as to the condition of our surface measurement system which several have demonstrated has a warming bias from the location of the stations to the corrections for the urban heat island effect.

The President of the Czech Republic, Dr Maclav Klaus, had it right when he said "A week ago, I gave a speech at an official gathering at the Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia. One of the arguments of my speech there, quoted in all the leading newspapers in the country the next morning, went as follows: "Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical - the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence of its proponents about their right to sacrifice man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality." What I had in mind was, of course, environmentalism especially in its currently strongest version, climate alarmism....It has never been about the environment."

What the ABC News attack on climate scientist Fred Singer did not mention

At the end of 2006, climate scientist S. Fred Singer of the University of Virginia and the Science & Environmental Policy Project and Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute co-authored Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, a New York Times non-fiction bestseller. Yesterday, ABC's World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris aired a harsh attack on Dr. Singer in a segment titled "Global Warming Denier: Fraud or 'Realist'?"

Avery, Director of Hudson's Center for Global Food Issues, declares, "It seems likely that ABC attacked Singer now because the earth has apparently stopped warming -- in defiance of the man-made warming theory."

The earth's surface temperatures have registered no warming trend since 1998, even though the levels of atmosphere CO2 have continued to increase strongly. In 2000, the sunspot numbers turned downward, which historically has predicted a decline in the earth's temperatures roughly a decade later. The sunspot indices have continued to predict cooling ever since. Last month, three of the world's major monitoring sites announced that earth's temperatures actually declined from January 2007 to January 2008 -- the first such global temperature drop in 30 years. The Hadley Centre in the UK, NASA, and the University of Alabama/Huntsville all reported the decline.

Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recently told National Public Radio that the oceans had stopped warming 4-5 years ago, based on key information from new high-tech ocean buoys. The embarrassing truth is that the weak correlation between earth's temperatures and human-emitted greenhouse gases is rapidly worsening. The CO2 correlation with earth's thermometer record since 1860 is less than 22 percent. The correlation between earth temperatures and sunspots is 79 percent and strengthening.

Singer and Avery have published extensively on the evidence of the moderate, natural 1,500-year climate cycle, which was discovered in the Greenland ice cores in 1984, and a few years later in the Vostok Antarctic glacier core -- at the opposite end of the earth. The three researchers who led the climate cycle discovery received the "environmental Nobel" -- the Tyler Prize -- in 1996: Willi Dansgaard of Denmark, Hans Oeschger of Switzerland, and Claude Lorius of France.

Singer and Avery have also presented the names of more than 700 scientists who have published peer-reviewed evidence on the physical evidence of the 1,500-year climate cycle. It comes from such sources as the oxygen isotopes in the layers of ice cores and cave stalagmites, in the one-celled sediment fossils of oceans and lakes worldwide, in fossil pollen from across America, Asia, Europe, and Africa -- and even in the tooth enamel of dead Vikings buried in Greenland.

Singer and Avery emphasize that their book was funded by Wallace O. Sellers, a retired executive of Merrill Lynch who was a member of the Hudson Institute Board of Directors. Neither has received any significant funding from the energy industry.

"It seems likely that if the earth's temperatures continue to defy the 'global warming consensus' there will be more attacks on those who study the physical evidence of the earth's previous warmings," says Avery. These include the Medieval Warming (950 -- 1300 AD), the Roman Warming (200 BC -- 600 AD), and the two much-warmer Holocene Warmings, which peaked about 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. There have been at least 500 such warmings over the past one million years.



Earlier this month, Ted Nordhaus posted "The `Serious Business' of Kyoto: EU to `overshoot' its emissions reductions targets? Read between the lines." His analysis rightly takes the EU to task for overselling its GHG-emissions-reduction activities, in the hope that the U.S. will buy what they're selling and leap aboard the sinking ship of carbon cap-and-trade. Nordhaus reveals that the EU's claims to leadership and projected success on the GHG-reduction front are based on assumptions that will likely prove embarrassing in hindsight.

The December 2007 report to which he refers, incorporating emissions through 2005, is risible for its spin. The authors somehow lowered their projection of future emissions from the year before, after emissions turned upward, and strongly, in 2006 (because of a good economic year). The European Environment Agency (EEA) won't officially report the 2006 spike until June 2008, so for a few more months, this whopper of a lie has as shelf life.

The EU isn't a straight shooter on the environment - but some Americans work quite hard to ignore this. Nordhaus's post is useful, because he realizes the EU's reporting is all smoke and mirrors, and it seems that the only way to get that fact to register publicly with greens and policymakers (to the extent they don't already know it privately) is for the case to be made by realistic eco-progressives lke Nordhaus.

There is even more smoke and mirrors than Nordhaus indicates, though. He focuses on the EU's projected "reduction" by 2012 of 11 percent below 1990 GHG emission levels, and describes it as oversold for two reasons: 1) the political decisions unrelated to Kyoto: the UK's "dash for gas" and the shuttering of East German industry after reunification accounts for most of the promised "reduction," and 2) the cocktail of implausible overperformance by states, policies, and Kyoto programs. Nordhaus gets the gist of Europe's fudging, paper shuffling, and exaggerated optimism, but his focus on the EU's projection is to the apparent exclusion of looking at actual performance.

Any analysis of GHG-reduction performance to date tells us that EU emissions will be nowhere presumed levels. Nordhaus grants the projection more credit than it deserves under any reasonable scrutiny of the EEA's own muddied presentation of the facts. The EU says that if it just coasted from today, its existing measures "will" yield an average reduction over 2008-12 of 4 percent below 1990 - but that "will" depends on a host of implausible "ifs." That 4 percent reduction is patent nonsense, given the EU's admitted (if, again, not advertised) emissions increases in two out of every three years since Kyoto was agreed in 1997 - which has left them, as of a year ago, at or about their 1990 emission levels, with those emissions rising.

It is true that the report to which Nordhaus refers claims that emissions as of 2005 were 2 percent below 1990 levels. As I have previously demonstrated, that figure is the product of serially changing their 1990 baseline years after the fact. The larger subterfuge will be revealed as false when 2006 figures are finally released by Brussels, barring more funny business with their numbers. Nordhaus is far too indulgent of the EU's spin. The fact is: emissions aren't down, economy-wide or among ETS-covered sectors.

Since policies inspired by Kyoto began accumulating in Europe, emissions are rising steadily. The ETS did not change this, to much embarrassment. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas even admitted that he could identify no emissions reduction for which the ETS could claim credit. Had Nordhaus looked at how the EU's promises compare to performance, he would have seen the so-called reduction that he accepts arguendo is actually no such thing, with CO2 emissions at about 5 percent over 1990 levels through 2006 (this will be updated and formalized by EEA in June, but sufficient member-state data is available to support this assessment). To take just one isolated example: the UK's claimed reduction to date of 12 percent below 1990 levels was off by, oh, about 12 percent.

The EEA assume that this, like every year in the decade preceding it, is the year when they will wrench their trajectory from upward-ticking to a starkly downward one. For a decade they have proven wildly unreliable. There is no reason in the record to believe that the claims in the report Nordhaus reviewed are any different. Their projected reduction is far more implausible than Nordhaus lets on. In short, this analysis isn't factually wrong, but with the appropriate context could be more right.



To all of the ill-effects blamed on man-made global warming, we might add one more. It appears that an obsession with climate change can make sane people warm to mad ideas. Take the Soil Association proposals to make it harder for produce from Africa to be labelled as organic, in order to cut the amount of fruit and vegetables flown into the UK. The justification is that this will reduce "food miles", CO2 emissions and man-made global warming, and thus protect the developing world from the impact of climate change. The likely effect will be to put some of the most downtrodden farmers in the world out of work.

So how do we save Africa from a possible future disaster? Apparently, by creating a real disaster in the here and now: making poor Africans even poorer. That sounds like madness - or plain badness - to me.

Air-freighted produce makes up 1 per cent of total UK organic sales - and those remain a tiny niche in the grocery market. Only a mind as sharp as an organic Kenyan banana could seriously believe that this is a big factor in Britannia's "carbon footprint". Indeed, the whole notion of "food miles" is hard to swallow. Research suggests that growing food in the sunshine of Africa and flying them to Europe produces less carbon - not to mention more taste - than growing them under glass and artificial heat in Britain or the Netherlands. Greenhouse effect, anybody?

Some of us might even suspect that, under the fresh-looking label of environmental concern, the UK organic lobby is expressing soiled Little Englander prejudices about keeping out "foreign muck". BA and Virgin Atlantic are flying in farmers' representatives from Ghana and Kenya to put their case against the new restrictions on organic air-freight. Even this old man of the Left can see that here the corporate giants are on the side of the angels, while the "radical" organic fruitcakes are flying in the face of progress and equality. We should defend the freedom of African farmers to air-lift their produce on to our plates.

Of course, in an entirely sane world, these African farmers would not have to jet around the world to demand their right to use backward and back-breaking "organic" methods which, as one village co-operative member told The Times, are simply "the way our fathers and grandfathers farmed". In a saner world they would be raising investment in the sort of industrialised and, yes, chemically assisted agricultural methods necessary to feed their people properly as well as to fly us fresh fruit and veg all year round. But in the current mad climate surrounding climate change, no doubt that will be thought bananas.



Plans to force motorists to run their cars on "green" petrol could lead to higher levels of greenhouse gases, the Government's leading environment scientist warned yesterday. Professor Robert Watson said it would be "totally insane" to promote the use of biofuels for environmental purposes if it was found that their production contributed to greater carbon emissions through the destruction of forests. He called on the Government to delay the compulsory use of "green" petrol and diesel until a review has been completed into the sustainability of their production.

From next week, 2.5 per cent of all fuel sold at British pumps must be derived from biofuels, a figure expected to rise to five per cent by 2010. The move, under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), is aimed at reducing the impact of fossil fuels, regarded as a major contributor to climate change. But scientists fear it could have the opposite effect.

Last month, a study by the Nature Conservancy and the University of Minnesota, published in Science magazine, warned that clearing forests, grassland and peatland to plant crops for biofuels released more carbon than it saved.

Prof Watson, the chief scientist at the Department for the Environment, said yesterday that it was time to heed the concerns. "It would obviously be totally insane if we had a policy to try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of biofuels that's actually leading to an increase in the greenhouse gases from biofuels," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.



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


27 March, 2008

Misleading Reports About Antarctica

The OVERALL ice cover in the Antarctic is in fact increasing. See graphic below

Last year when Antarctic set a new record for ice extent, it got no media attention. They focused on the north polar regions where the ice set record low levels. This summer when unprecedented anomalous cover continued in the Southern Hemisphere again no coverage. Then this report in the news today. You probably saw it on your favorite network or internet news site (pick one, anyone).
Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on Verge of Collapse - Latest Sign of Global Warming's Impact Shocks Scientists

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming's impact on Earth's southernmost continent. Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events. Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado was monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and spotted a huge iceberg measuring 25 miles by 1.5 miles (37 square miles) that appeared to have broken away from the shelf. Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf - about 6,180 square miles (about the size of Northern Ireland)- was at risk of collapsing. The region where the Wilkins Ice Shelf lies has experienced unprecedented warming in the past 50 years, with several ice shelves retreating in the past 30 years. Six of these ice shelves have collapsed completely: Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones Ice Shelf.
Lets put this in perspective. The account may be misinterpreted by some as the ice cap or a significant (vast) portion is collapsing. In reality it and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.

The full Wilkins 6,000 square mile ice shelf is just 0.39% of the current ice sheet (just 0.1% of the extent last September). Only a small portion of it between 1/10th-1/20th of Wilkins has separated so far, like an icicle falling off a snow and ice covered house. And this winter is coming on quickly. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere winter and 6 months ahead of the peak. Wilkins like all the others that temporarily broke up will refreeze soon. We are very likely going to exceed last year's record. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica's ice sheet is also starting to disappear.


The hot air of hypocrisy

The European Union summit reveals plenty of hypocrisy over climate-change targets

Demand agreement on a divorce settlement before you marry, and the world may believe many things of you: that you are prudent, or cynical, or just a bit mean. What it will not believe is that you are a swooning romantic, moved only by the high ideals of love. You can boast you are an idealist, in other words, or you can make a pre-nuptial agreement: you cannot plausibly do both.

Just such a test faced European Union leaders at their recent summit, when they reviewed their year-old plan to lead the world in the fight against climate change. A year ago they were brimming with selfless idealism. They agreed to make deep cuts in carbon emissions (by a fifth from 1990 levels by 2020), even if other rich countries did not follow. The signal was clear: Europe will start saving the planet now, even if the selfish Americans (not to mention the Chinese and Indians) are not ready. Bigger cuts were promised if other countries joined in, prompting much self-congratulatory talk about the EU's "leading role".

That was then. A year on, with the world economy looking wobblier, the March summit was a less uplifting affair. Leaders from countries with powerful heavy-industry lobbies called for explicit measures to "protect" European firms in case talks on a global climate-change deal failed (and left the Europeans pushing ahead with tough curbs on their own). In a move that would make an American divorce lawyer proud, Germany, France, Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic all asked the EU to plan for failure, insisting that defensive measures must be agreed before climate-change talks in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.

Demanding "certainty" today for businesses that have to make long-term investment decisions, the heads of governments also asked for a list of energy-intensive industries "particularly exposed to international competition". Industries making steel, aluminium, paper, chemicals and bricks were all cited, as were others such as cement that are barely touched by imports (being cheap and heavy, cement is usually produced round the corner from where it is used).

EU leaders then asked for a range of protective policies to be spelled out. Germany backed a carve-out for the most energy-guzzling factories, giving them continued access to free carbon credits from the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) after 2012, by which time other polluters will mostly be buying emissions allowances at auction. The worst idea came from France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who renewed calls for a carbon tax on imports from countries that "don't play the game" on climate change. The European Commission should find a way to "penalise" companies from such countries, he added-blithely ignoring the existence of firms that come from more than one country, source components from a dozen more and manufacture on every continent. Otherwise, he said, Europe would "get all the downsides [of fighting climate change], and none of the benefits". Other than the benefit of saving the planet, one might retort: the project in which Europe claims a "leading" role.

Others were more subtle than Mr Sarkozy, but even more hypocritical, dressing up calls for handouts as concern for the world. Endless bigwigs said heavy industry would move to countries with "lower standards" unless helped to stay (by letting factories observe, er, lower standards). This argument even has its own jargon: "carbon leakage", an ugly term gaining currency in Euro-circles, to convey the threat that carbon-spewing firms might move to places with weaker environmental laws.

Advocates of special favours for EU industry insist that factory owners will still have an incentive to install clean technology, because "free" ETS allowances will not really be free. They may be accompanied by benchmarks-eg, setting maximum carbon emissions for every tonne of steel produced-with free allowances given only to firms that meet the standard (and then only within a sector-wide cap). Another suggestion is to make importers enter the ETS and buy European emissions allowances to cover their products (though squaring this idea with fixed Europe-wide caps on allowances sounds a nightmare).

Yet listen to European industrialists, and they are saying something simpler: they may leave if carbon curbs make it more competitive to produce elsewhere. One can play with the details, but if carbon curbs bite at all, such a threat must remain. If they do not bite, it is hard to see how European production will become magically greener. (There is also the small detail, raised by countries such as Sweden, that investment may actually be more effective outside the EU: building a clean new plant in China to replace a Mao-era horror might reduce global emissions more than tweaking technology at a European factory, say).

As usual the summit ended in a fudge, after the dangers of pre-empting a global deal were pointed out forcefully by leaders from Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain and the European Commission. The commission will "analyse" and "address" carbon leakage in a directive on the next generation of the ETS, coming out in early 2009. But details remain vague.

Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, insisted that the summit was "not calling into question" last year's headline targets. One might wonder. As one senior official notes, if Europe lets favoured industries fight Chinese or Indian rivals with a "race to the bottom" on emissions, that means other bits of the economy must slash emissions even more, if Europe means what it says on overall caps. There was much talk in Brussels of ensuring a "level playing-field" for EU industries. But here is the rub: if you do the right thing, you will not be on a level playing-field with those doing the wrong thing. Like marriage, fighting climate change involves a leap of faith. Does Europe accept that? Like a blushing bride suddenly demanding a pre-nup, it is sending out rather mixed signals right now.



Japan will push for an easier target for reducing greenhouse gases in the next international pact on global warming than in the previous one, a top bureaucrat said Monday. The Kyoto global warming pact requires nations to cut emissions below 1990 levels, but critics say that is too difficult because emissions in many countries have risen dramatically since then. Instead, Japan will push to set the base year for 2005 in an agreement that is meant to take effect when Kyoto expires in 2012, said Takao Kitabata, vice-minister of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Kitabata argued 1990 levels are too easy to meet for industrial nations of the European Union, which has absorbed Eastern European countries whose emissions dropped in the 1990s. The EU backs continuing with 1990 as the base year. "Comparisons with 1990 levels are extremely unfair, and that is the Japanese government's stance," Kitabata told reporters. "It would be fair to set 2005 as the base year." Kitabata, the top bureaucrat at the ministry, also argued that Japan accepted unfairly tough conditions in the Kyoto accord in 1997. He called for a more equitable burden-sharing in the next pact. "What happened in Kyoto was that we were forced to swallow disadvantageous conditions for diplomatic reasons," he said.

Kitabata also said that having 1990 as the base year "would be also difficult to obtain support from China, India and other emerging nations because that would be an enormous burden for them."

The Kyoto Protocol requires 36 industrialized countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The United States is the only major industrialized nation to have remained outside Kyoto, arguing that such cuts would hurt its economy. Washington also says the pact is unfair because it doesn't oblige major emitters such as China to make reductions.

Japan is struggling to meet its Kyoto obligation of 6 percent cuts. While Tokyo has called for cutting global emissions by 50 percent by 2050, it has not yet set a firm base year for such cuts.

Nations have agreed at U.N.-led talks to put together a new climate change agreement by 2009 to take effect when Kyoto ends in 2012. The United States and Japan are calling on China and other emerging emitters to assume a greater burden for reducing greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, but developing countries say wealthy countries should take more responsibility because they industrialized first.



It's obviously not their real priority

They like their weird analogies at Gristmill. The latest comes from scientist and Green oracle Joseph Romm, in an introduction to a tirade about geo-engineering by guest poster Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project: "Geo-engineering is to mitigation as chemotherapy is to diet and exercise"

Weird. Because chemotherapy is rather more useful than diet and exercise when it comes to, say, curing someone of cancer. It's even weirder for the fact that Gristmill's last weird analogy, by Romm's fellow scientist and Green oracle Andrew Dessler, likened the planet to a sick child in need of expert medical advice. Romm, it seems, would rather turn Dessler's sick child over to some TV nutritionist to get them jogging and eating more broccoli.

The thrust of Becker's piece is that the planet might be screwed, but that efforts to mitigate global warming through geo-engineering - giant mirrors in space, the injection of aerosols into the atmosphere, carbon sequestration, seeding oceans with iron oxide, and that sort of thing - are unethical and impractical. "Intergenerational ethics argue against us leaving massive, intractable problems for future generations, forcing them to deal in perpetuity with nuclear waste, carbon sequestration sites, and geo-engineering systems - all subject to human error and to failures that would be deadly."

Apparently, however, leaving future generations without infrastructure and energy supplies to withstand the ravages of future climate, is perfectly acceptable. Moreover, it's hard to imagine any human endeavour - apart from jogging and eating broccoli, perhaps - that would meet Becker's ethical criteria. Ultimately Becker's is an argument against progress, because pretty much all human activity is geo-engineering. As William M. Briggs puts it, "It is trivially true that man, and every other organism, influences his environment, and hence his climate." And as Becker continues, his antipathy towards humanity's efforts to improve its lot shines through: "Think of dams and levees designed to control rivers so that people can live in natural floodplains - sometimes with disastrous results ... Geo-engineering is born of the dangerous conceit that human engineering is superior to nature's engineering ... Lacking regard for natural systems, we have upset them ... we lack humility."

The Greens' resistance to geo-engineering sits very uncomfortably with its message that the planet is screwed and we're all going to die. It suggests that Environmentalism has less to do with saving the planet than it does with reining in human aspirations. It suggests that they don't actually believe their own press releases, and that they know the situation is not as dire as they would like the rest of us to think it is. And that Environmentalists are cutting off their noses to spite their faces - "we'll save the planet our way or not at all." It suggests that Environmentalists regard science and engineering as the cause of problems, and not the solution.

"Even if [geo-engineering] were able to stabilize climate change - which is doubtful ... We still would be addicted to imported oil, still would be subsidizing terrorism with our gas dollars, still would suffer the cost and supply traumas that are inevitable with finite resources, still would send our children off to die in resource wars, still would pollute the air and cause respiratory problems for our children, and still would wipe out species, many of them beneficial to us, as we invade their habitat."

As if reducing CO2 emissions would stabilise the climate. The weather will continue to pick off those who are not buffered against it regardless of whether climate change predictions are realised or not. As if a stable climate would prevent resource wars or global terrorism. If anything creates resource shortages, Environmentalism does. Indeed, by drawing on the dangers of terrorism to justify environmental politics, Becker merely demonstrates how Environmentalism and the War on Terror are united in their deployment of the Politics of Fear.

There are good reasons to think that geo-engineering cannot stabilise the climate either. Control of the climate might well be too much to ask of a strategy that manipulates a single variable in a hugely complex system. And yet the tweaking of a single variable - CO2 emissions - is precisely what the Greens are demanding.

Contrary to Romm's analogy, the Greens' efforts to save the planet are far more like chemotherapy than diet and exercise. After all, it is the Greens who liken humanity to a plague, virus or a cancer infecting planet Earth. And their insistence that we batten down the hatches, tread lightly on the Earth, ration our energy and bow to the superiority of Mother Nature would leave us even more vulnerable to her whims than we are already. Engineering fixes for global warming are, says Becker, "born of desperation". Quite possibly. But what he should be asking himself is who created the climate of desperation in the first place.


Global warming: Just deal with it, some scientists say

The 'non-skeptic heretic club' says it would be easier and cheaper to adapt than fight climate change. Critics say the flaw in the theory is that the effects will be unpredictable

The disastrous hurricanes of recent years have become the poster children of global warming. But Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental policy expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wondered whether the billions of dollars of damage were caused by more intense storms or more coastal development. After analyzing decades of hurricane data, Pielke concluded that rising levels of carbon dioxide had little to do with hurricane damage. Rather, it boiled down to a simple equation: Build more, lose more. "Everything has been put on the back of carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide cannot carry that weight," he said.

Pielke's analysis, published last month in the journal Natural Hazards Review, is part of a controversial movement that argues global warming over the rest of this century will play a much smaller role in unleashing planetary havoc than most scientists think. His research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it. Instead of spending trillions of dollars to stabilize carbon dioxide levels across the planet -- an enormously complex and expensive proposition -- the world could work on reducing hunger, storm damage and disease now, thereby neutralizing some of the most feared future problems of global warming.

Hans von Storch, director of the Institute of Coastal Research in Germany, said that the world's problems were already so big that the added burdens caused by rising temperatures would be relatively small. It would be like going 160 kilometers per hour on the autobahn when "going 150 . . . is already dangerous," he said.

Consider a United Nations estimate that global warming would increase the number of people at risk of hunger from 777 million in 2020 to 885 million by 2080, a 14% rise, if current development patterns continue. That increase could be counteracted by spending on better irrigation systems, drought-resistant crops and more-efficient food transport systems, said Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in England. "If you're really concerned about drought, those are much more effective strategies than trying to bring down greenhouse gas concentrations," he said.

Downplaying the importance of emissions reductions has raised hackles among scientists around the world, who say that the planet-wide effects of global warming will eventually go beyond humans' ability to deal with it. "You can't adapt to melting the Greenland ice sheet," said Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University. "You can't adapt to species that have gone extinct."

Other scientists say that time is running out to control carbon dioxide emissions and that the call to adapt is providing a potentially dangerous excuse to delay. If adaptation were so simple, they say, it would have already been done. But the developing world remains wrought with hunger and disease and vulnerable to natural disasters.

Pielke acknowledges that there are enormous political hurdles to overcome with his strategy, and he recognizes that his views have made him and like-minded researchers the new pariahs of global warming. "I've been accused of taking money from Exxon or being a right-wing hack," he said. But unlike those who argue that humans are not warming the globe, the new skeptics accept the scientific consensus on the causes and effects of climate change. Their differences are over what to do about it. "The radical middle -- that's how we talk about ourselves," said Daniel Sarewitz, a public policy expert at the Arizona State University who has collaborated with Pielke on climate policy studies.

Pielke, whose career has focused on the politics of science, likes to describe the scattered collection of scientists and policy wonks as the "non-skeptic heretic club." The science of global warming was laid out in a series of reports last year by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. The reports said that temperatures were likely to climb 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit by century's end if emissions continued to grow. They detailed a likely future of worsening famine in Africa, expanding floods as sea levels rise as much as 23 inches, and accelerating species extinction. To avoid the worst, the reports warned that emissions must be reduced 50% to 80% by mid-century, keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees. The cost, according to the U.N. panel, would amount to as much as 3% of world gross domestic product over the next 20 years, or more than $20 trillion.

The heretics support emissions cuts too, but warn that they have been oversold as a solution to coming catastrophe. Exhibit A is hurricanes. The spate of recent storms, particularly Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has come to be seen as a harbinger of a warmer world -- a view popularized by Gore's 2006 documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." Pielke's new analysis considered 207 hurricanes that hit the United States between 1900 and 2005. He looked at their strength and course and then overlaid them on a modern map that included all development over the years.

He found that the most devastating storm, had it occurred today, would be the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, popularly known as the Big Blow. Its path through the now heavily developed southern tip of Florida would have caused $157 billion in damage, followed by Katrina, whose toll was $81 billion. Six of the top 10 most damaging storms occurred before 1945. Pielke and his colleagues determined that with each decade, the damage potential for any given storm doubled, on average, because of development.

Malaria, another problem that may worsen with global warming, also has solutions. Higher temperatures could allow malaria-carrying mosquitoes to move into Africa's highland regions, where people have little natural immunity from the parasite. Still, the extra burden would be a fraction of the millions of cases that afflict the continent each year. "If you look at Africa, only 2% is above 2,000 meters," said Paul Reiter, an expert on mosquito-born disease at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He said that far more deaths would come from the malaria parasite's growing resistance to drug treatments. "We should be more concerned with controlling the disease than trying to change the weather," said Reiter, who recommended heavier use of pesticides to kill mosquitoes -- the same strategy that eradicated malaria in the United States and elsewhere. The World Health Organization estimates that over the next decade annual malaria deaths could be cut from 1 million to 250,000 for $3.2 billion a year, primarily for mosquito nets, drugs and indoor pesticide spraying.....

The heretics believe that time works to their benefit, arguing that technological advances over the next 50 years will ultimately make reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affordable. Pielke says that even if his critics are right, it is becoming clear that the world lacks the political will to enact global emissions cuts. China's growing emissions are on pace to double those of the United States in a decade, and the country shows little interest in slowing down. The United States has refused to cap its emissions, and much of Europe is failing to satisfy even the modest terms of the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 landmark treaty on greenhouse gases. "I would characterize us as realists," Pielke said. "Realists on what is politically possible."



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


26 March, 2008

A volcanic climate disaster in the Middle Ages?

The Warmists at Real Climate think that there was so there probably wasn't. An extensive look at the evidence below

By Antti Arjava, Department of Classics, University of Helsinki []

In 1983 Richard Stothers and Michael Rampino of NASA published a list of all ancient volcanic eruptions known from Mediterranean historical sources. Their list included a persistent dust veil or dry fog which darkened the sky for about a year in AD 536--37, bringing about cold, drought and food shortage in the Mediterranean area or, as it has since been claimed, all over the northern hemisphere. Especially following two popular books devoted to the dust veil by David Keys and Mike Baillie, it has been acclaimed as the worst climatic disaster in recorded history. In the most wide-ranging scenarios, the year 536 is seen as a watershed moment between the ancient and modern worlds, bringing about economic decline, population movements, political unrest, and ultimately the collapse of civilizations.

In a lengthy article written in 2004 and just to be published in the Byzantinist journal Dumbarton Oaks Papers I have gone through all the available physical and written evidence for the 536 event. The inevitable conclusion from the ancient literary sources is that the historical impact of the cloud must have been extremely limited. On the other hand, some assumptions about the cloud's physical nature that have hitherto been taken for granted should be re-examined. In the following, I give a brief summary of my paper.

Physical evidence for the 536 event is derived from two main sources: tree rings and acid layers in Greenland ice. The tree rings show 536 and the following ten years as a period of very slow growth for Scandinavian pines, North European oaks and several North American species. However, the contours of a sudden catastrophe cannot be directly read from the tree ring evidence. In many series, the drop in 536 is followed by a recovery in 537--38 and then again by an even more serious plunge. In most cases, the worst years are around 540, and in Siberia 543. In southern Chile, the trough is in 540, while in Argentina there was dramatic growth reduction only after 540, with a minimum in 548. In Tasmania, the tree growth declined between 546 and 552.

Thus, although the year 536 was certainly a very bad growing season in many parts of the world, it is situated in a decade-long downturn in the climate of the Northern Hemisphere and is separated from the really worst seasons by 3--7 years. Moreover, and perhaps even more seriously, in the Scandinavian pines as in the oaks and North American trees, it is possible to see a long-term growth decline during the early part of the sixth century which is matched by an equally slow rise in the average growth during the second half of the century. This would place the years around 540 as the lowest point in a slow climatic cycle. While it does not disprove a climatic anomaly in 536, all this nevertheless suggests that the link between the dark cloud and tree growth is not as straightforward as might be wished. The dendrochronological maxim "trees do not lie" may be true, but neither do they seem to provide unequivocal answers to the questions which historians would like to pose to them.

Historical eruptions are usually attested as acid layers in Greenland ice. In the previously published studies, all the relevant sections of the Greenland ice cores for the mid-sixth century have been either missing, flawed or poorly dated. Recently, Danish scholars have reported that a major eruption can be dated to the early spring of 528. It is unclear whether it might be possible to redate the whole sequence of ice layers by a few years, matching the new attested eruption with the 536 event. Any conclusions therefore must remain tentative, but so far we have to admit that no acid layer sufficient for a major volcanic eruption has been confirmed around 536. That is why the cloud has been attributed to the impact of a comet. This hypothesis is not confirmed by any direct evidence either.

Archaeological evidence does not help us assess the consequences of possible crop failures around 536. Recent archaeological work serves to stress the need for a regional approach: economic and demographic developments may differ in neighboring regions. The whole western part of the Roman empire was in clear decline already in the fifth century. The Persian devastations in northern Syria, combined with recurrent earthquakes and epidemics, would probably suffice to explain any sixth-century economic decline in the Byzantine Near East.

The results of my inquiry into the written sources are relatively straightforward: although the cloud occasioned confusion and crop failure at the time it was seen, its effects did not last long after it had dissipated. Compared with almost all other contemporary civilizations around the world, the circumstances in the Mediterranean area are extremely well documented. The literary sources which record the darkness of 536/7 all seem to consider it a temporary misfortune. Among the innumerable earthquakes, droughts, plagues, swarms of locusts, and slaughters which are listed by the historians of this time, the dark cloud was not counted as a particular catastrophe. Shortage of food was a recurrent phenomenon in the ancient world, and people were used to it, however intense the short-term suffering might be.

For example, two Italian sources, Cassiodorus and the Liber Pontificalis, attest continuing problems with the harvest in 537, which is not surprising if the fog persisted until the summer. Immediate effects of the event are not reported after that. The historian Procopius for his part does not mention the crop failures of 536/7. He says that outside besieged Rome the Goths were also starving, but he rather seems to give the credit for it to a successful Byzantine naval blockade. In contrast, the historian describes at great length a terrible famine in Italy in 539. However, he is quite explicit that it was due to the fields being left uncultivated because of the war. A little later he returns to the subject of food shortage among the Goths, again insinuating that the lack of supplies was a logistic problem. He does not give a hint that climatic conditions might have been blamed for continual bad harvests.

Though these sources leave no doubt that a mysterious fog was seen in an area which extended at least from Italy to Asia Minor and caused bad harvests there for one or two years, they all seem to treat it as a temporary bad omen, not as the beginning of a long period of unfavorable climatic conditions. Of course, the writers might not have noted a slight drop in average temperatures, and might perhaps not have cared to record a change in prevailing winds or precipitation. However, if the direct consequences of such underlying factors for agriculture had been grave enough to undermine the economic well-being of the empire, we would expect somewhat more attention being paid to them by contemporary writers.

Thus, the combined force of the available evidence irresistibly shows that, whatever happened around 536, its historical implications remained very limited, at least in the Mediterranean area. On the other hand, the sources report interesting, though sometimes conflicting, details of the fog. Although the haze has been called a dry fog or dust veil ever since 1984, a passage from the eyewitness antiquarian writer John Lydus which has hitherto been neglected rather suggests that the fog was damp. This is not decisive because it can reasonably be claimed that Lydus may not have been able to observe its actual composition. However, he also asserts that the fog was seen only in Europe, and it is more difficult to discredit this report out of hand. It would be in clear contrast to the common scholarly assumption that the cloud was a global or at least a hemispherical phenomenon. Remarkably, all the other literary sources mention the fog only for an area around Italy and Asia Minor.

Cold and drought are attested in other parts of the world but not the persistent fog. Chinese sources record that the star Canopus was not seen at the spring and fall equinoxes in 536. Although this might be taken to refer to reduced atmospheric transparency (as many scholars have assumed), it seems a rather understated way to describe a darkness which continued for a year. It is especially odd if it was the factor which caused summer frosts, drought and widespread famine, duly recorded in Chinese historical works between 535 (sic) and 538. At least two possibilities emerge: either the Chinese did not mention the fog because opaque skies are not unusual in northern China due to the frequent desert storms there, or the fog was tropospheric and localized in the Mediterranean area. While zonal winds would have spread a stratospheric fog over the northern latitudes within a few weeks or months, a tropospheric fog (volcanic or not) might very well have attenuated before reaching China. The problem remains that no tropospheric fog of such duration has been observed in historical times.

However, if we accept the possibility that the fog may have been seen in northern China though it was not clearly recorded, it might also be possible to explain Lydus' account in a different way. All those areas for which the fog is securely attested (Italy, Constantinople) lie above 35 degrees of northern latitude, perhaps even above 40 degrees, depending on how we interpret Procopius' report. The same is true of northern Mesopotamia (ca. 37 N). In contrast, those areas further east which Lydus claims did not witness the fog (Persia, India) all lie below 40 or even 35 degrees northern latitude, and this also applies to most of China. Thus, we might actually have a cloud which could be seen only at latitudes north of the Mediterranean and in the very north of China. Such a rather abrupt and globally uniform cutoff latitude falling between 30 and 40 degrees has been observed for stratospheric aerosol veils stemming from large eruptions of northern volcanoes, notably Lakagigar (Iceland, 1783), Ksudach (Kamchatka, 1907) and Katmai (Alaska, 1912). For example, the dust cloud from Katmai was seen and measured at Bassour, Algeria (36 N), at Simla, India (31 N) and at two US observatories (34-36 N), but not at Helwan, Egypt (30 N).

If we interpret Lydus' text in this manner, disregarding his report of the moist fog and assuming that the missing or misdated acid layers in the ice cores can be explained somehow, it would add a new dimension to the volcano hypothesis. It would actually support the suggestion made by Richard Stothers that the mystery cloud derived from a far northern volcano, and not from a tropical one like Rabaul (New Guinea), Krakatau (Indonesia) or El Chichn (Mexico), which have been earlier suspects. The observed decline of tree growth in South America in the 540s might seem to be at odds with this. However, it has not yet been established whether a high-latitude eruption could have global climatic effects. The issue is currently debated.

We cannot check the scientific accuracy of Lydus' reports. They may mislead us, but at the very least they invite us to re-examine the scientific evidence for the event. It remains true that the Greenland ice cores have so far produced little proof of volcanic activity around 536, and that the tree rings are surprisingly ambiguous about climatic variation in different parts of the world between 535--552. Two main alternatives emerge. The dark cloud may have originated from a northern volcano, being visible only at latitudes north of the Mediterranean, or the fog may have been locally more restricted, perhaps damp, originating from a totally unknown source. As a tropospheric fog of such duration would be quite exceptional, the first alternative perhaps seems at present more likely. Further ice cores may prove or disprove it in the future. However, for those who are as of yet not convinced by the volcano hypothesis, the second alternative might appear worth serious consideration.

Source. See also here (Scroll down to third article)

Examination of global warming models urged in light of Argo data

A liberal media outlet has acknowledged that global warming may have "taken a breather." National Public Radio reports instead of warming up over the past four or five years, oceans have actually been cooling slightly. According to NPR, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments that can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the "Argo" system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans, but rather "slight cooling."

Marc Morano with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee says the cooling trend runs contrary to the claims of people promoting manmade global warming fears. But NPR -- which he describes as "an entrenched, liberal, mainstream institution" -- would rather question NASA's data, showing no ocean warming, instead of questioning the models that are predicting catastrophic sea level rise due to supposed global warming, he notes.

Morano notes that the NASA study shows there is no major cause for panic about catastrophic manmade global warming. "We're finding it across the board now in recent years as the hypothesis of manmade global warming is starting to collapse around the globe [that] more and more scientists are rejecting it," he states.

Many scientists are actually predicting a possible global cooling in the next half-century, he adds.

"Study after study in peer-review journals is following this study on the oceans and showing the cause for alarm not only is not there, but it's actually the other way," Morano explains. "Many scientists now are predicting a possible global cooling in the next ... 10, to 50, to 75 years, depending on which scientist you're talking to. In fact, many from the Russian National Academy of Sciences are predicting just that."

The NPR report quotes a JPL spokesman who says global warming does not necessarily mean that every year will be warmer than the last. "And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming," suggests JPL's Josh Willis. But Morano says something other than global warming is afoot because sea ice has been expanding in the Antarctic since satellites began monitoring it, the Arctic has actually cooled over the last 1,500 years, and even Greenland has cooled since the 1940s.


Perhaps The Climate Change Models Are Wrong?

They drift along in the worlds' oceans at a depth of 2,000 metres -- more than a mile deep -- constantly monitoring the temperature, salinity, pressure and velocity of the upper oceans. Then, about once every 10 days, a bladder on the outside of these buoys inflates and raises them slowly to the surface gathering data about each strata of seawater they pass through. After an upward journey of nearly six hours, the Argo monitors bob on the waves while an onboard transmitter sends their information to a satellite that in turn retransmits it to several land-based research computers where it may be accessed by anyone who wishes to see it.

These 3,000 yellow sentinels --about the size and shape of a large fence post -- free-float the world's oceans, season in and season out, surfacing between 30 and 40 times a year, disgorging their findings, then submerging again for another fact-finding voyage. It's fascinating to watch their progress online. (The URLs are too complex to reproduce here, but Google "Argo Buoy Movement" or "Argo Float Animation," and you will be directed to the links.)

When they were first deployed in 2003, the Argos were hailed for their ability to collect information on ocean conditions more precisely, at more places and greater depths and in more conditions than ever before. No longer would scientists have to rely on measurements mostly at the surface from older scientific buoys or inconsistent shipboard monitors.

So why are some scientists now beginning to question the buoys' findings? Because in five years, the little blighters have failed to detect any global warming. They are not reinforcing the scientific orthodoxy of the day, namely that man is causing the planet to warm dangerously. They are not proving the predetermined conclusions of their human masters. Therefore they, and not their masters' hypotheses, must be wrong. In fact, "there has been a very slight cooling," according to a U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) interview with Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a scientist who keeps close watch on the Argo findings.

Dr. Willis insisted the temperature drop was "not anything really significant." And I trust he's right. But can anyone imagine NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the UN's climate experts -- shrugging off even a "very slight" warming. A slight drop in the oceans' temperature over a period of five or six years probably is insignificant, just as a warming over such a short period would be. Yet if there had been a rise of any kind, even of the same slightness, rest assured this would be broadcast far and wide as yet another log on the global warming fire.

Just look how tenaciously some scientists are prepared to cling to the climate change dogma. "It may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming," Dr. Willis told NPR. Yeah, you know, like when you put your car into reverse you are causing it to enter a period of less rapid forward motion. Or when I gain a few pounds I am in a period of less rapid weight loss.

The big problem with the Argo findings is that all the major climate computer models postulate that as much as 80-90% of global warming will result from the oceans warming rapidly then releasing their heat into the atmosphere. But if the oceans aren't warming, then (please whisper) perhaps the models are wrong. The supercomputer models also can't explain the interaction of clouds and climate. They have no idea whether clouds warm the world more by trapping heat in or cool it by reflecting heat back into space.

Modellers are also perplexed by the findings of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily over the entire surface of the Earth, versus approximately 7,000 random readings from Earth stations. In nearly 30 years of operation, the satellites have discovered a warming trend of just 0.14 C per decade, less than the models and well within the natural range of temperature variation.

I'm not saying for sure the models are wrong and the Argos and satellites are right, only that in a debate as critical as the one on climate, it would be nice to hear some alternatives to the alarmist theory.


Now global warming causes mental illness!

Or so an "environmental philosopher" tells us. I am more inclined to believe that mental illness causes belief in global warming! I have reproduced only the first part of the twaddle below. It is just far-fetched speculation loaded onto some perfectly normal experiences

A small yet growing body of evidence suggests that how people think and feel is being influenced strongly by ecosystem transformation related to climate change and industry-related displacement from the land. These powerful stressors are occurring more frequently around the world. A case in point: When researchers from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia conducted interviews in drought-affected communities in New South Wales in 2005, the responses suggested some of their subjects may have been suffering from a recently described psychological condition called solastalgia (pronounced so-la-stal-juh).

Solastalgia describes a palpable sense of dislocation and loss that people feel when they perceive changes to their local environment as harmful. It's a neologism that Glenn Albrecht, an environmental philosopher at the University of Newcastle's School of Environmental and Life Sciences, created in 2003. Albrecht's work among communities distraught by black-coal strip mining in New South Wales' Upper Hunter Region convinced him that the English language needed a new term to connect the experience of ecosystem loss to mental health concerns. "The sense of a home landscape being violated [by strip mining-related environmental damage] seemed to have disturbed the region's social ecology so much that the psychic or mental health of many people living in the zone of high impact was being affected," he says.

Albrecht's stunning insight? That there might be a wide variety of shifts in the health of an ecosystem-from subtle landscape changes related to global warming to desolate wastelands created by large-scale strip mining-that diminish people's mental health. In Eastern Australian communities, where the toll of a six-year-long drought has been devastating, interviews with farmers provided additional momentum for the solastalgia concept. In one such interview, a female farmer poignantly described the loss of her garden oasis. "Our gardens have had to die," she said, "because our house dam has been dry.. So it's very depressing for a woman because a garden is an oasis out here with this know, to come home to a nice green lawn is just. that's all gone, so you've got dust at your back door."

While persistent drought and open-pit coal mining may be extreme cases, if the environmental degradation of the past hundred years is any indication, our contemporary lifestyles, built on a dwindling resource base, have failed to acknowledge how much the mental health of people and ecosystems is interrelated.

This may imply that the unrelenting media focus on weather-related and economic aspects of climate change does not adequately take into consideration the challenge of mitigating the psychological impact of global warming. How might we feel when the heat is relentless and our surrounding environment changes irrevocably? How might our mental health be affected?

In a recent WiredWired magazine article on Albrecht and the concept of solastalgia, "Global Mourning: How the next victim of climate change will be our minds," writer Clive Thompson sensitively characterized as "global mourning" the potential impact of overwhelming environmental transformation caused by climate change. Thompson cogently summed up Albrecht's view of what solastalgia might look like were it to become an epidemic of emotional and psychic instability causally linked to changing climates and ecosystems. Albrecht also emphasizes that feelings of melancholia and homesickness have previously been recorded among Aboriginal peoples in the Americas and Australia who were forcibly moved from their home territories by U.S., Canadian and Australian governments in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.



Competitiveness is one of the potential flashpoints in the run-up to the Bali climate conference. The concern is that strong national measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will leave domestic producers at a disadvantage relative to those in countries that do not take similar actions.

Competitiveness concerns are traditionally overblown, although they may be more salient in the face of a truly ambitious post-2012 climate regime (see page 14). Competitiveness is not a concern for all producers, but only for those that are energy-intensive, producing goods that are heavily traded, and based in countries where the energy supply has relatively high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Moreover, there are many positive ways to address competitiveness concerns, international agreement on action probably being the most desirable.

But when international agreement fails, past experience suggests that one fallback is likely to be particularly appealing: some sort of border charge (e.g., a border tax adjustment or BTA) to `level the playing field' between domestic and foreign producers.

The point of such measures would be two-fold. First, they would encourage all countries to strengthen their efforts to address the global challenge. This, for example, is one of the motivations for the Montreal Protocol's ban on imports of ozone-depleting substances from non-Parties to the Treaty - a trade measure of a different sort. Second, they would level the playing field between foreign and domestic producers, ensuring that the former do not gain market share by dint of their domestic regulatory regime. Ultimately, the point is to make the imposing country better able to pursue its clean development path, a course of action that is much tougher when it entails injury to domestic producers.

Border charges to address environmental issues have been proposed by a number of countries, most recently by several EU politicians and institutions, and in two climate change proposals currently before the US Congress. They respond in part to the increased stringency of proposed future action, and in part to the sheer volume of global emissions that are outside of the current Kyoto Protocol targets (around 70 percent). Three questions that should be asked with respect to such measures are:

Are they WTO-legal?

Would they be feasible to administer?

Would they be productive in the wider efforts to `export' the EU's clean development model?


Climatologist says global warming not alarming, carbon fuels not to blame

The Earth is getting warmer, but Alaba-ma's state climatologist says carbon fuels aren't to blame. John Christy, who heads the Earth Sys-tem Science Center at the University of Alabama- Huntsville, told a group of civic and business leaders Tuesday that the Earth's warming is well within historical ranges. He spoke at the Energy and Environ-ment Lecture sponsored by Auburn Mont-gomery and Alabama Power Co.

Carbon dioxide levels have increased 38 percent in the last 100 years, Christy said, leading to an increase in the average surface temperature of about 1.26 de-grees. Even if carbon dioxide doubled, temperatures would increase only about 3.6 degrees, according to Christy. "The climate is always in change," he said. "Glaciers are always advancing or re-treating. "Think of it this way, would you rather the glaciers be advancing?"

Energy use, specifically carbon-based fuels such as coal, is responsible for some temperature increases, Christy said. But the societal benefits of energy far out-weigh the pollution, he added. Life expectancy has soared over the last 100 years, he said, largely because of more efficient energy uses. That makes so-lutions that call for an end to carbon-based fuels unrealistic. "There is no substitute for the carbon fuels we have now," said Christy. Wind and solar power work on a limited scale, he said, but they impact the environment as well.

Christy said those who claim global warming spells doom for society fall into three categories. True believers, he said, claim that any impact humans have on Earth is negative. Others are looking to make a profit. The third group just has a bleak feeling about the environment and wants to do some-thing. The last group can be a positive force, he said, if they make changes based on what he called sound science.

"Everyone should look at their energy uses and find ways to save money," he said. "If you are saving money, you are probably saving energy." The government can help by encourag-ing new fuels. "Making energy more expensive is a regressive tax," he said.



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


25 March, 2008

ABC's Global Warming Hit Piece "Welcome to 'The Denial Machine'"

It is obvious the skeptics are having an impact! The alarmists are getting scared to resort to such low brow tactics!

Climate alarmism reached a new low Sunday as ABC's "World News" featured a hit piece on Dr. S. Fred Singer, the esteemed Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. In a segment disgracefully entitled "Welcome to 'The Denial Machine,'" anchor Dan Harris disparaged Singer at every turn. With a picture of Singer behind his right shoulder, under which was displayed the words "THE SKEPTIC," Harris began:

One of the most influential scientists in what's been called "The Denial Machine," for decades, Fred Singer has argued loudly that global warming is not dangerous despite the vast majority of scientists who agree it is. His critics say Dr. Singer has helped create the mirage of a scientific debate which has preventing the American public and American politicians from taking action.
With a smile on his face, Harris asked Singer, "How would you describe yourself, as a skeptic, a denier, a doubter?" Nice way to treat a distinguished member of the scientific community on Easter Sunday, wouldn't you agree? Alas, that was only the beginning of the insults:

This 84-year-old Princeton-trained physicist is the grandfather of a movement that rails against the broad, scientific understanding that global warming is real, manmade, and potentially catastrophic. [...]

Singer seems to enjoy being provocative, for example, about polar bears being threatened by melting ice. [...]

There are so many scientists that disagree with what your saying. The IPCC, NASA, NOAA, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society. We're talking about scientists all over the globe. [...]

Kert Davies, an environmental activist, says Singer is connected to a whole web of organizations, many funded by oil and coal companies that have spent millions trying to convince the public there's a real scientific debate about global warming slowing down government action on a phenomenon that could lead to storms, droughts, famines, massive refugee movements, and even wars.

KERT DAVIES, GREENPEACE: That will be how people remember Fred Singer, as someone who tried to slow down the reaction to global warming and in fact, in the end, that is going to cost lives, and cause us lost species, and cost major economic damage around the world.
How nice. On Easter Sunday, ABC News implied that an 84-year-old Ph.D. is thwarting science in a fashion that will cost lives. Astounding, wouldn't you agree? Sadly, there was more:

In this new report, he argues global warming is just part of a natural cycle, and that our carbon emissions are not dangerous. We ran Singer's data by climate scientists from Stanford, Princeton, and NASA who dismissed it with words like "fraudulent nonsense." This is not, by the way, the first time Singer has set himself against mainstream scientific opinion. He also argued against the dangers of second-hand smoke, toxic waste, and nuclear winter. [...]

We asked Dr. Singer if he ever took money from energy companies. At first he denied it, and then he said yes he had received one unsolicited check from Exxon for $10,000.
Wow. A whole $10,000? And how many millions of ad dollars does Exxon give to ABC and ABC News on a yearly basis, Dan? I wonder if Dan knows that in 2006, Exxon contributed almost $140 million to various entities around the world. Are all these recipients similarly corrupted as Singer?

*****Update: Article about this interview posted at entitled, "Global Warming Denier: Fraud or 'Realist'?": His fellow scientists call him a fraud, a charlatan and a showman, but Fred Singer calls himself "a realist." Do these people have any shame?


Further thoughts on the above:

How could ABC News say 'fabricated nonsense" and have it attributed to anonymous scientists? This is a violation of basic journalistic standards. ABC News owes it to the public to name the critics from NASA, Stanford and Princeton. (Although it is obvious that it is the likely alarmist trio of James Hansen, Michael Oppenhiemer and Stephen Schneider). Come on ABC, name the scientists!

Using Greenpeace as the only on-record counter was ridiculous even for ABC News standards.

Also, listing the science institutions that supposedly support the 'consensus' is silly. We all now know that no more than two dozen governing board members approved those 'consensus statements' of NAS, AMS, AGU. The IPCC only had 52 scientists endorse it.

What ABC News did with this segment may be a new all time low in journalism and that is saying something! The alarmist are really feeling the pressure as more and more scientists speak out and the evidence continues to mount against rising CO2 fears.

Anthropogenic Global Warming Alarmism: A Corruption of Science --- An Open Letter to Members of the American Physical Society/NewEnglandSection

An email from Prof. Laurence I. Gould., Physics Department, UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD, CT [LGOULD@HARTFORD.EDU]

A 12-page MS Word document, mentioned in the heading line above, can be accessed by clicking on my website link. Here are the main topics discussed:






* REFERENCES (details and augmented list)

It can also be obtained from the Spring 2008 Newsletter that is posted on the New England Section of the American Physical Society website --- accessed through the following link. The document is on pp. 10 - 21. It follows issues about "global warming" discussed earlier in Letters to the Editor(s) along with my replies (pp. 5 - 9).

Britain: Coldest Easter for a decade

A bank holiday weekend that is seen as heralding the arrival of spring produced a "white Easter" thought to have been the coldest for a decade. Any hope of the glorious sunshine of last Easter, when temperatures reached 21C (71F), disappeared yesterday in snow, sleet and strong winds. Snowball fights replaced Easter-egg hunts and trips to the garden centre as snow settled over many parts of northern England and Scotland. Temperatures were between 4C and 7C yesterday, compared with the seasonal average of 7C to 11C. At Carterhouse, in the Scottish Borders, 3cm of snow was recorded. Gusts of 60mph (97kmh) hit the south Devon coast over the weekend, with winds reaching 40-50mph more generally across Britain.

The weather is forecast to warm up from today with sunny spells predicted - just as much of the country prepares to return to work. However, cloudy and damp conditions will persist while further sleet and snow showers are expected for some regions. Forecasters have said that the potential remains today for heavy snowfalls in Scotland and eastern England. Wintry showers began to spread southwards from Scotland and northeastern England in the early hours of yesterday morning. By 5am, snow was falling across northeast England, Yorkshire and Manchester, and had made its way down through the Midlands and East Anglia. Light snow was also seen in London and parts of the South East.

Motorists struggled with the frosty conditions over the weekend, with a number of road accidents reported. North Yorkshire Police described the driving conditions yesterday as "horrendous", and Durham Police said that the A66 trans-Pennine route was closed for the second night running because of heavy snow. The misery was compounded on the railways, as Network Rail planned 30 engineering projects over the four-day break, leading to cancellations and delays. More than two million passengers face problems as they try to get home today. This year's early Easter has meant that many children will return to school tomorrow. The RAC said that the knock-on effect for road users would be vast numbers of families clogging the busiest routes today for their journey home.

The record books show that a white Easter is more likely than a white Christmas. Over the past 50 years, snow has fallen on a dozen Easters, most recently in 1998, when much of North Wales was brought to a standstill by more than a foot of snow. At this time of year the seas are close to their coldest, after losing their heat over the winter. This Easter, air from deep inside the Arctic Circle swept down over hundreds of miles of cold seas, keeping the winds biting cold and full of moisture, before bursting into heavy snow showers. One saving grace is that the lengthening days and strengthening sunlight mean that the land is warming up, and snow tends to melt quickly.

March is notorious for wild mood swings. The end of the month is when cold outbreaks are feared most and folklore tells the story of the borrowed days, when March took its last three days from stormy April: "The first is frost, the second snow, and the third is cold as it can blow". This was also called blackthorn winter, when blackthorn bushes came into blossom during a warm spell mid-month only to be dashed by a cold, frosty spell later.


Climate-change policies come with a price tag

A study projects jobs losses, lower incomes and higher basic costs. This should be part of the discussion

As Congress considers far-reaching federal climate-change legislation, there has been far too little discussion on the economic costs such policies would impose at the state, local and household levels. Make no mistake: From a financial standpoint, the burdens for Minnesotans would be substantial. Add to this that Minnesota is considering state-specific and regional-climate change proposals, and it is clear that it is time to have an honest discussion on the potential economic impact such policies would have on families, businesses and governments.

The primary federal legislation set for debate in Congress, the Climate Security Act of 2007 -- sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and John Warner, a Republican from Virginia -- would establish a cap on the emission of greenhouse gases resulting from economic activities. The federal cap seeks to stabilize the concentration of these gases, with the goal of reducing 2005 emission levels 63 percent by 2050.

Efforts at both the federal and state levels are undoubtedly motivated by sincere desires to pass on a cleaner environment to future generations. Yet, these efforts overlook critical economic realities that are likely to undermine an already weakened economy and reduce living standards for decades. The question for lawmakers is whether they believe the anticipated benefits can be achieved and at what economic costs.

The Lieberman-Warner legislation would involve dramatically curtailing the burning of fossil fuels, which are used in 86 percent of primary energy production nationally. Thus the effect of such caps would be to raise the price of energy, thereby discouraging its use. In that sense, the cap on emissions serves as a sizable tax on energy use.

Let's consider the costs to the state economy should the federal bill alone become law. A recent American Council for Capital Formation and National Association of Manufacturers study conducted by the independent Science Applications International Corporation assessed the national and state economic impacts of Lieberman-Warner. Estimates for Minnesota include:

* Gross state product losses of up to $4 billion in 2020 and up to $12.6 billion per year in 2030.

* Employment losses of up to 33,735 jobs in 2020 and up to 74,569 jobs in 2030.

* Household income losses of up to $3,455 per year in 2020 and up to $8,201 per year in 2030.

* Electricity price increases of up to 39 percent by 2020 and up to 153 percent by 2030.

* Gasoline price increases (per gallon) of up to 67 percent by 2020 and up to 140 percent by 2030.

* Natural-gas price increases of up to 38 percent by 2020 and up to 153 percent by 2030.

Moreover, the federal legislation places a disproportionate burden on low-income earners and fixed-income earners such as seniors. These groups spend a greater percentage of their personal budgets meeting basic needs, including home heating, cooling and transportation needs, all of which are energy-intensive. By 2020, the higher energy prices resulting from new federal regulations and taxes will mean that low-income families in Minnesota will be spending 16 to 18 percent of their incomes on energy costs alone.

We must also consider what's in store for state and municipal governments and for those who rely on their services. Basic energy costs are a significant chunk of state and local budgets. Consider that municipalities must use electricity to light Minnesota's 3,454 schools and universities, as well as some 147 hospitals. Electricity price increases of more than 150 percent by 2030 translates into a sizable rise in operating costs for state and local governments -- a rise that will have to be paid for through higher taxes or reductions in spending and services.

And remember that local governments fill the fuel tanks of their police cars, garbage trucks and fire trucks with carbon-emitting fuels. Under these new emissions caps, per gallon gas prices will climb even more rapidly than today, further straining operating budgets.

What's more, by raising the costs of a key input into local economies -- energy use -- the federal legislation will stifle employment and overall job creation. A serious ripple effect will likely result: Less employment will mean a smaller tax base, which in turn will affect state budgets and local economies. And by expanding the unemployment and welfare rolls, these increased financial burdens will ultimately drive up state assistance and welfare costs.

What is most worrisome about proposed policies now being considered at both the federal and state level is not just the costs, but that the benefits are unknown. Keep in mind that China recently surpassed the United States as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But China is not engaged in emission-reduction efforts, nor is India, or other fast-growing developing economies. The net effect is that any sacrifice made by Americans will be overwhelmed by emissions increases in other countries.

So as lawmakers ponder whether to support federal and state climate-change policies, they need to decide whether the benefits of such measures are worthwhile given the high costs they would impose.


More trouble for the global warming movement

When I was in sixth grade, I specifically remember reading in my science book about global cooling and the coming Ice Age. Some things change and some others never do. One thing that changes on a regular basis is science. When I started medical school, I was told that more than half of what I was taught during medical school would be proved incorrect by the end of my career. This is not an anomaly for just medicine. You see it throughout all fields of study when you are dealing with inexact sciences. The study of weather is certainly not exempt from this. If you think the people that study weather really have a firm grasp on what is going on, just watch the weather report on the local news for a few weeks and you'll change your mind.

One thing that never changes is the desire by some to control the masses through environmental nonsense. In our current day and age, one of the ways this is manifested in the hysteria of man-made global warming. We are told that we must cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by cutting energy consumption presumptively by eliminating fossil fuel use. We are told that we must embrace "green technology" and buy hybrid cars to save the earth. This global warming hysteria continues to reach magnitude proportions in our government and has already manifested itself in a bill that permanently bans the incandescent light bulb a few years from now (sorry Edison!). Congress is pondering passing a law mandating fuel emissions to reach somewhere around 50 miles per gallon on all cars manufactured in this country. If that isn't the quickest way to destroy the auto industry in this country, I don't know what is.

Global warming, or global "climate change" as some like to call it is actually far from a scientific consensus. Scientists that do not prescribe to global warming are ridiculed, ostracized, and silenced. The Weather Channel founder, John Coleman, called man-made global warming the greatest scam in history. Proponents of this global warming hysteria have a specific goal of politicizing the weather, because if you can politicize the weather, you can control everyone. There's a tornado-it must be OUR fault for global warming. There's a tsunami-global warming. There are wildfires across California-global warming. Hurricane-global warming.

In what must be discouraging news for the man-made global warming crowd, Michigan had the snowiest winter EVER this year, or at least since they started recording snowfall in 1880. Milwaukee had 95.4 inches of snow this year, the second highest amount on record. In even worse news for Al Gore and company, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that all of the allegedly "lost" ice has now returned to the polar ice caps. Is it just an anomaly that we are experiencing one of the coldest winters on record in the last century?

While I'm not saying our earth hasn't warmed a degree or two overall in the last hundred years or so, Jupiter, Neptune, Mars, and Pluto have also been warming. So are we to assume that our greenhouse gases are affecting other planets or just our own? I guess the possibility of our own sun causing the earth to become warmer or cooler is just too obvious. Of course, if the sun were causing it, there wouldn't be a thing we could do about it and there wouldn't be any money or political power to be gained over the illusion that we are at fault for it. If the sun is going to get infinitely hotter, then we're screwed no matter what we do.

Please follow along closely through this presidential campaign to the promises made by the candidates to stop man-made global warming. This is actually code language for more government regulation on businesses and private citizens leading to a worse economy than we are already in. All the candidates are guilty of it-McCain, Clinton, and Obama. They've already taken away the incandescent light bulb because of what is likely junk science-don't let them take away our SUV's. They've already mandated that we use ethanol, despite studies showing that it actually puts out more greenhouse gases into the environment than just regular gas. What is next? The government controlling the air conditioner in our home?

In twenty years we are going to look back and this and laugh when we realize that science changed it's mind again and there was no global warming crisis after all.unless of course we've completely changed our lives and our lifestyles over a manufactured crisis. Then instead of laughing, we might be crying.


It's About Freedom, Not Climatology

When Vaclav Klaus, who has just won reelection as President of the Czech Republic, states that he has comparative advantage over other speakers on the issue of Climate Change, he is trenchantly correct. Klaus lived under the last large central planning scheme - communism. He rejects the offer to live under the even more draconian central plan of our time - climate alarmism and environmentalism.

Klaus explained his dj vu vantage point to over five hundred participants at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change assembled at Times Square New York City on March 2-4. Stressing his personally acquired wisdom, Klaus said, "Future dangers will not come from the same source [communism]. The ideology will be different. Its essence [environmentalism and climate alarmism] will, nevertheless, be identical - the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea a reality."

"What I see in Europe and the U.S.," Klaus cautioned, "is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, of wishful thinking, of implicit believing in some form of Malthusianism, of a cynical approach of those who are themselves sufficiently well-off, together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project."

Klaus focused on facts that showed that decreases in CO2 emissions in the EU have come about because manufacturing radically disappeared when the communist economy collapsed. Future decreases appear to rely on miracles or the deliberate pushing of the EU countries back into the Dark Ages. Carbon dioxide decreases are not normal for growing and prospering civilizations, given current technology. Most of those assembled would not consider such decreases to be either needed or desirable.

Klaus brought to our attention that the thinking of the climate alarmist is the same as Hayek's portrayal of central planners in The Fatal Conceit. He boldly challenged the large assembly, "We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society. [Freedom] should be the main message of our conference."

The aim and objective of this stimulating gathering was to collapse the fake "consensus" on human-induced catastrophic global warming. Achieving this is a necessary step toward turning climate alarmism into climate realism. The step was taken. "Consensus" collapsed. Over one hundred scientists were provocative proof of the absence of "consensus" that has been touted by alarmists.

These scientists presented, exchanged and debated research showing global warming to be mostly natural, definitely moderate and realistically unstoppable. They held no consensus in their approaches or their results. Enter the dawn of climate realism.

The New York Times on Tuesday, March 4, ran an article by Andrew C. Revkin titled "Cool View of Science at Meeting on Warming." Written as a criticism, Revkin wrote that "the group.displayed a dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate." That was the very point of the conference.

No "consensus" can be touted when, in fact, so many scientists do indeed dispute what data are meaningful and causative of the highly complex dynamics of climate change. Several, like Dr. Willie Soon, astrophysicist and geoscientist, displayed data showing the sun to be the more likely driver of temperature variations, as compared to carbon dioxide radiative forcings.

Howard Hayden, physics professor, concluded that astronomical phenomena cause about seventy-five percent of the fluctuations in Earth's temperature. The combined effects of all greenhouse gases, changes in surface reflectivity of the sun's radiation, and other Earthly changes account for no more than about three degrees Celsius of the changes during transitions between ice ages and interglacials. Hayden provided a repeatable sound bite when asked about computer models that are the basis for alarmist views. He simply said, "Garbage in; gospel out."

Dr. William M. Gray, meteorological researcher for more than forty years, contributed that the deep oceans, not carbon dioxide, are driving climate. Rather than global warming, Gray believes a recent up-tick in strong hurricanes is part of a multi-decade trend of alternating busy and slow periods related to ocean circulation patterns. Contrary to mainstream thinking, Gray believes ocean temperatures are going to drop in the next five to 10 years.

Dr. Vincent Gray, knows water vapor to be the principle greenhouse gas as others do. However, Gray emphasizes that climate models fail to reflect the fact that water vapor is extremely variable. Gray's work finds that the global warming claim fails on two fundamental facts: 1.) No average temperature of any part of the earth's surface, over any period, has ever been made. 2.) The sample is grossly unrepresentative of the earth's surface, mostly near to towns. No statistician could accept an "average" based on such a poor sample. It cannot possibly be "corrected." Dr. Vincent Gray, a member of the UN IPCC Expert Reviewers Panel since its inception, has written to Professor David Henderson, to support the latter's call for a review of the IPCC and its procedures. Gray's call for such a review ends with these harsh words, "The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable. The reason is that the world will slowly realize that the "predictions" emanating from the IPCC will not happen. The absence of any "global warming" for the past eight years is just the beginning. Sooner or later all of us will come to realize that this organization and the thinking behind it is phony. Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens."

Dr Roy Spencer, NASA senior scientist, produced recent evidence for reduced climate sensitivity. Background "noise" in climate systems creates temperature variations that are not random. This "noise" exceeds all of the warming that has been thought to have been made by humans. Climate models don't handle clouds and convection in the tropics well. Precipitation systems interactively regulate the climate system. Computer models predicting climate change are necessarily flawed. Spencer releases his new book March 27, 2008: Climate Confusion - How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor.

Dr. Robert Balling, professor of climatology, questioned what the increase in global temperature does and does not tell us. Water vapor and non-solar control seem dominant. The theory, measurements, and understanding of the greenhouse effect are advancing rapidly, and drastically changing the original predictions from only a few decades ago. Measured warming has been nowhere near the earlier predictions, and the mathematical models are being constantly revised. Both Balling and Dr. Ross McKitrick highlighted failings in data collection. Many temperature stations have been discontinued. Technology for recording temperatures has changed. Urban heat-island effects continue. Data adjustments made by alarmists appear biased.

Dennis T. Avery, and co-author S. Fred Singer, wrote Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1,500 Years They presented their findings and stressed, "Most of our modern warming occurred before 1940, before much human-emitted CO2. The net warming since 1940 is a minuscule 0.2 degree C - with no warming at all in the last nine years. The Greenhouse Theory can't explain these realities, but the 1,500-year cycle does." The cycle is solar induced. Ice cores show sun, not humans, controlling Earth's climate.

So, no consensuses surfaced. None need exist when the subjects are scientific. Hypotheses and theories should continue to be tested. By different skeptical approaches each scientist at this gathering proved he was courageous. Why courageous? Because, to be a climate change skeptic is political-funding suicide. Few feel they can step forward before they retire. Many, even when gathered together and taking courage from the presence of so many others, felt they had to step away from being in group pictures. Those are choices. They are respected.

Debunking the false "consensus" position of climate alarmists didn't end with the mere conclusion of the conference. Several synchronous efforts include: A Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change. It was endorsed by scientists and researchers. The document stated clearly that "Global warming" is not a global crisis. This tangible product with many signatories declared among other points: That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate; the furtherance of the nascent International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) publication of a current and future Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change report (NIPCC) a new journal on climate science; making video presentations from the conference online; making audio CDs of either a session or the complete conference available; enlistment of interested parties into a speakers bureau; and a 2009 London conference being planned.

This agenda is aggressive, necessary, and appreciated. Hopefully there will be many others who step up, especially in response to Vaclav Klaus' plea that we recognize that the issue has never been global climate cooling or global climate warming. It has always and ever been about political power and control of earth's population.

For over seventeen years I have witnessed at United Nations international gatherings so much ego, money and meeting time being poured into this global central plan to ration energy - to control carbon dioxide by controlling people. To control people by controlling carbon dioxide. To brand the stuff of life - carbon - a deadly pollutant. Political, activist and business careers, especially legal careers, now depend upon creating this new bureaucratic global layer of rules and regulations. The new-age rulers want the wealth and power that will accrue to them as they impose their centralized, consummate plans upon us.

The Czech Republic's President stands firm, honoring the lives and liberties of his citizenry against this particular brand of fresh oppression. Would that these United States had such a courageous leader.



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


24 March, 2008

Global cooling hits Britain

Britain is enduring its most miserable Easter for 25 years as Arctic winds sweep in, bringing snow, hail and sleet. Snow began falling in Scotland yesterday and was expected to move south over the next few days, with forecasters saying that a white Easter looked increasingly likely across much of the country.

People wrapped up warmly to take a stroll along the seven-mile promenade in Bournemouth, Dorset, as temperatures dropped to 7C. Last Easter thousands of people sunbathed on the sandy beach as temperatures topped 20C. Holidaymaker Andy Hemmings, 55, from St Albans, Herts, said: "The sun is out but the winds are very chilly. We are warming ourselves up with a hot chocolate."

Beverly White, of Bournemouth council's tourism department, said that hotels were full despite the freezing conditions. She said: "We have had a lot of last-minute bookings. The weather is pretty atrocious all over Britain but I think people have just said, 'to hell with it'."

A yachtsman was airlifted to hospital after he was tossed into the Solent from a race boat during a force-eight gale. He was suffering from hypothermia when he was hauled out of the water by the crew of another vessel.

In Hampshire a sudden heavy downpour caused a string of accidents including an eight-car pile-up near Basingstoke which, in turn, caused delays of several hours on the M3. A family of four, including two children, were taken to hospital.

Parts of the rail network were crippled by engineering works, with timetables on some of Britain's busiest routes slashed to one train per hour or fewer as operators made way for 75 million worth of track-laying and bridge repairs. The two million passengers using the rail system each day over Easter will face further problems as they try to return home on Monday. Iain Coucher, Network Rail's chief executive, said: "We are doing this for the benefit of the passengers. We never do any unnecessary work."

Police in Dover said that many travellers had been unable to catch ferries because of high winds in the Channel and heavy road traffic. About 16 million cars are expected on the roads over the weekend. Motoring organisations said that the great getaway had passed off relatively smoothly as people staggered their leaving times. But the real test will come on Monday when millions of drivers try to return home at roughly the same time. By then the weather will have worsened leading to icy road conditions. Up to four inches of snow is expected in Scotland.

Bob Syvret, a forecaster at the Met Office, said: "There are several cold fronts coming down from the Arctic, which will continue for the next few days. This will be a mixture of rain, hail, sleet and snow and most places will be at risk." Easter Sunday temperatures could drop to as low as -3C at night with a band of snow and sleet forecast to move down from the North. The bad weather is most likely to affect the Midlands but snow could even reach London, forecasters said. During Easter 1983, Scotland, the Midlands and Kent received up to four inches of snow.

Motoring groups yesterday reported jams in the South West and East Midlands, and 10-mile tailbacks on the M4 in Wales. Severe weather warnings were issued to drivers on the Taye, Skye and Erskine bridges in Scotland.


Death by Environmentalism

For the last half century, the environmentalist movement has been a dominant influence on the cultural and political scene. This is widely viewed as a blessing, whose progressive result has been without exception the improvement of our society. John Berlau has written a book aimed at kicking that smug sense of green achievement smack in the teeth.

Berlau makes a sharp and vigorous presentation of the view that the environmentalist movement has had some very unfortunate consequences. He begins by reviewing the history of the successful campaign by environmentalist organizations to demonize DDT and other pesticides. DDT was first discovered in the 1870s and found to be a potent insecticide in the 1930s. But it was the U.S. military that pushed its mass production at the outbreak of World War II. With the troops facing both malaria and typhus - which had killed millions in World War I - the army knew it had to find some way to combat the vectors, i.e., the disease-carrying insects (lice and mosquitoes). It gave the assignment to Merck, and one of Merck's top chemists (Joseph Jacobs) was able to set up a plant to mass produce DDT. Starting in 1943, DDT was widely used; it stopped a number of wartime typhus epidemics.

It was then used worldwide in the 1950s and early 1960s to stop malaria, which it almost eliminated. But after Rachel Carson's popular book "Silent Spring" (1962), in which she alleged that DDT and other pesticides were killing wildlife and hinted that they were causing cancer in people, DDT was banned. As Berlau notes:

In 1948, Sri Lanka had 2.8 million cases of malaria. By 1963, after years of DDT use, that number had dwindled to 17 cases. But then in 1964, U.S. environmentalists and world health bodies convinced Sri Lankan officials to stop spraying. By 1969, the number of malaria cases had shot back up to pre-DDT level of 2.5 million. (41)

Since then, Sri Lanka has used other pesticides to control the disease, including - ironically, given the environmentalist alarm about it - malathion. As to the worry (voiced by Carson and repeated to this day) that insects will just rapidly develop resistance to DDT, Berlau makes several points. First, if we introduce an antibiotic like penicillin, yes, bacteria will become resistant. But that takes a fair amount of time, during which people's lives are being saved.

Second, DDT causes less resistance than most other pesticides, because it repels bugs before killing them. Indeed, even resistant bugs continue to be repelled, as the World Health Organization noted recently when it advocated reintroducing DDT for limited indoor use.

As if defending DDT weren't enough, Berlau argues at length that the banning of asbestos as a fire retardant has been a major cause of deaths, because no other substance even comes close to its ability to halt the spread of fire. He argues in particular that the lack of asbestos fireproofing was a major contributor to the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings after the 9/11 attacks, and urges that asbestos be used again in military shipbuilding (with appropriate worker protection).

Berlau covers in detail a number of other issues, with arguments that are sure to rile environmentalist tempers. He argues that cars are a Godsend and that big cars save lives. He suggests that environmentalists (especially such people as "population guru" Paul Ehrlich) have a not-so-hidden agenda of stopping people from having children, viewing children as a kind of pollution. He supports the view that far from there being a shortage of trees, "There has never been a better time for forests and wildlife" (155). He argues, indeed, that because we have fossil fuels, we don't have to chop down trees for fuel.

Moreover, he holds that the biggest threat to forests is the environmentalists themselves, because they fight the harvesting of old growth, leaving forests more prone to disastrous fires. He also makes the case that far from the Bush administration's being to blame for the high death toll from hurricane Katrina, it was the environmentalists who are to blame for this also. In 1977, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Louisiana-based environmentalist group Save Our Wetlands stopped the construction of flood-control gates (like the ones used in the Netherlands) that likely would have saved New Orleans from the flooding.

Finally, Berlau argues that the so-called mainstream environmentalist movement covertly encourages ecoterrorist groups such as Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front.

Berlau's book is nothing if not provocative; it is certainly an enjoyable read. You are compelled to at least a grudging admiration for an author saucy enough to have chapter titles such as "Rachel Carson Kills Birds" and "Hurricane Katrina: Blame it on Dam Environmentalists." But there are some areas in which I find the book lacking.

For one thing, I'm surprised that Berlau didn't explore some other areas of dubious environmentalist action, such as the push for ethanol and the often bizarre and useless recycling schemes that have been foisted upon cities across the nation. I would have loved to see him review the decisive role of the environmentalist movement in killing off the American nuclear power industry, something that has cost us dearly in lost lives and treasure. It is ironic to hear environmentalists pontificate about global warming, after having helped increase our reliance on (foreign-produced) fossil fuels.

Also, Berlau's book is a little too tendentious. Have the environmentalists done nothing right? I mean, nobody would hold that all or even most of what environmentalists have done has been bad for people. And while Berlau doesn't say that the environmentalists have done nothing good, he might have noted some of the cases where they clearly have. For example, their push for cleaner air clearly was crucial in helping improve air quality in many cities. More to the point, he should have explored in more depth the central problem here, namely, the lack of balance shown by environmentalists. Nobody denies that we need to protect our environment, that unbridled business activity can create negative externalities such as pollution and other environmental damages. Certainly Berlau doesn't deny this.

As he points out, most people, by far are conservationists - they fervently desire a clean and protected environment. But they balance that desire against other values, such as the health and safety of their fellow human beings. That is the difference between normal respect and concern for the ecosystem, and the sort of unbalanced and fanatic desire for a completely untouched environment that motivates many of the movement's leaders.

For instance, it would be one thing to oppose the routine use of DDT, say, for commercial agriculture, if there is scientific evidence that it is harmful to animal life. Killing off species to save a few pennies on the cost of a pound of apples is unconscionable. But it is quite another to ban it altogether, even barring its use for disease vector control, and routinely oppose all other pesticides for that use, knowing that hundreds of thousands of people - who are animals just as much as are other species - will die in consequence.

Again, stopping the widespread spraying of structures with asbestos by unprotected workers (who later develop horrible lung diseases) was clearly the sane thing to do. But that's not the same as demanding that every last trace of asbestos be ripped out of buildings on the chance that someone may develop lung disease late in life, knowing that as a result thousands may die in fires who would have been spared if asbestos, carefully produced and controlled (as it is abroad), had been used in ships and skyscrapers.

Berlau might have devoted some analysis to asking why such an unbalanced approach to the vital aim of conserving the environment exists in the environmentalist movement. I would suggest that there is a major strain of pagan or secularist religion, Gaea worship, that informs the movement. This strain of thought, a weird sort of neo-Romantic pantheistic nature cult, has been prevalent since Rousseau in the Enlightenment era, but it exploded throughout the culture in the 1960s. Not all environmentalists share this worldview, but it is the one that drives the movement. And it is one that often downplays the value of people - devalues them and, indeed, de-animates them. That is a topic I would love to see explored in depth.


Of Vikings and Polar Bears and Science

A letter to the WSJ

In response to your March 14 editorial "Carbon Fiat": Ecological issues have been used as political focuses, starting at least with the Greens in Europe, Rachel Carson, George McGovern's candidacy and Al Gore.

One result has been advocacy in place of objective evaluation of data. Journalists and politicians drive the debate -- Al Gore and Thomas Friedman writing in the New York Times.

The first IPCC report was challenged by 1,500 climate scientists. Many of them had participated in the preparation of the report. They objected to the distortion of the report by non-scientists who controlled the report and effectively buried the great uncertainties that had been emphasized in the studies leading up to that report.

Prof. Richard Lindzen, a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, has challenged Al Gore's assertion that there is a consensus on global warming. I have reviewed weather-station data throughout the world available at the National Climate Data Center of NASA. And I've found no evidence of warming from about 1860 to 1998.

The paleolithic climate records analyzed in Science show periodic cycles in which temperatures and CO2 concentrations have varied from much lower to much higher than current values. We know that the Vikings had farms on Greenland. (What happened to the polar bears then?)

On March 2-4 this year, there was a conference in New York City sponsored by the Heartland Institute that addressed the issues of global warming from a skeptical point of view. The speakers included credible climate scientists, economists and agriculture experts. The program included discussion of alternate explanations for climate change.

Perhaps the Journal could convince someone like Prof. Lindzen to write occasional articles informing us about the opinions of climate scientists on the question of global warming. Unless more rational positions are given public voice, we will see more distorted actions like the carbon fiat you wrote about.


Perennial Arctic Ice Cover Diminishing, Officials Say

A comment on the guesswork below follows it:

The amount of long-lasting sea ice in the Arctic -- thick enough to survive for as much as a decade -- declined sharply in the past year, even though the region had a cold winter and the thinner one-year ice cover grew substantially, federal officials said yesterday. Using new data from NASA's ICESat satellite, researchers over the past year detected the steepest yearly decline in "perennial" ice on record.

As a result of melting and the southward movement of the thicker ice, the percentage of the Arctic Ocean with this stable ice cover has decreased from more than 50 percent in the mid-1980s to less than 30 percent as of last month. "Because we had a cold winter, the public might think things have gotten better," said Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "In fact, the loss of the perennial ice makes clear that they're not getting better at all."

The surprising drop in perennial ice makes the fast-changing region more unstable, because the thinner seasonal ice melts readily in summer. The Arctic lost an unprecedented amount of ice during last summer's unusual warmth, and Meier said conditions are right for a similarly large melt if the temperatures are at all above normal this year. The area of thick Arctic ice lost over the past two decades equals 1 1/2 times the size of Alaska.

While normal weather variation plays a role in yearly ice fluctuations, officials said the dramatic decline in perennial ice -- which can range from 6 feet thick to more than 15 feet thick -- appears to be consistent with the effects of global warming. Officials said the loss of long-lasting ice was less the result of warming of the atmosphere than of a long-term rise in ocean temperatures and the effects of the "Arctic oscillation," a variable wind pattern that can either keep icebergs in the Arctic (when the wind pattern is "negative") or push them south (when it is "positive").

Climate experts believe that both the rising water temperature and increasingly frequent "positive" oscillations are a function of global warming. Josefino Comiso of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the lead author of a related 2007 study, said Arctic Ocean temperatures appear to be rising quickly because less of the water is covered by ice, which reflects sunlight and keeps water temperatures lower. After last summer's very warm weather, the amount of ice cover shrank dramatically, and the water became warmer.

He said climate experts have concluded that the Arctic oscillation, which is a natural climate phenomenon, is also being modified by global warming. The dynamics are not yet understood, but it appears that higher temperatures in the tropics and elsewhere make it more likely that the oscillation will push icebergs down past Greenland and into the Atlantic.

Arctic sea ice always grows and shrinks, ranging from an average minimum in September of 2.5 million square miles to an average winter maximum in March of 5.9 million square miles. Instruments on NASA's Aqua satellite, as well as Defense Department satellites, showed that the maximum sea ice extent in March increased by 3.9 percent over that of the previous three years because of the winter. Nonetheless, the total ice coverage was still 2.2 percent below the long-term average.

And the very old ice, which remains in the Arctic for at least six years, made up more than 20 percent of the Arctic in the mid- to late 1980s, but by this winter it had decreased to 6 percent. Flying over the Arctic, one might perceive the sea ice cover as broad, Meier said, but that apparent breadth hides the fact that the ice is so thin. "It's a facade, like a Hollywood set," he said. "There's no building behind it."

While the Arctic sea ice is changing fast, the same is not true in Antarctica. Comiso said the amount of ice surrounding the continent is little changed over recent decades, although some ice loss has been occurring around the continent's peninsula and on some glaciers. Antarctica is significantly less tied to the world's weather patterns and is considered to be less subject to the effects of global warming so far.

The report drew concern from Rafe Pomerance, president of the environmental group Clean Air-Cool Planet. "This is another startling and serious indicator of massive changes in the Arctic due to climate change," he said in a statement. "It is one more reminder that we must address the global warming with a level of commitment and resources equal to the problem."

With the behavior of Arctic sea ice becoming an increasingly important issue, NASA is planning to launch a follow-on satellite mission, ICESat II, in 2015.



This new assertion appears to fly in face of a previous NASA study and a Nature study which said that "naturally" caused "unusual" winds blew out older thicker ice. See this page for an exactly opposite conclusion in peer-reviewed studies.

Excerpt from earlier study: "A second NASA team, using data from the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite, recently concluded that changes in the Arctic Oscillation were, "mostly decadal in nature," rather than driven by global warming."

It appears the alarmists are now claiming all natural climate events to be caused by warming. Notice how the scientist asserts global warming is causing the shift in Arctic oscillation despite the fact that he openly admits 'the dynamics are not yet understood.". Really? Then why assert warming is the cause if 'the dynamics are not yet understood'? How sad for science. To quote him again: "He said climate experts have concluded that the Arctic oscillation, which is a natural climate phenomenon, is also being modified by global warming. The dynamics are not yet understood, but it appears that higher temperatures in the tropics and elsewhere make it more likely that the oscillation will push icebergs down past Greenland and into the Atlantic."


If China's carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country's carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world's CO2 production today. That's just the most stunning in a series of datapoints about the Chinese economy reported in a policy brief in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Coal power has been driving the stunning, seven plus percent a year growth in China's economy. It's long been said said that China was adding one new coal power plant per week to its grid. But the real news is worse: China is completing two new coal plants per week.

That power is being used to drive an enormous manufacturing expansion. China has increased steel production from 140 million tons in 2000 to 419 million tons in 2006, the authors report. Even more recent numbers from the International Iron and Steel Institute show China's production leading the world at 489 million tons, more than double Japan and the US combined. That steel is getting used quickly too. In 1999, Chinese consumers bought 1.2 million cars. That number had increased 600% by 2006, when 7.2 million cars were sold.

And yet with all these numbers, Chinese per capita emissions remain one-quarter of our own here in the US. If the Chinese economy steps into our carbon footprint, all other greenhouse gas reduction efforts will be for naught.

FULL STORY here See also here


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


23 March, 2008

Greenie pseudoscience

A paper by Arthur Roersch. Dr Arthur Roersch has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delft (1957), and a PhD from the University of Leiden (1963). As chairman of the National (Dutch) Council for Agricultural research he worked for four years (1995-1999) on the development of scenarios and forecasting projections from the theoretical and applied point of view. His current main interest is in the maintenance of rules for Good Scientific Practice in a variety of disciplines and how they may be violated.


Alarming statements from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concerning global warming are being challenged by a considerable number of scientists from different disciplines with a variety of arguments. The disputes comprise the collection and interpretation of data, the validation of hypotheses and climate models, the use of those models for scientific decision making, and the quality of the scientific discourse on these matters.

Many of the critical scientists are not directly involved in climate research. This brings into focus the weight to be given to views of experts relative to that of non-experts when the use of the scientific method is discussed in general, and a critique on the use of the peer review system in scientific journals that is supposed to safeguard the quality of science.

The concern of some climatologists and scientists from other disciplines is that the supposed dangerous warming seems to be exaggerated.

The possible causes of exaggerated conclusions are investigated. It is concluded that the general practice of parameterization of computer models in climate change research shows an element of pseudo science because it leads to self-confirmation of input hypotheses (dogmas) and insufficient challenge of theories.

The theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere - the very basis for alarming messages concerning future climate change - is itself largely a modelling concept. It is suggested, that for the sake of the progress of science, this theory requires reinvestigation.


Interview with Weather channel founder

Many believe that global warming is one of the most critical challenges that face our planet today. According to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, many scientists and most environmentalists and their allies in the media and academia, uncontrolled rising temperatures will cause more frequent droughts, food shortages, melting polar ice caps and coastal flooding, and the extinction of polar bears and many other species. They claim that modern, industrialized society is causing global warming, and they predict climatic calamity including frequent category five and numerous other severe storms resulting in great suffering.

After years of study, John Coleman is convinced that none of this is true. And thousands of scientists and other meteorologists hold this same dissenting view. Currently, John Coleman is a TV weatherman for KUSI News in San Diego. But Coleman is most famous for being founder of the Weather Channel. He has had a long career in predicting the weather, working for the first time as a TV weatherman during his freshman year in college in 1953. With this extensive background, we might take John Coleman seriously when he states bluntly that global warming "is the greatest scam in history."

THE NEW AMERICAN: As someone who has been in weather broadcasting for pretty much its whole history, are you concerned about global warming?

John Coleman: I'm only concerned about people who are going hysterical about it. How many billions of dollars is our government going to spend to combat something that isn't real? That has my attention.

TNA: Are you saying there hasn't been any warming?

Coleman: Well, there are absolutely normal climate fluctuations - little ice ages, then warm-ups. Historically the Earth has vacillated through all of these. Solar cycles change dramatically. Ocean currents change. They all have a significant impact on climate.

TNA: Al Gore and others claim that science has spoken and that there is a universal consensus among scientists.

Coleman: Was there a consensus of 2,500 scientists at the Bali meeting of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Heavens no. The key paragraphs or chapters of their report and the research documents behind it, which are very voluminous, were not widely read by these scientists. If you look at the history of the IPCC, its mission and existence was to prove that there is climate change. So they start hiring scientists and giving them research money to go out and prove that its mission is valid. But 19,000 scientists signed a petition against the Kyoto Protocol, and 400-plus scientists spoke out against global warming in 2007, along with at least four dozen TV meteorologists. There is no consensus.

TNA: In the middle of your career in broadcasting, 30 years or so ago, we were told in similar panic terms that we were going to face global cooling and a new ice age.

Coleman: Time magazine came out with a picture of the skyscrapers of Chicago trapped in a huge glacier, creeping down over the Midwest.

TNA: So, you're still waiting for the ice cap?

Coleman: I never believed it was coming, nor do I believe global warming is coming. Are you aware that officials of both the Canadian and Russian governments in the past six weeks have warned of a coming ice age? Climatologists are constantly reacting to swings in the climate.

TNA: Yes, could you address that?

Coleman: It has to do with what's known as a "Maunder Minimum," where the number of solar flares diminishes to zero and the sun lays quiet. Clearly the sun is the source of all energy on Earth. And so, how brightly the sun shines is the key element. It burns irregularly, throwing off huge amounts of radioactive materials at times, and other times it lays quiet. And which side of the sun that is facing Earth at the time of these events has a lot to do with the energy received on Earth. All of these factors control the climate on Earth.

TNA: Are there many scientists who view the temperature increase we have seen - the very minor increase - not with alarm, but as a benefit?

Coleman: Well, if you live in Canada or Minnesota, you might feel a little global warming would be a wonderful thing. I would tend to think a few degrees warmer might be a very good thing. The preponderance of evidence suggests that we might have had 0.2 Celsius of warming over the last 30 or 40 years. But that's hard to pin down because during this period of time these great cities have built up. Urban heat islands are very real. If you have a thermometer in the city, its temperature has definitely climbed. But the thermometers in the countryside around that city haven't increased significantly, if at all. What is the right temperature for planet Earth? What is our ideal climate regime? Is it what we have had for the last 50 years?

TNA: Compared with other periods in history, we've had larger increases, haven't we?

Coleman: Around 1900, the Northwest Passage was clear of ice - we had a warm spell. We had the little ice age that preceded that by about 400 years. Remember that the coast of Greenland was fertile, clear, and beautiful farming country. There were farms that operated there for 100 years on those same coasts that are now covered in ice and where the ice is reported melting now. Yet now the global-warming alarmists scream.

TNA: In previous warming periods, do we have any evidence of species extinction?

Coleman: Take the polar bear, about which there is so much talk. Polar bears made it through all of the climate changes in the last 5,000 years. But, on the other hand, ancient climate change clearly did in the dinosaurs. Al Gore stood in front of a picture of a polar bear on a piece of ice floating by and decried the poor polar bear's situation. No polar bear died in that, and I think it is horrible fraud to take that picture and turn it into an emotional plea to people implying the polar bear died.

TNA: What about the concerns many people have about tsunamis and hurricanes as a result of all this?

Coleman: How about the hurricane of 1900 that wiped out Galveston, Texas? Global warming didn't cause that. In 1969, I was in Hurricane Camille, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the United States. Was that part of global warming, back in '69? We were still talking about the coming ice age then. To blame Katrina on global warming is another one of these emotional frauds. Katrina, when it made landfall, was a category three hurricane that happened to produce a very heavy rainfall over a city built below sea level, protected by inferior dikes because, while science makes the world great, government screws it up. The government hadn't built decent dikes and hadn't taken care of its business.

TNA: Are you concerned about the increasing political impact of government on science?

Coleman: I have had some TV weathermen say, "I'm afraid. I can't say anything because of my job." The mayor of New York has just declared the threat of global warming worse than the threat of terrorism. Because of all of this incredible grandstanding by politicians, supposedly 80 percent of Americans believe global warming is a threat. The politicians have clearly trumped the science in molding public opinion.

TNA: If weathermen on television networks are worried about saying anything to refute global warming, how come you're speaking out?

Coleman: I'm in my retirement job. If I get fired here today, I'm fine, thank you. I only work because it's fun. I happen to work for a company that is very supportive of me.

TNA: If we were to go forward with Kyoto or any variation of Kyoto, would this impose vast restrictions on all human activity?

Coleman: Well, all of this is predicated on carbon being a dirty word. And the carbon we're talking about is carbon dioxide. Now, it's the last remaining cornerstone of global warming. The hockey-stick chart, that ridiculous scientific fraud, got shot down. The pronouncements by NASA about global temperature averages going up have been corrected, and now we know the warmest U.S. decade was the 1930s not the '90s.

All that's left is carbon. Imagine a box my hands are defining about 9 inches square. Let's say there are a 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Thirty-eight of those are carbon dioxide. Even after all the fossil fuel we burn, there are only 38. When you and I breathe, we breathe out carbon dioxide. It's not a pollutant, but a natural component. Our crops and our forests are thriving because of increased carbon dioxide. But when fossil fuels burn to power cars or plants, they emit carbon dioxide, and that's supposedly a very bad thing according to the global-warming crowd.

The environmentalists are making this whole "carbon as the enemy of mankind thing," as they try to orchestrate the elimination of fossil fuels. Well, fossil fuels have powered our civilization - are powering civilization. Environmentalists have built this whole fictitious case that this carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has doubled in the last 50 years because of these emissions, is what is driving global warming. Without carbon to blame, the global-warming advocates don't have anything left - their whole case is destroyed scientifically. But they still have the media and the government.

TNA: What about just relying on solar and wind power?

Coleman: Solar power might work great in San Diego where I live, but it doesn't work worth a hoot in Antarctica or Alaska. And it's not very good in Seattle. And wind power is only good in a few limited places. It's a very expensive technology still.

TNA: Is it true that since 2000 or 2001, we haven't seen any rise in the temperature?

Coleman: We're in a cooling trend. The sun has gone quiet. Those guys in Canada and Russia are talking about an ice age; they've probably gone over the edge, but they have a point. The sun is in a very quiet phase. A cooling trend is under way. South America has had the worst winter in 50 years. China has had the worst winter in 50 years. The United States is having a real old-fashioned winter. Alaska just finished one of the worst cold spells in a couple of decades - I didn't see any press on it at all, but it was 40 below for seven days straight in Fairbanks. Another Alaskan community had 72 below, some of the coldest weather they've ever seen in modern times in Alaska. The Arctic ice cap that we heard all about melting last summer is frozen up.

TNA: Are you hopeful that you and many of the other scientists may be able to head this off before a Kyoto-style political solution is put in place?

Coleman: What things can we hope for through your efforts, mine, and those of thousands of others who know the truth? We can hope that we can begin to change some public opinion and calm the fears, so that maybe our government won't spend billions and billions and billions of dollars on silliness. And we can hope to all live for another 20 years so we can look back and have the last laugh.


How pollution can help to clean the air

Hydroxyl radicals, nature's atmospheric scrubbers, are produced by nitrogen pollution too

Some types of air pollution might be doing a good turn by creating extra doses of atmospheric cleaner, according to new research. A lab study has shown how nitrogen oxides, a largely agricultural pollutant, can help to make hydroxyl radicals - the natural cleaner-upper of our dirty atmosphere. But in doing so they can also produce more ozone, the major component of smog. The work should help to improve models of atmospheric chemistry, and suggest better ways to control air pollution in big cities.

The hydroxyl radical is a very reactive and short-lived molecule that contains one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom. It is known as the detergent of the lower atmosphere (troposphere), because it is involved in most reactions that break down volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - the hydrocarbon pollutants from urban life. In the atmosphere, sunlight breaks up ozone to produce excited oxygen atoms, which then attack water to make hydroxyl radicals. These go on to react with hydrocarbons or carbon monoxide molecules, and break them up - scrubbing the atmosphere clean.

Hydroxyl isn't all good, however. In polluted skies with high levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a byproduct of the hydroxyl-scrubbing reaction can go on to create more ozone, a major component of smog. So it might seem that policies aiming to reduce NOx pollution are very important, leaving nature's hydroxyl radicals to scrub up the VOCs. But things aren't so simple.

Amitabha Sinha and colleagues at the University of San Diego, California, have found a previously overlooked but important part of hydroxyl chemistry: NOx pollution can help to make more atmospheric cleaner.

They recreated atmospheric reactions in the lab, and found that nitrogen dioxide, when excited by wavelengths of light similar to those seen when the Sun is low on the horizon, can split water in the same way that ozone does to produce the hydroxyl radical. "This is an important reaction," says Sinha. At these certain times of day, this process could boost concentrations of the atmospheric scrubber by 50%, he says. His work is published in Science.

This also means that NOx pollution produces more ozone than thought, however. "In cities with large amounts of biogenic hydrocarbons, such as Atlanta, ozone concentrations will increase more quickly," says Paul Wennberg, an atmospheric chemist from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "If you include this [reaction] in models it does profoundly change the way you view control measures for pollution," says Wennberg. Policy makers need good models to determine what to do in different cities with different dominant pollutants, he says.

"This is a very unexpected result," says Dwayne Heard, an atmospheric chemist from the University of Leeds, UK. Heard notes that Sinha's result is based only on times when the Sun is near the horizon. This makes it hard to assess how levels of hydroxyl radicals and ozone will change in a city over the course of a day. "You need to look over 24 hours," says Heard. "When the Sun is low in the sky, this process can produce a significant fraction of OH . at noon this process would have a very small contribution."

But the result is very applicable to polar regions, where the Sun spends a long time hanging on the horizon. The new-found reaction could help explain discrepancies between models and measurements, says Heard, who has just returned from the Arctic.

The new reaction had been suggested previously, but dismissed as unimportant. In 1997, a group from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, also suggested that this reaction might be happening, but at a much slower and therefore much less significant rate than Sinha is now suggesting. Atmospheric models, which already have to take thousands of reactions into account, will be further complicated by this finding.


Baptist Press on global warming:

TIME magazine warned that scientists had observed "bizarre and unpredictable weather patterns" which led them to believe the world was headed for "a global climatic upheaval." Fluctuations in temperature, rainfall and sea ice were all described as signs of impending doom. But the scientists interviewed by TIME weren't talking about global warming, and the magazine wasn't issued in the 21st century. The June 1974 report in TIME warned of a new ice age, touching off other articles in respected publications about expanding glaciers, crop failures and killer tornados.

Newsweek, for example, published its own story within a year, claiming that the evidence in support of the dire predictions "has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard pressed to keep up with it." The New York Times followed in 1975, noting that "a major cooling is widely considered to be inevitable." For more than a century, American scientists and newspapers have been predicting catastrophic climate changes. So far, none of the climate predictions has proven true.

On Feb. 24, 1895, The New York Times warned of the next Ice Age, and in 1923, the Chicago Tribune warned that ice would soon make Canada uninhabitable. But by 1933, the same papers were warning of the greatest rise in temperatures since 1776. Reports two decades later also spoke of a spike in global temperatures. Even TIME magazine reported on global warming in 1951, just two decades before the article on a new Ice Age.

Scientists then were more likely to attribute changes in the global climate to natural forces, but today scientists refer to the warming experienced at the end of the 20th century as "anthropogenic global warming," or that caused by man. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued successive reports that predict a rise in sea levels of 8 to 17 inches over the next century as a result of the human impact on the environment.

The cause of warming, the reports contend, is an increase in greenhouse gases -- chiefly carbon dioxide -- caused by the burning of fossil fuels, humanity's primary fuel for transportation, manufacturing, cooking and heating. A warming atmosphere leads to melting sea ice and glaciers, according to the U.N.'s IPCC report.

The IPCC's viewpoints were popularized by former Vice President Al Gore in his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." Gore, however, claimed sea levels would rise by 18 to 20 feet if governments around the world failed to address CO2 emissions. His documentary, although it won an Academy Award, is now challenged by multiple sources, even by various IPCC findings.


The contradictions between reports of yesteryear and those of today were illustrated March 18 in a New York Times story on melting glaciers. According to a report from the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich, the melting of glaciers has accelerated since 2006. The paper noted, however, that temperatures worldwide had actually decreased in recent months.

"The global average temperature dropped from its seasonal norm in recent months, and the Northern Hemisphere has had unusually extensive snow," The Times report claimed. "But many experts have said those developments are almost assuredly a short-term wiggle on the way to more warming and melting from the influence of long-lived greenhouse gases produced mainly by burning fossil fuels and forests."

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a report March 13 that confirmed global temperatures were at their coolest levels since 2001. Pacific storms dumped record snowfalls in the American West, in the Northeast and in Canada. China experienced its harshest winter in a century. Snow cover in Siberia and Mongolia is greater than at any time since the mid-1960s, and even Iraq saw snow this year for the first time in recent memory.

One of the most telling signs invalidating the predictions of catastrophic global warming is the expansion of Arctic sea ice. After a supposed record thaw, the ice has returned. A report from the Canadian Ice Service, which has kept records on sea ice since 1972, noted above-average coverage of the Arctic. Gilles Langis, a forecaster with the Ice Service, said the ice also is 10 to 20 cm thicker in most places. The report from the Ice Service was corroborated by the Denmark Meteorological Institute, which said the sea ice between Greenland and Canada was at its most expansive in 15 years.

"The nice thing about sea ice is that there is no analysis needed," Stan Goldenberg, a meteorologist with NOAA's hurricane research division, told Baptist Press in an interview. "This is raw data. You can look at the levels and see that it is colder. "It is a lot more difficult to dispute that than it is a variable like global temperatures."

In his service with NOAA, Goldenberg has flown through the eye walls of hurricanes more than 100 times, including the eye wall of Hurricane Katrina. And he also has been the victim of nature's devastation. Hurricane Andrew destroyed his Florida home with him and his family inside. Fluctuations in climate, he said, are natural phenomena.

"With hurricanes, for example, there are high activity periods and low activity periods because of what is called 'Atlantic Mutlidecadal Oscillation' or 'AMO,' a sort of see-saw, up and down of surface temperatures in the Atlantic. Wind, solar activity and a number of other factors cause the seas to sometimes warm for decades at a time. They sometimes cool for decades at a time and there is a lower level of activity. We are now in a high activity period."

The fluctuation of the earth's temperatures and storm patterns over decades is a relatively new scientific concept. Only recently, with the advent of satellite imagery and other technological advances, have scientists been able to make a wide range of calculations of worldwide trends. That is why scientists shouldn't claim that the previous 10 or 20 years are the hottest years on record or that they have produced more hurricanes than ever before, Goldenberg said. "We simply don't know because no one was able to measure the information before. There's no possible way someone in the 1930s could know about the formation of a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic that never made landfall -- not before satellites."

Cal Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a group of evangelical scholars and scientists challenging the idea of human-induced global warming, also told Baptist Press in an e-mail that climate changes for five to 10 years do not constitute a trend or an imminent threat to human existence. "Nothing is ever conclusive in science, but I think the evidence on climate change points increasingly toward natural cycles of warming and cooling," Beisner wrote, noting that the changes are driven primarily by changes in solar energy and solar magnetic wind output, secondarily by a variety of ocean and atmospheric cycles, such as El Nino and La Nina, and thirdly by the natural, random fluctuations of the environment.

For Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, periods of warming and cooling are not matters for mere speculation. They are matters of history which lend further credence to the idea of a constantly changing climate. While he notes that the world's average surface temperature is warmer in the past 100 years, he asks the question, "Why is it warmer?" "It was at least as warm during the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings farmed Greenland," Spencer told Baptist Press in an e-mail. "Also, about one-half of the recent warming occurred before 1940, which is before mankind emitted much in the way of greenhouse gases. The rest of the warming occurred since the 1970s, and that warming is now widely blamed on human greenhouse gas emissions. But the recent warming also just happens to coincide with a shift in the natural climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in 1977."

Spencer also wrote that if the change in 1977 caused a 1 percent change in global cloud cover, that in and of itself would explain all of the recent warming. "But our cloud observations are not nearly good enough to document such a change," he noted.


The Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank, hosted a conference on global climate change in New York March 2-4. While the hundreds of scientists, economists, business leaders and public policy analysts in attendance did not dispute the claims of a warming earth in the final decades of the 20th century, they did question its cause.

The group issued "The Manhattan Declaration," which claimed that human-caused climate change is "not a global crisis." The statement also said world leaders should "reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as popular, but misguided works such as 'An Inconvenient Truth.'"

This latest salvo in the growing debate about the certainty of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming largely was dismissed in newspapers such as The Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune. The Post claimed the meeting in New York was "a sort of global warming doppelganger conference, where everything was reversed." The Tribune claimed that conference participants displayed a "dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate," and the paper hinted that only a handful of real scientists participated in the gathering.

Beisner rejects those assertions. He told Baptist Press that the statement issued from the conference was written by a team of scientists led by S. Fred Singer, "one of the most accomplished American scientists of the past half century and an expert on atmospheric physics."

Goldenberg also said he was not surprised the media thought of the meeting as "a gathering of the Flat Earth Society." "As a scientist who has dealt with the media extensively, who has been interviewed dozens of times locally, nationally and by international media, I believe that one of the things affecting public perception of this subject is that the media has total censorship of quality scientific data from the other side," he said, adding that the media have created the notion of a scientific consensus on global warming. "That couldn't be further from the truth," Goldenberg said. "There is no consensus."

Joseph L. Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, said in his opening remarks at the conference that no scientific theory is true because a majority of scientists say it to be true. "Scientific theories are only provisionally true until they are falsified by data that can be better explained by different theory. And it is by falsifying current theories that scientific knowledge advances, not by consensus," Bast said. "The claim that global warming is a 'crisis' is itself a theory."


Limbaugh on "Climate confusion"

RUSH: As you know, the official climatologist of this program is Dr. Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and he has just completed a book. The book is now orderable at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It's called Climate Confusion. I'm holding it right here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers. There it is for those of you watching on the Dittocam: Climate Confusion, How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor.

It's not a large book, but it's one of these scientific books written for the average person who is not a trained scientist, to be able to understand it. Dr. Roy Spencer, Climate Confusion. That's all you need to remember of the title, and I heartily recommend it, because both parties are participating in this hoax. Our guy, McCain, is all in for roundabout ways to get to Kyoto, and of course the Democrats are as well, and it is destructive, it is going to lead to much more regulation on freedom and movement and liberty, and it's going to raise the cost of living, all based on a hoax.

Even the polar bear population has been documented to be increasing. Now there's a big move on the part of the a bunch of environmental groups to have the polar bear placed on the endangered species list, which is going to cause all kinds of havoc, more than anybody can possibly imagine, and all of this is the environmental movement.

The modern environmental movement is simply a refuge for displaced Soviets and communists who have at the heart of their existence an anti-capitalist desire, a desire for huge government managing and controlling as much of people's lives as possible. This global warming business uses every bit of guilt that they can ladle out to people in order to succeed and get it done.

They don't even talk about global warming since everything is getting colder. Now they talk about climate change. Of course, it's not gonna manifest itself for another 50 years, maybe, meaning anything that happens between now and 49 years is not conclusive proof of anything. Anyway, Dr. Spencer's book is excellent on the science of this, Climate Confusion is the title.


Australia hears some climate facts for a change

All Australia usually gets is speculative forecasts. The article below is by popular columnist Christopher Pearson

Catastrophic predictions of global warming usually conjure with the notion of a tipping point, a point of no return. Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth stillwarming?" She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?" Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"

Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide. "There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?" Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?" Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could beconsiderable ..." Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."

If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting. A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.

With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.

The poorest Indians and Chinese will be left in peace to work their way towards prosperity, without being badgered about the size of their carbon footprint, a concept that for most of us will soon be one with Nineveh and Tyre, clean forgotten in six months. The scores of town planners in Australia building empires out of regulating what can and can't be built on low-lying shorelines will have to come to terms with the fact inundation no longer impends and find something more plausible to do. The same is true of the bureaucrats planning to accommodate "climate refugees".

Penny Wong's climate mega-portfolio will suddenly be as ephemeral as the ministries for the year 2000 that state governments used to entrust to junior ministers. Malcolm Turnbull will have to reinvent himself at vast speed as a climate change sceptic and the Prime Minister will have to kiss goodbye what he likes to call the great moral issue and policy challenge of our times. It will all be vastly entertaining to watch.

THE Age published an essay with an environmental theme by Ian McEwan on March 8 and its stablemate, The Sydney Morning Herald, also carried a slightly longer version of the same piece. The Australian's Cut & Paste column two days later reproduced a telling paragraph from the Herald's version, which suggested that McEwan was a climate change sceptic and which The Age had excised. He was expanding on the proposition that "we need not only reliable data but their expression in the rigorous use of statistics".

What The Age decided to spare its readers was the following: "Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring. It would be self-defeating if the environmental movement degenerated into a religion of gloomy faith. (Faith, ungrounded certainty, is no virtue.)"

The missing sentences do not appear anywhere else in The Age's version of the essay. The attribution reads: "Copyright Ian McEwan 2008" and there is no acknowledgment of editing by The Age. Why did the paper decide to offer its readers McEwan lite? Was he, I wonder, consulted on the matter? And isn't there a nice irony that The Age chose to delete the line about ideologues not being very good at "absorbing inconvenient fact"?



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


22 March, 2008


"Scientific American" was once a fairly useful publication but it has deteriorated greatly in recent years. Opening its doors to assorted Green/Leftists has a lot to do with that. Propaganda is a poor substitute for knowledge. Note the coat-dragging reference to Fred Singer in the article below. Apparently Fred once referred in passing to the research showing that the health consequences of inhaling secondhand tobacco smoke are negligible. So SciAm says of Fred that he is "best known for his denial of the dangers of secondhand smoke". Fred is best known for many things but that is not one of them.

It is of course an attempted slur but the slur boomerangs on the slurrers because the best scientific evidence is that secondhand smoke is NOT harmful to health. Fred was right.

Following the SciAm article I reproduce the abstract of what is probably the most thorough piece of medical research on the subject. It is the SciAm writers who are the unscientific ignoramuses.

Even Skeptics Admit Global Warming is Real [Video]

Sure, global warming is real, said participants in a recent climate change conference, but that doesn't mean we should do anything about it. Help us edit our coverage

By David Biello and John Pavlus

The 2,500 or so scientists, economists and other experts of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call global warming "unequivocal" and think it "very likely" that humans have contributed to the problem. The world's governments agree with the panel, which also shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Then there's the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). These 23 individuals from 15 countries, including a handful of scientists, disagree. Led by physicist S. Fred Singer-best known for his denial of the dangers of secondhand smoke-they argue the reverse: "Natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause" of climate change.

The NIPCC goes on to contend: "We do not say anthropogenic greenhouse gases cannot produce some warming. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a significant role."

In other words, even skeptics, deniers, contrarians-pick your favorite term-agree that global warming is real, or so it appears from the recent three-day conference in New York City put together by the Heartland Institute, a bastion of free-market thinking on the perils of junk science and government economic regulation. They just disagree-even amongst themselves-whether it is man-made.

On the one side sits Patrick Michaels, the recently resigned state climatologist of Virginia who ascribes global warming to fluctuations in the sun's energy output aided and abetted by human activity. In his conference dinner address, Michaels said: "Global warming is real and people have something to do with it."

On the other side is astrophysicist Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. He lays the blame on the sun for all the agreed-on warming. And meteorologist William Gray of Colorado State University in Fort Collins believes the sun will soon reverse its effect. "We should begin to see cooling coming on," he predicts. "I'm ready to make a big financial bet."

And now for the facts:

Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98.

By Enstrom JE & Kabat GC.

School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To measure the relation between environmental tobacco smoke, as estimated by smoking in spouses, and long term mortality from tobacco related disease.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study covering 39 years.

SETTING: Adult population of California, United States.

PARTICIPANTS: 118 094 adults enrolled in late 1959 in the American Cancer Society cancer prevention study (CPS I), who were followed until 1998. Particular focus is on the 35 561 never smokers who had a spouse in the study with known smoking habits.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Relative risks and 95% confidence intervals for deaths from coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease related to smoking in spouses and active cigarette smoking.

RESULTS: For participants followed from 1960 until 1998 the age adjusted relative risk (95% confidence interval) for never smokers married to ever smokers compared with never smokers married to never smokers was 0.94 (0.85 to 1.05) for coronary heart disease, 0.75 (0.42 to 1.35) for lung cancer, and 1.27 (0.78 to 2.08) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among 9619 men, and 1.01 (0.94 to 1.08), 0.99 (0.72 to 1.37), and 1.13 (0.80 to 1.58), respectively, among 25 942 women. No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.

CONCLUSIONS: The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

Originally published in The British Medical Journal, 2003;326:1057 (17 May). Also here
NOTE. In an email Fred comments: "I am certainly no expert on lung cancer or on epidemiology. My only 'offense' was to quote an official report by our Congressinal Research Service and the extensive documentation by a federal judge that exposed the dubious way in which EPA cooked the data to come up with its claim of 3000 cancer deaths from SHS. I have never smoked and am on the advisory board of ACSH, a well-known anti-smoking organization. Personally, I hate SHS; but that does not affect my science".

More background on the secondhand smoke nonsense here

Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring (or does it?)

The article below is by a "science" writer for the Associated Press. It is so nauseous that I have excerpted only the first half of it. The writer's science is however of the schoolboy variety. I follow it by a rebuttal from a real scientist: Roger Pielke


The capital's famous cherry trees are primed to burst out in a perfect pink peak about the end of this month. Thirty years ago, the trees usually waited to bloom till around April 5. In central California, the first of the field skipper sachem, a drab little butterfly, was fluttering about on March 12. Just 25 years ago, that creature predictably emerged there anywhere from mid-April to mid-May. And sneezes are coming earlier in Philadelphia. On March 9, when allergist Dr. Donald Dvorin set up his monitor, maple pollen was already heavy in the air. Less than two decades ago, that pollen couldn't be measured until late April.

Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying. "The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast," Stanford University biologist Terry Root said. Blame global warming.

The fingerprints of man-made climate change are evident in seasonal timing changes for thousands of species on Earth, according to dozens of studies and last year's authoritative report by the Nobel Prize-winning international climate scientists. More than 30 scientists told The Associated Press how global warming is affecting plants and animals at springtime across the country, in nearly every state.

What's happening is so noticeable that scientists can track it from space. Satellites measuring when land turns green found that spring "green-up" is arriving eight hours earlier every year on average since 1982 north of the Mason-Dixon line. In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, the satellites show spring coming a tad later, and bizarrely, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said.

Biological timing is called phenology. Biological spring, which this year begins at 1:48 a.m. EDT Thursday, is based on the tilt of the Earth as it circles the sun. The federal government and some university scientists are so alarmed by the changes that last fall they created a National Phenology Network at the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor these changes. The idea, said biologist and network director Jake Weltzin, is "to better understand the changes, and more important what do they mean? How does it affect humankind?"

There are winners, losers and lots of unknowns when global warming messes with natural timing. People may appreciate the smaller heating bills from shorter winters, the longer growing season and maybe even better tasting wines from some early grape harvests. But biologists also foresee big problems. The changes could push some species to extinction. That's because certain plants and animals are dependent on each other for food and shelter. If the plants bloom or bear fruit before animals return or surface from hibernation, the critters could starve. Also, plants that bud too early can still be whacked by a late freeze.

The young of tree swallows - which in upstate New York are laying eggs nine days earlier than in the 1960s - often starve in those last gasp cold snaps because insects stop flying in the cold, ornithologists said. University of Maryland biology professor David Inouye noticed an unusually early February robin in his neighborhood this year and noted, "Sometimes the early bird is the one that's killed by the winter storm." ....

While some plants and animals use the amount of sunlight to figure out when it is spring, others base it on heat building in their tissues, much like a roasting turkey with a pop-up thermometer. Around the world, those internal thermometers are going to "pop" earlier than they once did. This past winter's weather could send a mixed message. Globally, it was the coolest December through February since 2001 and a year of heavy snowfall. Despite that, it was still warmer than average for the 20th century.

Phenology data go back to the 14th century for harvest of wine grapes in France. There is a change in the timing of fall, but the change is biggest in spring. In the 1980s there was a sudden, big leap forward in spring blooming, scientists noticed. And spring keeps coming earlier at an accelerating rate. Unlike sea ice in the Arctic, the way climate change is tinkering with the natural timing of day-to-day life is concrete and local. People can experience it with all five senses

And now for some real science:

Comments On The News Article by Seth Borenstein entitled "Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring"

Post below lifted from Roger Pielke Sr.. See the original for links

On March 20 2008, the Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein published a news report titled "Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring". This article, unfortunately perpetuates the inaccurately narrow perspective that only "global warming" can produce an earlier greening up in the spring. Indeed, even though some areas are greening up later, the article has the audacity to write:

"In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, the satellites show spring coming a tad later, and bizarrely, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said." Thus, everything is attributable to "global warming".

This inaccurate characterization of climate science ignores the following issues:

1. Plants only know about their immediate microclimate. They are not a metric of global warming, but only whether local conditions are conducive to earlier green-up. This can clearly occur due to landscape change in the vicinity of the plants, thus this issue needs to be considered in any explanation of changes in phenology.

2. The biogeochemical effect of higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (both in the background atmosphere, and, if in an urban or suburban region, the local enhancement of CO2 levels) can alter plant phenology. We found, for example, that the biogeochemical addition of added CO2 has a larger effect on temperatures and precipitation than the radiative effect of the added CO2 (in a regional model simulation);

Eastman, J.L., M.B. Coughenour, and R.A. Pielke, 2001: The effects of CO2 and landscape change using a coupled plant and meteorological model. Global Change Biology, 7, 797-815.

3. The biogeochemical effect of human caused nitrogen deposition can significantly effect plant responses including phenology. Nitrogen deposition is a major issue, as reported on Climate Science;

Further Evidence of the Role of Nitrogen Deposition as a First-Order Climate Forcing

Is Nitrogen Deposition a First-Order Climate Forcing?

4. Land fragmentation due to human land management is well known to alter bird, insect and other animal migration, reproductive and other activites as well as to introduce invasive species which significantly alter the local and regional ecosystems; e.g. see

Plant diversity- Another Climate Metric

If Seth Borenstein really wanted to do balanced news reporting, he would have addressed these other issues in his article, before advocating "global warming" as the cause for the change in phenology of vegetation in the spring. Instead, the AP news story is yet another example of the misuse of science to promote the inaccurately narrow perspective that global warming is the main culprit whenever an environmental change is observed.
Marc Morano also emailed the Borenstein propaganda machine as follows:
How could you have failed to note that the 1930's were the hottest decade in the U.S. before 80% of man-made CO2 emissions occurred? Don't you think that is relevant to a story like yours? Why did your editor's allow this oversight to occur? Wouldn't the fact that temps were warmer in the U.S. before 80% of man-made CO2 went into air have placed your article in a much different light? Please consider a follow up noting these simple facts.
I understand that there has been no reply so far. Borenstein has a long history of promoting man-made climate fears. See here and here

The Sloppy Science of Global Warming

While a politician might be faulted for pushing a particular agenda that serves his own purposes, who can fault the impartial scientist who warns us of an imminent global-warming Armageddon? After all, the practice of science is an unbiased search for the truth, right? The scientists have spoken on global warming. There is no more debate. But let me play devil's advocate. Just how good is the science underpinning the theory of manmade global warming? My answer might surprise you: it is 10 miles wide, but only 2 inches deep.

Contrary to what you have been led to believe, there is no solid published evidence that has ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth - not one peer-reviewed paper. The reason: our measurements of global weather on decadal time scales are insufficient to reject such a possibility. For instance, the last 30 years of the strongest warming could have been caused by a very slight change in cloudiness. What might have caused such a change? Well, one possibility is the sudden shift to more frequent El Nino events (and fewer La Nina events) since the 1970s. That shift also coincided with a change in another climate index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

The associated warming in Alaska was sudden, and at the same time we just happened to start satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice. Coincidences do happen, you know.that's why we have a word for them.

We make a big deal out of the "unprecedented" 2007 opening of the Northwest Passage as summertime sea ice in the Arctic Ocean gradually receded, yet the very warm 1930s in the Arctic also led to the Passage opening in the 1940s. Of course, we had no satellites to measure the sea ice back then.

So, since we cannot explore the possibility of a natural source for some of our warming, due to a lack of data, scientists instead explore what we have measured: manmade greenhouse gas emissions. And after making some important assumptions about how clouds and water vapor (the main greenhouse components of the atmosphere) respond to the extra carbon dioxide, scientists can explain all of the recent warming.

Never mind that there is some evidence indicating that it was just as warm during the Medieval Warm Period. While climate change used to be natural, apparently now it is entirely manmade. But a few of us out there in the climate research community are rattling our cages. In the August 2007 Geophysical Research Letters, my colleagues and I published some satellite evidence for a natural cooling mechanism in the tropics that was not thought to exist. Called the "Infrared Iris" effect, it was originally hypothesized by Prof. Richard Lindzen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

By analyzing six years of data from a variety of satellites and satellite sensors, we found that when the tropical atmosphere heats up due to enhanced rainfall activity, the rain systems there produce less cirrus cloudiness, allowing more infrared energy to escape to space. The combination of enhanced solar reflection and infrared cooling by the rain systems was so strong that, if such a mechanism is acting upon the warming tendency from increasing carbon dioxide, it will reduce manmade global warming by the end of this century to a small fraction of a degree. Our results suggest a "low sensitivity" for the climate system.

What, you might wonder, has been the media and science community response to our work? Absolute silence. No doubt the few scientists who are aware of it consider it interesting, but not relevant to global warming. You see, only the evidence that supports the theory of manmade global warming is relevant these days.

The behavior we observed in the real climate system is exactly opposite to how computerized climate models that predict substantial global warming have been programmed to behave. We are still waiting to see if any of those models are adjusted to behave like the real climate system in this regard.

And our evidence against a "sensitive" climate system does not end there. In another study (conditionally accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate) we show that previously published evidence for a sensitive climate system is partly due to a misinterpretation of our observations of climate variability. For example, when low cloud cover is observed to decrease with warming, this has been interpreted as the clouds responding to the warming in such a way that then amplifies it. This is called "positive feedback," which translates into high climate sensitivity.

But what if the decrease in low clouds were the cause, rather than the effect, of the warming? While this might sound like too simple a mistake to make, it is surprisingly difficult to separate cause and effect in the climate system. And it turns out that any such non-feedback process that causes a temperature change will always look like positive feedback. Something as simple as daily random cloud variations can cause long-term temperature variability that looks like positive feedback, even if in reality there is negative feedback operating.

The fact is that so much money and effort have gone into the theory that mankind is 100 percent responsible for climate change that it now seems too late to turn back. Entire careers (including my own) depend upon the threat of global warming. Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes.

While it takes only one scientific paper to disprove a theory, I fear that no amount of evidence will be able to counter what everyone now considers true. If tomorrow the theory of manmade global warming were proved to be a false alarm, one might reasonably expect a collective sigh of relief from everyone. But instead there would be cries of anguish from vested interests.

About the only thing that might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling.or at least, very little warming. We have now had at least six years without warming, and no one really knows what the future will bring. And if warming does indeed end, I predict that there will be no announcement from the scientific community that they were wrong. There will simply be silence. The issue will slowly die away as Congress reduces funding for climate change research.

Oh, there will still be some diehards who will continue to claim that warming will resume at any time. And many will believe them. Some folks will always view our world as a fragile, precariously balanced system rather than a dynamic, resilient one. In such a world-view, any manmade disturbance is by definition bad. Forests can change our climate, but people aren't allowed to.

It is unfortunate that our next generation of researchers and teachers is being taught to trust emotions over empirical evidence. Polar bears are much more exciting than the careful analysis of data. Social and political ends increasingly trump all other considerations. Science that is not politically correct is becoming increasingly difficult to publish. Even science reporting has become more sensationalist in recent years.

I am not claiming that all of our recent warming is natural. But the extreme reluctance for most scientists to even entertain the possibility that some of it might be natural suggests to me that climate research has become corrupted. I fear that the sloppy practice of climate change science will damage our discipline for a long time to come.


Sea Levels: The background

Post below lifted from Prof Stott. See the original for links and graphics

Today, I present a simple primer on world sea-level change through geological time. How we need such a perspective:

(a) Sea-level is never stable, globally, regionally, or locally. It is always rising or falling, sometimes both, with movements in either direction changing ecologies and, during human times, economies. The causes of sea-level change are highly complex and multifarious, and include a wide range of geological factors, the thermal expansion and contraction of the oceans, and the altering of the mass balance of land ice;

(b) Over the last 500 million years, during what we call the Phanerozoic, sea-levels have varied by over 400 m, with present-day sea-levels remaining lower than at any time since the Triassic Period (251 to 199 Ma), around 240 million years ago [see graph here]. World sea-levels were at their peak during the Ordovician Period (488 to 443 Ma), especially in what is known as the Tremadocian (488.3 1.7 to c. 478.6 1.7 Ma), when marine transgressions were the greatest for which there is evidence preserved in rocks;

(c) The graph above (top) presents sea-level change over the last 22,000 years, since the peak of the most recent glacial episode [the vertical axis is in (m)]. Since the `Last Glacial Maximum', sea-level has risen by over 120 m, with a significant meltwater pulse (known as `Meltwater Pulse 1A') from deglaciation at 14.7 - 14.2 thousand years ago [to see a larger version of this graph with full axes, go here];

(d) The following graph, below, shows sea-level change at a more detailed level over the last 9,000 years, during what we call the Holocene:

Sea-level continued to rise rapidly until around 7,000 years ago, when the rate of change significantly slowed. Overall, sea-level during the Holocene has risen by more than 14 m, a fifth of the change taking place more erratically, and more slowly, during the last 7,000 years;

(e) This slow, uneven sea-level rise has continued during the last 150 years, as can be seen here, which has witnessed a rise of around 20 cm. This probably represents a very tiny spurt following the end (c.1880) of the period known as the `Little Ice Age';

(f) The change in global mean sea-level predicted by a number of `global warming' models, following `business-as-usual' emissions scenarios and acknowledging the full uncertainty bar, ranges from 10 cm to 80 cm during the next 100 years (see here).

Thus to summarize: seal-level always changes; in geological terms, sea-level remains at its lowest for the last 240 million years, despite a rise during the last 22,000 years of around 120 m; current sea-level is rising in cms per hundred years, and this trend is likely to continue, with or without `global warming', although it may slow if we enter a new cooling phase; any bigger changes will be in millennia; regional and local effects of sea-level change will remain complex, varying as described in a previous posting: `Ups and Downs of Sea-Levels' (March 7).

I believe no further comment is necessary. There is nothing like a bit of perspective, is there?

Americans Cool to Global Warming Action, New Poll Finds

Nearly Half Wouldn't Be Willing to Pay Even a Penny More for Gasoline; Opposition to Taxes Especially Strong Among Minorities

Forty-eight percent of Americans are unwilling to spend even a penny more in gasoline taxes to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new nationwide survey released today by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The poll found just 18% of Americans are willing to pay 50 cents or more in additional taxes per gallon of gas to reduce greenhouse emissions. U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, has called for a 50 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 33% of the U.S.'s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Over 60% of these emissions - or about 20% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions - result from burning gasoline in personal automobiles. "With one-fifth of all U.S. CO2 emissions coming from light trucks and cars, any serious effort to significantly reduce U.S. emissions would have to encourage fuel conservation in personal automobiles," said David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "But almost half of all Americans oppose spending more for gasoline, despite polls indicating wide public concern over global warming. These results suggest Americans' concern may not be as deep as we've been led to believe."

Opposition to increased gasoline taxes was especially strong among minorities, with 53% of African-Americans indicating they are unwilling to pay higher gas taxes in any amount. Eighty-four percent of blacks and 78% of Hispanics opposed paying an additional 50 cents or more for their gasoline. "It's not surprising that minorities oppose higher gas taxes in large numbers, as such taxes are sharply regressive, harming the economically-disadvantaged disproportionately," said Ridenour. "An extra $300 per year in taxes means little to someone making $100,000 annually. When you're just getting by, it can mean not having enough for food, rent or utility bills."

Voters were told: "Congress is currently considering legislation that would raise the tax on gasoline in an attempt to motivate Americans to conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions." They were asked to indicate how much more they'd be willing to pay on top of what they already pay in gasoline taxes. They were given seven choices: nothing, less than 50 cents, 50 cents, one dollar, two dollars, five dollars, eight dollars or more.

Eighteen percent indicated they are willing to pay an additional 50 cents per gallon of gas or more; eight percent indicated they're willing to spend a dollar or more and just 2% said they're willing to spend $2 or more.

"Congressman Dingell's proposal to raise gas taxes by 50 cents per gallon appears to be dead-on-arrival as far as the public is concerned. Even if it wasn't, Dingell's proposal is too modest to encourage any meaningful fuel conservation," said Ridenour. "Europeans routinely pay between $4 and $5 per gallon of gas in taxes and their fuel appetite continues to grow nevertheless. Just 1% of Americans are willing to spend an additional $5 dollars or more. Republicans are willing to do so by a 3 to 1 margin over Democrats."

Opposition to any gas tax hike was strongest in the Great Lakes, home of the automakers and Congressman John Dingell, at 56%, followed by New England (51%) and the Farm Belt (50%). Opposition grew once respondents were informed that eliminating passenger cars in the United States altogether would only reduce world emissions by a fraction.

Among those who indicated they are willing to pay more for gasoline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 58% indicated that they are less willing to do so, and 42% much less willing, when informed their sacrifice would produce little positive results. "Many global warming polls ask the wrong questions," said Ridenour. "We shouldn't ask Americans if action is needed on global warming, but how much more they're willing to pay for that action. We need to also ask whether people would still be willing to pay more, given the almost certain futility of it."



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


21 March, 2008

The "Mystery" of Global Warming's Missing Heat

Article below from the Left-leaning NPR. The only mystery is why they think there is a mystery -- since global atmospheric temperatures have in fact been flat overall in the last 10 years. They are confused by their own propaganda

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them. This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans. "There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on. That becomes clear when you consider what's happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That's a lot.

Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. "But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says. One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded - and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys. But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet. That can't be directly measured at the moment, however. [A huge admission!] "Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says.

It's also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it's possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about. It's an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate. "I suspect that we'll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis [Statistical jiggery-pokery, here we come!]," Trenberth says. "But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board."

Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat. [Indeed!]


Dams are saving the planet!

Greenies hate dams so they won't like this:

Water held in man-made reservoirs is masking the true extent of sea level rise from melting ice and thermal expansion, report scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers, from the National Central University in Taiwan, calculate that sea levels would be 30 mm (1.2 inches) higher without water stored behind dams.

The findings are significant in that they increase by a third the annual rise in sea levels observed since 1961, from 1.8 mm to 2.4 mm. Rising sea levels have been attributed to thermal expansion of warming sea water and melting of polar ice caps and glaciers. According to the University of Colorado at Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, about 60 percent of total global sea rise from ice loss can be attributed to glaciers and ice caps, 28 percent from Greenland, and 12 percent from Antarctica.

Last year the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that global warming would cause oceans to rise 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) by 2100, though some scientists said the estimates were too low due to other sources of melt. Their criticism found support in the latest study which suggests that IPCC figures are indeed underestimates.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC said it could account for only 1.1 mm of the observed annual sea level rise of 1.8 mm from 1961 to 2003. It attributed 0.4 mm of rise to thermal expansion and 0.7 mm to melting ice. Overall global average sea level rose about 17 centimeters last century.

The Taiwanese researchers used the International Commission on Large Dams' World Register of Dams to calculate the volume of water - some 10,800 cubic kilometers (2,600 cubic miles) - that is stored in more than 29,000 reservoirs worldwide. They then used data on when dams were built to calculate annual sea level rise had water not been retained by dams. They found that sea levels would have climbed by an "essentially constant" 2.46 millimeters per year over the past eight decades.



Global warming is the gift that keeps on giving to climate hysterics. For those already pre-disposed to being anti-western, anti-development, anti-growth, anti-capitalist and most of all, anti-U.S., it's the perfect propaganda tool. After all, as they screech, the survival of the Earth itself is at stake and they alone are on the side of the angels. They alone care about the legacy we will leave our grandchildren. To this crowd, the rest of us are "climate deniers," in a league with the devil, in the pay of Big Oil and out to destroy ... uh ... ourselves.

Even better for climate hysterics, they will never be called to account for their simple-minded campaign to demonize fossil fuels, which is aimed more at arbitrarily controlling human behaviour -- and for so-called "green" politicians, raising taxes -- than reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That's because everyone alive today will be dead long before we know how much of the scientific "consensus" on global warming is correct.

Over the short term -- and when talking about climate change, this means considerably longer than the life span of everyone now on the planet -- we know that no matter what we do, GHG emissions, which are cumulative and last for anywhere from 50 to thousands of years in the atmosphere, will continue to rise for many decades, along with global temperatures. That would be true even if we were reducing emissions now, which, for all the shouting, we aren't. But beyond that -- and that there will be a significant impact on climate, and us -- the scientific "consensus" touted by climate hysterics abruptly ends.


There are huge unknowns, competing theories and debates within the scientific community about what will happen, where, when and how severe. The insistence of climate hysterics (and opportunistic politicians) that the debate over anthropogenic global warming is "over" -- aimed at replacing rational decision-making with "do as we say" diktats -- is laughable. If it's "over," why are governments still spending billions of our tax dollars researching it, dwarfing anything spent by the fossil fuel industry, which climate hysterics would have us believe is funding anyone who doesn't bow before them? The reason for all this publicly funded research is because of all that we don't know.

But what we do know is that what the hysterics claim, that virtually any weather phenomenon today is "proof" of man-made climate change -- harsh winters, mild winters, dry spells, wet spells, more snow, less snow, heat waves, cold snaps, you name it -- is nonsense. The climate is always changing and was changing long before we arrived. Plus, weather isn't climate, something hysterics (and pseudo-green media) mention when it suits them, ignore when it doesn't.

Ultimately, responding to global warming is a political issue. In that context, as retired U.S. foreign service officers Teresa Chin Jones (who holds a doctorate in chemistry) and David T. Jones, wrote perceptively in their 2007 article "The Zen of Global Warming":
"It appears that every generation needs a holier-than-thou, ideological mantra ... with which to wrap themselves virtuously, while belabouring their opponents as the political equivalent of demonically possessed ...

"Pick your weapon/words and come out slanging. In this regard, the Kyoto agreement and global warming have become among the most knife-edged shibboleths of the current culture wars.

"To complicate matters, global warming and its political surrogate (the Kyoto accord) appear to have become aspects of bilateral differentiation between nations -- distinguishing the moral, environmentally-conscious, energy-conserving Kyoto cultists, from the right-wing, gun-toting yahoos and Kyoto-deniers epitomized by the United States."


They argue for a pragmatic approach -- energy conservation and industrial innovation to develop alternative energy sources, based on the precautionary principle that, regardless of global warming theory, we know the Earth's population is increasing and that non-renewable energy sources (oil, coal, natural gas) are precisely that -- non-renewable. "In short, we do not need a new 'Crusade'," they conclude, "but rather, a new Industrial Revolution."

Exactly. One based on technological innovation, that climate hysterics -- their Luddite heads filled with dangerous notions that humanity can be returned to a pre-industrial, pastoral state -- will fight every step of the way. Ironic, isn't it?


The Jevons' Paradox

By emeritus professor Philip Stott

"It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth." [William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882)]

It is widely assumed that the more efficient use of a resource (e.g. energy or fuel) will automatically reduce both the consumption of that resource and consumption in general. This belief has fueled a widespread current trope that increasing energy efficiency is a no-brainer, whatever one thinks about global warming. But how valid is such an argument?

In 1865, the Liverpool-born logician and economist, William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882) [above], wrote an influential book, entitled The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines (London: Macmillan & Co). Jevons observed that the consumption of coal rose rapidly after James Watt had introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which much improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomens earlier designs. Watts innovations made coal a more cost effective source of power, leading to an increased use of the steam engine in a wider range of industries. This in turn increased total coal consumption, even though the amount of coal required for any particular application dropped through efficiency gains.

This phenomenon has become known as Jevons Paradox, and we hear remarkably little about it these days. Indeed, somewhat paradoxically, it appears to be the last thing politicians would like us to contemplate. The basic paradox goes thus: any increase in the efficiency with which energy is employed will cause a concomitant decrease in the price or cost of that resource when measured in terms of work done. Thus, with a lower price/cost per unit of work, more work will be purchased. This additional work need not be for the same product, as it was with Jevons coal, but it may be displaced into the purchase of new product ranges or work. To put it simply: if I save money by insulating my home, I may use those savings to buy an additional computer, a patio heater, or holiday abroad. The degree of additional work, or displacement, will depend above all on the price elasticity of demand.

Thus, the more a government subsides so-called energy efficiency, the more I shall be able to use the money saved to buy further energy-using goods and services, which may well increase my overall energy demand. If my car is more energy efficient, I may well decide that I can make many more journeys.

The assumption that Homo oeconomicus will adopt energy efficiency for its own sake, and for an indeterminate good promoted by politicians, flies in the face of normal economic behaviour. Homo oeconomicus will embrace energy efficiency above all to release resources for increased overall and wider consumption.

Thus, Jevons remains highly relevant today. What is also of interest is the fact that Jevons was, fundamentally, a Malthusian, who was deeply worried about the peaking of coal, just as we are of the peaking of oil:

I must point out the painful fact that such a rate of growth will before long render our consumption of coal comparable with the total supply. In the increasing depth and difficulty of coal mining we shall meet that vague, but inevitable boundary that will stop our progress.

Yet, Jevons fell into a typical Malthusian elephant-trap, believing that petroleum would not become a significant energy source, and that coal could not be replaced by other forms of energy. Jevons was, of course, proved dramatically wrong over such energy boundaries, just as today. Neo-Malthusians will likewise be found wanting (and, highly paradoxically, it will be partly through the return of King Coal).

Nevertheless, Jevons famous Paradox could well prove the undoing of political pontificating over energy efficiency, as the money saved widens consumption yet further. Indeed, energy efficiency may increase energy use overall. What a Green paradox!



Paul Saunders [] writes:

About children's books presenting the truth about global warming: I heard author Dr. Holly Lippke Fretwell (Adjunct Professor of Natural Resources Management at Montana State University) on the radio discussing her children's book "The Sky's Not Falling!: Why It's Ok to Chill About Global Warming (Paperback)." It is aimed at children 8 years old and older. Judging from her comments on the radio and the publisher's book description, it appears that the book is accurate scientifically. I do not own and have not read her book.

The description is here. From the description:

"The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK To Chill About Global Warming" is for parents sick of seeing their kids indoctrinated by has-been politicians and Hollywood stars. Unlike books written by would-be celebrities without any scientific or economics background, "The Sky's Not Falling" is everything a book about the environment written for kids should be: fact-filled, apolitical, fun and optimistic about the future of our magnificent, ever-changing planet.

In "The Sky's Not Falling," author Holly Fretwell, a natural resources management expert, shows kids ages 8 and up that human ingenuity combined with an "enviropreneurial" spirit will lead us to a bright environmental future, not one where people ruin the earth. '
Dr. Fretwell is an adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

Kenneth Green [] writes:

There is a good balanced book on climate change that a bright fifth-grader should be able to handle. It's a bit out of date, though little has changed at the fundamental level that a kid would learn from: "Global Warming: Understanding the Debate by Kenneth Green.


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20 March, 2008

Russian scientists disown global warming

The report in Russian English below was originally headed: "Global Warming to Serve Politicians". It refers only briefly to a Russian language website and appears to be a response to the Russian site. It would be nice to get a proper translation of the Russian site but I append the Babelfish translation below.

Babelfish translations always have their lighter moments and I like the way "Kyoto" is referred to as "Kiotskiy". Sounds fair to me! "Albert gor" sounds an improvement on Al Gore too! The Russian spokesman seems to be saying at one point that they are fortunate in Russia not to have the computing power which would enable them to waste their time on "models".

I rather agree with that. I have often noted that poor raw data is commonly associated with very complex statistics in published research reports in my own field. I have never been much persuaded by such reports. It's usually a case of putting lipstick on a pig -- with apologies to my providers of bacon.

I would be cautious of the word "officially" in the article below. Nothing is official in Russia until Vlad says so. But the great skepticism of Russian scientists in the matter is well-known. If it is confirmed that the Russian Academy of Sciences officially rejects the IPCC conclusions, it would be a real blow to the IPCC. Regardless of what is true of Russia's government, there is nothing wrong with Russia's scientists

Russian Academy of Sciences officially claims main reasons of global warming are totally different from that announced by UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Experts of IPCC's working group concluded that main reason of global climate warming was emission of various greenhouse gases. Such a conclusion was reported during a press-conference by one of the research supervisors, who based his words on numerous research results and mathematical modeling of climate changes.

IPCC's report describes in detail possible effects of climatic changes on environment, human beings and society and predicts further changes, as well as suggests some mitigation measures. The essence of suggested "therapy" is lowering greenhouse gases' emissions. IPCC experts calculated that as little as 0.5% of world GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would be enough for development and assimilation of technologies, allowing decrease of gaseous emissions in 2030 (reaching figures of 1990).

Experts claim reducing greenhouse gases' emissions is not very difficult: Russian emissions lost 37% compared to emissions of 1990. However, UN officials forget to mention that new technologies have nothing to do with such an abrupt emission drop - this effect was due to steep fall of total production and long-term economic stagnation. Some experts admit that developing countries, e.g. China and India, can develop their economy and at the same time reduce greenhouse gases' emissions only when receiving funds from abroad. IPCC's working group expresses confidence that energy-saving technologies allow Russian industry to put down the use of natural gas for 230 million cubic meters per year. As for funds for such technological breakthrough, experts suggest to withdraw them from housing and public utilities by canceling some state subsidies.

IPCC's experts emphasize that Kyoto Protocol promotes introduction of energy-saving technologies and development of alternative power engineering, however they fail to explain how fulfilling the protocol can reduce greenhouse gases' emissions, since only 161 countries, responsible for 61% of world emissions, ratified Kyoto Protocol as of February 2006. Other scientists claim this share of 61% would reduce due to rapid development of China, India and other countries, which do not participate in Kyoto Protocol.

UN experts commented nonconcurrence of their conclusions with point of view of researchers from Russian Academy of Sciences, who tend to think that main reasons of global warming lie in natural factors. IPCC's working group said they have done an enormous work on mathematical modeling, considering many climatic parameters, and Russian Academy of Sciences had neither computers, nor models to make right conclusions.

We would like to remind our readers that UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 together with former US vice-president Albert Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".


Babelfish translation of the Russian language website follows:

Global warming on the service of the politicians

The conclusions about the basic reason for the global warming of climate, made an intergovernmental appraisal group for climate variation with THE UNITED NATIONS (MGEIK), do not coincide with the official position in this question of the Russian academy of sciences.

The experts of working group MGEIK (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC) came to the conclusion that the basic reason for global warming - emission of greenhouse gases. On this Igor bashmakov reported at the press conference in RIA- news one of the authors of report. According to him, this conclusion is based on the results of the studies, carry ouied by hundred scientific different countries of peace, and the analysis of the mathematical models of climate variation.

In the report, prepared BY MGEIK to 2007, are in detail described the possible consequences of climate variation - for nature, man and society as a whole, the forecast of its further change is made and measures for the softening of its consequences are proposed. Essence of these measures - reduction in the ejections of greenhouse gases. As it reported another author of the report Of kirsten Of khalsnes (Denmark), according to the calculations of group, it will be required only by 0,5% world VLADIMIR PUTIN for development and introducing the technologies, which make it possible to 2030 to attain reduction in the ejections to the level of 1990.

Igor bashmakov noted that stated problem of attaining not too it is difficult: "today in Russia the emission of greenhouse gases they decreased by 37% in comparison with 1990", he said. However, it did not refine that this decrease occurred not due to the introduction of new technologies, but due to sharp drop in the total volume of production in our country and prolonged economic stagnation. Kirsten Of khalsnes recognized that the developing countries, such as China and India, can develop their economy, simultaneously decreasing the ejections of greenhouse gases only with the condition of financing their economy because of the boundary.

Igor bashmakov expressed confidence that in Russia it is possible to reduce the consumption of natural gas on 230 million cu. m per year due to the energy-saving technologies. Where to take money for the introduction of these technologies, explained one additional author of report, the economist Aleksandr Novikov based on the example ZHKKH. In its opinion, this it would be possible to make due to the means, isolated today by state on the subsidy.

Igor bashmakov emphasized that to the introduction of energy-saving technologies and to the development of alternative power engineering contributes The kiotskiy protocol; however, I could not explain, as its fulfillment will make it possible to dostich' the stated goals on reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases, if one considers that as of on 14 February, 2006, the protocol was ratified by 161 country of peace, which are together critical approximately only for 61% of world-wide ejections. And this portion, apparently, will decrease, takeing into account the high rates of the development of such countries as China and India, which are not participants In the kiotskogo protocol.

"Kiotskiy protocol - this is the trial step, which will help us to understand that they can make several states, and such countries as China, they will pass to the energy-saving technologies and without The kiotskogo protocol", he said.

With it did not agree Kirsten Of khalsnes, which noted that The kiotskiy protocol "created many economic initiatives and allowed many countries to improve economic indices".

Relative to the noncoincidence of conclusions for the basic reason for global climate variation in the working group MGEIK and the scientific Russian academies of sciences, which consider that the present warming up bears natural nature, Igor bashmakov he said that "experts MGEIK they made many calculations they built the mathematical models, which consider many climatic parameters... in our academy of sciences there is neither such models nor such computers, on which them it was possible to cheat in counting".

Let us recall that the intergovernmental appraisal group for climate variation was honored the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007, which it subdivided with the former Vice President OF THE USA Albert gor. As said in the official communication of Nobel committee, so high award MGEIK it was honored "for the efforts and the work for the propagation of knowledge about climate variations and the adoption of measures for purposes of the suppression of the propagation of negative processes".


One estimate of the cost of the 18 new green taxes announced by Alistair Darling to save the planet was 3 billion pounds a year. But this is only the start of it. We already pay out 3 billion a year through our electricity bills, for the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme and the "renewables obligation", which obliges us to pay a 100 per cent subsidy to wind turbine companies for the derisory amount of electricity they produce (and all to save not a milligram of CO2 emissions, which continue to rise EU-wide almost as fast as our taxes).

This 6 billion may seem peanuts compared with Mr Darling's terrifying 43 billion budget deficit, but it still amounts to 255 for every household in the country.

Throw in such other items as airline taxes and those fatuous Home Information Packs (required by yet another EU directive aimed at global warming), and the price we are to pay for "fighting climate change" seems set to rise as exponentially as talk about CO2 emissions. It is just as well that the last two months have shown one of the sharpest drops in global temperatures ever recorded.

But if the warming panic does turn out to be no more than a colossal scare, what justification will Darling and Co find for hoicking our taxes still higher in the future - just as the global economy seems about to plunge into its deepest recession for 70 years?



An email from Jeremy Nicholson [], Director - Energy Intensive Users Group

Readers might be interested to see this consultant's report, comissioned by the UK government, which estimates the cost of attempting to meet the EU target for 20% of energy consumption to be met by renewables by 2020. Their conclusions are sobering:

"The Central Case least cost scenario estimates the efficient annual incremental cost of meeting the target in 2020 to be EUR18.8bn, with the lifetime cost of the policy (the 'lifetime costs') being EUR259bn."

"The incremental abatement cost in 2020 is EUR49/tCO2 and EUR82/tCO2 in the UK, with the incremental cost in the transport sector being an order of magnitude higher (EUR276/tCO2 for the EU and EUR259/tCO2)"


BRITAIN'S greenhouse gas emissions are 12% higher than claimed by Labour, according to an investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO). The report could undermine Gordon Brown's claims to be creating a low-carbon economy.

The NAO analysis, published this weekend, says Labour's figures exclude aviation, shipping, British businesses operating abroad and emissions caused by Britons holidaying overseas. This makes Britain's emission figures seem artificially low. It also warns taxpayers face a 5 billion pound bill from 2010 to 2020 because government failures in meeting greenhouse emissions reduction targets mean it will have to buy carbon credits from overseas.

The government has claimed that in 2005 Britain generated greenhouse gases equivalent to 656m tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). The NAO report suggests the real figure is closer to 733m tonnes. It also contradicts Labour's claims that CO2 emissions have fallen 6.4% since 1990.

This weekend Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative shadow environment secretary, accused the government of "Enron-style accounting" and said he would raise the issue during debates on the Climate Change Bill in parliament this week.

The NAO conducted the probe following concern over the way in which the government maintains two sets of accounts to measure changes in greenhouse gas emissions. The figures quoted publicly by Brown and other ministers are all drawn from the so-called Kyoto accounting system, allowing the government to claim the lower emissions figure. The term "equivalent" is used because the figure include CO2 plus five other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. They are all added together and expressed in terms of CO2 equivalents for the sake of convenience.

Since CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas, the government often focuses on it alone. The NAO report points out, however, that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) maintains its own environmental accounts which measure the same gases but use stricter Treasury accounting rules. The NAO report states: "For 2005 the environmental accounts reported total greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 733m tonnes of CO2." Referring to CO2 alone, it added: "Our figures demonstrate that there have been no reductions in UK CO2 emissions if measured on the basis of the environmental accounts."

Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, said: "It makes no sense to exclude shipping and aviation from the figures for Britain's emissions. They are vital parts of the British economy which are growing fast."

The NAO is particularly concerned about the government's decision to abandon targets for cutting domestic emissions and to rely instead on carbon credits purchased from overseas.

Last week the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Climate Change Bill to prevent the government using carbon credits to meet more than 30% of its carbon reduction targets. The government plans to reverse this amendment.


Rabbit fish key to saving Australia's Great Barrier Reef

What? We don't have to stop global warming after all?

A RAVENOUS weed-eating fish might be the key to saving large sections of the Great Barrier Reef from destruction, scientists say. Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University researcher Professor David Bellwood said new research had shown the herbivorous rabbit fish - capable of stripping an area of vegetation - could fight coral-stifling weeds. "When a coral reef is weakened or damaged through human activity such as climate change or pollution or by a natural disaster like a cyclone, the coral will usually recover provided it is not choked by fast-growing marine algae," Prof Bellwood said.

"The problem is that over the years we have fished down the populations of fish that normally feed on the young weed to such a degree that the weed is no longer kept in check - it can now smother the young corals and take over." He said the chances of coral re-establishing itself after such an event were small.

But in a video study in which different fish were observed grazing in overgrown areas of the reef, schools of rabbit fish (Siganus canaliculatus) were seen chomping away at 10 times the rate of other weed-eaters. "To our surprise and disappointment, the fish that usually mow the reef - parrot fish and surgeon fish - were of little help ... then, to our even greater surprise, a fish we had never seen in this area before was observed grazing on the weed," Prof Bellwood said. He said the brown, bland-looking fish had been overlooked in the past but could be an important protector of the reef.

But he said it was important other herbivores were protected so they could work alongside the rabbit fish. "In Australia these herbivore fish populations are still in fairly good shape, but around the world as the big predators are fished out, local fishermen are targeting the herbivores," he said. "In Hawaii, the Caribbean, Indonesia, Micronesia and French Polynesia there are reports of serious declines in herbivore numbers of up to 90 per cent. "By killing them, we may be unwittingly eliminating the very thing which enables coral reefs to bounce back from the sort of shocks which human activity exposes them to."



An email from Maggie Thauerskold []

You might want to take a look on my blog - The Climate Scam. A Swedish version of it (since I am Swedish) has existed for over a year, but I recently decided to go international. I would be very happy if you could forward this link.


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


19 March, 2008

A must-read

There is a HUGE article here by an atmospheric physicist called: "The Great Global Warming Hoax?". I am almost inclined to put nothing else up here today in order to encourage people to have a look at it. But I won't do that, of course. There are so many other interesting comments to take note of. See below:

The South African example: A warning

An email from Will Alexander []. He says that the mismanaged South African electricity supply gives a picture of what Greenie attacks on power generation could lead to in other countries:

The following are extracts from a front page article in the Pretoria News of 14 March. They describe the action that the South African authorities intend taking to reduce our national electricity demand by 10 %. These measures are likely to continue for the next five years at least.


The gloves are off in the battle to get South Africans to cut electricity consumption. Eskom yesterday announced far reaching load shedding implications to force key industrial, commercial and municipal customers to reduce power usage ahead of the unpredictable winter period.

Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga said the power utility would introduce power rationing, which involves scheduled load shedding for consumers who cannot prove that they reduced power consumption by the targeted 10% - a total of 3000 megawatts across the board.

The new power rationing phase will be introduced on March 31. Rotational load shedding [on a municipal basis] will occur between 6am and 10pm, for no more than two hours on average, every second day. Maroga said their aim was to get power consumption stabilised through penalties, monetary incentives and power conservation.

He was hoping that the planned increase in electricity costs and power rationing would change consumer's behaviour. He said the system had stabilized since January's extensive load shedding process but he could not rule out a national blackout because the system was "vulnerable".

Eskom also plans emergency load shedding (which is determined by its capacity and system), pre-emptive load shedding (done to enforce savings and reduction in consumption) and power conservation. Power conservation will entail penalties and sanctions for exceeding the allocated quota for energy consumption and incentives for saving energy.

"This is a steep target but we are asking South Africans to take an uncomfortable stance" said Maroga.
Given this information, how can any sane person believe that it is politically feasible for any country in the world to enforce similar action on all energy users, especially domestic users, with the sole purpose of reducing undesirable greenhouse gas emissions in situations where alternative sources of energy other than nuclear, are not available on the required scale?


The IPCC has been in existence for 20 years. Yet there is still no scientifically believable evidence of the claimed adverse consequences of human activities. In South Africa alone there have been no floods or droughts during this period that exceeded the historical maxima. Claims of increased desertification and loss of our unique plant and animal species are demonstrably false. Sea levels are not rising along our coasts. Yet as a result of rising populations African nations are increasingly vulnerable to natural climatic extremes. Blaming these extremes on human activities and proclaiming that they are therefore avoidable is false and misleading. This in turn can lead to increasing political instability in African countries when disasters occur and governments are blamed for doing nothing to avoid them.


South Africa has become the first nation in the world to suffer the consequences of large scale energy reduction measures and the unintended, consequential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our experience serves as a good example of three major fallacies in the whole climate change issue. The first is that propagated in the Stern Review. According to the Review, the costs of not taking action to reduce emissions will exceed the costs of implementing them. The South African experience demonstrates the opposite. All levels of our society are suffering economically from these restrictive measures while there is not a scrap of evidence of adverse economical or environmental consequences if our activities had continued without interruption.

The second fallacy is that affluent developed nations would be prepared to assist developing countries technologically and financially to implement emissions control measures. This would neither resolve South Africa's present difficulties nor reduce our future contribution to adverse global climate change.

The third fallacy is that of adaptation to the consequences of unnatural climate changes. How can South Africa adapt to something that does not exist and is unlikely to occur in future? Not a single one of the alarmist predictions for southern Africa in the Stern Review and the IPCC reports is based on routine data published by the responsible authorities.

Underlying all three fallacies is the failure to appreciate that national scale emissions control measures have severe adverse effects on all levels of society in situations where coal is the major source of energy and carbon capture technology on the required scale does not exist.


While all this is going on, our roads are becoming increasingly congested, our international airports are being expanded, new national airports are on the drawing boards, our unique oil-from-coal manufacturing facilities are being expanded, new open cast coal mines are being developed, and our coal exports are increasing. Above all, the construction of new coal-fired power stations is being accelerated as a matter of urgency. No large scale emissions control measures are contemplated. All of this puts us on a collision course with the UNFCCC, G8 nations and environmentalist pressure groups who blindly believe in unproven climate alarmist theory and the means to combat it.


Many of us with broader visions are increasingly concerned that an unstable situation is developing internationally. This could result in trade wars and east-west conflicts with Africa in the middle. It is only a matter of time before this whole climate change charade is exposed. It will be interesting to see how the EU and UK in particular extricate themselves from this situation. They will not only lose face, but also lose international faith in their integrity and motives.

Book Review: "Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Energy Independence'" by Robert Bryce

I no longer question my sanity. Robert Bryce's book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence," provides THE much needed voice of reason in a cacophony of idiocy, ignorance, ideology, and isolationism.

I have been an energy policy wonk in Washington, DC for over 25 years, even founding and running energy policy think tanks for the last decade. Yet I found myself perplexed by much of what I heard being bandied about regarding energy policy. None of the public dialogue made any sense to me. Both Republicans and Democrats favored senseless interventions into energy markets, albeit for different reasons (R's for national security and D's for environment). The only thing the two parties could agree on was doling out pork to favored constituencies. Nearly everyone in public life embraced the ridiculous mantra of "energy independence."

I searched in vain for a hard hitting, top-to-bottom analysis of energy policy from a market perspective. Something Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek might endorse. I searched feverously for a book that would represent my world view. I found mostly apocalyptic screeds with titles like the End of Oil or Blood and Oil or Powerdown or Carbon War (about 35 such "sky is falling" titles are available on since only 2000).

It is against this gloomy backdrop that I read Bryce's Gusher of Lies. It is by far the best energy policy book in the last decade and that is because I am too lazy to go back farther. Bryce is a journalist and he explains his views in the easy to understand, down to earth manner that we expect from journalists. But unlike many journalists, he is amazingly comprehensive and detailed in his analysis. He has an economist's command of the salient facts and interconnections but writes in a lucid and comprehensible manner. Given the complexity of energy, this is no easy feat.

Interestingly, Bryce is no market ideologue (I plead guilty) so I doubt I will run across him at the next meeting of the vast right wing conspiracy. His bona fides are left of center. As America's leading energy journalist, his last two books were Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, where he excoriates the Bush Administration for its cozy relationship with Enron, and Cronies: Oil, The Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate, where his words drip with venom for the abuses of Republicans, especially the Bush Clan.

Despite his leanings, he wholeheartedly accepts John Adams' admonition that "facts are stubborn things" and Daniel Moynihan's lament that "you're not entitled to your own facts" and Dragnet's Sergeant Friday's "just the facts, ma'am." Admittedly, ideological tracts on markets and the perniciousness of government intervention get my adrenaline spiking but it is refreshing to see your ideology vindicated by such a cogent marshalling of the facts.

He obliterates much of the idiocy that passes for main stream views of energy. A couple of his nuggets: oil imports are not a problem, they are a solution; even assuming that climate change is anthropogenic, many of the proposals are just silly money wasters; wind energy, solar, and ethanol are not going to solve any of our problems; let price play its legitimate role; and why lowering electric demand is folly.

His chapter 21 lays out a host of very common sense (based on the facts as they are not as we wish them to be) proposals: get government out of the energy business; accept interdependence of energy supplies, especially oil; accept increasing energy use and adapt to a changing global climate; develop technologies that use solar, nuclear, and encourage efficient consumption; increase domestic supplies and rely more heavily on natural gas.

My only lament is that many of the policy makers who pontificate on energy will not take the time to read such a comprehensive treatment of energy. We are the worse for that. Bryce, however, has restored my faith that there are some analysts that see the world clearly, instead of through green colored glasses or wrapped in the flag.


Even the NYT review of "Gusher" is favourable. See below:

After motherhood and apple pie, energy independence probably qualifies as the most popular political slogan in the land. It is, as they say, a no-brainer. Robert Bryce agrees: You have to have no brain to think it is possible or even desirable. In "Gusher of Lies," Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.

With all the gusto of a hunter clubbing baby seals, Mr. Bryce goes after one cherished green belief after another, but he is an equal-opportunity smiter. Having kicked the props from under every green technology in sight, he goes after the political right. The current administration and its neoconservative allies, he argues, have made energy independence part of the war on terror, a moral and tactical blunder. "Energy independence, at its root, means protectionism and isolationism, both of which are in direct opposition to America's long-term interests in the Persian Gulf and globally," he writes.

Mr. Bryce begins coolly, then heats up and eventually approaches core meltdown. In a perspective-setting opening chapter, he reviews the history and current state of energy needs in the United States, whose situation is not nearly as desperate, he argues, as one might think. Yes, the United States depends on foreign oil and natural gas, as it has for many decades, but only 11 percent of its oil came from the Persian Gulf in 2005. It imports 80 percent of its semiconductors and 100 percent of strategic minerals like bauxite and manganese.

Oil, Mr. Bryce argues, is simply a commodity. It also costs about the same, in real terms, as it always has. Oil producers need to sell just as badly as customers need to buy. It is undoubtedly true, as President Bush declared, that "America is addicted to oil." To which Mr. Bryce answers, So what? Besides, he writes, "America's appetite is simply too large and the global market is too sophisticated and too integrated for the U.S. to secede."

After clearing the ground, Mr. Bryce gets to work demolishing cherished green beliefs about alternative energy sources. Ethanol, in particular, drives him wild. Fuel derived from corn has channeled billions in subsidies to Midwestern farmers and agribusiness, he writes, despite glaring shortcomings. It is expensive to produce and requires enormous amounts of water when irrigation comes into play. It produces much less energy than gasoline while emitting more pollutants into the air.

Detroit loves ethanol because it can use it to inflate fuel-efficiency ratings on their cars artificially. The mammoth Chevy Suburban, produced as a flex-fuel vehicle capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline, magically boosted its fuel efficiency to 29 miles per gallon from 15, since under federal rules only a vehicle's gasoline consumption need be factored into the equation. Ethanol, in other words, has allowed American car manufacturers to produce more gas guzzlers and contribute to increased imports of foreign oil.

The problem with corn and other alternative fuel sources boils down to cost and output. Fuel made from switch grass, another potential solution to the energy problem, costs a lot to produce, delivers a lot less energy than petroleum and would require, like corn, vast areas of farmland to meet a meaningful percentage of current energy needs. Wind power and solar power have the added drawback of being intermittent and unpredictable. A town that relied entirely on solar or wind power would suffer constant service interruptions and wild fluctuations in output, which is why both technologies must be used in conjunction with traditional fossil-fuel generators.

Mr. Bryce lands one telling blow after another, but he favors a slashing, ad-hominem style of attack that can undercut his credibility, especially when he moves away from economics and technology and ventures into politics, an arena to which he brings no particular expertise. He employs a peculiar, almost actuarial assessment of the risk posed by terrorism, which he compares to random events like lightning strikes. This completely misses the point about the threat posed by radical Islam. Using the word "neocon" seems to be enough, for him, to discredit an argument or an opponent.

Fortunately, the book steers back to the high road at the end, when Mr. Bryce suggests that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, some of it solar-powered. Within modest limits, he argues, solar power can play a bigger role in meeting energy needs, especially with new technology that transforms infrared light into electricity. Algae look promising as a source of biodiesel. The major environmental groups may even, eventually, see the point of nuclear power, "the only sector that has enough momentum and enough capital behind it to make a significant dent in the overall use of fossil fuels."

Mr. Bryce's pet idea, though, is something that does not exist, a superbattery capable of storing large quantities of electricity. As the magic wand to bring this "silver bullet" into existence Mr. Bryce proposes a Superbattery Prize awarded either by the Energy Department or private foundations: $1 billion, say, for a compact, affordable system that can store multiple kilowatt-hours, and $10 billion for a system that can store megawatt-hours. The hard-nosed Mr. Bryce reveals himself in the end as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary. Power to the people.


Green gasbags

Big Media bloviation by The Washington Post and other gasbags about man-made global warming pretends that political science is science. The bias at most news outlets about climate alarmism -- and the indifference about reporting anything that diverges from the alarmist orthodoxy -- can be seen in a Post story on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), as Lorne Gunter of Canada's National Post reminded recently.

The NIPCC is a counterbalance to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which blames man for global warming. Washington Post readers learned the NIPCC has ties to conservative politicians and that the Heartland Institute, which sponsored the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change this month, received money from Big Oil and Big Health Care.

The Washington Post got it half right. Not taking anything at face value is wise, especially regarding such a white-hot issue. But since it's not settled science, both sides should face the same exposure. Skeptics of the Al Gore orthodoxy blaming man must be looked at closely by the media -- and should welcome that to help establish their credentials to a brainwashed public. But Mr. Gore's true believers must be held to the same standard. Science and reason don't generate the hot air produced by politicians and the U.N.


Reduce tax on incomes and put tax on pollution, says Al Gore in India

For rich people like Gore, this system would be a very nice windfall. He pollutes a lot but could pay for it easily from his reduced taxes and still have a lot more left over

Reduce tax on incomes and institute a tax on pollution was a suggestion environmental crusader Al Gore had for India to tackle the issue of global warming effectively. "Reduce tax on employees and employers and put a tax on pollution. The more carbon dioxide one emits the more he pays in taxes," said Gore in an interactive session at the India Today Conclave here on Saturday.

Replying to a question by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Gore also suggested subsidising clean energy generation instead of carbon fuels like kerosene. "Why do you subsidise carbon fuels. Why don't you subsidise solar energy," he asked.

Gore, a former US Vice President, said India can take a leadership role in tackling the issue of global warming. "India has proven its capability in sectors like Information Technology and can be a leader in the world in developing new renewable technologies to combat climate change," said the 2007 Nobel Peace laureate.

Asked whether he would ever run again for becoming the President of the US, he replied in the negative. "I do not expect to be a candidate ever again, said Gore who lost the 2000 US Presidential election to George W. Bush. Gore listed achieving a breakthrough in the deadlocked talks at the Kyoto climate changes conference as his key accomplishment during his tenure as Vice President.

However, he termed as his failure is being unable to convince US Senators to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions he helped clinch 10 years ago.



India is willing to ensure that its green-house gas emissions will not exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries at any time, President Pratibha Patil said on Monday.

The government is also planning a 'National Action Plan on Climate Change', she said in her maiden address to the joint sitting of the Budget session of the Parliament. "India is willing to ensure that its per capita emissions shall at no time exceed the average per capita emissions of developed countries," she said.

The government acted with "urgency" on the issue of climate change and established a 'Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change' to plan and implement appropriate strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, she said.

She said India "constructively" engaged with the international community at the recent Bali Conference on climate change to launch a comprehensive process on long-term cooperative action to deal with this issuance in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Taking a serious note of the pollution of water bodies, the President said that the 'River Conservation Programme' will be revamped to focus on cleaning of major rivers in the country.



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


18 March, 2008

NASA Chief: Global Warming Treated 'Almost As A Religious Issue'

Note: NASA Top Administrator Michael Griffin is an aerospace engineer and physicist, and former head of the Space Department at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory

Last May NASA Administrator Michael Griffin injected himself into the global warming debate by questioning whether addressing the problem required all that much urgency. I recently had a chance to speak with Griffin, (for a full Q&A, see here) and I asked him what he thought about the incredible response those comments generated:

Were you surprised by the widespread, heated response to your global warming comments last May?

I was. I've admitted flat out that I made a mistake there on a couple of levels. I thought I was talking about technical topic, which I find actually very interesting from a technical point of view. I didn't realize it had approached the status where you can't express any sort of a contrary opinion or a comment without it being treated almost as a religious issue. So that's one mistake. The second one was, of course, that it actually doesn't have anything to do with what we do at NASA. Our job is to gather the data, we don't make policy about what you do with the data. By making comments along those lines all I really did is embroil my agency in a controversy in fight that we don't have a dog. So yeah, it was a mistake.

Have you talked to James Hansen since then?

No, Jim has never seen fit to contact me. Jim's done some great work. I have no criticism of it. You could make an argument that a critical mass of climate modeling, of raising climate modeling to become a centerpiece of the Earth Science program, is due to Jim's efforts over the last 30 years. Without that you don't know how to interpret the data which we bring back. What we know is that the Earth's temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Centigrade, plus or minus, in 100 years. And we have pretty good confidence that a good fraction of that is anthropogenic. But exactly how much, and exactly what human activities are doing that, much less certainty. And that's with 100 years of work. So you have to construct theoretical models, and run them on a computer, and anchor those models with data. And the data has got to cover a long period of time with a broad spectrum of observations because they're all interrelated. So the models have to be complex, the data has to be both comprehensive in type and it has to be extensive in time in order to get any real information out of it.

Critics of the models would say they don't meet a number of the criteria you just laid out. Do you think that's right?

I think it is, but where do they expect you to start? I mean, ever heard of walk before you run? You're not going to go from no models to perfect models in one step. It's not going to happen.

Are you comfortable with policy being made based on models that are walking before they're running?

A working definition of management is the art of making good decisions with less information than anyone would like to have. Right. If you have all the information you need to make a decision, than it's not a decision, it's a homework problem. In the real world, policymakers have to make decisions about what levels of pollution are allowable, which things are more or least harmful, how to go about controlling it, and how much money is it worth to control it. Decisions like that have to be made. If you don't make decisions than that is a decision. I was in downtown Beijing a year ago, and their air quality is an example of what happens when you don't make any decision. You can do that and let nature take its course. So when you do that, intellectually what you're saying is that letting nature take its course is better than anything I could do to be different. I tend to think it's better to use the information that you have, from incomplete models and incomplete information, to make with care the best decisions you can. If you're going to wait for perfect accuracy on the research, you'll wait a long time. To deliberately do nothing seems foolish to me. That's a personal opinion.



The EU has just decamped from its most recent summit at which it was to finally agree to those individual country quotas to arrive at their post-2012 promise to reduce GHG emissions, as a group of nations, to 20% below 1990 levels.

Of course, this was the most recent in a series of meetings following on the heels of their most recent promise to announce these quotas, which had been postponed until December 2007 after an inability to agree on individual member state quotas, and was ultimately scuppered.

See, this is where this "world leadership", in making such group-wide promises, at least, gets difficult. Attentive readers will recall German Chancellor Angela Merkel's revealing, possibly too-clever admission to Der Spiegel on March 9, 2007:

Addressing the need for a post-2012 "Burden Sharing Agreement" that assigns real cuts to countries previously given a free-ride, German Chancellor Angela Merkel "admitted that tough negotiations are still ahead. The compromise would be a tough task. The beauty is, Merkel said smiling, that each member state thinks they're a special case. 'That makes us all equal'". (emphasis added)

Apparently all of those special cases are holding out to make sure it's the fellow behind the tree who takes the hit. You will recall the initial promise shared by every EU-15 nation, to reduce emissions by 8% below 1990 levels on average over 2008-12, was abandoned (as is permitted under Kyoto's Article 4) in favor of collectivizing their emissions (it's Europe, remember). This allowed Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others to swap their promise of a reduction into a promise of an often-steep increase, France to trade hers in for a promise of no reduction at all, Italy for a very slightly smaller promise and so on all because of two political decisions preceding and unrelated to Kyoto. Those were the UK's "dash to gas" and shutting down East Germany, for all intents and purposes, after reunification made it smart to replace Soviet-era industrial capacity with cleaner, West German capacity.

Those two "one offs" having been exercised, this leaves European countries stuck with the need to meet their promises of emission reductions with - gasp - actual reductions (or even far more massive wealth transfers to exempt countries like China under the HFC scam, for example).

So, in classic form, they have trumpeted an historic agreement to agree later, this time by December 2008. We'll be waiting.


Hey, Nobel Prize Winners, Answer Me This

By Climatologist Dr. Roy W. Spencer, formerly a senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where he received NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, and currently principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville

As a climate scientist, I would like to see some answers to a few basic global warming science questions which I'm sure the U.N.'s Ministry of Global Warming Truth (also known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) can handle. After all, since they are 90% confident that recent global warming is manmade, they surely must have already addressed these issues:

1) Why are ALL of the 20+ IPCC climate models more sensitive in their total cloud feedback than published estimates of cloud feedbacks in the real climate system (Forster and Gregory, J. Climate, 2006)? If the answer is that "there are huge error bars on our observational estimates of feedback", then doesn't that mean that it is just as likely that the real climate system is very insensitive (making manmade global warming a non-problem) as it is to be as sensitive as the IPCC models claim it is?

2) And regarding those observational estimates of (somewhat) positive cloud feedbacks: How do you know that the cloud changes that have been observed during temperature changes really are "feedbacks"? In other words, how do you know that the temperature changes caused the cloud changes, rather than the other way around? This basic distinction between cause and effect is critical because such a misinterpretation will ALWAYS make the climate system look more sensitive than it really is (e.g., it is energetically impossible for more low clouds to cause a warming). Doesn't it seem like a coincidence that the ONE case were we know that there was a huge non-cloud forcing (the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo) resulted in a negative solar shortwave cloud feedback, whereas all other periods showed supposedly positive shortwave cloud "feedback"?

3) As a follow on to question #2, we all agree that there has been strong global-average warming since the 1970's. Well, how do you know this wasn't the result of a small, natural change in cloud cover? Doesn't it seem like (another) coincidence that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) just happened to shift to a different mode in 1977, about the time that the warming started? (Please don't say that the greater warming over land versus ocean is consistent with manmade greenhouse gas forcing.because it is also consistent with ANY kind of change in the Earth's radiant energy budget, whether natural or manmade.)

The fact is, we DON'T know how much of recent warming is natural, simply because we don't have good enough global cloud observations back to the 1970's (and earlier) to measure any long-term changes in cloudiness to the required accuracy - 1% or less.

The same cause-versus-effect uncertainty is true of any other climate variable as well, for instance water vapor, our main greenhouse gas. A small change in precipitation efficiency (the main process which ultimately limits the strength of the natural greenhouse effect) could cause a change in average water vapor content, which then would change the average temperature. In other words, increased water vapor doesn't have to only result from warming.warming can also result from increased water vapor.

The fact that we don't have a good enough understanding (or observations) of cloud changes, or precipitation efficiency changes, on decadal time scales to document such potential mechanisms seems like pretty weak justification for blaming all of our recent warming on mankind. And if you say, "well, the IPCC doesn't claim that ALL of the warming is manmade.", then tell me: About what percentage of the warming IS natural, and how did you come up with that quantitative estimate?

I fear that the sloppy science that too many climate researchers have lapsed into could, in the end, hurt our scientific discipline beyond repair. The very high level of certainty (90%) claimed by the IPCC for their manmade explanation for warming can not be justified based upon the scientific evidence, and is little more than an expression of their faith that they understand the causes of climate variability - which they clearly don't.

For those scientists who value their scientific reputations, I would advise that they distance themselves from politically-motivated claims of a "scientific consensus" on the causes of global warming -- before it is too late. Don't let five Norwegians on the Nobel Prize committee be the arbiters of what is good science.


Global Warming Claims Unsupported by Facts

Reports by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the earth is experiencing unprecedented global warming are flawed and cannot be supported, investigators now report. In a study reported in the Washington Times, a panel of statisticians, chaired by Edward J. Wegman of George Mason University, found significant problems with the methods of analysis used by the researchers and with the IPCC's peer review process.

According to the Times, "IPCC reports have predicted average world temperatures will increase dramatically, leading to the spread of tropical diseases, severe drought, the rapid melting of the world's glaciers and ice caps, and rising sea levels." The Times notes, however that "several assessments of the IPCC's work have shown the techniques and methods used to derive its climate predictions are fundamentally flawed."

In a 2001 report, the IPCC published an image commonly referred to as the "hockey stick," the Times explained, adding that it showed relatively stable temperatures from A.D. 1000 to 1900, with temperatures rising steeply from 1900 to 2000. "The IPCC and public figures, such as former Vice President Al Gore, have used the hockey stick to support the conclusion that human energy use over the last 100 years has caused an unprecedented rise in global warming," according to the Times.

Since those claims have been discounted by several studies which the newspaper notes cast doubt on the accuracy of the hockey stick, Congress in 2006 requested an independent analysis by Wegman and his panel. The Times reports that the researchers who created the hockey stick used the wrong time scale to establish the mean temperature to compare with recorded temperatures of the last century. Because the mean temperature was low, the recent temperature rise seemed unusual and dramatic. This error, the Times explained, was not discovered in part because statisticians were never consulted.

Moreover, the community of specialists in ancient climates from which the peer reviewers were drawn was small and many of them had ties to the original authors - no less than 43 paleoclimatologists had previously co-authored papers with the lead researcher who constructed the hockey stick.

Even using accurate temperature data, sound forecasting methods are required to predict climate change. Over time, forecasting researchers have compiled 140 principles that can be applied to a broad range of disciplines, including science, sociology, economics, and politics. The Times recalled that in a recent National Center for Policy Analysis study, Kesten Green and J. Scott Armstrong used these principles to audit the climate forecasts in the Fourth Assessment Report. Green and Armstrong found that the IPCC clearly violated 60 of the 127 principles relevant in assessing the IPCC predictions. Indeed, it could only be clearly established that the IPCC followed 17 of the more than 127 forecasting principles critical to making sound predictions.

Writes H. Sterling Burnett the author of the Times story, "A good example of a principle clearly violated is 'Make sure forecasts are independent of politics.' Politics shapes the IPCC from beginning to end. Legislators, policy-makers and/or diplomatic appointees select (or approve) the scientists - at least the lead scientists - who make up the IPCC. In addition, the summary and the final draft of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report was written in collaboration with political appointees and subject to their approval." Burnett writes, "Sadly, Mr. Green and Mr. Armstrong found no evidence that the IPCC was even aware of the vast literature on scientific forecasting methods, much less applied the principles."

As a result of such problems Mr. Wegman's team concluded that the idea that the planet is experiencing unprecedented global warming "cannot be supported." According to the author of the Times story, H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute in Dallas, says the IPCC's policy recommendations are based on flawed statistical analyses and procedures that violate general forecasting principles. He warned that policy-makers should take this into account before enacting laws to counter global warming - which economists point out would have severe economic consequences.


The Toyota Prius: The Greenies get it badly wrong again

A big BMW was more economical than a Prius over the same route

The official fuel consumption figure for the Prius - supplied by Toyota itself - is 65.7mpg in mixed motoring. That's a claim not supported by many of the letter writers to The Sunday Times who say they get nearer to 50mpg. If our readers are right and the official figure is wrong it has important implications, not least of which is that people driving frugal diesels are getting a raw deal.

To find out we set a challenge: to drive a Prius to Geneva using motorways and town driving. The direct route is 460 miles but we drove almost 100 miles further to give the Prius the advantage of running in urban conditions where its petrol-electric drivetrain comes into its own.

We took along a conventionally powered car - a diesel BMW executive saloon - for comparison and drove both cars an identical number of miles (545).

BMW 520d: driven by Nicholas Rufford

The BMW doesn't have the external look of a green car and you don't get the same self-righteous glow when you are driving it. There's no hybrid badge on the back; in fact, because it's the entry level car of the 5-series many buyers opt for "badge delete" so they don't show other motorists they went for the cheapest option at 27,190 pounds [c. $55,000].

But it does have a few tricks up its sleeve to conserve fuel. Efficient Dynamics, as BMW refers to its fuel-saving technology, is a term coined by Bavarian marketing men for refinements that taken on their own are nothing spectacular but together improve fuel economy. Rather than Toyota's big idea - a radically different system of powering a car using a petrol-electric drivetrain - BMW has sunk its research effort into lots of less radical things.

The most important of these is the new four-cylinder engine. It's available in the 3-series but here it's perfectly at home in the bigger 5-series saloon where it generates a surprising 177bhp. Surprising because it's only 1995cc and it sips fuel. Combined fuel consumption is - officially - 55.4mpg and emissions are 136g/km, which puts it into tax band C. That's respectable for its size, especially when you consider that 13 cabinet ministers are driven in cars with tax band F - the second highest bracket - and one, we don't know who, has a band G car. Various other features of the new BMW contribute to its frugality. It's got better aerodynamics to reduce drag; low rolling resistance tyres; and a dashboard gauge that gives you a continuous fuel consumption readout so you know when to change gear.

So how does it drive? Well, much like any other executive saloon, actually. Its six-speed manual transmission needs quite a lot of work but if you are concerned about fuel economy then it's a small price to pay for the extra 5mpg that it gains over the automatic version. The 520d is not startlingly quick, but it will reach 62mph in 8.3sec. As for the claimed top speed of 144mph, I didn't get the chance to test it to its limit but I think it would have struggled to reach that. Nonetheless, it cruised happily at the French autoroute limit (dry conditions) of 78mph towards the champagne region.

As I did so, I noted with slight satisfaction that Jason was having difficulty keeping up, so I cut my speed. Had I been really serious about saving fuel I could have also switched off the air-conditioning and the stereo but I was more concerned about making this a real-world test.

Stuck in rush-hour traffic in Reims, fuel consumption dropped to an average of about 40mpg - still not bad when you consider the size of the car. BMW has fitted a diesel particulate filter, enabling the car to meet ever more stringent European Union limits on emissions. Another feature designed to cut running costs is the brake regenerative system - similar to that in the Prius - which recovers energy from braking to recharge the battery and help power the electrical systems. To what extent this is a genuinely eco-friendly feature and how much a conscience salver is impossible to tell when you're driving.

But you can't argue with the end result. Approaching Switzerland I felt confident of beating Jason. The computer was telling me that, for the journey as a whole, I had averaged more than 50mpg. The test had taken us along just over 200 miles of autoroute, about 200 miles of B roads, including winding ascents and descents in Switzerland, and 100 miles of urban driving.

Before we set off, Jason and I filled our tanks to the brim. At the end of the journey, at a filling station in Geneva, we filled them again to find out how much fuel we'd used. The BMW had done the journey on 49 litres (just over two-thirds of a 70-litre tank). Jason had . . . well, I'll let him tell his own story.

Toyota Prius: driven by Jason Dawe

The Prius is not a car you can easily get excited about, at least on a purely visual basis. But this test was not about kerb appeal, it was about pump avoidance. The Prius was designed with a straightforward goal in mind - to create a five-seat family hatchback that was as good on fuel as a 2+2 supermini. Straightforward aims are often notoriously difficult to achieve.

Toyota's big idea was to use hybrid power. In other words, two forms of propulsion. The bulk of that power comes from a 1.5 litre petrol engine producing just 77bhp. That kind of power may be able to keep the Prius cruising along but is hardly enough to ensure decent acceleration. So added to that comes a battery-powered electric motor generating the equivalent of a further 67bhp and a thumping great 295 lb ft of torque.

There's no need to plug the Prius into an electric socket to keep the batteries topped up as this is done every time the car brakes, and there is trickle charging by the petrol engine while driving normally. The result of lumping together these two sources of power is a car that can reach 62mph from standstill in less than 11sec and reach 106mph flat out, hardly dragstrip quick and slower than the BMW, but still respectable.

Toyota was obsessive about saving weight in the Prius; at just 2,921lb it is 573lb lighter than the BMW 520d, surely a factor that will pay dividends at the pumps. Clever power and a light kerb weight stand the Prius in good stead but it's the car's incredibly low drag coefficient that may just tip the scales in my favour when it comes to long motorway stretches at higher speeds. As slippery as a campaign manager discussing political donations, the Prius should take less energy than the BMW to maintain a constant cruising speed.

No sooner had we left the offices of The Sunday Times in London than my eyes locked limpet-like on the trip computer readout that tells you how many mpg you are achieving. This was to become my obsession over the next 545 miles as I battled to nudge the Prius into performing somewhere close to Toyota's claim of 65mpg-plus motoring. By the time we reached the Channel tunnel the display revealed that I had averaged 55mpg. Hopefully things would improve on the long, uninterrupted roads in France. They didn't - despite the fact that I didn't use the air-conditioning and avoided turning on the stereo in an effort to conserve power.

To break the boredom of constantly looking at the trip computer I pressed the throttle into the carpet for a few seconds, but seeing the fuel consumption suddenly dip to less than 10mpg I backed off. When we stopped in Reims neither Nick nor I was willing to declare our average fuel economy figures. I interpreted his reticence as a sign of my upcoming victory.

The next day it became clear my Prius did not like motorways, at least not at 75mph into a headwind. My trip meter informed me I was now averaging about 45mpg; the Prius was not going to make it to Geneva on just one tank. I took the precaution of buying a 10-litre can and filling it with petrol. Sure enough, the dashboard soon informed me the fuel tank was empty, the petrol engine stopped and for two surreal miles I coasted along on battery power. Only when I approached a long steep uphill stretch did I finally drift to a halt. As I filled the tank I consoled myself with my last chocolate bar.

Coasting down the mountain into Geneva my Prius averaged 99.9mpg for a full 10 minutes. It was the highlight of my journey and improved my overall average fuel economy by a full 2mpg. But it was not enough. For all my defensive driving, slippery bodywork and hybrid technology, my average fuel consumption was 48.1mpg. I'd lost to a Beemer and I was disappointed; I had never driven so slowly or carefully for so long in my life. I'm considering buying a V8 Range Rover and opening my own oil well in protest



Street lights in suburban areas are to be switched off after midnight as part of council plans to save energy. A series of trial blackouts will be carried out over the next few weeks by local authorities in the Home Counties, Hampshire and Essex among others. Buckinghamshire council is reported to be switching off more than 1,700 lights along 25 miles of road in an attempt to meet energy targets. It says the scheme will save 100,000 pounds and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 600 tons a year. If the trials are successful, all street lamps across the country could be turned off between midnight and 5am.

Other areas taking part in the scheme include Maldon and Uttlesford in Essex, while parts of Hampshire have already carried out pilots.

Residents' groups, police organisations and motoring groups have expressed fear that the darkness could cause increases in crime and road traffic accidents. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "The councils are considering these schemes to both reduce their energy budget and cut down on emissions. "Areas where street lights will be turned off will be on routes there is little need for them."



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


17 March, 2008

Researcher: Basic Greenhouse Equations "Totally Wrong"

New derivation of equations governing the greenhouse effect reveals "runaway warming" impossible

Miklos Zagoni isn't just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was. That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Langley Research Center.

After studying it, Zagoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. "I fell in love," he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.

"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states. Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount. How did modern researchers make such a mistake? They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.

Miskolczi's story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution -- originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today -- ignored boundary conditions by assuming an "infinitely thick" atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.

So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference ... but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.

NASA refused to release the results. Miskolczi believes their motivation is simple. "Money", he tells DailyTech. Research that contradicts the view of an impending crisis jeopardizes funding, not only for his own atmosphere-monitoring project, but all climate-change research. Currently, funding for climate research tops $5 billion per year.

Miskolczi resigned in protest, stating in his resignation letter, "Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results." His theory was eventually published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in his home country of Hungary.

The conclusions are supported by research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year from Steven Schwartz of Brookhaven National Labs, who gave statistical evidence that the Earth's response to carbon dioxide was grossly overstated. It also helps to explain why current global climate models continually predict more warming than actually measured.

The equations also answer thorny problems raised by current theory, which doesn't explain why "runaway" greenhouse warming hasn't happened in the Earth's past. The new theory predicts that greenhouse gas increases should result in small, but very rapid temperature spikes, followed by much longer, slower periods of cooling -- exactly what the paleoclimatic record demonstrates.

However, not everyone is convinced. Dr. Stephen Garner, with the NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), says such negative feedback effects are "not very plausible". Reto Ruedy of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies says greenhouse theory is "200 year old science" [What a pathetic defence. The length of time a thing has been accepted is no guarantee of its truth] and doubts the possibility of dramatic changes to the basic theory.

Miskowlczi has used his theory to model not only Earth, but the Martian atmosphere as well, showing what he claims is an extremely good fit with observational results. For now, the data for Venus is too limited for similar analysis, but Miskolczi hopes it will one day be possible.


Global warming makes fish go deaf!

This sounds like a hoax but it is from a mainstream journal. It is of course absurd. The reef is very long North to South and covers a large climatic range. Are we to assume that the fish in the warmest parts are all deaf?

Going deaf is not a problem that most of us would automatically associate with global warming. For coral reef fish, however, hotter seas could pose a real threat. Young coral reef fish with misshapen ear bones are more likely to get lost and die, and exposure to warmer waters makes the problem worse, according to a study of fish living around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

After hatching, most reef fish spend a few weeks out in the open ocean before returning to the reef to settle down. And it seems that sound is a key factor in guiding them to the right habitat. The young fish have to home in on the high-frequency noises made by invertebrates like shrimp and sea urchins, and avoid the low-frequency noises made by crashing waves and adult fish. Monica Gagliano at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, Queensland, and colleagues found that at hatching, just over half of Ambon damselfish had asymmetrical otoliths, or ear bones.

The team had suspected that it might be harder for these fish to pinpoint the origin of a sound, increasing the chance they would get lost in the ocean. And, indeed, their results showed that the asymmetrical fish were significantly less likely to make it back to the reef.

The team also broadcast high frequency and low frequency sounds from traps laid close to the reef, and found that the fish attracted to the high frequency traps - mimicking invertebrate food sources - were more likely to have symmetrical otoliths. (Listen to high frequency noises here, and low frequency sounds here.)

Gagliano says that as-yet-unpublished work shows that exposing adult reef fish to higher water temperatures and increasingly acid water - both of which are associated with global warming - increases the percentage of offspring born with asymmetrical otoliths.

Increased acidification reduces the availability of calcium to be absorbed by fish to make bones. "And general stress, such as having to regulate their internal pH when it is changing in the water, also seems to affect the development of otoliths in the baby fish," says Gagliano. The work suggests that global warming could have an impact on the number of fish returning to a reef, and so disrupt reef ecosystems, she says.

But while there's a correlation between otolith asymmetry and increased mortality, a direct cause hasn't been proven, says Arthur Popper, director of the Aquatic Bioacoustics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park, US. Otolith asymmetry is extremely common, Popper points out, and he says he's not convinced that it would affect a fish's ability to locate a sound. Other factors might explain the difference in proportions of fish making it back to the reef, he says.


Eco-Hysteria We Pay For, Again

By Bob Parks

Not long ago, I wrote about the hysteria environmentalists cause in order to create "awareness". Years ago, we were all told we were using way too many paper bags at the supermarket. We were selfish, greedy, and responsible for the cutting down of trees. Now I don't remember, as a consumer, being responsible for the introduction of paper bags to the supermarkets in the first place, yet we were the ones blamed for their use. We were told plastic bags were the most responsible alternative, and we were forced to comply.

According to Wednesday's Boston Herald, State Sen. Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) wants to place a levy on plastic shopping bags, calling the ubiquitous carryalls an environmental hazard. Each bag would be taxed 2 cents at the checkout at first. In seven years, that tax would climb to 15 cents. The idea is to get you, the shopper, to stop using them. "I think we've come up with a fairly modest stipend," Joyce said.

Besides the fact this is a money-grab from a revenue-strapped state legislature, why are we being made out to be the guilty party for using this "powerful symbol of consumerism gone wild"?

We, the consumer, never lobbied politicians to make the change from paper to plastic bags. If memory serves, we were all told that plastic bags were the best way to save tress, thus the environment. Why is it when politicians screw up, we are the ones made to feel guilty before we are forced to pay for their errors in judgment?

Shoppers who use paper, biodegradable or reusable bags would be exempt from the tax. His proposal will be aired in a hearing at the State House tomorrow. "We're not trying to make money off this," he insisted. "We're trying to gently prod the consumer."

Joyce cited a litany of bag evils: They're made from petroleum, in a process that produces pollutants. A single bag takes 1,000 years to biodegrade, and if they are buried, they block groundwater. Americans use a staggering 380 billion plastic bags a year, most of which wind up as trash or litter.

What I would love to see (and this is a pipedream, so work with me here) is responsibility in legislation. If a lobbying group prods politicians into making decisions that affect all of us and they are later proven to be wrong, THEY should be the ones to incur the cost of reverting back. Not the citizens who had legislation rammed down our throats, only later be guilt-tripped into paying taxes to alter the behavior they forced us into.

But Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation says the government can't be trusted to figure its way out of this plastic bag. Whole Foods supermarkets recently announced plans to stop offering plastic bags altogether, and Anderson said the private sector should be left alone to deal with the issue. Anderson said she uses reusable bags herself, but she's considering going back to plastic in protest.

Arrogant politicians revel in their ability to alter our behavior by force. I just find it maddening that these same political bodies, whipped by enviro-screeching, forced us to use plastic bags in the first place. Again, I contend if they were held financially responsible for their error in judgment, future decisions would be made more responsibly.

If all the environmental groups were held financially responsible for the hysteria they cause over the use of products they now have problems with, they may do impacts studies to get an idea of what their changes may cause. That is, if they can see that far. It's usually all about what they want now. And should they screw up, oh well.. Environmentalists are never held accountable for their errors when we later realize just how wrong they were again.

And don't get me started on those compact fluorescent lamps that we were told would save the world, just to find out they contain potentially toxic amounts of mercury that's released when broken. How long will it be before those who use them now are called "killers", just to be taxed until they change back to the traditional light bulb?

"I don't understand what the love affair with plastic bags is," said Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who is drafting his own legislation to ban the bags in Boston. "I spent $90 on groceries yesterday, and I got them all home in two reusable bags."

It was the environmentalists that initially created the love affair with anything that spared trees. According to the panic they caused back then, we should be a virtual desert by now, with trees now a distant memory like the record player. However, trees are in abundance, we are still breathing, and no retraction from environmentalist hysteria has ever been issued.

Maybe one day, those who put "recycle" bumper stickers on their cars and force children to learn "green" will be the ones taxed for the environmental damage their knee jerking caused. Maybe one day those who implement their wishes on the public, without exploring the possible impact, will be held accountable for their lapse in judgment. Who am I kidding?



By Dominic Lawson

It's a brave reporter who challenges Arnold Schwarzenegger face to face. Who knows what physical retribution the former Terminator might wreak? Yet one man was brave enough to trade (verbal) blows with the Governor of California last week. It followed the revelation by the Los Angeles Times that Schwarzenegger - who after Al Gore is the US politician most identified with the "battle against climate change" - had been commuting almost every day by private jet. Let me share with you this extract from a transcript of a news conference, as released by Schwarzenegger's office:

"Governor, there have been reports coming out that you're flying up and down the state on a daily basis in a [private] jet...How do you reconcile your public rhetoric on global warming versus your personal lifestyle choices?".

"Are you always that positive? What a positive guy! To me it's very important that I serve the people of California but also at the same time that I serve my family... do the homework with the kids, spend time with my wife and everything."

"So global warming is for other people to worry about, as long as you can afford carbon offsetting?"

"You're absolutely correct. Global warming is very important and that's why we're fighting global warming... in all kinds of things we are promoting."
Schwarzenegger might be a hypocrite, but at least he is not charging the public: It's his own private jet and he's paying all the bills. In Britain, where the New Labour government vies with the Governor of California to be seen as a "leader in the battle against global warming", such moral inconsistency is entirely funded by the taxpayer.

Yesterday it was disclosed that two Cabinet ministers, Ed Balls and Shaun Woodward, used chauffeur-driven ministerial cars to travel 150 yards from Downing Street to a dinner party for Labour donors. The chauffeurs waited outside and then after dinner drove the pair, separately, a further 300 yards to the House of Commons. This has come to light because the Conservative MP Justine Greening has written to the Cabinet Secretary arguing that since the event was a Labour Party fundraiser, official limousines should not have been made available - at least for the first 150 yards of this 450-yard round trip.

The more obvious, but less party-political point, is that if ministers truly believe what they say about the dire threat of irreversible and murderous climate change through man-made carbon emissions, how could they simultaneously behave in such a casually wasteful manner? Surely they cannot be so wicked as knowingly to condemn another African to a premature death through thirst - or whatever the latest climate-catastrophe theory insists - in order to avoid walking for a quarter of a mile down Whitehall?

I think it is more likely that the ministers, deep down, don't really believe the conventional wisdom that such consequences flow from being driven everywhere in limousines - but of course they would do anything rather than confess that: better even to be thought a monumental hypocrite than a "climate change denier".

If I am right, it would explain quite a lot about Alistair Darling's first Budget, which was pre-sold as being "The Greenest Budget in history". The allegedly passionless Darling emoted impressively about the scale of the problems posed by man-made climate change: "We need to do more and we need to do it now. There will be catastrophic economic and social consequences if we fail to act." So he deferred the increase in duty on petrol that had been originally scheduled for this Budget; instead he promised that from 2010 cars with the biggest engines would face a one off levy - amounting to o950 for top-of-the-range 4x4s.

This is, of course, not rational if you really believe that unpredictable weather is caused by the consumption of petrol. In that case you would continue to concentrate solely (and proportionately) on the actual use of petrol, through excise charged at the pump, rather than on the size of a car's engine. The new levy, however, qualifies as an "eye-catching initiative", just as does Mr Darling's threat to make retailers charge the public for disposable bags, even though this will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Darling's promised measures to make homes "greener" amount to a similar exercise in spectacular tokenism. Under all the rhetoric about "zero-carbon" houses, the Chancellor's actual commitment was for grants of o26m for such improvements as loft insulation, solar panels and roof-top wind turbines. This means that if every household in England and Wales were to implement such measures, each of them would get an additional grant of one pound. Since a wind turbine costs thousands of pounds to install ( assuming you get the planning permission), and takes more than 50 years to recover those costs through fuel bill reductions, I fear that Mr Darling's solitary pound will not have a decisive influence.

So the Green lobby has been united in denouncing Mr Darling for failing to deliver on his promise to deliver a Budget which would help to save the planet. To be fair to the Chancellor, to have satisfied them would have been politically suicidal. He is clearly - and rightly - concerned with the rise in "fuel poverty", as energy costs have soared.

Ministers have even waved the (probably illegal) threat of some form of statutory price controls at electricity and gas suppliers, and have - not so very long ago - bleated to Saudi Arabia to bring down the price of oil by increasing the supply of crude to the market.

Yet if the Government really believed that the planet was being brought to premature extinction through the consumption of fossil fuels, it would be encouraging the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Counties (Opec) to keep on squeezing the consumer, and thus choking off demand. It would be happy that, partly as a result of the Saudis' refusal to boost production, domestic fuel bills could rise to the level at which people might decide to keep the central heating switched off and instead wear balaclavas and mittens indoors.

It would, admittedly, be a brave Government - and a short-lived one - which told voters that a bit more shivering in the cold is the price we must all pay to ensure that the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere don't have to endure even hotter weather than they do already. It would be an even more bizarre Government which implemented such policies even though its members couldn't quite believe the stories of catastrophic man-made climate change in the first place. This Government is not actually deranged and neither does it have a death wish: so it will continue to ensure that its policies don't match its rhetoric.


Trees trump people

Comment from Australia

One balmy Sunday evening last month, when the Queen Victoria and QE2 cruise ships came to Sydney Harbour, Neutral Bay mother Phionna Tomaszewski gathered with friends in a park at Cremorne Point to watch. Her six-year-old daughter was climbing trees and swinging off branches with other children when an "irate, elderly woman" berated her for "damaging" a coral tree and threatened to call council rangers.

Tomaszewski found her daughter "bawling her eyes out ... My daughter (all 20-odd kilograms of her) ... was reduced to tears by a stranger when all she was doing was playing in a tree" she wrote in a letter last week to The Mosman Daily, where a lively feud has continued ever since. But in another letter to the paper, Margaret Watson, a friend of the elderly woman, defended her interference by saying the children had been "swinging on the branches, breaking one off ... After another branch broke, my friend approached and requested that they cease".

Tomaszewski, who said on Friday she would prefer not to comment further, denies branches were broken. She let fly with two letters to the paper: "Last week's storms would have done more damage to the gorgeous foliage of Cremorne Point than an entire army of kids playing in and around the tree. Climbing trees and having adventures outside is a key element of childhood physical and mental development."

Well, they used to be. But these days, it seems, trees are more important than people. To reprimand a six-year-old girl for swinging on the branch of a tree reflects more than simple intolerance towards children. It represents a new world view in which flora and fauna are more important than humans. In this era of climate alarmism, humans are seen as the source of all evil. Without humans, goes the addled thinking, there would be no carbon dioxide, and hence no global warming. Thus, when the Medical Journal Of Australia published a satirical letter from Perth obstetrician Barry Walters in its December issue proposing a carbon tax on babies, and carbon credits for sterilisation, it was reported as a serious news story. Such outlandish sentiments have become so acceptable that few people got the joke.

Environmentalists and animal rights activists openly spruik genuine anti-human philosophy, without fear of criticism. Briton Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and director of the world's largest animal rights group PETA, has been quoted as saying "Mankind is the biggest blight on the face of the earth" and that human life has no special meaning. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals." Similarly, American environmentalist, and founder of Earth First! Dave Foreman, who equates economic growth with environmental vandalism, has been quoted saying: "Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."

The mainstreaming of this extremist view probably began with Australia's own philosopher Peter Singer, now Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, feted by The New York Times as the "greatest living philosopher" for his thesis that humans are no more precious than animals. To uphold the sanctity of human life, he says, on his website, is "speciesism, and wrong for the same reasons that racism and sexism are wrong. Pain is equally bad, if it is felt by a human being or a mouse". He holds that abortion to nine months can be morally justified, as can the killing of a "defective infant" for up to 28 days after birth and euthanasia for the elderly and mentally disabled. He has suggested the animal kingdom be divided into "non-human persons", such as apes and dogs, and "human non-persons", such as old and infirm people.

Singer's ideas have taken root in subtle ways, only noticeable if you look for them over time. When North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffery joined former prime minister Paul Keating in blasting the recent Superboat Grand Prix for disturbing the harbour, she said, "I wonder how many marine animals were either injured or killed during the event". Maybe none - but a man was.

When it comes to certain human desires, such as water views, footpaths without cracks, or children's Saturday sport, foliage has been taking precedence for some time in many Sydney councils. But now human health is being put at risk by councils with a sacred mission to return suburbia to the jungle. Killara Park, for instance, has become infested with disease-causing ticks since the council stopped mowing an "environmentally significant bushcare site". Locals are now refusing to walk their dogs there for fear of tick attack, The North Shore Times reported last week.

These are small stories along the same continuum. Over time they eat away at the idea of human exceptionalism and, ultimately, the sanctity of human life. This idea provides the moral underpinning for western civilisation, which is why it is under threat. The surprise is that defending it has virtually become a fringe activity, left to people labelled religious fundamentalists - or angry mothers.



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


16 March, 2008


By Per G. Fredriksson et al.


Does environmental lobbying affect the probability of environmental treaty ratification? Does the level of government corruption play a role for the success of such lobbying? In this paper, we propose that a more corruptible government may be more responsive to the demands of the environmental lobby.We use several stratified hazard models and panel data from 170 countries on the timing of Kyoto Protocol ratification to test this hypothesis. We find that increased environmental lobby group activity raises the probability of ratification, and the effect rises with the degree of corruption.

FULL PAPER at Public Choice (2007) 133: 231-251 (PDF)


Environmentalism is, among other things, an attack on science. This is not the first concerted campaign against science and reason. From the mid-18th to the early 19th century a social movement explicitly attacking science and reason dominated the intellectual culture of the European Continent. The Continental Counter-Enlightenment was forged during a ferocious Republican-Royalist conflict. This social movement was a reaction by the aristocracy to modernization. Their attack on science and reason was an effort to thwart any common-sense empirical policy discussion about feudalism, monarchism and clericalism which they admitted were irrational institutions. In the Continental Counter-Enlightenment's clear and profound legacy one finds the roots of Fascism and Environmentalism.

Much more here


The average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

A complete analysis is available online here


By Serge Galam


The claimed unanimity of the scientific community about the human culpability for global warming is questioned. Up today there exists no scientific proof of human culpability. It is not the number of authors of a paper, which validates its scientific content. The use of probability to assert the degree of certainty with respect the global warming problem is shown to be misleading. The debate about global warming has taken on emotional tones driven by passion and irrationality while it should be a scientific debate. The degree of hostility used to mull any dissonance voice demonstrates that the current debate has acquired a quasi-religious nature. Scientists are behaving as priests in their will "to save the planet". We are facing a dangerous social phenomenon, which must be addressed from the social point of view. The current unanimity of citizens, scientists, journalists, intellectuals and politicians is intrinsically worrying. The calls to sacrifice our way of life to calm down the upset nature is an emotional ancestral reminiscence of archaic fears, which should be analyzed as such.


Weather Channel Founder: Sue Al Gore for Fraud

The founder of the Weather Channel wants to sue Al Gore for fraud, hoping a legal debate will settle the global-warming debate once and for all. John Coleman, who founded the cable network in 1982, suggests suing for fraud proponents of global warming, including Al Gore, and companies that sell carbon credits. "Is he committing financial fraud? That is the question," Coleman said.

"Since we can't get a debate, I thought perhaps if we had a legal challenge and went into a court of law, where it was our scientists and their scientists, and all the legal proceedings with the discovery and all their documents from both sides and scientific testimony from both sides, we could finally get a good solid debate on the issue," Coleman said. "I'm confident that the advocates of 'no significant effect from carbon dioxide' would win the case."

Coleman says his side of the global-warming debate is being buried in mainstream media circles. "As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there's been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that's been erased," he said. "I think if we continue the cooling trend a couple of more years, the general public will at last begin to realize that they've been scammed on this global-warming thing."

Coleman spoke to after his appearance last week at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, where he called global warming a scam and lambasted the cable network he helped create. "You want to tune to the Weather Channel and have them tell you how to live your life?" Coleman said. "Come on."

He laments the network's decision to focus on traffic and lifestyle reports over the weather. "It's very clear that they don't realize that weather is the most significant impact in every human being's daily life, and good, solid, up-to-the-minute weather information and meaningful forecasts presented in such a way that people find them understandable and enjoyable can have a significant impact," he said. "The more you cloud that up with other baloney, the weaker the product," he said.

Coleman has long been a skeptic of global warming, and carbon dioxide is the linchpin to his argument. "Does carbon dioxide cause a warming of the atmosphere? The proponents of global warming pin their whole piece on that," he said. The compound carbon dioxide makes up only 38 out of every 100,000 particles in the atmosphere, he said. "That's about twice as what there were in the atmosphere in the time we started burning fossil fuels, so it's gone up, but it's still a tiny compound," Coleman said. "So how can that tiny trace compound have such a significant effect on temperature? "My position is it can't," he continued. "It doesn't, and the whole case for global warming is based on a fallacy."


Warming has vanished

THE WINTER this year was unusually long and harsh. What possibly could explain the occurrence of unusual cold wave conditions this year throughout the globe when environmentalists voicing their concerns about the human-led global warming had predicted that the rise in carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere would result in shorter winters with no significant dip in the mercury? Was this winter an exception to the rule or is it simply following a trend? After all, studies conducted by a small group of `sceptic' scientists reveal that global warming has been waning since 2001. Latest studies supported by satellite data cast doubt on the climate fears propounded by environmentalists supported by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Satellite measurements available since 1979 show no warming in the southern hemisphere and the trend in the northern hemisphere appears to have waned since 2001. In August 2007, the UK Met Office acknowledged that obvious global warming had stopped. Paleo-climate scientist Bob Carter testifying before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has noted that the accepted global average temperature statistics used by IPCC show no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. A research led by David Bromwich, Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Geography at Ohio State University and researchers with the Byrd Polar Research Centre at Ohio State University shows that during the late 20th century, the temperature in Antarctica did not rise to the level predicted by many global warming models. According to UN scientist Madhav L. Khandekar, a retired Environment Canada scientist and an expert IPCC reviewer in 2007, the recent worldwide analysis of ocean surface temperatures shows that sea surface temperatures over world oceans are slowly declining since mid-1998.

While the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is steadily rising from 280 ppm and might reach 560 ppm by 2100 as predicted by IPCC, the world's average temperature, instead of following a steep upward gradient, is actually plunging after a period of upward trend. However, the IPCC is not coming out publicly with the truth surrounding the correlation between rise in carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and its possible consequence on global warming, if any.

A study by researchers of the Atmospheric Science Group, Department of Mathematical Science, at the University of Wisconsin, found that global warming in the last century was linked to natural causes. The Royal Meteorological Institute at Brussels in its report last year said that not carbon dioxide but the most important greenhouse gas was water vapour; it was responsible for 75 per cent of the greenhouse effect. According to Belgian climate scientist Lu Debontridder, the warm winters of the last few years in Belgium are simply due to the North-Atlantic oscillation that has absolutely nothing to do with carbon dioxide. A study published in Science last September found that contrary to past inferences from ice core records, carbon dioxide did not cause the end of the last ice age. According to the same study, deep-sea temperatures warmed about 1,300 years before the tropical surface ocean and well before the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. USC geologist Lowell Scot, the lead author of the study, said that the climate dynamics are much more complex than simply saying that carbon dioxide rises and the temperature warms.

The IPCC climate model is based on the assumption that increased warming would cause more rainfall that would produce more clouds on the higher reaches of the atmosphere. Since high clouds have a net warming effect this would cause more warming, more rainfall and the cycle will continue. It is this positive feedback that causes the UN climate models to predict a temperature rise in the range of 2.5 degree Celsius to 4.7 degree Celsius due to rise in the level of carbon dioxide to 560 ppm. Dr Roy Spencer along with researchers at the University of Alabama Huntsville and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, after observing the temperatures, clouds and rainfall reported that warming is actually associated with fewer high clouds. There is no data to support the theory that more rainfall will produce more high-altitude clouds.

The mainstream media seems to be purposely ignoring the bulk of the findings by renowned researchers throughout the globe that the current global warming fear attributed solely to carbon dioxide rise is utterly unfounded. Why is the IPCC, which has been blamed for relying on climate models based on wrong assumptions, continuing with its false prophecy? Is there more to it than what meets the eye? Has the politics of carbon trade got anything to do with it? Critics say that carbon trading as propounded by IPCC, as a mean to combat global warming is a smokescreen. It will allow corporate polluters in rich countries to evade their emission reduction obligations at home by buying up and trading carbon emission quotas and credits from other countries, projects or industries. It is meant to create further global economic disparities by robbing the poor of their rights while the rich will manage to extract maximum benefit from the mechanism.


Deceptive emission statistics

EU leaders will gather today and tomorrow in Brussels to sign off on the European Commission's proposals to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 -- with the added bait of a 30% reduction if the U.S. and other countries make meaningful commitments. For the U.S., it appears that the question is no longer about whether it will adopt targets, but rather about how and what.

To some this all looks like good progress. Yet it is based upon the very shaky arithmetic of the Kyoto Protocol and its legacy. The Kyoto framework looks at the emissions that countries produce within their borders, and this is seductively flattering. Both the U.S. and Europe have seen their CO2 output growth slowing even as economic growth has marched on. It might appear that economic growth and emissions have been decoupled.

The 2006 Stern report seemed to confirm this rosy scenario, suggesting that additional emissions cuts could be achieved at the comparatively trivial cost of around 1% of gross domestic product. But this is just smoke and mirrors. The projected growth of global emissions clearly tracks the growth of energy demand. The world's CO2 output is likely to increase by some 50% by 2030, paralleling the growth of energy demand and economic growth. There is no global decoupling.

But, say the U.S. and the Europeans, this is because of China and India and their failure to match our emissions reductions. The U.S. in particular insists that any post-Kyoto agreement must, at a minimum, involve emissions caps on China as well. And in one sense the Americans are right: There will be no solution to global warming if China builds 1,000 new coal power stations in the next couple of decades.

This is, however, only half right. The critical question is: Who "owns" the emissions? China is an energy-intensive, export-oriented country. It makes many of the highly polluting industrial products which used to be made in the U.S. and Europe. We exported our smoke-stack industries to developing countries like China and import their products.

If this carbon outsourcing is factored back in, the U.K.'s impressive emissions cuts over the past two decades don't look so impressive anymore. Rather than falling by over 15% since 1990, they actually rose by around 19%. And even this is flattering, since the U.K. closed most of its coal industry in the 1990s for reasons unrelated to climate change. No doubt, recalculating the figures for other European countries and the U.S. would reveal a similar pattern.

After all, the U.S. and the EU together account for nearly half of world GDP. And it is consumption, not production, that matters. This means that if global warming is to be limited, the U.S. and Europe will have to take much more drastic action to reduce those emissions embedded in their own consumption. Their appropriate emissions-reduction targets will have to be based on the consumption of goods that cause those emissions in the first place.

This not only means that the true scale of required emissions reductions in the Western world will be much higher but that the impact on economic growth and living standards there will also be more severe than so far believed.

Politicians like to cite the 1% of GDP quoted in the Stern report, as this sounds like a manageable figure. But they delude themselves and the voters by not looking at the small print. The report says it would cost 1% of GDP only if there is an optimal use of new technology. The report also assumes that there will be no policy costs, meaning the implementation of new technology will effectively be cost-free.

A moment's reflection tells us otherwise. There is no evidence that policy designed to reduce emissions is going to be optimal or efficient. In the U.K., for example, official figures indicate renewables have turned out to be staggeringly expensive. Some wind-generated energy, for example, has cost between o280 and o510 per ton of carbon abated. This compares with the o10-o20 per ton price of carbon on the European emissions trading market.

But even these astonishing costs pale into insignificance against biofuels. The inefficient and costly production of ethanol in the U.S., which may not even be carbon-neutral, is perhaps only topped by such examples as Indonesia, where virgin rainforest is being cut down to grow palm oil. There is no reason at all to believe that these enormous policy costs are about to be rectified. On the contrary: The recent EU commitments to biofuels and renewables are very likely to compound the damage.



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


15 March, 2008

A test of global warming theory for smart High School kids to do

(From Will Alexander)

This requires nothing more than high school science, two long data sets (global air temperatures and sunspot numbers) and Microsoft Excel. If readers have children or grandchildren in their families who are familiar with Excel, I strongly suggest that they encourage the youngsters by offering suitable rewards, to undertake the following tasks and interpret the results. The rest of this challenge is addressed to these budding scientists.

Task 1.

Obtain a copy of the annual global air temperature data from 1850 through to 2006 used in the IPCC reports. Load it into Excel and plot it on a graph.

What do you see? The sharp upward trend since 1980 and the sustained high values during the past six years are very clear. This is the graph that the IPCC relies on for evidence of human causality of global warming. Their argument is that this graph is proof of a causal linkage between increasing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power stations, heavy industries and transport, and increasing global temperatures.

There are serious problems with this conclusion. Not only has there been no sustained increase in global temperatures since 1998, but during the past year global temperatures have shown a marked decrease. This is causing panic among the climate change fraternity. For reasons that remain a complete mystery, the IPCC failed to take the obvious next step. Could this increase be the consequence of a concurrent increase in solar activity? This is extremely important as the solar linkage has to be eliminated before this temperature increase can be attributed to human activities.

Task 2.

Now that you have got the hang of it, it is a simple matter to produce Excel graphs that show the temperature and sunspot data as well as the corresponding linear trend lines. It is common practice in preliminary time series analyses to split the record into two parts and examine them separately. The year 1913 is the beginning of the first double sunspot cycle during the past century and a convenient point to split the data. Analyze the two split records separately in Excel.

Note that while during the period 1913 to 2006 both the sunspot numbers and the global temperatures show increasing trends, during the earlier period 1850 to 1912 BOTH the global temperatures AND sunspot numbers showed DECREASING trends during this 62-year period. Given the above information, it would be a very brave scientist who continues to claim that there is NO linkage between variations in global temperatures and corresponding variations in sunspot activity. Even more importantly, the IPCC scientists were negligent, bordering on irresponsible, not to carry out these simple analyses that go to the very core of climate change science, and need only a few hours of effort using readily available computer software.

Task 3.

The next task may be difficult to understand and you may need some help. You are required to produce a solar periodicity table that can be used for subsequent analyses. You will have the honour of being among the few people in the world to have produced such a table for this purpose. The years during which the sunspot minima associated with the double sunspot cycle occurred are readily identified in the annual sunspot data. These, together with the number of years between them are as follows. 1843 (24) 1867 (22) 1889 (24) 1913 (20) 1933 (21) 1954 (22) 1976 (20) 1996

It is now possible to produce a solar periodicity table that will allow any time series data to be rearranged and analysed using the solar period as a basic time unit. Produce a table with nine columns and 24 rows. Enter the following numbers in the first row 1, 1843, 1867, 1889, 1913, 1933, 1954, 1976 and 1996. Now enter the following numbers in the second row 2, 1844, 1868, 1890, 1914, 1934, 1955, 1977, and 1997. Can you see what we are doing? The first column is the period year and the other columns are the periods whose lengths vary from 20 to 24 years. Call this Table 1.

Task 4.

Make another periodicity table but leave the years blank. Instead, enter the sunspot numbers for the corresponding years in Table 1. Add another three columns to the table and give them headings lowest, highest and average. Call this Table 2. Analyse the data in the rows one by one in Excel and fill in the values in the last three columns.

Now comes the most important diagram in the whole climate change science. Draw a graph with the period years 1 to 24 on the horizontal axis and the sunspot numbers on the vertical axis. Connect the average values with a continuous line and draw vertical lines connecting the highest and lowest values for each period year from 1 through to 24. Excel will do this for you.

What do you see? These are the two sunspot cycles that make up the double sunspot cycle. Note that they have different shapes. Notice in particular that the second cycle is much less active than the first cycle. We are now in year 13 (see Table 1). This means that the world has just entered a quiet period associated with the second cycle. This is why global temperatures have started cooling. You do not have to be a solar physicist to reach this conclusion.


You have now discovered something that very few scientists in the world have discovered. When you are looking for the evidence of the relationship between solar activity and the world's climate all that you have to do is to create a solar periodicity table, enter the data in the table (for example sunspot numbers, temperature, rainfall and river flow) and then plot the results. If you do this you will find solid evidence (i.e. PROOF) of the linkage between these climatic processes and the double sunspot cycle.

You can now suggest that your parents contact me by email at and I will send them a more detailed set of notes on this subject that I presented at a course for practising civil engineers earlier this year. We civil engineers are more interested in facts than in abstract theories that have no practical applications.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel will press EU leaders meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to back urgent measures to prevent heavy industries such as cement and steel from fleeing the continent as the bloc debates tighter limits on CO2 emissions after 2012. EU heads of state and government are meeting in Brussels on 13-14 March for their traditional Spring Summit, which is going to focus on climate change and economic issues.

In January, the Commission proposed to tighten the EU emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) for the period after 2012, a move which it said could lead to a rise in electricity prices of up to 10-15% (EurActiv 23/01/08). But it added that, unless a global climate change agreement is reached, a "compensation mechanism" would be put in place to prevent 'carbon leakage' whereby EU industries covered by the EU-ETS move to other parts of the world, like China or India, where CO2 emissions are not regulated.

Two options are being considered in that event: Granting free emission allowances to industries which are particularly exposed to international competition, or; imposing a "carbon tax" on imports from countries with no CO2 emission constraints. However, the Commission has delayed making a decision over which industries could benefit from the measures.

"The European Council recognises that carbon leakage in energy-intensive sectors exposed to international competition needs to be addressed urgently," according to draft wording that Germany is pushing to be inserted into the summit conclusions. In Germany's view, the matter must be addressed "urgently", before a potential international agreement is struck to replace the Kyoto Protocol. "Until an international agreement is concluded, auctioning of greenhouse gas allowances should not apply to sectors with a significant risk of carbon leakage," according to the text pushed for by German diplomats. "In such sectors, increased electricity prices due to emissions trading need to be taken into account."

Energy-intensive industries such as glass, cement and steel have stepped up warnings about the potential for 'carbon leakage', meaning the relocation of energy intensive factories and jobs beyond the EU's borders. But until now, the Commission has only given them partial assurances, saying they may be given free emission allowances in the post-2012 phase of the EU emissions trading scheme. "It is not in the interest of the European Union that in the future production moves to countries with less strict emissions limits," the EU executive said in a communication in support of the metals sector, presented on 25 February.

However, at the same time, it has also resisted calls for immediate measures, saying the priority should be to conclude an international climate change agreement that would potentially resolve the 'carbon leakage' issue. "The emphasis is of course on the conclusion of an international agreement, which could sort out most of the problems that we are encountering on carbon leakage," said Jos Delbeke, Deputy Director General at the Commission's environment directorate.

Speaking to EurActiv in a recent interview, Delbeke sought to clarify the Commission's approach. "The Commission has said that it would define the sectors in which carbon leakage would continue to exist after the conclusion of an international agreement, and that, in a second step, it would make proposals - at the latest by 2011."



Less than a month ago, we were reporting on how the EU member state governments, when confronted with the economic reality of implementing their fantasy 20 percent cut in CO2 emissions, were demurring at the potential costs and seeking ways to reduce their impact. The point was that these self-same governments had agreed those very cuts at the spring European Council the year before. Following that experience, with the next spring council due this Thursday and Friday, you would think they might have learned a lesson or two.

But this is the European Union we are talking about and, to expect rational behaviour is to neglect the effect of the unreal world inhabited by the "colleagues" as they get round the table in Brussels. Thus it is, according to Reuters, that "EU leaders" are this week to call on the EU commission "to draw up a road map for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, going beyond a unilateral target agreed in the fight against climate change."

Already, a draft final statement has been prepared by the EU's Slovenian presidency. It employs the mind-numbing language that the "colleagues" so love, declaring: "Stepping up to the more ambitious 30 percent reduction target as part of a global and comprehensive agreement needs to be built in explicitly, and in a balanced, transparent and equitable way."

And in a "balanced, transparent and equitable way", EU leaders will put their names to this fantasy document and walk away to collect the headlines. Their civil servants, on the other hand - individually and collectively - will tear their hair out, in full knowledge that the target is unachievable. Not only that, they must be aware that each of the member states governments have no intention whatsoever of even trying.

Nevertheless, Mr Brown will solemnly commend to our local parliament on Monday, in his ritual post council statement, the new targets. So life will go on, with MPs performing their usual role as a captive audience in what can only be described as fantasy politics.

What really gives the game away in this context is that, as Reuters reports, the Slovenian statement does not offer detailed plans on how the EU intends to achieve this deeper cut. Bearing in mind that the current crop of "leaders" have no idea of how they are going to achieve the 20 percent cut already agreed, this is wholly predictable. But it does make you wonder about the sanity of those involved in this process, where reality can be suspended, not only once but again and again and again.


10 questions shaping 21st-century earth science identified

The summary report from the National Research Council below identifies important questions in earth sciences. Note their summary of climate change. They clearly say that the models are not yet up to enabling accurate predictions. They certainly make clear that the science is not "settled"

Ten questions driving the geological and planetary sciences were identified today in a new report by the National Research Council. Aimed at reflecting the major scientific issues facing earth science at the start of the 21st century, the questions represent where the field stands, how it arrived at this point, and where it may be headed.

"With all the advancements over the last 20 years, we can now get a better picture of Earth by looking at it from micro- to macro-perspectives, such as discerning individual atoms in minerals or watching continents drift and mountains grow," said Donald J. DePaolo, professor of geochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "To keep the field moving forward, we have to look to the past and ask deeper fundamental questions, about the origins of the Earth and life, the structure and dynamics of planets, and the connections between life and climate, for example."

The report was requested by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, and NASA. The committee selected the question topics, without regard to agency-specific issues, and covered a variety of spatial scales -- subatomic to planetary -- and temporal scales -- from the past to the present and beyond.

The committee canvassed the geological community and deliberated at length to arrive at 10 questions. Some of the questions present challenges that scientists may not understand for decades, if ever, while others are more tractable, and significant progress could be made in a matter of years, the report says. The committee did not prioritize the 10 questions -- listed with associated illustrative issues below -- nor did it recommend specific measures for implementing them.



Earth's surface temperature has remained within a relatively narrow range for most of the last 4 billion years, but how does it stay well-regulated in the long run, even though it can change so abruptly" Study of Earth's climate extremes through history -- when climate was extremely cold or hot or changed quickly -- may lead to improved climate models that could enable scientists to predict the magnitude and consequences of climate change.


The exact ways in which geology and biology influence each other are still elusive. Scientists are interested in life's role in oxygenating the atmosphere and reshaping the surface through weathering and erosion. They also seek to understand how geological events caused mass extinctions and influenced the course of evolution.


Progress has been made in estimating the probability of future earthquakes, but scientists may never be able to predict the exact time and place an earthquake will strike. Nevertheless, they continue to decipher how fault ruptures start and stop and how much shaking can be expected near large earthquakes. For volcanic eruptions, geologists are moving toward predictive capabilities, but face the challenge of developing a clear picture of the movement of magma, from its sources in the upper mantle, through Earth's crust, to the surface where it erupts.


Good management of natural resources and the environment requires knowledge of the behavior of fluids, both below ground and at the surface, and scientists ultimately want to produce mathematical models that can predict the performance of these natural systems. Yet, it remains difficult to determine how subsurface fluids are distributed in heterogeneous rock and soil formations, how fast they flow, how effectively they transport dissolved and suspended materials, and how they are affected by chemical and thermal exchange with the host formations.


A Really Inconvenient Truth

The most inconvenient truth for climate alarmists is the burgeoning number of influential scientists with dissenting opinions on global warming. Al Gore says global warming is an inconvenient truth. "Inconvenient" adds a clever twist to the name of the would-be president's popular documentary and book. But far worthier of scrutiny is the other word in the title: "Truth."

Man-made global warming, says the former politician and a rising sea of climate alarmists, is not just inconvenient, it's an unequivocal, undeniable truth. In fact, the truth about global warming is so convincing, that "debate in the scientific community is over." Says who? Well, the United Nations for starters. February of last year, the United Nations issued a press release highlighting its latest report, which apparently proved "changes in the atmosphere, the oceans and glaciers and ice caps now show unequivocally that the world is warming due to human activities" (emphasis mine throughout). According to Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (unep), Feb. 2, 2007, will be remembered as the day "where the question mark was removed behind the debate on whether climate change has anything to do with human activity on this planet."

Then in December, at the circus-like Bali conference in Indonesia, an updated version of the report, produced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc), was embraced by scientists and world leaders alike. Since then, the report-which is riddled with qualifying statements that corrode the report's fundamental premise (that global warming is a man-made crisis)-has been touted by the mainstream press as conclusive proof of climate change. To climate activists, the case is closed on man-made global warming. But is it?

Flinging the word truth around is easy. Convicted criminals claim that the truth is they're innocent; car salesmen say the truth is they can't afford to drop the price further; a child with brownie mix smeared all over his face argues that he's telling the truth when he denies running his tongue round the mixing bowl. The real test of truth is whether or not it conforms with reality and is backed by verified, indisputable facts.

For climate alarmists, the really inconvenient truth is that a burgeoning number of scientists, climate experts and even politicians around the world are discussing facts that clash with the so-called truth that the globe is warming because of human activities. The real truth is that the theory of man-made global warming-despite being virtually canonized in the UN and the minds of a slew of politicians and celebrities, and naturally in the mainstream media-remains one of the most contentious issues in science. That contention was on full display in New York City last week.

Those who depend solely on the mainstream newsmedia to keep them informed might have missed the headlines about the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institute and featuring nearly 100 speakers and 500 attendees skeptical of man-made global warming. The highly successful three-day conference occurred in the wake of recent reports of global cooling and the release of a blockbuster U.S. Senate minority report featuring over 400 prominent scientists disputing the theory of man-made global warming. Last week's conference testified to one towering truth in the world of science: Debate within the scientific community over global warming is far from dead and buried.

The high-water mark of the conference was the presentation of a report produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (nipcc) claiming nature, not human activity, was the cause of climate change. The nipcc is comprised of international scientists and was formed as a counterforce to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

International scientists, climate experts and policymakers at the event listened to lectures and panel discussions exposing the fraud of the global warming "truth," perused studies and reports showing stark division in the scientific community over global warming, and swapped stories about how they'd been "denied tenure, shut out of scientific conferences and rejected by academic journals because no matter how scrupulous their research," their conclusions contradicted the truth espoused by the climate change pharisees (National Post, March 10). Many attendees spoke of colleagues too afraid to attend the conference for fear of losing their jobs.

Many of the details at the conference can be found in this piece from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Those who take the time to investigate the links therein will experience an eye-opening expos of the staggering scale of the global warming scam. Take funding for global warming research, for example. Over the past decade, research intended to prove the veracity of man-made global warming has been funded to the tune of $50 billion, while global warming skeptic research has received a comparatively measly $19 million.

During the conference, the Business and Media Institute (bmi), a division of Media Research Center (America's largest and most respected watchdog group), also released its comprehensive study on how the mainstream media reports on global warming. bmi's analysis of 205 network stories between July 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007, exposed the mainstream media as the largest propaganda vehicle for global warming crusaders: Global warming proponents overwhelmingly outnumbered those with dissenting opinions. On average, for every skeptic there were nearly 13 proponents featured. abc did a slightly better job with a 7-to-1 ratio, while cbs's ratio was abysmal at nearly 38-to-1. Scientists made up only 15 percent of the global warming proponents shown. The remaining 85 percent included politicians, celebrities, other journalists and even ordinary men and women.

Of the three networks (abc, nbc and cbs), 80 percent of stories (167 out of 205) didn't mention skepticism or anyone at all who dissented from global warming. cbs did the absolute worst job. Ninety-seven percent of its stories ignored other opinions. The lesson: Transforming a lie into truth before an unwitting public is made easier by silencing dissenting opinions. Eighty percent of news stories omitted the opposing view altogether. How fair and objective is that?

Media bias isn't confined to television networks. Read this March 4 article by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post on last week's climate conference in New York City. "Sponsored by the Heartland Institute," she writes, "the 2-day session poses a stark contrast to the near-unanimous chorus of concern expressed by top U.S. politicians and most of the scientific mainstream."

"Stark contrast to the near-unanimous chorus of concern"? Might the perceived "near-unanimous" concern about man-made global warming be a result of the gag-order imposed on thousands of scientists and hundreds of reporters from around the world espousing a dissenting opinion? Any person who watches cbs News or reads the Washington Post would be forgiven for joining the ranks of those who believe global warming is a man-made crisis. Why? Because unanimity is easy when dissenting voices are ignored.

Despite Al Gore and the UN's claim that the case is closed on global warming, there are dissenting voices! Besides last week's conference in New York, besides the 400 skeptical scientists that signed the U.S. Senate minority report released a few months ago, countless other studies show dissent in the scientific community over man's role in global warming. One Canadian survey of 51,000 earth scientists and engineers by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (apegga), released last week, showed that 68 percent disagreed with the statement that "the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled."

Near-unanimous? Later in the Post piece, Eilperin compares the UN-sponsored ipcc report with the nipcc report, finishing the section with a snappy little jab by saying that some of the authors of the nipcc report "were not scientists." The clear implication is that the nipcc report lacks scientific credibility, which is patently untrue.

But let's address scientific credibility. According to the bmi study mentioned above, just 15 percent of global warming proponents shown on network television are scientists, while the remaining 85 percent are politicians, celebrities and ordinary men and women (whose viewpoints are often shaped by the mainstream press). Clearly, scientific credibility is not a primary concern of the global warming propaganda machine.

Eilperin concluded her piece with a series of quotes from climate alarmists taking potshots at the so-called quacks who attended the New York conference. Because the media and many politicians are now ignoring the climate skeptics, she wrote, quoting Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, "They have to get together to talk to each other, because nobody else is talking to them."

Oppenheimer's remark makes for a tidy little soundbite. But in truth, that conference illustrated the rising tide of scientists proving themselves willing to come out and declare man-made global warming to be a giant fraud. The U.S. Senate Commmittee on Environment and Public Works reports: In such nations as Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Russia, Argentina, New Zealand, Portugal and France, groups of scientists have recently spoken out to oppose and debunk man-made climate fears....

In January 2008, environmental scientist professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder and director of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, announced publicly that he considered Co2-related climate fears to be "dangerous nonsense."

In addition, at least one scientist publicly pondered reconsidering his view of man-made climate fears after the Senate report of 400 scientists was released in December. "It (the Senate 400 scientists report) got me thinking: I'm an environmental scientist, but I've never had time to review the `evidence' for the anthropogenic causes of global warming," wrote environmental scientist professor Rami Zurayk of the American University in Beirut on Dec. 27, 2007. "When I said, in my opening speech for the launch of unep's (United Nations Environment Program) Global Environment Outlook-4 in Beirut: `There is now irrevocable evidence that climate change is taking place .' I was reading from a statement prepared by unep. Faith-based science it may be, but who has time to review all the evidence? I'll continue to act on the basis of anthropogenic climate change, but I really need to put some more time into this," Zurayk wrote.

Professor Zurayk's stark admission raises an interesting question: How many scientists on the man-is-the-cause-of-global-warming bandwagon are there simply because they have followed their colleagues, the UN, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Bono? How many have proven, scientifically, that global warming has been induced by man?

The collective embrace of man-made global warming as the cause of the growing number of environmental and climate disasters is a globe-encompassing red herring, a giant distraction from the real cause of these natural catastrophes.

Environmental and climate disasters are indeed becoming more common. But the primary and fundamental cause of these problems is not global warming. To learn more about the great global warming hoax, the real causes of environmental and climate disasters, and the solution for these crises, read "The Politics of Global Warming" and "The Cause of Weather Crises."


Cellulosic ethanol: not likely to be viable

The article below is from the Greenie "Gristmill". Occasionally they get it -- when it suits their message of doom

Cellulosic ethanol represents a beacon on the horizon -- the justification cited by wiseguys like Vinod Khosla for dropping billions per year in public cash to prop up corn ethanol production. Corn ethanol, you see, is a bridge to a bright cellulosic future. But the beacon is looking more and more like a mirage, a ghost, a specter; the bridge we're hurtling down may well lead to a chasm. A quiet consensus seems to be forming among people you'd think would know the facts on the ground: cellulosic ethanol, touted as five years away from viability for decades now, may never be viable.

Last fall, a researcher from the USDA -- an agency that has lavished ethanol with research cash since the '70s -- declared that while cellulosic has "some long-term promise" (some?), we shouldn't expect it to contribute significantly to fuel supplies before 2013. Then in January, Colin Peterson -- chair of the House Ag Committee and a long-time friend of agribiz -- let slip that "I'm not sure cellulosic ethanol will ever get off the ground." He muttered something about "a lot bigger problem to overcome here than people realize in terms of the feedstocks."

Now we get a new study (PDF) from a trio of ag economists at Iowa State University. For the record, the authors are conventional ag scholars firmly entrenched within the corporate-dominated research world described so well by Nancy Scola in her recent "Monsanto U." post. Indeed, one of the authors holds the Pioneer Hi-Bred International Chair in Agribusiness. (Pioneer is the genetically modified seed arm of the chemical giant Dupont.) The researchers' patrons -- i.e., the agribiz giants -- benefit from the corn-as-bridge-to-cellulosic myth; it keeps those highly profitable government goodies coming. So it's surprising to see these mainstream economists deliver such a dismal forecast for cellulosic ethanol.

To come up with their forecasts, the authors do their economists' trick of creating a model and plugging in various assumptions. They start by calculating that without the latest round of goodies -- i.e., the fat "Renewable Fuel Standard" of the 2007 Energy Act -- cellulosic ethanol (and biodiesel, too) would have withered away. In that scenario, corn ethanol would keep ramping up from the current level of about 7 billion gallons, pushed by high oil prices and the $0.51/gallon tax credit that's existed for years. Here's what they say would have happened by 2022, if the 2007 Act had never happened (economists lay out their conditional, speculative scenarios in the simple present tense):
The corn ethanol sector expands until total production exceeds 18 billion gallons per year. Biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass are not viable in this scenario. Cellulosic ethanol never expands, and the biodiesel sector contracts so that there are no biodiesel plants operating in the long run.
They add a bit that I found particularly devastating: "These results suggest that [without the 2007 Energy Act], once the opportunity cost of land is taken into account, rational farmers will not grow switchgrass or soybeans for biofuel production, and rational investors will not build these plants." Believe me, that thing about "rational" farmers and investors is strong stuff, coming from conventional economists.

Now, what happens when we account for the 2007 Act's hefty mandate? Current production, almost all from corn, stands at about 7 billion gallons. The act demands 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022, of which 15 billion comes from corn, and the other 21 billion gallons comes from cellulosic (and to a much less extent biodiesel).

The authors seriously doubt the cellulosic target can even come close to being met. They reckon that the mandate can inspire "rational" farmers and investors to churn out 4.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022 -- but there's a catch. In order to reach even that level, the government will have to significantly jack up the tax credit awarded to mixers -- from the current 51 cents to $1.55.

The message is this: Even with the fat 2007 Act mandate, cellulosic ethanol can only offset a tiny amount of petroleum use -- and then only if it's borne aloft by titanic amounts of public cash.



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


14 March, 2008


An email from John A of Climate Audit []

I focus on the new challenge from Andrew Revkin:
"A question for climate skeptics: I presume you agree there's at least a chance you could be wrong, just as you assert those pointing to a clearcut climate apocalypse have little basis for their claims. On that front, I'd be curious to know what you'd propose as a backup plan if the climate's sensitivity to CO2 turns out to be higher than you think?"
Where is the empirical evidence that the earth's climate has any measureable sensitivity to carbon dioxide rise? Theoretically in an equilibrium situation carbon dioxide rises should cause warming. But then we're not in an equilibrium situation. Personally I am baffled by calculations of "climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide" which ignore the fundamental problem that all reconstructions of carbon dioxide versus temperature from ice cores show that temperatures rise first and then centuries later carbon dioxide (and that other dread GHG methane) begin to rise.

Even while carbon dioxide continues to rise , the previous started warming proceeds at the same rate, and then stops abruptly and begins a relatively slow decline. I am baffled because of two things:

1. How can supposed cause or even amplification of temperature rise by carbon dioxide induced warming be deduced from this behaviour which is the reverse of that assumed in greenhouse theory?

2. If the ice core records are correct about the amount of carbon dioxide in ancient atmospheres being lower than today's value (which in itself opens a whole new can of worms about ice core sampling), and given that the theoretical response of temperature rise to carbon dioxide rise is logarithmic, why don't any ice cores show any sensitivity to carbon dioxide at lower levels when the sensitivity should be much higher?

I ask these questions genuinely openly without sarcasm. Which brings me to Andrew Revkin's question: Andrew Revkin assumes that "climate skeptics" are a priori biased for some reason unable to see the marvellous truth of greenhouse gas theory, but why should anyone believe in a theory for which there is no empirical evidence? What if we've all been steamrollered into accepting a hypothesis of "climate sensitivity" to carbon dioxide which is false? If the sensitivity is even higher, as Andrew Revkin asks us to consider, why has this never been seen in the past when amounts of carbon dioxide were much lower?

So first, before too much else happens, before we invent fantastical geo-engineering schemes to manage the Earth's climate, will someone explain what is the climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide rise eight hundred years hence upon the temperature rise of today?

Man the Lifeboats - Global Warming Alarmism Is Swamping Debate

Media ignore opposition, call scientists 'flat Earthers' to sink climate change dispute

To hear the mainstream media tell it, we have a Titanic problem with global warming. Not large, but Titanic in that they believe "unsinkable" mankind is facing a looming cataclysm. How do they know? Because some scientists tell them that's the way it is. But when other scientists tell them that might not be the case, they only half listen and soon forget.

Such is the fate of the unprecedented 2008 International Conference on Climate Change put on by the Heartland Institute. That event drew 500 scientists, economists and public policy experts to New York to discuss the flaws in the Al Gorean "consensus" on global warming. It should have been big news, but the media never gave it a fair chance. Reporters mischaracterized the three-day event as "quirky" or a "roast" of Al Gore and called attendees "flat Earthers," as if we would sail right off the edge of the world.

The event had such promise. Along with about 100 scientists from around the globe, actual members of the mainstream media attended representing The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and major networks like ABC and CNN. And that's where things went off course. ABC had two of its top people there - John Stossel and Bill Blakemore. But no stories. That was typical. None of the broadcast network coverage the week of the event even acknowledged the conference existed.

CNN viewers would have been better off if the network had followed the same course. One-time anchor Miles O'Brien, famous for dozing during a global warming hearing on Capitol Hill, went full speed to the attack. This time O'Brien was wide awake and compared the conference to "scientific trash talks." He mocked Heartland Institute President Joe Bast, saying, "I can't help but think you're living on a different planet than I am." O'Brien ended his piece by noting "even the Flat Earth Society didn't fold its tent in 1493."

Print coverage was nearly as bad. While some discussed the conference intelligently - like Investor's Business Daily or columnist John Tierney from the Times - others used it as one more chance to sink opposition to the hype surrounding manmade global warming. Times reporter Andrew Revkin seemed perplexed that he was "forced to cover the edges of the discourse" rather than "relax" with his family. But Revkin soon made up for it. Just seven paragraphs into one of the pieces he wrote on the conference, he turned to an expert to help him understand those wacky conservatives, rather than focus on the science being discussed.

He cited "Riley E. Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who has studied the influence of conservative policy institutes," and Dunlap gave the predictable sound bites. He said such groups "can hardly be considered to be underdogs" because they are, in Revkin's words, so "well financed." For one last salvo, Revkin cited a Greenpeace activist who also attacked the event.

The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin quoted Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters, who said he's "sure that the flat Earth society had a few final meetings before they broke up." That quote ran the morning of the CNN broadcast. It's unclear if O'Brien lifted his material from the left. Let's just say he's on board with their agenda. Eilperin also showed she learned nothing from the conference. Less than a week later, she wrote a front-page story saying humans need to "cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades." She included no other viewpoints on that radical statement. I guess that means we all have to stop exhaling soon.

According to Eilperin, the study she cited was based, like many climate predictions, on "increasingly powerful" computer models and "scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time." In other words, climate models aren't necessarily accurate. Had she paid more attention to the conference, she would have heard from famous climatologist and hurricane forecaster Bill Gray criticizing the reliance on climate models instead of climate science. She might even have quoted him. Just two days after the conference, "CBS Evening News" was warning that threatened bat populations were "the canary in a climate change coal mine."

Those stories, and hundreds more like them, helped prove one of the very points the conference intended to make - that the mainstream media have given up the role of observer and become advocates for one side in the climate debate.


Sprawl & Climate Change

From the editor of "Ecoworld"

If you read EcoWorld at all, you'll know where we stand. Today we continued to post on the listserve of, an excellent resource for urban foresters to exchange tactical information on how to plant and maintain healthy urban treescapes. When their dialogue moves from tactics to strategy and theory, a few realities emerge. First of all, most of these urban foresters work for government agencies, and secondly, nearly all of them subscribe to "smart growth" principles. And over the past few days we've indulged in a flurry of posts on that listserve to hopefully convince some of them to think twice about all the conventional "smart growth" wisdom that has become almost impossible to challenge.

Eight fundamental criticisms of smart growth constitute our premise, expressed in some detail in our post "Letter from Wingnuttia." Here are our criticisms of smart growth principles in brief:

1 - It creates "urban service boundaries" that artificially inflate the price of land.
2 - It emphasizes public space over private ownership.
3 - It declares war on the car, the most liberating device ever invented.
4 - It promotes high-density infill even if that destroys semi-rural suburbs.
5 - It embraces a double standard, fighting new suburbs, but embracing (for example) biofuel farms.
6 - It presumes that mandated, subsidized, mixed housing will alleviate social problems.
7 - It falsely claims there is a shortage of open space and farmland.
8 - It arrogantly maintains these principles are well settled and beyond debate.

While we'd like to thank the many people who have anonymously emailed and thanked us for taking on the smart growth crowd, the fact is most public bureaucrats, even those who have given their careers over the noble goal of planting trees, believe in all these principles. So we are attempting to enlighten them. Here is the latest salvo, on the topic of sprawl and climate change.


It is absolutely unproven that CO2 causes climate change. In fact, if you look at the last 10-15 years of temperature data, the average temperature in the troposphere has been going down, which completely belies conventional wisdom regarding global warming. There are virtually no powerful vested interests challenging global warming alarm - the "alarm industry" is the reality, not the opposite. Doesn't that make any of you suspicious?

This is pertinent, because CO2 alarmism is the trump card the smart growth proponants use to end all discussion regarding density, and no matter how you slice it, the greater the density, the fewer trees. Once you take away the CO2 argument, there is a strong case to be made that low urban densities are actually less likely than high density to cause global warming and climate change. Even if CO2 were pollution, and it is not, the electric car uses energy far more efficiently than gasoline powered cars, and they are just around the corner.

The notion that "markets" are actually trying to create high density is also easily challenged. Markets go where the regulatory reality forces them to go. If you force people to do infill projects with ultra high density, through mandates, tax incentives and subsidies, then of course that's what they will do. If you artificially force the price of development entitled land to prices upwards of $300K per acre (when land across the street, non-entitled, is only worth $3,000 per acre - no perversion of the market there!), of course a developer will want to put more homes on that acre. Especially when not only do they get to make more money this way, but they also get to claim they are doing it "for the earth." Markets don't need any help to create high density where there's a genuine market for it, such as in the urban core of large cities. Nor should markets be restricted from delivering affordable low density housing solutions where there's a market for that, on the quiet outskirts of metropolitan areas. Zoning laws should protect low density neighborhoods, not destroy them.

Everyone reading this should ask themselves - how would all this "smart growth" feel if they had to wonder when a subsidized multi-family dwelling was going to get constructed next to their home on a traditional sized lot (with all the trees on the adjacent lot being cut down)? Who are these social engineers, using questionable scientific justifications, to ruin the neighborhood via high-density infill where people have invested their life savings? Would you wonder that, if you didn't work in the public sector, where your retirement pension depends on artificially jacking up property values to raise property tax revenues in order to keep public entities solvent? Did it ever occur to those of you working in the public sector that if you got social security and medicare like the rest of us, maybe we'd finally reform and bolster those programs?

Social engineers, spouting questionable science, in the name of "smart growth," are refusing to let the market drive development, and they are going to make our cities and suburbs unlivable. The only trees that will exist in this urban model advocated by the smart growth crowd will be trees on public land maintained by public employees. People will be made to feel guilty and will have to pay punitive taxes if they have a big yard with trees. Everyone in low density neighborhoods will be at risk of seeing a high-density low-income subsidized infill project ruin their neighborhood.

Do you love trees, or do you love trees when they create public sector jobs? That is a pertinent question. Do you believe CO2 is going to destroy the earth, or is it a convenient way to keep your pension solvent and fund your public sector tree plantings, while trees on private land are exterminated via infill? That is also a pertinent question.


Pollution a byproduct of `Clean' fuel

After residents of the Riverbend Farms subdivision noticed that an oily, fetid substance had begun fouling the Black Warrior River, which runs through their backyards, Mark Storey, a retired petroleum plant worker, hopped into his boat to follow it upstream to its source. It turned out to be an old chemical factory that had been converted into Alabama's first biodiesel plant, a refinery that intended to turn soybean oil into earth-friendly fuel. "I'm all for the plant," Mr. Storey said. "But I was really amazed that a plant like that would produce anything that could get into the river without taking the necessary precautions."

But the oily sheen on the water returned again and again, and a laboratory analysis of a sample taken in March 2007 revealed that the ribbon of oil and grease being released by the plant - it resembled Italian salad dressing - was 450 times higher than permit levels typically allow, and that it had drifted at least two miles downstream. The spills, at the Alabama Biodiesel Corporation plant outside this city about 17 miles from Tuscaloosa, are similar to others that have come from biofuel plants in the Midwest. The discharges, which can be hazardous to birds and fish, have many people scratching their heads over the seeming incongruity of pollution from an industry that sells products with the promise of blue skies and clear streams.

"Ironic, isn't it?" said Barbara Lynch, who supervises environmental compliance inspectors for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "This is big business. There's a lot of money involved."

Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production, with 42 ethanol and biodiesel refineries in production and 18 more plants under construction, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. In the summer of 2006, a Cargill biodiesel plant in Iowa Falls improperly disposed of 135,000 gallons of liquid oil and grease, which ran into a stream killing hundreds of fish.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, a trade group, biodiesel is nontoxic, biodegradable and suitable for sensitive environments, but scientists say that position understates its potential environmental impact. "They're really considered nontoxic, as you would expect," said Bruce P. Hollebone, a researcher with Environment Canada in Ottawa and one of the world's leading experts on the environmental impact of vegetable oil and glycerin spills. "You can eat the stuff, after all," Mr. Hollebone said. "But as with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill."

Other states have also felt the impact. Leanne Tippett Mosby, a deputy division director of environmental quality for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said she was warned a year ago by colleagues in other states that biodiesel producers were dumping glycerin, the main byproduct of biodiesel production, contaminated with methanol, another waste product that is classified as hazardous.

Glycerin, an alcohol that is normally nontoxic, can be sold for secondary uses, but it must be cleaned first, a process that is expensive and complicated. Expanded production of biodiesel has flooded the market with excess glycerin, making it less cost-effective to clean and sell. Ms. Tippett Mosby did not have to wait long to see the problem. In October, an anonymous caller reported that a tanker truck was dumping milky white goop into Belle Fountain Ditch, one of the many man-made channels that drain Missouri's Bootheel region. That substance turned out to be glycerin from a biodiesel plant.

In January, a grand jury indicted a Missouri businessman in the discharge, which killed at least 25,000 fish and wiped out the population of fat pocketbook mussels, an endangered species.

Back in Alabama, Nelson Brooke of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Black Warrior River and its tributaries, received a report in September 2006 of a fish kill that stretched 20 miles downstream from Moundville. Even though Mr. Brooke said he found oil in the water around the dead fish, the state Department of Environmental Management determined that natural, seasonal changes in oxygen levels in the water could have been the culprit. The agency did not charge Alabama Biodiesel. In August, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, in a complaint filed in Federal District Court, documented at least 24 occasions when oil was spotted in the water near the plant.

More here


By Dennis Avery []. (DENNIS T. AVERY is a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and is the Director for the Center for Global Food Issues. ( He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State.)

The EU steel industry is terrified that Europe's new cap-and-trade system of penalizing steel-plant emissions will cost 50,000 of its 300,000 steel-industry jobs. But don't worry, if the EU gets serious about cap-and-trade, it will simply violate the rules of the World Trade Organization and start taxing imported steel for the CO2 emissions from Indian and Chinese steel plants.

The problem won't be lost jobs in Europe's steel or plastics industries. The problem will be that virtually nothing new will be manufactured for Europe.

* No new appliances or autos. They take too much steel.

* No new concrete roads or brick buildings. Cement-making produces about 7 percent of the human-emitted CO2 emissions. Bricks must be fired in CO2-producing kilns.

* No nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizer currently uses 5 percent of the world's fossil fuels. If Farmers are forced to go all-organic, their yields will fall by half. There will either be wide-spread hunger and/or Europe's remaining wildlife will be crowded off the continent by the need to plant more low-yield crops.

* Factories will turn back to water wheels to save electricity.

In fact, the model for Europe low-emission future is-Cuba! Under Castro, especially since the Soviets stopped gifting the Cubans with free oil and fertilizer, Cuba has developed the closest thing on the planet to a "modern low-energy society."

Instead of making new cars in emission-prone factories, Cuba's workers spend their time machining new parts for the island's few 1950s relics on elderly lathes left over from its sugar-exporting days. Castro originally sold clothing through the food rationing system, but now most of the clothing comes from antique sewing machines run by Cuba's women.

The women also produce much of their families' food in urban gardens, since the ration system doesn't deliver much. Cuba's ration cards are good for 6 pounds of rice per capita per month, 20 ounces of beans, six pounds of sugar, and 15 pounds of potatoes or bananas. Cubans get less than one quart of milk for each kid under 7 per month, but cool, rainy Europe may offer its consumers a bit more milk and cheese and a lot fewer bananas.

Cubans get a pound of beef per month, and two pounds of chicken-though often the "meat" is hamburger mixed with soy flour, or "chicken tenders" made partly with chicken and mostly with "other." Europe's per capita food supply will plummet to similar levels when fertilizer plants consume too many "energy points."

The official Cuban transport system is energy-efficient hitch-hiking. With so few vehicles, and little gasoline, cars and trucks that refuse to pick up hitch-hikers on the highway are fined for a "crime against society."

Tourism is Cuba's biggest industry now, but that won't work for a Kyoto-driven Europe. The EU won't have any fuel for airplanes, and precious little for buses. Nor is Cuba building big rental houses on the beaches any more to attract their tourists. In fact, one of Cuba's big problems is that Hurricane Michelle in 2001 destroyed or damaged 100,000 homes, which the Castro economy has been largely unable to rebuild. There isn't much heavy equipment for such projects. As a Kyoto bonus, Michelle's damage to Cuba's electric grid was severe.

Best of all, 90 percent of the jobs are with the Cuban government. No complaints allowed, even if your wife has to sew your shirts and hoe the garden in the hot sun. Kids over 11 owe 45 days per summer working on the farms, which teaches them how to control weeds and bugs without any nasty pesticides. What a perfect post-fossil Green society!


Stop washing your hair: Greasy hair makes for clean air

Greasy hair may not help you to attract the object of your affection, but it might reduce the amount of ozone you breathe in. Lakshmi Pandrangi and Glenn Morrison from the University of Missouri in Rolla exposed eight washed and eight unwashed hair samples to ozone for 24 hours. They found that, on average, unwashed hair absorbs around seven times as much ozone as freshly washed hair. "Ozone is probably reacting with components of hair oil," says Morrison.

Ground-level ozone can cause respiratory problems and has been associated with increased mortality. Morrison says that having greasy hair could reduce your ozone exposure if you are indoors. "For dirty hair, the ozone concentration around the head is likely to be substantially lower than the level in the room," he says.

However, just before you throw out your shampoo, Pandrangi and Morrison found that unwashed hair samples produced more secondary-reaction products, such as the respiratory irritant 4-oxopentanal, because of the ozone reacting with the hair oil.

Since elderly and sick people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, Pandrangi and Morrison suggest that indoor air should be filtered to reduce ozone, rather than focusing all our efforts on cleaning up ozone smog.



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


13 March, 2008


Excerpt below from Physics Today -- March 2008

Is climate sensitive to solar variability?

By Scafetta, N. et al.

[...] Thus the average global temperature record presents secular patterns of 22- and 11-year cycles and a short time-scale fluctuation signature (with apparent inverse power-law statistics), both of which appear to be induced by solar dynamics. The same patterns are poorly reproduced by present-day GCMs and are dismissively interpreted as internal variability (noise) of climate. The nonequilibrium thermodynamic models we used suggest that the Sun is influencing climate significantly more than the IPCC report claims. If climate is as sensitive to solar changes as the above phenomenological findings suggest, the current anthropogenic contribution to global warming is significantly overestimated. We estimate that the Sun could account for as much as 69% of the increase in Earth's average temperature, depending on the TSI reconstruction used. Furthermore, if the Sun does cool off, as some solar forecasts predict will happen over the next few decades, that cooling could stabilize Earth's climate and avoid the catastrophic consequences predicted in the IPCC report.

FULL PAPER here or here (PDF).

Trash journalism at The Washington Post

I try not to comment on global warming stories, but The Washington Post put a story on today's front page that is so monumentally bad that I can't pull myself away from the keyboard. The premise of the story by Juliet Eilperin is well-expressed by its headline: "Carbon Output Must Near Zero To Avert Danger, New Studies Say". Eilperin prominently quotes Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of one of the studies promoted by the article, who says: "The question is, what if we don't want the Earth to warm anymore?" Well, that's a question, but it's certainly not the question, and is not even a very good question. I think a much better question might be something like "What are the costs versus benefits of reducing emissions to avoid warming?"

The article never addresses this question, and instead elides between a battery of technical experts asserting that carbon emissions create problems, and interested political actors saying "common sense is that we would not let the planet be destroyed".

What's so funny is that Eilperin never seems to be willing do the work to pick up the trail of breadcrumbs that all her interviewees leave behind them. She writes that "Most scientists warn that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) could have serious consequences." Really - how serious? Well, according to the UN IPCC a 4C increase - twice this amount - would reduce global economic output by 1% - 5%. Oh yeah, that's in the world of the 22nd century which is expected to have per capita consumption of something like $40,000 per year versus our current consumption of about $6,600 per year. So we are condemning future generations to be only 5.7 times richer than us, rather than 6 times richer.

She quotes a scientist's "tremendous" finding that under a business-as-usual scenario Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, without mentioning that this is 4C, or well within the forecast range of the current business-as-usual projections for warming by 2100 of the most recent UN IPCC report. Also note that this is the amount of warming that is projected to cost a much richer world about 3% of its consumption.

Naturally, Eilperin has a "narrative" for why the world seems to resist the manifestly correct course of action so stubbornly. She says that "some climate researchers who back major greenhouse gas reductions said it is unrealistic to expect policymakers to think in terms of such vast time scales." She then quotes two climate researchers who say nothing about this subject. Finally, we get to a philosophy professor who gives her what she wants, when he says that global warming "is a classic inter-generational debate, where the short-term benefits of emitting carbon accrue mainly to us and where the dangers of them are largely put off until future generations."

How can we be so selfish? I guess American democracy just can't handle the complexity of the issue. We need a Leader who can get us past this petty squabbling and Take Action.



Oh, that pesky law of unintended consequences. Just last month, we learned the use of crops for biofuel (ethanol) production may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. Not such good news, considering the recently passed federal energy bill mandates a six-fold increase in biofuel production to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022.

The latest flaw to be found in the energy bill: The Financial Times reports that Canada has warned the U.S. that an expansive interpretation of the energy bill would make Canada's oil sands off-limits to U.S. importation. The bill requires the greenhouse gas emissions from alternative fuels to be equal to or less than those from conventional fuels. If oil sands were classified as a non-conventional fuel, U.S.-Canada trade (and relations) would take a major hit, and global oil supplies would be crimped, with one energy expert warning that "$106 a barrel is going to look cheap."

So let's do a quick review of the energy bill so far: environmental degradation, rampant food inflation, and a potential Third World famine due to corn ethanol; increased potential for mercury exposure from mandatory CFL bulbs; and the prospect of a ticked-off major trading partner on our northern border and an increased dependence on ever-more-expensive Middle Eastern crude. If this is the best the Beltway class can do, hopefully the public will become more inclined to trust the private sector and free markets to find solutions.


A collusive silence in the British media

Today, I ask a simple, but immensely serious, question: "Why has the UK media, in pretty well all its forms, failed to report `The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change', signed in New York on March 4, 2008?" The meeting at which the `Declaration' was agreed [`The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change', March 2 - March 4] was attended by over 500 people (scientists, economists, policy makers, etc.), with over 100 speakers delivering keynote addresses, or participating in panel discussions. Sadly, I think we know the answer, and it is one that reflects very badly on our supine UK media [the only exception of note appears to be The Sunday Telegraph, March 9: `Climate dissent grows hotter as chill deepens']. If ever evidence were needed of the dangerous `control' of our media by pernicious grand narratives, then this is surely it. Luckily, we bloggers can break the deafening silence. Here, then, is the `Declaration' for you to read for yourself, unadorned, unedited, and unfiltered by any media:
The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change

`Global warming' is not a global crisis

We, the scientists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change,

Resolving that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method;

Affirming that global climate has always changed and always will, independent of the actions of humans, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but rather a necessity for all life;

Recognising that the causes and extent of recently observed climatic change are the subject of intense debates in the climate science community and that oft-repeated assertions of a supposed `consensus' among climate experts are false;

Affirming that attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 emission reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing, human suffering;

Noting that warmer weather is generally less harmful to life on Earth than colder:

Hereby declare:

That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity's real and serious problems.

That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.

That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate.

That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples.

That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.

Now, therefore, we recommend -

That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as An Inconvenient Truth.

That all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

Agreed at New York, 4 March 2008.

I should also like to leave you with the following interesting commentary on the proceedings: `NY Climate Conference: Journey to the Center of Warming Sanity' (American Thinker, March 6), which begins with the seminal point:
"If you rely solely on the mainstream media to keep informed, you may not have heard that the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change concluded in New York City on Tuesday. And if you have heard anything - this being primarily a forum of skeptics - it was likely of a last gasp effort by `flat-Earthers' sponsored by right-wingers in the pockets of big-oil to breathe life into their dying warming denial agenda. Well, having just returned from the 3 day event, I'm happy to report that the struggle against the ravages of warming alarmism is not only alive, but healthier than ever."
Now you know - but no thanks indeed to our UK media. We should be asking some urgent questions about media independence and balance.


Tin whiskers: Sometimes going green hurts more than it helps

If you own almost any electricity-powered device, this concerns you

[Tin whiskers affect] all of your soldered devices that are two years old or less. Most of these are now assembled using solder joints that have no lead in an effort to save our groundwater and our health. The fact that the lead has been generally replaced with silver or bismuth, both of which are actually greater health risks than lead, well we'll leave that one for Ralph Nader if he decides not to run for President. The longer-term trend is toward all-tin connections, anyway, but they don't work very well, either.

I wrote a column about this back in 2004 (it's in this week's links) that was heavy on information and therefore low on readership. Everything in that column has come to pass and more. Where's my Pulitzer Prize? Costs have gone up, mean time between failures (MTBF) has gone down (accelerated MTBF tests, which are the only MTBF tests we do anymore, don't reliably pick this up, by the way), and reliability has suffered. Since we don't fix things anymore, it's hard to say whether your gizmo failed because of bad solder or not, but the problem is becoming worse as a greater percentage of total circuits in use have lead-free solder. The military was especially concerned, even before the whisker crisis.

We're talking about tin whiskers, single crystals that mysteriously grow from pure tin joints but not generally from tin-lead solder joints. Nobody knows how or why these whiskers grow and nobody knows how to stop them, except through the use of lead solder. Whiskers can start growing in a decade or a year or a day after manufacture. They can grow at up to nine millimeters per year. They grow in any atmosphere including a pure vacuum. They grow in any humidity condition. They just grow. And when they get long enough they either touch another joint, shorting out one or more connections, or they vaporize in a flash, creating a little plasma cloud that can carry for an instant hundreds of amps and literally blow your device to pieces.

Since 2006 we have been exclusively manufacturing soldered connections thousands of times more likely to create tin whiskers than previous generation joints made with tin-lead solder. Because of the universal phase-in of the new solder technology and the fact that the solder technologies can't reliably be mixed (old solders mess with new solder joints in the same device through simple outgassing) this means that it is practically impossible to use older, more reliable technology just for mission-critical (even life-critical) connections. So we're all in this tin boat together.

Some experts confidently say that the disparity of joint reliability we are seeing today will go away and that the new joints will become as reliable or even more reliable than the old tin-lead joints as we gain experience with the new processes. What's disturbing, though, is that these experts don't actually know how this increased reliability is likely to be achieved. Just like extrapolating a Moore's Law curve to figure out how fast or how cheap technology is likely to be a decade from now, they have no idea how these gains will be made, just confidence that they will be.

What if the experts are wrong? Tin whiskers can take out your iPod or your network. They can stop your car cold. They can take down an entire airport or Citibank. They are much more common than most people -- even most experts -- think. The reason for this is that most tin whiskers can't even be seen.

"Maybe it is worth adding," said one expert who prefers to remain anonymous, "that whisker diameters range from 0.1 um to 10 um, while the diameter of a human hair is 70 um to 100 um --- so the largest whisker is only some 15 percent of the diameter of a thin hair, and most are less than 5 percent. A good fraction (of these are) so thin that light waves just pass them by, scattering a bit but not reflecting. So the optical microscope images that (typically used to illustrate whiskers) show only a small fraction of what is really there. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images are a bit better, but only show a small zone of the sample; also, not many folks are able to acquire SEM images of their equipment. So all too many folks have the idea that whiskers are something that happens to someone else, but never to them. This is an expensive misconception."

What I wonder is whether a cost-benefit analysis of this solder technology changeover was ever done? I haven't seen one. And if you think this problem is minor, I have been told that just the cost of changing to lead-free solder stands right now at $280 BILLION and climbing. That cost is borne by all of us. Maybe dumping lead solder was absolutely the right thing to do. Maybe it was absolutely the wrong thing to do. The truth is we haven't the slightest idea the answer to that question and anyone who claims to know is wrong. We didn't know what would happen when we started this and we don't know what we'll get out of it, either, or whether it will be worth the cost. All we know for sure is that a bumpy ride lies ahead.



The growth in China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is far outpacing previous estimates, making the goal of stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gases even more difficult, according to a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and UC San Diego.

Previous estimates, including those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, say the region that includes China will see a 2.5 to 5 percent annual increase in CO2 emissions, the largest contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gases, between 2004 and 2010. The new UC analysis puts that annual growth rate for China to at least 11 percent for the same time period.

The study is scheduled for print publication in the May issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, but is now online. The researchers' most conservative forecast predicts that by 2010, there will be an increase of 600 million metric tons of carbon emissions in China over the country's levels in 2000. This growth from China alone would dramatically overshadow the 116 million metric tons of carbon emissions reductions pledged by all the developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol. (The protocol was never ratified in the United States, which was the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide until 2006, when China took over that distinction, according to numerous reports.)

Put another way, the projected annual increase in China alone over the next several years is greater than the current emissions produced by either Great Britain or Germany.

Based upon these findings, the authors say current global warming forecasts are "overly optimistic," and that action is urgently needed to curb greenhouse gas production in China and other rapidly industrializing countries.

The authors of the study, Maximillian Auffhammer, UC Berkeley assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics, and Richard Carson, UC San Diego professor of economics, based their findings upon pollution data from China's 30 provincial entities.

Auffhammer said this paper should serve as an alarm challenging the widely held belief that actions taken by the wealthy, industrialized nations alone represent a viable strategy towards the goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

"Making China and other developing countries an integral part of any future climate agreement is now even more important," said Auffhammer. "It had been expected that the efficiency of China's power generation would continue to improve as per capita income increased, slowing down the rate of CO2 emissions growth. What we're finding instead is that the emissions growth rate is surpassing our worst expectations, and that means the goal of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 is going to be much, much harder to achieve."

Researchers traditionally calculate the CO2 emissions for a region or country from data on fossil fuel consumption. Existing models then use those emission figures and factor in such variables as population size, a society's affluence and technology developments to forecast the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

In explaining the startling differences in results from previous estimates for China's carbon emissions growth, the UC researchers point out that they used province-level figures in their analysis to obtain a more detailed picture of the country's CO2 emissions up to 2004.

"Everybody had been treating China as single country, but each of the country's provinces is larger than many European countries, both in geographic size and population," said Carson. "In addition, there is a wide range in economic development and wealth from one province to the next, as well as major differences in population growth, all of which has an effect on energy consumption that cannot be easily addressed in models based upon aggregate national data."

Since data on fossil fuel consumption is not reported at the province level in China, the researchers used waste gas emissions, available from China's state environmental protection administration reports, as a proxy for CO2 emissions in this paper.

Moreover, the researchers said, the majority of other studies forecasting China's CO2 emissions relied upon information from nearly a decade ago. During the 1990s, per capita income was growing faster than the use of energy in China, which typically relates to slower growth in carbon emissions.

"A notable shift occurred in China around the year 2000, around the time when hope for an agreement with the U.S. on the Kyoto Protocol began to diminish along with external pressure for China to reduce its emissions," said Carson. "Energy use started to grow faster than income, and much of the energy that was used wasn't efficient."

The authors also pointed out that after 2000, China's central government began shifting the responsibility for building new power plants to provincial officials who had less incentive and fewer resources to build cleaner, more efficient plants, which save money in the long run but are more expensive to construct.

"Government officials turned away from energy efficiency as an objective to expanding power generation as quickly as they can, and as cheaply as they can," said Carson. "Wealthier coastal provinces tended to build clean-burning power plants based upon the very best technology available, but many of the poorer interior provinces replicated inefficient 1950s Soviet technology."

"The problem is that power plants, once built, are meant to last for 40 to 75 years," said Carson. "These provincial officials have locked themselves into a long-run emissions trajectory that is much higher than people had anticipated. Our forecast incorporates the fact that much of China is now stuck with power plants that are dirty and inefficient."



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


12 March, 2008

Some Inconvenient Omissions by the "Global Warming" camp

The environmentalists have been pitching this `consensus' nonsense that man-made emissions of greenhouse gasses is going to lead to catastrophic global warming for some time now. They cite charts and graphs created by grossly exaggerated computer models and say that everyone in the scientific community agrees (despite a recent US Senate report where over 400 scientists dispute these claims). They tell us that it is hotter now than ever before, but don't bother to tell us about the closure of hundreds of measuring stations in the Russian arctic.

They also neglect to mention that much of the `warming' is occurring at night and that Southern Hemisphere temperatures remain virtually unaffected. Instead they pull up their custom tailored charts and models and say that manmande CO2 emissions are to blame, even though we only contribute 3% of all CO2 emissions. They also never mention that CO2 is one of many greenhouse gasses which, by the way, make Earth inhabitable, unlike any other planet.

Speaking of other planets, how do they explain that the temperatures on Mars are increasing too? Well, they simply ignore it. The fact of the matter is that ending `global warming' isn't about the environment, its about regulating and taxing corporations for their `carbon footprint' (another bogus term), becoming `energy independent' (ending the use of those pesky fossil fuels and ignoring nuclear power for some reason) and redistributing wealth.

But I digress, this is a topic that deserves its own post. Below, I have comprised a small list of `recommended reading' for anyone who wants to discover more about this so-called `global warming'. It is by no means conclusive, but I hope that it will help you to be more skeptical of the next `global warming' piece that is spewed out by the mainstream media.


Blurred truth: Climate change fact or fiction?

Although audiences at midsize dailies are not as vast as the behemoths on the left or east coasts, some of us feel an obligation to pass along to a few friends and neighbors impact pieces you'll never read in the New York Times and Washington Post, or view on CBS, NBC or ABC. It isn't that such stories are undeserving of national attention, but rather because the sacred media gods determine what thou shall or shall not read or watch. Before Fox News, CNN, the internet and talk radio came into being, one wonders how many inconvenient truths were covered up in the 1950s, `60s,' 70s and so forth? Oh well, we'll never know.

The latest impact piece you'll never read or view in the suffocating liberal media is the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change that just concluded in New York City. On Feb. 12 noted doomsayer Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, told the Denver Post, "You could have a convention of all scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth." Jim's prediction was about as close as the coming ice age his cronies forecasted in the 1970s.

More than 200 climate and environmental scientists from Australia, Canada, England, Poland, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the United States attended the three-day conference in New York. They were joined by environmental authorities from Harvard, The Institute Pasteur in Paris, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of Virginia, Alabama, Arizona State and many other fine universities.

They came to discuss the other side of the global warming issue - its causes, and priority as sensitive issue. They discussed the reliability of computer models in future climate conditions; how much modern warming is natural and how much is the result of human activity; and how reliable are the data used to document the recent warming trend. "The alarmists in the global warming debate have had their say over and over again in every newspaper in the country every day," said conference host Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute. "They've been seen in countless news reports and documentary films. They have totally dominated the media's coverage of this issue. They have swayed the view of many people, and many of them have gotten very rich in the process."

Bast pointed out many scientists appeared, despite the potential loss of research grants, tenure, and the ability to get published in the future. Many even dared to speak out vehemently against what they consider "the mass delusion of our time." "We are not in this for money," he continued. "The scientists with us today have been published thousands of times in the world's leading scientific journals. They deserve to be heard."

Nobel Prize, Emmy and Academy Awards winner Al Gore was asked to participate, and he declined. Likely he was jetting off somewhere to tell followers they need to be riding bikes to work. Incidentally, isn't it interesting that a group of Norwegian socialists select the Peace Prize winner each year, and past nominees included Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini?

"The claim that global warming is a `crisis' is itself a theory," said Bast. "It can be falsified by scientific fact just as the claim that there is a `consensus' that global warming is man-made has been disproved by the fact that this conference is being held."

Is global warming a crisis, as we've been told so often by media, politicians and environmental activists? Or is it moderate, mostly natural and unstoppable, as we are told by distinguished scientists who are not looking to make billions peddling carbon offsets? Doesn't it seem logical that both sides have a right to be heard? This debate will ebb because, as George Will once wrote, "People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues."


CO2 output must cease altogether: Research points to years of warming even with ambitious emission cuts

Sounds like we had better stop breathing then

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades. Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.

Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further. "The question is, what if we don't want the Earth to warm anymore?" asked Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of a paper published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The answer implies a much more radical change to our energy system than people are thinking about."

Although many nations have been pledging steps to curb emissions for nearly a decade, the world's output of carbon from human activities totals about 10 billion tons a year and has been steadily rising. For now, at least, a goal of zero emissions appears well beyond the reach of politicians here and abroad. U.S. leaders are just beginning to grapple with setting any mandatory limit on greenhouse gases. The Senate is poised to vote in June on legislation that would reduce U.S. emissions by 70 percent by 2050; the two Democratic senators running for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), back an 80 percent cut. The Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), supports a 60 percent reduction by mid-century.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is shepherding climate legislation through the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new findings "make it clear we must act now to address global warming." "It won't be easy, given the makeup of the Senate, but the science is compelling," she said. "It is hard for me to see how my colleagues can duck this issue and live with themselves."

James L. Connaughton, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, offered a more guarded reaction, saying the idea that "ultimately you need to get to net-zero emissions" is "something we've heard before." When it comes to tackling such a daunting environmental and technological problem, he added: "We've done this kind of thing before. We will do it again. It will just take a sufficient amount of time."

Until now, scientists and policymakers have generally described the problem in terms of halting the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere. The United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change framed the question that way two decades ago, and many experts talk of limiting CO2 concentrations to 450 parts per million (ppm). But Caldeira and Oregon State University professor Andreas Schmittner now argue that it makes more sense to focus on a temperature threshold as a better marker of when the planet will experience severe climate disruptions. The Earth has already warmed by 0.76 degrees Celsius (nearly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Most scientists warn that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) could have serious consequences.

Schmittner, lead author of a Feb. 14 article in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, said his modeling indicates that if global emissions continue on a "business as usual" path for the rest of the century, the Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. If emissions do not drop to zero until 2300, he calculated, the temperature rise at that point would be more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit. "This is tremendous," Schmittner said. "I was struck by the fact that the warming continues much longer even after emissions have declined. . . . Our actions right now will have consequences for many, many generations. Not just for a hundred years, but thousands of years."

While natural cycles remove roughly half of human-emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a hundred years, a significant portion persists for thousands of years. Some of this carbon triggers deep-sea warming, which keeps raising the global average temperature even after emissions halt.

Researchers have predicted for a long time that warming will persist even after the world's carbon emissions start to fall and that countries will have to dramatically curb their carbon output in order to avert severe climate change. Last year's report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said industrialized nations would have to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050 to limit CO2 concentrations to the 450 ppm goal, and the world as a whole would have to reduce emissions by 50 to 80 percent.

European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in Washington last week for meetings with administration officials, said he and his colleagues are operating on the assumption that developed nations must cut emissions 60 to 80 percent by mid-century, with an overall global reduction of 50 percent. "If that is not enough, common sense is that we would not let the planet be destroyed," he said. The two new studies outline the challenge in greater detail, and on a longer time scale, than many earlier studies. Schmittner's study, for example, projects how the Earth will warm for the next 2,000 years.

But some climate researchers who back major greenhouse gas reductions said it is unrealistic to expect policymakers to think in terms of such vast time scales. "People aren't reducing emissions at all, let alone debating whether 88 percent or 99 percent is sufficient," said Gavin A. Schmidt, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "It's like you're starting off on a road trip from New York to California, and before you even start, you're arguing about where you're going to park at the end." Brian O'Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research emphasized that some uncertainties surround the strength of the natural carbon cycle and the dynamics of ocean warming, which in turn would affect the accuracy of Caldeira's modeling. "Neither of these are known precisely," he said.

Although computer models used by scientists to project changes in the climate have become increasingly powerful, scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time. Still, O'Neill said the modeling "helps clarify thinking about long-term policy goals. If we want to reduce warming to a certain level, there's a fixed amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere. After that, we can't emit any more, at all."

Caldeira and his colleague, H. Damon Matthews, a geography professor at Concordia University in Montreal, emphasized this point in their paper, concluding that "each unit of CO2 emissions must be viewed as leading to quantifiable and essentially permanent climate change on centennial timescales."

Steve Gardiner, a philosophy professor at the University of Washington who studies climate change, said the studies highlight that the argument over global warming "is a classic inter-generational debate, where the short-term benefits of emitting carbon accrue mainly to us and where the dangers of them are largely put off until future generations."

When it comes to deciding how drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, O'Neill said, "in the end, this is a value judgment, it's not a scientific question." The idea of shifting to a carbon-free society, he added, "appears to be technically feasible. The question is whether it's politically feasible or economically feasible."


Britain returns to coal power

The Government will today anger environmentalists by signalling its support for a controversial new generation of coal-fired power stations and warning that Britain needs to burn more fossil fuels to prevent power cuts. John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business, will say that "clean coal" has a crucial role to play in filling Britain's energy gap for the future. He will accuse the green lobby of "gesture politics" by opposing any coal-fired plants, putting energy supplies at risk and presenting a false "black and white" choice to the public over coal. Mr Hutton, the cabinet minister responsible for energy, will speak about the future of coal for the first time at a speech to the free market Adam Smith Institute in London.

But his speech is bound to raise questions about government environmental policy just two days before the the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, tries to reassure the green lobby by raising taxes on gas-guzzling vehicles. Mr Hutton's remarks will be seen as a clear sign that the Government will approve plans to build Britain's first coal-fired power station since 1984 at Kingsnorth, Kent. Green campaigners view the 1 billion pound proposal as a vital test of the Government's commitment to the environment. The energy company E.ON UK wants to demolish an outdated plant and replace it with two units using cleaner coal to supply 1.5 million homes by 2012. The firm claimed it would cut carbon emissions by nearly two million tones a year and could be a ground-breaking "clean coal" plant, with the carbon emitted stored under the North Sea.

Critics are worried the new technology remains unproved and a new coal programme would undermine efforts to secure a new worldwide agreement to combat global warming. A further seven coal-fired plants are in the pipeline if, as expected, ministers give the go-ahead to Kingsnorth. Other possible sites include Blyth, Northumberland; Tilbury, Essex; Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire; High Marnham, Nottinghamshire; Longannet, Fife and Cockenzie, East Lothian.

Ministers insisted they recognised the environmental concerns, claiming Britain was taking a global lead on clean coal power generation. They argued the Government could not afford to play fast and loose with energy supplies and must ensure "the lights stay on". Mr Hutton will tell the Government's critics that its commitment to "decarbonise" Britain's electricity mix by the middle of the century remains "non-negotiable". "But over this period, as we develop low-carbon technologies, we should be under no illusion - generation from fossil fuels will continue to play a key role," he will add.

Mr Hutton will say that nuclear and renewable sources jointly account for just over 20 per cent of UK electricity at present. By 2020, the nation may need to secure about 15 per cent of the total from renewables in order to meet its EU target. A new generation of nuclear plants might maintain or increase the nuclear contribution. But that would still leave a significant proportion of electricity, and the majority of overall energy, coming from fossil fuels, he will argue.

Mr Hutton will declare: "As a country we have to accept the reality that, even in meeting our EU 2020 renewables target, fossil fuels will still play a major part for the next couple of decades at the very least. And there is nothing wrong with that - provided we are meeting our international obligations to reduce our carbon emissions. "For critics, there's a belief that coal-fired power stations undermine the UK's leadership position on climate change. In fact the opposite is true. Developing economies need to be able to see by the actions that we are taking that it is possible to use indigenous energy reserves and decarbonise your economy.

"Leadership isn't about forcing people into making binary choices. Low carbon energy production or fossil fuels, particularly when the primary goal - substantial emission reductions - can be achieved without having to make binary choices in the short term. The world will use a mix of energy sources for the foreseeable future. Our leadership role is best promoted by the actions we take on capping emissions, carbon pricing and supporting the development of new CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology. Not by gesture politics that could put our future energy security at risk."

Environmental groups last night denied that they would be playing "gesture politics". Russell Marsh, director of policy at the Green Alliance, said: "The reason UK emissions have risen for the past 10 years is because we have increased our reliance on coal-fired generation. The Government cannot expect to meet its legally binding targets, soon to be imposed through the Climate Change Bill, if it sanctions a new fleet of unabated coal-fired power stations." Mr Marsh said that this week's Budget could only be viewed as "tinkering" on green issues if the Government went ahead with an expansion of both aviation and coal.

The minister will argue that fossil fuels will also play an important role in ensuring the flexibility of the electricity generation system for which demand fluctuates, particularly in winter. Neither wind nor nuclear power could fulfil this role, so back-up from fossil fuels will be needed, with coal seen as the most reliable source. Although gas is cleaner than coal, Mr Hutton will warn that an over-reliance on gas would leave us more exposed to the international gas market as Britain's own resources decline.

Within seven years one of the world's first commercial-scale clean coal demonstrator plants could be up and running in the UK, generating electricity from coal with up to 90 per cent less carbon emitted.


Electric Vehicles Could Strain Water Supplies

As environmentally friendly as hybrid and fully electric cars are, it turns out replacing normal vehicles with them might dangerously strain already scarce water reserves. Hybrid electric vehicles run on electric mode for a limited distance before they switch to an internal combustion engine for longer trips, while fully electric vehicles operate solely off batteries. Both are presumed to be better for the planet than normal vehicles, because they release fewer emissions into the air.

But hybrid and fully electric cars rely in part on water. Specifically, the power plants that produce the electricity typically use water primarily to cool down the systems. Such water consumption might be especially of concern in the United States "in the Southwest and Southeast and the West, where water resources are definitely strained," said researcher Michael Webber, a mechanical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin.

Webber and colleague Carey King compared the amount of water used, withdrawn and consumed during petroleum refining and electricity generation in the United States. They estimate that hybrid and fully electric vehicles could sharply increase the country's water consumption, with each mile driven with electricity demanding roughly three times more water than gasoline. The researchers note these concerns do not necessarily mean electric cars are undesirable. "It just means there might be some tradeoffs," Webber said.

Policymakers may want to move to less water-intensive cooling technologies, such as air cooling. Seawater or recycled former wastewater unsuitable for drinking might also help cool power generators. Power generators that use little to no water, such as wind or solar technology, might also find use, Webber noted. Webber and King are scheduled to detail their findings in the June 1 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.


Huge costs to Australia of heeding the dubious warming claims

HUNDREDS of prominent scientists this week attended a conference in New York hosted by the US Heartland Institute. The scientists rejected claims that we are seeing catastrophic human-induced global warming. They concluded that the earth may be undergoing a period of modest warming but that it and cooling are constant features of the earth's climate. There was agreement that present global temperatures are not abnormal.

The debate on global warming has displaced the struggle about whether socialism or capitalism was the best approach to running an economy. Radicals once sought to replace private enterprise with state control. Now they want the removal of coal, oil and gas to justify a new and more comprehensive form of state control. As with the march of socialism, even politicians sceptical about the claims of an impending catastrophe are being forced to go along with measures promoted by the radicals. Taxes and regulations to reduce carbon emissions are being steadily introduced while governments pray that their effect will be minor.

The all-embracing of measures being touted, for example in the Garnaut report, involve everyone in the world being allocated the same amount of carbon dioxide and this being steadily reduced. For Australia, average emissions would be reduced to a fifth of their existing levels, from around 16 tonnes per person of carbon dioxide equivalent to less than 3 tonnes. Victorians would be particularly badly placed because of our reliance on the Latrobe Valley's fabulous deposits of brown coal for cheap electricity generation.

Nobody knows how an economy could operate with standards of living like Australia's while adopting the sorts of measures proposed. Carbon dioxide emissions are the automatic outcome of driving cars, generating electricity, smelting metals, making concrete and just about every other activity. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a fifth of present levels would require, at the very least, replacement of coal by nuclear - something the present government has refused even to contemplate. It would require an almost complete ban on car use. It would certainly be the end of any holidays overseas or on the Gold Coast - and air-conditioning and central heating too.

Victorians have pioneered the use of low-quality brown coal as feedstock for power stations that produce some of the cheapest electricity in the world. This has been the backbone of our economy and it is impossible to envisage how we could be competitive with the rest of the world without it. Not only would the emission control proposals cause a trebling of electricity costs to households - especially without nuclear - but Victoria would lose its low-cost energy advantage. We would see the departure of aluminium smelting, metal production, the chemical industry, and car manufacturing. Costs of services like retailing would rise considerably.

Before further dangerous excursions into energy-control policies, governments need to take note of the grave doubts of so many of the world's eminent scientists at the Heartland Institute conference.



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


11 March, 2008

Climate dissent grows hotter as chill deepens

Last week, virtually unreported in Britain, the extraordinary winter weather of 2008 elsewhere in the world continued. In the USA, there were blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas, while in northern states and Canada what they are calling "the winter from hell" has continued to break records going back in some cases to 1873. Meanwhile in Asia more details emerged of the catastrophe caused by the northern hemisphere's greatest snow cover since 1966.

In Afghanistan, where they have lost 300,000 cattle, the human death toll has risen above 1,500. In China, the havoc created by what its media call "the Winter Snow Disaster" has continued, not least in Tibet, where six months of snow and record low temperatures have killed 500,000 animals, leaving 3 million people on the edge of starvation.

It might have seemed timely that in New York an array of leading climatologists and other experts should have gathered for the most high-powered international conference yet to question the "consensus" on global warming. After three days of what the chairman called "the kind of free-spirited debate that is virtually absent from the global warming alarmist camp", the 500 delegates issued the Manhattan Declaration, stating that attempts by governments to reduce CO2 emissions would "markedly diminish further prosperity" while having "no appreciable impact" on the Earth's warming.

This inevitably attracted the kind of hysterical abuse that has become so familiar from warmist fanatics, tellingly contrasting with the measured arguments put forward by the scientists present. One was Anthony Watts, the meteorologist who last year famously forced Nasa's Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s but the 1930s.

On his website, Watts Up With That, he is currently posting a corrected version of the global temperature graph, combining satellite and surface data from all four main official sources. A measure of his scrupulous reporting is that although this shows a recent dramatic dip in temperatures, he cautiously explains that it is not yet conclusive evidence that the world has entered a new cooling phase (as he points out, there was temporarily an even sharper drop after the "peak" El Nio year 1998).

But can we doubt that, if the data showed the opposite, the media would be rushing to report this as yet further "proof" that the planet is heating out of control? The fact is that, for all their caveats that this drop in temperatures can be explained by the cooling effect of La Nina, the official orthodoxy that "more CO2 means more warming" is facing its most serious challenge yet. In light of the colossal price we are all in so many ways being asked to pay for it, the data in coming years will be more than interesting.


Myths on CO2 food miles

Comment from Australia

LAST week federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, exposed the "food miles" campaign as "nothing more than protectionism". Burke is right, but beneath such transparent protectionism, the food miles emperor is still naked. Food miles is the latest chic campaign for environmental activists to reduce CO2 emissions. But perhaps counterintuitively, if activists and consumers want to reduce their CO2 footprint they may want to support their food travelling longer, not shorter, distances.

The principle of the food miles campaign is simple. There is a significant - and, activists argue, an unnecessary - CO2 footprint associated with transporting produce. The solution is therefore to avoid these emissions by "buying local" and exercising caution when purchasing imports.

Late last year a Melbourne organisation, Community Environment Park, released a report drawing attention to the carbon footprint of food purchased by Melbourne consumers. The report unsurprisingly outlined the large footprint for much of the food bought in Melbourne's supermarkets, regardless of whether it was produced domestically or internationally. It may seem logical that the further the distance a product travels, the bigger its CO2 footprint. But as Trade Minister, Simon Crean yesterday pointed out, this view is simplistic.

First, only a full life-cycle carbon footprint can accurately measure total emissions. A life-cycle assessment would require a calculation of the total CO2 emissions from the seeding of crops and the birth of livestock, to their delivery to the consumer.

Second, the fuel efficiency that comes with bulk transport, and the mode of transport itself, need to be factored in. Agricultural products from our region transported by sea to England can produce equivalent emissions as comparable products travelling by road to England from southern Europe. In his address to the trade ministers' meeting held alongside the UN's Bali climate change summit in December last year, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, made this point clear. Lamy argued that "90 per cent of internationally traded goods are carried by sea. And maritime transport is by far the most carbon-efficient mode of transport, with only 14g of CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometre".

In many cases, a more accurate life-cycle assessment will show that importing food that travels long distances can be better for the environment than producing it locally. The inputs would not simply be limited to transportation costs, but would also consider such items as fertiliser, electricity, feed, tools and housing.

A recent study done by New Zealand's Lincoln University demonstrated this well. The study looked at the life-cycle carbon footprint of apples, onions and lamb exported to Europe. For all three items, the total energy input per tonne of output was substantially less if the product was produced in NZ and exported to Europe, than if it was produced locally. In the case of lamb, the CO2 emissions were more than four times less.

Third, the food miles campaign ignores the environmental benefits of international trade. The primary determinant of a product's life-cycle carbon footprint is the level of inputs. The costs of inputs are not ignored by competitive food producers. If a producer successfully reduces these inputs, it will be able to bring its product to market at a lower price, with the added benefit of a smaller footprint. Free markets are environmentally sustainable because they seek the maximum output for the minimum input.

And herein lies the challenge for the Labor Government. Despite Kevin Rudd's general commitment to the efficiency of free markets, many of his MPs are not so sure. Among the ranks of Labor's caucus is a number of protectionists who question the environmental benefits of free trade. Equally Rudd has a number of climate evangelists who actively support reducing CO2 emissions at all costs. And following the change of the Senate in July, the Greens are likely to move from the fringe of public policy debate to the centre.

The Australian Greens should follow their NZ counterparts. In 2006, co-party leader of the NZ Greens highlighted the Greens' opposition to food miles and argued that environmental activists "need to consider the emissions released during production, not just the transport emissions".

Despite the evidence not stacking up, too many advocates of food miles ignore the complexity of proper accounting for carbon footprints, and instead rely on anti-trade rhetoric to get their message across. And even fewer consider the beneficial role international trade and free markets can play in reducing emissions.

Agriculture is a diminishing but still vital component of the Australian economy. Burke is right to expose the food miles campaign as a front for protectionism and should campaign heavily against it.


Global-Warming Authoritarianism

Many people are calling for drastic political action to cope with climate change. But the authors of a new book, The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, go much further, claiming that global warming can be effectively dealt with only by "an authoritarian form of government." In an article promoting the book, co-author David Shearman praises China's recent ban on plastic shopping bags, expressing special admiration for its authoritarian quality. "The importance of the decision," he writes, "lies in the fact that China can do it by edict and close the factories."

Views like this reveal an ugly and ominous aspect of the political frenzy surrounding global warming. Though easy to dismiss as overwrought and atypical, such views expose a very real authoritarianism underlying the calls for action on climate change. While few global-warming activists are willing--as Shearman is--to come out in favor of openly dictatorial policies, the kinds of laws and regulations that activists do call for will hand a comparably frightening degree of control over our lives to politicians and environmentalist bureaucrats.

In one form or another, every minute of our every day involves the emission of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas claimed to be the cause of climate change. Every moment we spend running our computers, lighting our homes, powering countless labor-saving appliances, driving to work or school or anywhere else--we are using industrial-scale energy to make our lives better.

But global-warming activists want our use of the fossil fuels that provide the major source of that energy to be strictly controlled by the government and severely curtailed, no matter the harm that causes.

Despite the constant assertion that global-warming science is 'settled,'" Lockitch said, "it is far from certain that we face any sort of catastrophic global emergency. But in the name of 'saving the world' from unproven threats, such activists want to impose a draconian regimen of taxes, laws, regulations and controls that would affect the minutest details of our existence. Their solution to their projected 'environmental disaster' is to impose an actual economic disaster by restricting the energy that powers our civilization and subjecting its use to severe political control. Let us not allow panic over the exaggerated claims of climate alarmists to deliver us into the hands of would-be carbon dictators.


Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China

The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn't believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word. This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It's a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production -- silicon tetrachloride -- is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards. "The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite -- it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it," said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

The situation in Li's village points to the environmental trade-offs the world is making as it races to head off a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Forests are being cleared to grow biofuels like palm oil, but scientists argue that the disappearance of such huge swaths of forests is contributing to climate change. Hydropower dams are being constructed to replace coal-fired power plants, but they are submerging whole ecosystems under water. Likewise in China, the push to get into the solar energy market is having unexpected consequences.

With the prices of oil and coal soaring, policymakers around the world are looking at massive solar farms to heat water and generate electricity. For the past four years, however, the world has been suffering from a shortage of polysilicon -- the key component of sunlight-capturing wafers -- driving up prices of solar energy technology and creating a barrier to its adoption. With the price of polysilicon soaring from $20 per kilogram to $300 per kilogram in the past five years, Chinese companies are eager to fill the gap.

In China, polysilicon plants are the new dot-coms. Flush with venture capital and with generous grants and low-interest loans from a central government touting its efforts to seek clean energy alternatives, more than 20 Chinese companies are starting polysilicon manufacturing plants. The combined capacity of these new factories is estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 tons -- more than double the 40,000 tons produced in the entire world today. But Chinese companies' methods for dealing with waste haven't been perfected.

Because of the environmental hazard, polysilicon companies in the developed world recycle the compound, putting it back into the production process. But the high investment costs and time, not to mention the enormous energy consumption required for heating the substance to more than 1800 degrees Fahrenheit for the recycling, have discouraged many factories in China from doing the same. Like Luoyang Zhonggui, other solar plants in China have not installed technology to prevent pollutants from getting into the environment or have not brought those systems fully online, industry sources say. "The recycling technology is of course being thought about, but currently it's still not mature," said Shi Jun, a former photovoltaic technology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Shi, chief executive of Pro-EnerTech, a start-up polysilicon research firm in Shanghai, said that there's such a severe shortage of polysilicon that the government is willing to overlook this issue for now. "If this happened in the United States, you'd probably be arrested," he said.

An independent, nationally accredited laboratory analyzed a sample of dirt from the dump site near the Luoyang Zhonggui plant at the request of The Washington Post. The tests show high concentrations of chlorine and hydrochloric acid, which can result from the breakdown of silicon tetrachloride and do not exist naturally in soil. "Crops cannot grow on this, and it is not suitable for people to live nearby," said Li Xiaoping, deputy director of the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences.

More here

The King of 'Climate Porn'

A new book by the UK government's former chief scientific adviser sheds yet more heat than light on the global warming debate - despite its promises of balance

In The Hot Topic, Sir David King and Gabrielle Walker promise to `unpick the entire essential story of global warming - what we humans have done, how we have done it, how we will need to prepare for the changes we can't stop and how we can prevent the even worse effects that will otherwise follow'. Determined to avoid both `pessimism' and `denial', they vow to pick their way through `the blizzard of information and misinformation about global warming, explaining each point in the most straightforward way possible'.

That would indeed be a great book to write; and given the authors' credentials, a truly comprehensive discussion of `how to tackle global warming and still keep the lights on' would be well worth a read. Unfortunately, The Hot Topic adds about as much cool science and clarity to the global warming debate as the celebrity chef wars add to our understanding of nutrition.

The authors of The Hot Topic assure us that we can trust them, that despite their `considerable experience in the worlds of media and politics' they `have no personal axes to grind'. Sir David King is the UK government's former chief scientific adviser, and Gabrielle Walker is a freelance writer and broadcaster and former climate change editor at the prestigious science journal Nature. They have wielded significant influence over the global warming debate to date: the book begins by reminding us that it was King who caused a furore in 2004 by describing climate change as `the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism', and, by implication, who began the process of placing climate stage centre stage on the political map.

Indeed, in December 2007, in his last interview in post as the chief scientific adviser, King told The Times (London) that raising government consciousness of climate change was his key legacy. He recalls how Ian Coon, a director of British Petroleum, `made a speech in which he said that before Al Gore was Dave King' and points out how he was sticking his neck out on the issue `certainly before Gore started making those speeches'. It is nice to know that King has no axe to grind against his rival eco-worriers, who have heaped his book with praise: among them Al Gore (An Inconvenient Truth), Tim Flannery (The Weather Makers) and James Lovelock (Gaia and The Revenge of Gaia).

King and Walker try to stand out from the crowd of global warming consciousness-raisers by claiming that their book will not only challenge climate change `deniers' (whom they dismiss as either having a `vested interest in ignoring the scientific arguments' or `they are fools'), but challenge the doom-mongers on the green side, who `see disaster around every corner and indulge in gory scenarios that have been labelled "climate porn"'. In January 2008, King told the Guardian that he now thinks that some parts of the green movement are in danger of going too far, and that `the risk is that people feel the problem is being so overstated that it simply can't be true'.

For those of us who have long argued the need for a more sober, rational debate about global warming, a bit of climate-porn busting from somebody with the status of Sir David King would be very welcome - if rather disconcerting, given the chief scientific adviser's own history on this matter. King's attempt to place himself in the territory of opposing both denial and alarmism, and to claim the mantle of a neutral reporter of what `the science' says, seems somewhat ironic given his past willingness to make bold statements about climate change in the name of awareness-raising. In 2004 - having established that global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism - King also told the Independent on Sunday that Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked. Strangely, this is not a claim that features in his newly balanced book.

In the same month, following a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow - a preposterous fantasy in which the ice caps melt, causing a shutdown of the Gulf Stream followed by all manner of disasters leading to a new Ice Age - King admitted to the BBC that `the film brings events together into a highly unlikely or even impossible scenario'. But, he added: `[W]hat's good is that while my colleagues and I have just spent half an hour presenting you with the scientific understanding of climate change, the movie gets the basic message across in a few sentences of dialogue. It's a beautiful piece of script-writing.'

King expressed his `hope' that US audiences would see the film, as `it's very important that we all take cognisance of what science is saying, and that includes American politicians'. The fact that no real science would ever `say' the scenario etched out in The Day After Tomorrow is presumably beside the point.

But anyway, given that the world now has watched the movie and we are all very well aware of global warming, is the `awareness-raising' King of old prepared to discuss the issue in more sober and balanced terms? Hardly. As soon as you go beyond the jacket of The Hot Topic, King and Walker seem less interested in promoting understanding and reasoned debate than in foisting a one-sided account of climate science, coupled with narrow and constraining policy prescriptions, on to their readers. It's a beautiful piece of script-writing, but does nothing to tackle the misleading alarmism over global warming. Indeed, as Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, pointed out in his review of The Hot Topic for the UK Independent, the authors are happy to indulge in some additional climate porn of their own:

`[T]he 15 pages of chapter 5, "Wild Cards", offer enough material to keep even the most optimistic of us lying awake at night. In 4,500 words we have 37 separate depictions of climatic fear, one for every 120 words. We have climate change that is "frightening" six times and "alarming" twice, four "disaster scenarios", four "tipping points", three "collapses", two "abrupt dramas", not to mention the "bleak outlooks", the "catastrophe" and the three "grave dangers to our civilisation".'

It is striking the number of times King and Walker lapse from sober science into the trite language of therapeutic policymaking, instructing us that it is time to `kick' our `carbon habit'.

However, what is probably most irritating about The Hot Topic is the way in which one particular response to global warming is promoted as the only sensible response - do everything possible to restrict climate change to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - without providing any sense of the substantial controversy that surrounds such a target.

The argument posed by King and Walker runs like this: `All the evidence suggests that the world will experience significant and potentially highly dangerous changes in climate over the next few decades no matter what we do now. All things being equal, to keep the "danger" as low as possible we would pick the lowest possible rise, in other words set a temperature limit of two degrees Celsius. (In addition to the 1.4 degrees Celsius that's already inevitable, that would allow us just 0.6 degrees Celsius of leeway in which to kick our carbon habit.)' [Emphasis in the original.]

Having made the case for setting this temperature limit, Walker and King hit us with `the really bad news': that in fact `it's now almost certainly impossible to restrict warming to two degrees Celsius'. `If', they tell us, `we had started two decades ago we would have had a good chance. But in the present climate, that target looks increasingly out of range'. The problem, according to their account, is that carbon dioxide concentrations are already too high to provide a realistic chance of restricting warming to their desired level. Compared to a pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of around 280ppm (parts per million), they state that today's atmosphere is currently around 430ppmCO2eq (meaning CO2 equivalent concentration when additional greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are also taken into account), and argue that with rapid emissions controls 450ppmCO2eq is the lowest we could hope to achieve. How this will translate into temperature increases depends on how sensitive the climate system is to changes in CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

According to Walker and King, the likeliest average global temperature value to be associated with 450ppm is 2.5 degrees Celsius - if we're lucky and the sensitivity turns out to be low `we might stay below that', but if we're unlucky `we could find ourselves heading for a highly dangerous 3.5 degrees Celsius'.

Having befuddled the reader with statistics, Walker and King reassure us that this is not a counsel of despair but rather a call for prompt action. The `good news' is that `we do still have a chance of keeping greenhouse gases to that 450ppm limit' but `we have to act fast'. They are not kidding! `Fast' means that global greenhouse emissions will need to `peak within 15 years, and by 2050 they will have to have fallen to half their current levels'. They accept that this `sounds like a lot to ask, especially when you consider that much of this change will have to come from developing countries that are currently much more focused on improving the wretched lives of their citizens'. Yes, it does sound like a lot to ask.

Set against this hopelessly unrealistic target, and the further impoverishment of the developing world that would be required even to attempt to reach it, the `good news' bit - that `many of the technologies that we will need to curb greenhouse gases are already available or in the pipeline' - does not seem particularly reassuring.

All this might be less objectionable if the book's stated aim were not to pick through `the blizzard of information and misinformation about global warming, explaining each point in the most straightforward way possible'. For there is nothing `straightforward' about a target of two degrees Celsius; and while the EU has also adopted this target, it is a controversial one that could very well be based on some `misinformation'. For example, the economist Professor Richard Tol, highly regarded and widely cited in the climate change literature, has critiqued a two degrees Celsius target as being `supported by rather thin arguments, based on inadequate methods, sloppy reasoning, and selective citation from a very narrow set of studies'. In an examination of the literature supporting a two degrees Celsius target, he points out a number of problems with many studies, such as the lack of attention paid to mitigation costs and, most importantly, the failure to take account of the scope for adaptation especially with regard to risks such as malaria and water shortage.

Tol points out that `a number of "cost-benefit analyses" of greenhouse gas emission abatement have been published' and that the `technically sound amongst these studies (for example, Nordhaus, 1991; Peck and Teisberg, 1992; Maddison, 1995; Manne et al., 1995; Tol, 1997) argue that it is not in our collective best interest to stabilise concentrations - unless there happens to a cheap, large-scale, carbon-free energy source - let alone at the levels needed to meet the 2oC target.' Tol concludes, therefore, that even though the `growth of greenhouse emissions has to be slowed if not reversed', that `deep cuts in emissions will only be achieved if alternative energy technologies become available at reasonable prices'.

Tol is not an insignificant figure in the climate change debate, and nor are the other authors he cites, but nowhere do Walker and King deem it necessary to explain or discuss in any detail alternative positions to their own. Meanwhile Bjorn Lomborg, who has achieved widespread coverage for his argument that adaptation to the effects of climate change is generally a more sensible response to global warming, especially given the far greater opportunities that will inevitably become available to future generations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions more cheaply, doesn't even merit a mention in The Hot Topic - let alone any engagement with or rebuttal of his ideas.

For Walker and King to disagree with these perspectives is one thing, but to essentially ignore them is quite another. While they do devote five-and-a-half pages to the work and criticism of the economist Nicholas Stern and a superficial discussion of debates about whether `to pay now or pay later', they conclude that `there's little need to worry about how much climate change might cost us in the future, when its effects are already being felt today'. But weighing up the potential impacts of climate change against the scope for human adaptation and the costs of emissions reduction in the future is central to any reasoned response to climate change as opposed to chastising humanity for having an impact on the planet.

Ultimately Walker and King appear to regard their trump card as the threat of the Greenland Ice Sheet melting, which they state is expected to begin when temperatures increase to around 2.7oC. Though they accept this process would likely take many centuries, they point out that sea levels would eventually rise by seven metres - which is undoubtedly a significant amount. But is this argument the show-stopper they seem to regard it to be, necessitating expensive and drastic action to reduce carbon emissions now? Again, the authors seem to be shy of providing a full and accessible account of the current substantial gaps in our knowledge of climate change processes.

Take, for example, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reports the contribution of Greenland ice sheet melting to sea level rise between 1993 and 2003 to be 0.21 (+/- 0.07) millimetres per year and an Antarctic ice sheet contribution of 0.21 (+/- 0.35)mm - in other words, for Antarctica they don't currently know whether it is adding or subtracting to sea level rise. Projecting forward to 2100, the IPCC estimates a sea level rise by the end of the century of between 0.18 and 0.59 metres excluding future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow (see below) but including `a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica at the rates observed for 1993 to 2003'.

None of this provides a basis for alarm, as Walker and King are well aware. However, they point out that `the vulnerability of Greenland depends on aspects of its internal dynamics that are as yet uncertain' - namely whether rapid dynamical changes are likely to occur or not - and that `if these mechanisms cause Greenland to melt more quickly than we expect, sea level could rise by a matter of meters over the next century, which would cause grave danger for our civilisation'. This, they state, `is one of the most convincing reasons we have for the urgent need to curb climate change'.

What Walker and King do not draw their readers' attention to is the fact that the IPCC has excluded such factors from their projections `because a basis in published literature is lacking'. They state, with regard to the possibility of greater contributions to sea level rise from the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets: `Larger values cannot be excluded, but understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood or provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea level rise.'

It would appear then, that a key plank of Walker and King's argument for their stringent emissions targets are processes so poorly understood that even the IPCC, whose projections involve large degrees of uncertainty more generally, was unwilling to include them in its future projections. Surely, a balanced account would explain this fact to the reader? Indeed, the more general difficulties and limitations of modelling climate change are not something that Walker and King enlighten their readers on much either.

So how, after all this, can the diligent reader hope to achieve a more balanced understanding of the global warming debate? Many books may pretend to give the whole story, but no single book can do it. For an antidote to the climate porn popularised by King, Gore and others, you could read Bjorn Lomborg's Cool It! (previously reviewed in the spiked review of books here), or turn to Aynsley J Kellow's recently-published Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science.

Kellow's key argument is that corruption in the name of a noble cause is facilitated by the virtual nature of much environmental science, which relies on mathematical and large-scale computer models. Using the two key examples of biodiversity and global warming, Kellow argues that environmental science is often not conducted with the same kinds of safeguards as surround other scientific research, such as medical research for example. His final chapter, which deals with science and its social and political context, looks at past examples of politicised science, notably Lysenkoism in Stalinist Russia, and the influence of ecological thought on the Nazis.

Kellow's key argument is that it is the indeterminacy of the science that permits political frames to become more prominent. This seems rather a forgiving way of looking at the problem we are witnessing with the climate change debate, where science is routinely misrepresented to suit instrumental ends. Nonetheless, in a debate where far too many questions are asked and alternative explanations given, those who hold the process up to scrutiny are far worthier of a close read than those who spend several hundred pages telling us what, in their view, `the science' tells us to do.



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


10 March, 2008

Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain

Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims. The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.

Gordon Brown announced last month that he would force supermarkets to charge for the bags, saying that they were "one of the most visible symbols of environmental waste". Retailers and some pressure groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, threw their support behind him.

But scientists, politicians and marine experts attacked the Government for joining a "bandwagon" based on poor science. Lord Taverne, the chairman of Sense about Science, said: "The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence. This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive. Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn't achieve anything."

Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals. They "don't figure" in the majority of cases where animals die from marine debris, said David Laist, the author of a seminal 1997 study on the subject. Most deaths were caused when creatures became caught up in waste produce. "Plastic bags don't figure in entanglement," he said. "The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands. Most mammals are too big to get caught up in a plastic bag."

He added: "The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species.For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either."

The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.

Fifteen years later in 2002, when the Australian Government commissioned a report into the effects of plastic bags, its authors misquoted the Newfoundland study, mistakenly attributing the deaths to "plastic bags". The figure was latched on to by conservationists as proof that the bags were killers. For four years the "typo" remained uncorrected. It was only in 2006 that the authors altered the report, replacing "plastic bags" with "plastic debris". But they admitted: "The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic bag litter is nearly impossible to determine." In a postscript to the correction they admitted that the original Canadian study had referred to fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the threat to the marine environment. Regardless, the erroneous claim has become the keystone of a widening campaign to demonise plastic bags.

David Santillo, a marine biologist at Greenpeace, told The Times that bad science was undermining the Government's case for banning the bags. "It's very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags," he said. "The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags. "It doesn't do the Government's case any favours if you've got statements being made that aren't supported by the scientific literature that's out there. With larger mammals it's fishing gear that's the big problem. On a global basis plastic bags aren't an issue. It would be great if statements like these weren't made."

Geoffrey Cox, a Tory member of the Commons Environment Select Committee, said: "I don't like plastic bags and I certainly support restricting their use, but plainly it's extremely important that before we take any steps we should rely on accurate information. It is bizarre that any campaign should be endorsed on the basis of a mistranslation. Gordon Brown should get his facts right."

A 1968 study of albatross carcasses found that 90 per cent contained some form of plastic but only two birds had ingested part of a plastic bag.

Professor Geoff Boxshall, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum, said: "I've never seen a bird killed by a plastic bag. Other forms of plastic in the ocean are much more damaging. Only a very small proportion is caused by bags." Plastic particles known as nurdles, dumped in the sea by industrial companies, form a much greater threat as they can be easily consumed by birds and animals.

Many British groups are now questioning whether a ban on bags would cost consumers more than the environmental benefits. Charlie Mayfield, chairman of retailer John Lewis, said that tackling packaging waste and reducing carbon emissions were far more important goals. "We don't see reducing the use of plastic bags as our biggest priority," he said. "Of all the waste that goes to landfill, 20 per cent is household waste and 0.3 per cent is plastic bags." John Lewis added that a scheme in Ireland had reduced plastic bag usage, but sales of bin liners had increased 400 per cent.


`Sexed-up' numbers should not always be accepted as science

By Mike Hulme (Mike Hulme is a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia)

In the recent flurry of moves to ban plastic bags a frequently cited statistic is that more than 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from entanglement in, or ingestion of, plastic bags. The original scientific study upon which this estimate relied actually attributed these deaths to fishing tackle in the oceans, not plastic bags. Yet the terms "100,000 marine deaths" and "plastic bags" now circulate happily through our public discourse, solidified as established fact.

But when is a fact a fact? Can facts change over time? And does it matter if they do? Science is instinctively referred to as the source and authenticator of facts such as the one cited above, and rightly so. Yet as this example shows, we need to be very careful about the veracity of the numbers we latch on to, and about what they signify. What may start out as a credible, yet qualified and provisional, scientific estimate may end up, either through distortion or mere negligence, enduring as an urban myth, apocryphal numbers - the modern equivalent of folklore.

My own area of climate change offers plenty of such examples. In December 2005 a study in the journal Nature offered the observation that the circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean, which sustains the Gulf Stream, had weakened by up to 30 per cent over the previous few decades. This figure and its juxtapositioning alongside the melodrama of films such as The Day after Tomorrow were amplified through the cooperation of scientists and media to result in headlines such as "Alarm over dramatic weakening of Gulf Stream" ( The Guardian, Dec 1, 2005). The urban myth that emerged from this episode was that we were closer to a mini Ice Age in the UK than had previously been thought. Eighteen months later, however, and unremarked by the media, two studies in equally reputable journals pointed out that such a trend was within the range of natural variability and may signify nothing at all.

A second example concerns the claim that, "by the end of this century, climate change will have killed around 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa" (Christian Aid, May 2006). This number - 180 million African dead - has become one of the most widely cited numbers in the litany of doom that accompanies talk of climate change. In this case, however, the number 180 million was sexed-up science. Christian Aid took the worst-case climate scenario, the highest population scenario and the scenario with the least public health intervention and conjured the number into being. And here it has stayed, a number detached from its receding scientific origins in which assumptions were overlain on scenarios that captured uncertainties.

Whether through being lost in translation, through the premature citing of provisional science or through the purposeful sexing-up of deeply uncertain numbers, the facts of science are not always to be taken at face value.


No net global warming in eight years

The Kansas Legislature has wisely written a proposed tax on carbon dioxide emissions out of this year's energy legislation. That's the good news: As originally written by the Committee on Utilities, the Sunflower Energy bill's CO2 tax would have been a first, and a very bad precedent. The bad news is that the original bill will be copied and wind up before other legislatures that are more likely to pass it, like those of California and Oregon.

A CO2 tax will largely be levied on utilities that exceed modest limits on their carbon dioxide effluent, so consumers won't "see" it - except in their electric bills. They'll send in their monthly checks, quite unaware that the new tax revenues are likely to be shoved into a slush fund for solar energy, windmills, biodiesel, ethanol and other green gadgetry boondoggles.

Never mind that even The New York Times now acknowledges that biofuels add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the equivalent amount of conventional fuels, or that the diversion of a third of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol production has driven world food prices up so much that we are now witnessing riots, including a major one in Jakarta last month.

Let's just consider the merits of this legislation vis-a-vis some pretty well-known (if poorly publicized) global warming science. Further, we'll cheat a bit and stipulate that the bill results in a 10 percent net reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and that global warming fever sweeps the nation, resulting in similar legislation passing in every other state.

Based upon a widely accepted formula originated at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., if the entire United States adopted the original Kansas legislation, it would prevent a total of 0.11 degrees F of global warming per century. Read that again, because it's not a typo: Eleven one-hundredths of a degree in 100 years.

Instead, let's apply the original Kansas legislation to every nation on the planet that agreed to limit its emissions under the infamous 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to a 1992 United Nations global climate treaty that would require the U.S. to reduce emissions far beyond what was written out of the Kansas bill. The new law would prevent 0.27 degrees F of warming per century. That's an amount too small to measure, because global temperatures vary by more than that from year-to-year - global warming or not.

Since 1979, satellites have been measuring lower atmospheric temperatures around the globe. In the last 12 months, they show that the earth's mean temperature has dropped by 1.13F. Thus, in one year, that natural variability is four times greater than the amount of warming that would be prevented if the entire industrialized world adopted the original Kansas statute.

The satellite temperature surveys also show there has been no net global warming since 2000. It's a little unfair to go back much further in this discussion, because 1998 was an extremely hot year - the high point in both satellite and land-based temperature histories - because of a huge El Nino (which, incidentally, proved to be a great boon to Kansas's wheat farmers).

All of which is to say that global warming isn't exactly proceeding apace. Rather, the rate of planetary warming is falling in line with the low end of 21st century projections made by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with the smart money now riding on a bit more than 3 degrees F of warming this century. It's worth noting that the 20th century saw about half of that warming, along with a doubling of life expectancy in the industrialized world, and an approximately ten-fold increase in real personal wealth.

But we hear over and over that if we don't "do" something serious about carbon dioxide emissions in the next eight years (a conveniently presidential number), we are condemning ourselves to an unmitigated climate disaster, as much of Greenland's ice crashes into the sea, raising sea level as much as 20 feet.

That's about as likely as a bill limiting CO2 emissions in Kansas putting a detectable dent in global warming. Congratulations to the legislature for its wisdom in writing out the carbon tax. But beware, electronic copies of the original are flying around the country, looking for places to land.


Fighting Words

After two days of toiling through an ocean of charts, graphs and complicated mathematical equations, attendees of the Heartland Institute's 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in Manhattan were provided a starker, significantly less esoteric warning from the president of the Czech Republic over breakfast Tuesday morning. "It is not about climatology," the recently re-elected, Mises and Hayek-quoting Vaclav Klaus intoned darkly. "It is about freedom."

As the sole head of state willing to stand before the self-congratulatory United Nations Climate Change Conference last September and loudly register his dissent from the international groupthink on anthropogenic (i.e. manmade) global warming, Klaus was already a highly-regarded hero in these skeptic quarters. His speech this week, however, went far beyond his UN confrontation in terms of both its relentless defiance -- try to imagine a more scathing indictment of messianic environmentalists than Klaus's description of them as "imprisoned in the Malthusian tenets and in their own megalomaniac ambitions" -- and the Czech president's willingness to draw explicit comparisons between modern environmentalism and communism:
If I am not wrong I am the only speaker from a former communist country and I have to use this as a comparative -- paradoxically -- advantage. Each one of us has his or her experiences, prejudices and preferences. The ones that I have are, quite inevitably, connected with the fact that I have spent most of my life under the communist regime. A week ago I gave a speech at an official gathering at the Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia. One of the arguments of my speech there...went as follows: "Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical. The attractive, pathetic, at first noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice man and his freedom in order to make this idea a reality." What I had in mind was, of course, environmentalism and its current strongest version, climate alarmism.
These are, as they say, fighting words.

AFTER I'D RUN A GAUNTLET of polite-yet-stoic Secret Service agents and persevered through a scheduling snafu or four, Vaclav Klaus kindly granted TAS a short interview (in English!) in a suite at the Times Square Marriott. At turns animated and sternly reserved, Klaus carries himself with remarkable poise and exudes a passion for principled policy that is impressive when one considers he's been fighting political battles since 1989. It does not take long to get the impression this is a man who does not suffer fools gladly.

"I was in Iceland a year or two ago and I enjoyed very much the words of the Prime Minister who said, 'Vaclav Klaus is very often politically incorrect, but he's usually correct politically,'" Klaus chuckled. "I like this playing with words, which is for me motivation to continue."

What's more, contrary to the blustery outrage in the international press over his crashing of the United Nations apocalypse party, the president's views may not be quite so far out as his colleagues would have their constituencies believe. Shades of Obama's NAFTA kerfuffle, Klaus insisted he was far from shunned during the three days of General Assembly receptions, meals, and cocktail parties following his speech.

"The funny [part of the] story is that many of them told me, 'Thank you very much for what you were saying. My views are similar,'" Klaus recalled. "So I say, 'Then why don't you say the same?'" The president pushed his voice up a couple registers before mimicking their response: "'Oh, it is impossible and it needs courage.' And so on."

Klaus shook his head, as if he were a competitive captain of a football team spoiling for a fight on game day, only to be hindered by the bunch of scared-of-their-own-shadow wimps the coach has inexplicably recruited. I asked Klaus if it was frustrating for him, as a trained economist -- he's held academic posts at the Forecasting Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Prague School of Economics -- to operate in a political world populated with those who so frequently behave as if they are allergic to facts and basic statistics?

"It's not frustrating if you believe it is your task to fight all forms of irrationalities and to fight the political correctness approach which is killing any serious discussion," Klaus shot back, not without some heat. Far from being a detriment to political careers, this former Minister of Finance said he believed the social and economic sciences had more to offer realist politics than many currently concede and frets global warming skeptics may be focusing too much on science alone.

"Regulation, centralization versus decentralization -- that for me is something that is not just about freedom in a political sense, but another layer, another dimension of the discussion," Klaus explained. This is a matter of philosophical consistency for Klaus, who has expressed serious misgivings about centralized power of the European Union as well.

"When I [talk about] the standard social science and the standard economic approach, it's not just saying you must be a libertarian to stress and promote freedom," he continued. "The standard social science and economic approach will tell you something about the irrationalities of centralization, the irrationalities of over-regulation, the irrationality of the bureaucratization of our lives. This is something I don't hear quite often enough."

Is it any wonder the Competitive Enterprise Institute is honoring Klaus at its upcoming annual dinner? Our time was almost up, but in light of our discussion of the "irrationalities of centralization," I couldn't help but ask the president for his thoughts on the recent election in Russia -- a country he has maintained friendly ties with.

"I must say the Russian elections are not the same elections as in the United States of America or in the Czech Republic," Klaus answered with slow and deliberate care. "So in this respect we both wouldn't be happy to have such elections. But on the other hand, when I look at it in a historical perspective and compare it with the past in Russia, when I compare it with much of Asia, in this respect, these elections were relatively okay. I would not have a highbrow negativistic approach which is quite popular in some circles."

Before I could follow up I noticed Klaus's ceaselessly amiable scheduler leaning into my line of vision across the room. When he was certain I saw him he shot me a half plaintive, half apologetic look. Time to wrap it up. Klaus gave a little single nod of the head, a one-pump handshake, thanked me for the interview and then was on to another. Queries about missile defense, Putin's successor and the U.S. presidential election would have to wait. It was a shame, really: I've met state legislators less candid than this head of state. This isn't the kind of thing the EU exports, is it?


Some Asbestos Grace

The asbestos lawsuit blob has grown so large that many companies have simply given up fighting it. Then there's W.R. Grace, which is on the verge of making legal history with a trial proceeding that could alter the federal asbestos bankruptcy landscape forever.

A building materials company, W.R. Grace was among the firms swept up in a second round of asbestos litigation in the late 1990s. Having chewed their way through asbestos manufacturers, trial lawyers went after companies that had only a marginal asbestos link. By blanketing these firms with an avalanche of claims they recruited, the tort bar pushed at least 30 of these second-tier players into bankruptcy.

Most companies then followed the usual asbestos bankruptcy script. They cut a deal with the plaintiffs attorneys, handing over a big sum to pay current and future claims. Federal bankruptcy judges happily went along, because most view their jobs as getting companies out of bankruptcy quickly and few want the hassle of investigating tens of thousands of individual asbestos claims.

Enter W.R. Grace, and its lead attorney, David Bernick, a veteran of the tobacco and breast-implant wars. Mr. Bernick has taken the unheard-of position that federal rules of evidence apply even in bankruptcy court. He has argued that the only way Judge Judith Fitzgerald can make a legitimate ruling on Grace's liability is for her to decide first how many claims have scientific merit. This is revolutionary stuff.

To her credit, Judge Fitzgerald has allowed Grace to investigate those claims, and present her with its results. The stakes are enormous. At the end of this process, Judge Fitzgerald will make a finding on W.R. Grace's ultimate liability. The plaintiffs claim it is as much as $6 billion, a figure that would make Grace insolvent. The company claims the money necessary to cover legitimate claims is closer to $500 million, a number that would allow it to rejoin the land of the living.

On the evidence so far, Grace's number is correct. The company entered Chapter 11 with some 120,000 pending claims. But Judge Fitzgerald allowed it to send a medical questionnaire to those plaintiffs, and to request proof of a claim. Some 35,000 didn't bother to finish that process.

The judge has also seen a videotape of the "doctors" who diagnosed many of the remaining 85,000 claims. These are some of the same characters from the recent silicosis legal scam, and the court was treated to scenes of doctors recanting their diagnoses or invoking the "Fifth Amendment" to avoid answering questions. One doctor admitted that he charged $35 for a negative X-ray reading, but $70 for a positive one. A retired epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control testified there were no more than 28,000 medically plausible cases of asbestosis in the U.S. male population between 1989 and 2001. Grace was hit with more than 200,000 claims over that period.

In another instance, a doctor presented a study involving 807 X-rays from Grace claimants. Doctors hired by the plaintiffs lawyers had found evidence of asbestosis in about 80% of those X-rays. In a double-blind study in which doctors didn't know the purpose of the work, they found evidence in only 7% of X-rays.

All of this underscores what has long been obvious: The vast majority of asbestos claims are bogus. The plaintiffs lawyers know it, which is why, instead of trying to defend these claims, they've fought every attempt by Grace to examine them. Now that they've lost that battle, they argue that because Grace settled such claims in the past, they should continue to pay them going forward.

That decision now rests with Judge Fitzgerald. Comparisons are being made to federal Judge Janis Jack, who several years ago blew up bogus silicosis claims. But unlike the recent silica fraud, some Grace plaintiffs do have asbestos-related disease. Judge Fitzgerald has to weed out the many false claims from the few legitimate ones, but she does have the tools to do it. The medical community long ago established diagnosis criteria that account for dosage, exposure, and work and medical histories. Plaintiffs lawyers have tried to keep these common-sense standards out of courtrooms, but they clearly belong in any court whose goal is just compensation.

If Judge Fitzgerald does discount most of these claims, it could mark the beginning of the end of the bankruptcy racket. Other judges will find it difficult to ignore the evidence and procedures here. As important, trial lawyers might be reluctant to push more companies (in asbestos or other mass torts) into bankruptcy court if they think false claims may be exposed.

This clean-up would obviously come too late for the dozens of companies that have already surrendered to asbestos trusts now run by the tort bar. But it's encouraging that courts are finally investigating sham asbestos claims. It's never too late for real justice.



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


9 March, 2008

Global Warming Censored: Networks Stifle Debate, Rely on Politicians, Rock Stars and Men-on-the-Street for Science

Global warming crusader Al Gore repeatedly claims the climate change "debate's over." It isn't, but the news media clearly agree with him. Global warming skeptics rarely get any say on the networks, and when their opinions are mentioned it is often with barbs like "cynics" or "deniers" thrown in to undermine them. Consistently viewers are being sent only one message from ABC, CBS and NBC: global warming is an environmental catastrophe and it's mankind's fault. Skepticism is all but shut out of reports through several tactics - omission, name-calling, the hype of frightening images like polar bears scavenging for food near towns and a barrage of terrifying predictions.

The Business & Media Institute analyzed 205 network news stories about "global warming" or "climate change" between July 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007. BMI found a meager 20 percent of stories even mentioned there were any alternative opinions to the so-called "consensus" on the issue.

Disagreement Squashed: Global warming proponents overwhelmingly outnumbered those with dissenting opinions. On average for every skeptic there were nearly 13 proponents featured. ABC did a slightly better job with a 7-to-1 ratio, while CBS's ratio was abysmal at nearly 38-to-1.

Can I See Some ID?: Scientists made up only 15 percent of the global warming proponents shown. The remaining 85 percent included politicians, celebrities, other journalists and even ordinary men and women. There were more unidentified interview subjects used to support climate change hype than actual scientists (101 unidentified to just 71 scientists)

What's It Going to Cost?: All "solutions" have a price, but the cost of fighting global warming was something you rarely heard on the network news. Only 22 stories (11 percent) mentioned any cost of "fixing" global warming. On the rare occasion cost came up, it came from the lips of a skeptic like Kentucky state Rep. Jim Gooch (D), who said one climate change bill in Congress "would cost $6 trillion."

CBS the Worst: Journalist/global warming advocate Scott Pelley helped CBS be, by far, the worst network. Pelley argued in 2006 that he shouldn't have to include skeptics in such stories because "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" In 2007, he helped ensure only four skeptics were included by CBS - and not a single one was a scientist. Compare that to the 151 people used by the network to promote global warming hysteria. The wildly one-sided outcome was not surprising given remarks by some of its other journalists. Harry Smith declared that "There is, in fact, global climate change" on the Aug. 7, 2007, "Early Show."

ABC the "Best": Despite its over-the-top climate hypocrisy of jet-setting journalists around the world to cover climate change, ABC included more skepticism (36 percent) in its broadcasts than either NBC or CBS. Still, the network has plenty of work to do. Bill Weir made the outrageous claim during the Nov. 18, 2007, "Good Morning America" that "all these scientists" urge immediate action to stop global warming. Weather personality Sam Champion even referred to the most recent U.N. climate report as "unequivocal" and "definitive.

To improve coverage, BMI recommends:

Report the issue objectively: Reporters have a professional responsibility to remain objective and avoid inserting their own opinions into their reports. Many in the media have sorely missed that mark when it comes to reporting on global warming and climate change.

Include skeptics: The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states journalists should "Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant." It is the media's job to inform the public, not persuade them by leaving out alternative viewpoints. Particularly, networks should give skeptical scientists the opportunity to share their findings - just like they include scientists who say manmade global warming is negatively impacting the planet.

Show Me the Money: If the U.S. government passes legislation to address global warming, it will carry a cost and American taxpayers have a right to know what it would be. The media need to do a much better job by asking about or including cost estimates of climate change "solutions."


Ten reasons to love global warming

All cranked up over global warming? Why? It's happened before and humans just like you survived it, so why not this time around? It's nothing new. The last recorded temperature uptick was known as the Medieval Warm Period, a time of unusually balmy weather, which lasted (depending on who's doing the figgerin') from around 800 to 1300 AD. The warm period was presumably preceded by a cold period, else how did anyone know it was a warm period? It was, in fact, followed by a cold period, known today as the Little Ice Age, which ran on Broadway and all over the Northern Hemisphere from (again, approximations) 1250 to 1850 AD.

People are obsessing about today's global warming because anti-libertarian political opportunists and cultural Marxists and enviro-religionists and government-paid researchers who stand to gain political and/or social power and prestige and tons of taxbucks are demanding that we obsess about it. To counter the Al Goregoyle-lead gloomsayers, here are 10 reasons to love global warming.

1. Longer growing seasons. - more food for hungry people, more biofuels for hungry cars.

2. Burning less fossil fuel for warmth. Just what the Goregoyles want, right?

3. Won't need winter wardrobes. Save big bucks. If the weather turns chill just toss on another layer of summer duds. An "I Heart Global Warming" Tee shirt should do the trick.

4. Alaska will melt. This will create the biggest land rush since government goons stole the Cherokee Strip from the Oklahoma Indians and opened it up to White settlement. Just think, new farms and homes and cities, causing a population shift away from dense overcrowded cities in the lower 48. Those who stay will have less traffic to tussle with on their travels to and from work.

5. Panama will sink. Panama below the canal is mostly swampland now. Large freighters and supertankers too large for the locks will have a free shortcut across the immersed isthmus, making world trade cheaper and faster.

6. Panama will sink. Great news for the anti illegal immigration crowd. With the land bridge between the two continents gone it'll be tougher for South American border-busters to migrate north. And if the Rio Grande permanently flows at floodtide from melting glaciers...

7. Vikings will get Greenland back. Greenland must indeed have been a green land when Erik the Redheaded Stranger homesteaded there and named it in 982, since it was during that aforementioned Medieval Warm Period. Alas, the last known Norse record from Greenland indicates that the island was abandoned around 1500, smack in the middle of the Little Ice Age. That period's global warming brought them, and the expanding ice cap literally pushed them over the edge. Now their Danish descendents can dig up old deeds and return to their ancestral homes once today's Post-Modern Warm Period gets cranking.

8. England will get their wine industry back. Yep, Jolly Ol' England had vineyards just like France and Germany and Italy, until that nasty Little Ice Age came along and turned it all into frozen Snapple Grapeade. With global warming comes Vineyards and Fine English Table Wines and a whole new industry creating jobs for thousands. What some people call Global Warming, others will call Getting Back To Normal.

9. More months of bikini babes and beachboy biceps. Need more be said?

10. Stop the next Ice Age. Scientific American ran a March 2005 cover story by marine geologist Prof William Ruddiman of Virginia U entitled "Did Humans Stop an Ice Age?" How so? According to the Prof, up until about 8,000 years ago the Earth had been regularly alternating between cold periods and warm periods due to Earth's orbital wobble, but then the planet suddenly missed a period. It stayed warm. His explanation is "farming." People all across southern Eurasia whacked down forests so the sun could get to their crops. Others flooded wetlands and created rice paddies. So, clearing the forest generated carbon dioxide and irrigation generated methane.

This article, along with acknowledgement of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, have been studiously ignored by the world's Goregoyles, apparently because they constitute "Incontinent Truths."

For every bad thing that happens when the Earth's average temperature rises, other good things happen. Warming and cooling have been going on for eons and humans have been successfully adapting to it. Some libertarians might suggest that Warming Worrywarts acquaint themselves with history rather than just the latest hysterical headline to confirm this. It's not Global Warming, it's Ice Age Abatement.


Two thirds of scientists polled say the science is NOT settled

Only about one in three Alberta earth scientists and engineers believe the culprit behind climate change has been identified, a new poll reported today. The expert jury is divided, with 26 per cent attributing global warming to human activity like burning fossil fuels and 27 per cent blaming other causes such as volcanoes, sunspots, earth crust movements and natural evolution of the planet. A 99-per-cent majority believes the climate is changing. But 45 per cent blame both human and natural influences, and 68 per cent disagree with the popular statement that "the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled."

The divisions showed up in a canvass of more than 51,000 specialists licensed to practice the highly educated occupations by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta. "We're not surprised at all," APEGGA executive director Neil Windsor said today. "There is no clear consensus of scientists that we know of." The only agreement among professionals is "we should do everything we can" to understand climate, adapt structures such as buildings and bridges to change and reduce human contributions to harmful trends, Windsor said.

The survey received 1,077 replies or a sample rated as an accurate portrait of the occupational groups' views to within three percentage points 19 times out of 20, APEGGA reported. Alberta Environment helped design the poll and will give the results to the provincial government, association spokesman Philip Mulder said. APEGGA is planning an "environmental summit" with other concerned agencies on Alberta climate change causes, effects and adaptations. No date is set yet for the event. "We would prefer to have it sooner rather than later," Mulder said. "These sessions can be structured so that they result in ... a concerted action plan to be directed at policy makers," APEGGA's environment committee said in a report to association members.

Potential actions include devising Alberta climate change forecasts, encouraging greenhouse-gas cleanups like industrial waste carbon disposal, and developing adaptation programs such as water conservation and energy efficiency, the committee said. Only one-third of engineers and earth scientists polled by APEGGA rated the province's current climate change action plan as adequate. About two-thirds of the professionals said the government should take on a leading role in developing renewable or sustainable energy sources and promoting energy efficiency among consumers. About half urged the province to make Alberta a world capital of capturing and storing industrial greenhouse-gas waste.

Engineers and earth scientists mostly feel free to speak out about climate change and take it into account in their work. About two-thirds of the professionals say they feel no peer pressure to take particular stances on global warming, and 70 per cent report they have enough independence to take the issue into account in their professional roles.

But willingness to spend money on long-range climate change adaptations is still rare among employers of the science-based occupations, the survey results indicated. In the poll of APEGGA's highly educated membership, "66 per cent state that corporate decision making is governed by short-term cost considerations rather than long-term investment." Only 31 per cent of Alberta engineers and earth scientists say the organizations they serve regard them as valuable technical advisers on climate change. Just 26 per cent of the professionals believe they can influence corporate decisions.


More on the Greenie light bulb madness

Light bulb manufacturers have convinced environmentalists and lawmakers that the compact fluorescent light (CFL) is more energy efficient than the incandescent. Okay. No problem. When you go to buy a new light bulb, if you care to spend the extra money (CFLs cost about six times as much as incandescents), you might feel good about helping the environment. Nothing wrong with that. Enjoy. Problem is, those light bulb makers have quietly mounted a very successful campaign to MAKE you buy their new bulbs. No choice. Their new bulb is your new bulb. This past December, President Bush signed an energy bill that will make it illegal to manufacture or sell incandescent light bulbs as of 2014. So if you prefer incandescent light, too bad for you. Within a decade, every home in the U.S., including yours, will be lit with little glowing swirls of mercury.

In the e-Alert "A Modest Proposal" (2/6/08), I told you about the Environmental Protection Agency's tips on how to clean up after a broken CFL. Tip number one suggests you open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes to reduce exposure to mercury. And why don't you want to be exposed to mercury? Because it's a neurotoxin. What a fantastic idea! Let's fill fragile tubes with a neurotoxin and place them all over the house!

Another tip suggests that when broken CFL debris is on the carpet, you should pick up fragments and powder with sticky tape before vacuuming. But an HSI member named Ed spotted a problem here. Ed writes: "If you vacuum the mercury you will blow the mercury around the room through exhaust of the vacuum cleaner." Good point, Ed. So to the EPA's tips we can add this one: If you break a CFL in a carpeted area, roll up the carpet, put it on your front lawn, and call the EPA to come take it away.

Environmentalists claim that filling our homes with CFLs will actually lower our exposure to mercury. Here's how the logic goes: About half the electricity in the U.S. is supplied by burning coal, which emits mercury into the atmosphere. But CFLs are energy efficient, so less coal will be burned, and less mercury will waft on the breeze.

And that would be a strong pro-CFL argument if we only used electricity to light our lamps. I don't about you, but at my house the refrigerator, the televisions, the computers, the central air, the microwave and dozens of other appliances all run on electricity. I've got a hunch that most of that burning coal is going to keep right on burning.

When an HSI member named John read "A Modest Proposal," a CFL went on over his head and he wrote with this question: "Does the danger also exist in the long ones in use for years?" By "long ones," of course, John is referring to fluorescent tube lighting that many of us already use in our homes. And the answer is yes - the long ones contain mercury and are dangerous when broken. In fact, they're even dangerous when they're not broken in the home. If they're not carefully recycled, they end up breaking in landfills and the mercury may become airborne or migrate into water supplies. According to a U.S. Navy web site, fluorescent tubes in landfills create the second largest source of mercury pollution. You have to imagine that CFLs will only contribute to the problem.

But no, no, no - that won't happen at all, according to environmentalists. Because CFLs will be recycled. See? Problem solved! Or that's what will happen in some imaginary perfect green world. Meanwhile, back here on earth, who's kidding who? Millions of burned out CFLs will go straight into the trash.

Out of curiosity I recently purchased a CFL, and was astonished to read this note included in the packaging: "May cause interference to radios, televisions, wireless telephones, and remote controls. Avoid placing this product near these devices."

You've got to be kidding. In our increasingly wireless society, this is going to be the only type of light bulb we can buy? And in rooms where I have a television, I may have to decide between TV or light? Who in the world came up with this insane plan? And even worse - who decided to FORCE it on us?

But wireless interference is just one of the annoying little problems with CFLs.

CFLs don't work well (or sometimes at all) in very cold weather, so operation of porch lights and outdoor security lights in northern states may be erratic in wintertime

If a CFL is turned on and off frequently, its energy efficiency drops and its highly-touted life expectancy decreases

Most CFLs can't be used with dimmer switches or timers

CFLs won't fit in many existing lighting fixtures

CFLs may smoke or smolder, but don't worry - we're assured they won't catch fire

Energy Star - a government program that encourages energy conservation - offers this hilarious procedure to follow when a CFL fills a room with smoke:

"If you have a product that does begin to smoke or smolder, immediately shut off the power to the CFL and, once it has cooled, remove it from the light socket. Then, send us alert us of this incident. Please include the product manufacturer's name and model information that is included on the CFL base and if possible an electronic photo. Also please tell us how the CFL was used - open or enclosed light fixture; indoors or outdoors; base orientation - up, down or sideways. Then visit the manufacturer's web site to find customer service contact information to inform them of the early failure."

When a CFL in my home starts smoking I'm going to get rid of the foul thing. I'm not going to send Energy Star an e-mail, and I'm not going to tell them how I was using it, and I'm not going to visit the manufacturer's web site. But then maybe someone is busy right now writing a law that will force me to do those things.


An Ugly Heritage: The poor man's national park; the citizen's burden

A few years ago, Lee Ott was driving around his vegetable farm in Yuma, Ariz., when he spotted a crew of surveyors putting stakes in his land. "I stopped and asked them what was going on," he recalls. It turned out they were marking the boundaries of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. Ott's farm fell entirely within its 22 square miles, and nobody had bothered to tell him. "I became worried because I wanted to build a new house and a shop on the farm," he says. "I didn't need anybody to give me a bunch of rules about how they should look or whether I could even build them."

So he decided to fight back. He met with the Yuma County Farm Bureau, which then contacted all of the landowners within the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. "About 600 people came to our meeting," says Harold Maxwell, a farm-equipment distributor. "When I asked for a show of hands from those who knew they were in the NHA, only one hand went up."

National Heritage Areas are like a poor man's National Park - they aren't actually owned by the federal government, but they're zoned by it. Instead of employing Park Rangers in stiff-brimmed hats, they're often administered by liberal groups that want to weaken the property rights of the people who hold a piece of land within or even near NHA boundaries. This is generally done in the name of historic preservation and environmental conservation. The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, for instance, includes an old territorial prison and some wetlands along the Colorado River. Yet NHAs are perhaps best regarded as a clever combination of pork-barrel spending and land-use regulations - and they're an increasingly popular tool for slow-growth activists who bristle at the thought of economic development that they don't personally control.

Since the first NHA was created in 1984 to preserve a 61-mile canal that runs between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, more than three dozen have come into existence. Today, they're a growth industry: Ten were added in 2006 alone, and last fall, the House of Representatives passed a $135 million bill that would set up six more. Some, such as the one in Yuma, are just dots on the map. Others are sprawling. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area takes up the entire state.

"These are basically federal zoning laws," says Peyton Knight of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a free-market think tank that has tried to draw attention to the problem. The rules governing NHAs vary from place to place, but they tend to have a few features in common. One important element is the involvement of a "management entity" that works in conjunction with the Park Service to come up with a plan - in the case of one NHA, this means creating an "inventory" of properties of "national historic significance" that it wants "preserved," "managed," or "acquired."

Sometimes the ambitions of an NHA amount merely to a bit of parkland pump-priming. The website of the Rivers of Steel NHA near Pittsburgh boasts that it "is spearheading a drive" to have the National Park Service absorb an old steel mill and mentions a bill in Congress. So it's a federally funded organization that lobbies Washington for ever more subsidies.

But does the National Park Service really need more parks? It already operates almost 400 sites. Although some remain incredibly popular, visits within the system have declined in the last decade - a trend that started before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 resulted in fewer foreign visitors. What's more, the Department of the Interior is having trouble maintaining the properties it already runs. Its maintenance backlog is a multibillion-dollar wish list of unfunded repairs and improvements. The National Parks Conservation Association, a non-profit group, says that the parks need an extra $800 million per year just to fund their existing operations adequately. This certainly isn't the result of a Scrooge-like Bush administration: The Park Service is spending more money per visitor, per acre, and per employee than ever before.

Supporters of NHAs insist that they aren't in the business of buying or regulating property, which is true in the sense that NHAs do neither of these things directly. But they work to achieve these results indirectly, by encouraging local governments to implement restrictive land-use plans. "That's how they achieve their goals--by pushing counties and towns to do what they can't do for themselves," says Cheryl Chumley, a Virginia writer who has tracked NHAs.

They do this by dangling the prospect of federal largesse in front of potential recipients. West Virginia's Wheeling NHA, which is basically a downtown preservation project, makes this explicit, according to a Heritage Foundation report by Chumley and Ron Ott. Its management plan calls for new zoning ordinances and the acquisition of private property. And how will it achieve these goals? As Chumley and Ott write, "Major funding to support the activities ... and the recommendations of this plan will be coming from the National Park Service." In the year prior to its most recent available tax filing, the Wheeling NHA received more than $2.5 million in government contributions--and not a dime from private sources.

One of the most controversial NHAs is the proposed Journey Through Hallowed Ground, which would encompass a corridor roughly 175 miles in length between Charlottesville, Va., and Gettysburg, Pa. The exact boundaries aren't determined because this NHA at least technically remains on the drawing board. But that didn't stop Congress in 2005 from giving a $1 million earmark to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a non-profit group that's pushing for the NHA. The organization's board is full of slow-growthers, including Peter Brink, the senior vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "If this NHA becomes a reality, it would essentially deputize the National Trust and its allies to oversee land-use policy in the whole region," says Knight.

Once upon a time, historic-preservation groups operated public-education programs and tried to save old homes and hotels, often by purchasing them. Nowadays, however, they're much more interested in regulating land that they don't own. In Oregon and Washington state, where property-rights advocates have put forth ballot initiatives to compensate landowners when government regulations lower the value of their property, the National Trust has campaigned to defeat them. It even worked to derail a transportation project in Virginia because a proposed road expansion would have increased traffic near the Chancellorsville battlefield--not in it, just near it. Three years ago, Emily Wadhams of the National Trust testified to Congress that "private-property rights have never been allowed to take precedence over our shared national values and the preservation of our country's heritage."

Last October, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership issued a report on how it would pursue its objectives in an NHA: "Farmland, in particular, is a threatened resource.... There are many opportunities to further protect these resources through conservation easements, Rural Historic District designations, Agricultural and Forestal districts, and private and public easement and land acquisition." Except for easements, in which landowners sell certain rights to their land, each of these suggestions would amount to having government agencies tell property holders what they can do--or, more likely, what they can't do. In September, more than 110 groups, including the American Conservative Union, the Family Research Council, and FreedomWorks, signed a letter urging Congress to reject new NHAs.

Backers of Journey Through Hallowed Ground, including Republican congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, cite a poll to claim that the public is behind them. What they don't reveal is something that the Fauquier Times-Democrat, a local newspaper, uncovered: The poll was sponsored by a group that endorses the NHA, and 96 percent of the people in the survey didn't even know what the NHA is.

That's what happened in Yuma, Ariz.: Congress created the Yuma Crossing NHA, and hardly any of the locals knew about it until Lee Ott saw the surveyors on his property. The good news is that Yuma's farmers fought back--they asked members of Arizona's congressional delegation to intervene, and eventually the NHA was downsized dramatically. Today, it covers only four square miles. Threats loom elsewhere, however, and an exhibit on the Yuma County Farm Bureau's experience will be featured at this year's American Farm Federation Bureau convention.

Although Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is run by a private group rather than the federal government, supporters of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground like to mention that the boundaries of their NHA would include it. They would do well to read Jefferson's words, and in particular a line that their foes enjoy quoting: "The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management."



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


8 March, 2008


Let's start with some possible news from Heartland Institute's International Climate Change Conference. In the context of man-made global warming, climate sensitivity asks how much temperatures increase if one adds a specified amount of a greenhouse gas. In general, most climatologists accept the proposition, all things being equal, that if one doubles carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the average temperature will go up by +1 degree centigrade. But all things are not equal. In climate models, additional heat from carbon dioxide boosts atmospheric water vapor which in turn acts as a greenhouse gas. All models are dominated by this positive feedback loop. As a consequence, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated in its Fourth Assessment Report (4AR) last year that it "is likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5C with a best estimate of about 3C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5C." In other words, doubling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to warm the planet by between 2 degrees and 4.5 degrees centigrade.

So how do we find out how sensitive climate is to CO2? During his luncheon keynote, University of Alabama climatologist Roy Spencer described how two of his new studies are attempting to answer that question. In 2001, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Richard Lindzen hypothesized that there might be what he called an "adaptive infrared iris" over the tropics through which tropical storms dissipate excess heat. But other researchers looked and found no strong evidence for such a mechanism.

Now Spencer and his colleagues using satellite data noticed big temperature fluctuations in the tropics in which strong warming was followed by rapid cooling. So Spencer looked at 15 strong intraseasonal oscillations in the tropics to see how clouds evolve. What was known is that tropical storms produce high cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are global warming culprits that retain heat and warm the planet. In the climate models, cirrus clouds tend to remain aloft for a long time. However, Spencer's satellite observations found that they in fact dissipate rapidly, allowing heat to escape back into space and thus cooling the planet.

"To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer noted when the study was published in Geophysical Research Letters. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming." Clouds constitute the biggest uncertainty in climate models and Spencer is hoping the modelers will include this effect in future runs to see how it would affect climate projections.

Next, Spencer discussed new research (accepted but not yet published) that he said strongly suggests that climate sensitivity is much lower than the climate models find. As I understood Spencer (and I could be garbling this), in the climate models a feedback is by definition a result of surface temperature change. As Spencer explained his preliminary thinking at the website Climate Science, "For instance, low cloud cover decreasing with surface warming would be a positive feedback on the temperature change by letting more shortwave solar radiation in. But what never seems to be addressed is the question: What caused the temperature change in the first place? How do we know that the low cloud cover decreased as a response to the surface warming, rather than the other way around?"

In fact, using satellite data combined with a small model, Spencer finds that changes in cloudiness appear to drive changes in temperature. If this is so, Spencer suggests, this means that models have fundamentally mixed up cause and effect. He reported that his study had been peer-reviewed by the two of the climatologists on whose work the IPCC relied for estimating climate sensitivity. "Both came back and said 'you're right,'" claimed Spencer.

If Spencer's results are confirmed-and this is a huge if-it would mean that the climate is far less sensitive to perturbation by carbon dioxide than the models suggest. Spencer says that if he is right about climate sensitivity that would imply that the average temperature of the planet might rise by +0.5 degrees centigrade by the end of this century due to the effects of rising carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. (I will report more fully on Spencer's claims once the study is published and the climatological community has gotten a chance to respond to it).

But let's go back to politics. The final morning of the conference began with a rousing speech by Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic. He made it clear that to call him a global warming skeptic would be a bit of an understatement. A point Klaus makes crystal clear in his just published book, Blue Planet in Green Chains - What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? "My answer is clear and resolute: 'it is our freedom.' I may also add 'and our prosperity,'" declared Klaus.

Klaus noted that ideological environmentalism appeals to the same sort of people who have always been attracted to collectivist ideas. He warned that environmentalism at its worst is just the latest dogma to claim that a looming "crisis" requires people to sacrifice their prosperity and their freedoms for the greater good. Let me quote Klaus at length. "Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical-the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality," warned Klaus. "What I have in mind [is], of course, environmentalism and its currently strongest version, climate alarmism."

Klaus added, "What I see in Europe (and in the U.S. and other countries as well) is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, of wishful thinking, of implicit believing in some form of Malthusianism, of cynical approach of those who themselves are sufficiently well-off, together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project."

But assume that man-made global warming is a genuine crisis. That it is a real gigantic open access commons problem. Wouldn't that require some kind of governmental action to coordinate a solution to the problem? I have recently come out in favor of using a carbon tax as a way to spur the technological innovation toward a low-carbon energy economy (and incidentally as a way to also reduce taxes on labor and capital). This was not a popular position at the conference. Why not?

While many environmentalists focus on mitigation (cutting greenhouse gas emissions), many of the economists who spoke at the conference argued that adaptation through wealth creation is the better strategy. Policies aimed at reducing energy consumption to mitigate man-made global warming would likely result in a poorer, less technologically adept future in which future generations would be less able to address the problems caused by climate change. This is clearly true and as a reluctant proponent of a carbon tax, I am painfully aware of this trade-off.

As John Locke Foundation economist Roy Cordato explained: "A higher tax today means lower production and output of goods and services tomorrow, making future generations materially worse off. In setting a carbon tax you must show that future generations would value the problems solved by reduced global warming more than they would value the goods and services that were foregone." He argued it's not possible to know the preferences of future generations, but providing them with more wealth and better technologies will give them more options to express whatever preferences they have.

One final note, geophysicist Russell Seitz gave an interesting talk about the future of "fossil hydrogen." Fossil hydrogen? Yes indeed. Seitz pointed out that coal varies considerably in the amount of hydrogen it contains. Some varieties of bituminous coal are 65 percent carbon and some are 46 percent carbon. Seitz suggested that in an ideal case utilities could cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by switching to high hydrogen coal.


The enemy within

Post below lifted from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links

When your bending author was an industrial apprentice half a century ago there was an undeclared war going on. It was being conducted by communists and their target was the British economy. They had infiltrated the main trades unions and had effective control over vital swathes of industry. If you worked in a section of the factory where there was a communist shop steward you could feel the constant apprehension. The workers put on a face of treating it all as a joke, but they betrayed themselves in unguarded moments. It was a stressful situation for a teenager to be in and the stuff of subsequent nightmares. The activity was little short of persistent industrial sabotage. Then and since, people have derided the very idea that this happened. Revelatory accounts such as the dramatic film, The Angry Silence, with Alfred Burke as the sinister agent provocateur, or the more comic yet cogent treatment in I'm all right Jack are routinely dismissed as wild exaggerations, but they were not.

Now a similar war is going on, but most of the participants and some of the methods are different. The colour has changed, but the objective is the same, as are some of the people (Danny the Red is now Danny the Green). The way to bring down a modern state is to cut off its access to energy, and that is the objective of the new war. The infiltration goes on, but it is more ambitious and more successful, the target now being the leading components of the scientific, media and political establishment.

There is no more blatant example than that unspeakable travesty of a journalist Johann Hari. The lefty-greeny faction likes to throw around words like fascism, but this man is a genuine fascist. He is a demonstrable liar who wishes to cast aside democracy and install authoritarian government. There has been yet another example of his ruthless mendacity in his attack on Spiked. Without any evidence he trots out the old canard of an ad hominem assault of his targets being funded by Big Oil. How even The Independent, which has so egregiously betrayed the hopes that were raised by its foundation, can tolerate the fellow is a mystery.

Today's most extreme prophet of doom

Throughout history, prophets of doom have always got a hearing -- and humanity has not changed

In 1965 executives at Shell wanted to know what the world would look like in the year 2000. They consulted a range of experts, who speculated about fusion-powered hovercrafts and "all sorts of fanciful technological stuff". When the oil company asked the scientist James Lovelock, he predicted that the main problem in 2000 would be the environment. "It will be worsening then to such an extent that it will seriously affect their business," he said. "And of course," Lovelock says, with a smile 43 years later, "that's almost exactly what's happened."

Lovelock has been dispensing predictions from his one-man laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since the mid-1960s, the consistent accuracy of which have earned him a reputation as one of Britain's most respected - if maverick - independent scientists. Working alone since the age of 40, he invented a device that detected CFCs, which helped detect the growing hole in the ozone layer, and introduced the Gaia hypothesis, a revolutionary theory that the Earth is a self-regulating super-organism. Initially ridiculed by many scientists as new age nonsense, today that theory forms the basis of almost all climate science.

For decades, his advocacy of nuclear power appalled fellow environmentalists - but recently increasing numbers of them have come around to his way of thinking. His latest book, The Revenge of Gaia, predicts that by 2020 extreme weather will be the norm, causing global devastation; that by 2040 much of Europe will be Saharan; and parts of London will be underwater. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report deploys less dramatic language - but its calculations aren't a million miles away from his.

As with most people, my panic about climate change is equalled only by my confusion over what I ought to do about it. A meeting with Lovelock therefore feels a little like an audience with a prophet. Buried down a winding track through wild woodland, in an office full of books and papers and contraptions involving dials and wires, the 88-year-old presents his thoughts with a quiet, unshakable conviction that can be unnerving. More alarming even than his apocalyptic climate predictions is his utter certainty that almost everything we're trying to do about it is wrong.

On the day we meet, the Daily Mail has launched a campaign to rid Britain of plastic shopping bags. The initiative sits comfortably within the current canon of eco ideas, next to ethical consumption, carbon offsetting, recycling and so on - all of which are premised on the calculation that individual lifestyle adjustments can still save the planet. This is, Lovelock says, a deluded fantasy. Most of the things we have been told to do might make us feel better, but they won't make any difference. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable.

"It's just too late for it," he says. "Perhaps if we'd gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don't have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can't say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do." He dismisses eco ideas briskly, one by one. "Carbon offsetting? I wouldn't dream of it. It's just a joke. To pay money to plant trees, to think you're offsetting the carbon? You're probably making matters worse. You're far better off giving to the charity Cool Earth, which gives the money to the native peoples to not take down their forests."

Do he and his wife try to limit the number of flights they take? "No we don't. Because we can't." And recycling, he adds, is "almost certainly a waste of time and energy", while having a "green lifestyle" amounts to little more than "ostentatious grand gestures". He distrusts the notion of ethical consumption. "Because always, in the end, it turns out to be a scam ... or if it wasn't one in the beginning, it becomes one."

Somewhat unexpectedly, Lovelock concedes that the Mail's plastic bag campaign seems, "on the face of it, a good thing". But it transpires that this is largely a tactical response; he regards it as merely more rearrangement of Titanic deckchairs, "but I've learnt there's no point in causing a quarrel over everything". He saves his thunder for what he considers the emptiest false promise of all - renewable energy. "You're never going to get enough energy from wind to run a society such as ours," he says. "Windmills! Oh no. No way of doing it. You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time."

This is all delivered with an air of benign wonder at the intractable stupidity of people. "I see it with everybody. People just want to go on doing what they're doing. They want business as usual. They say, 'Oh yes, there's going to be a problem up ahead,' but they don't want to change anything."

Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.

Nuclear power, he argues, can solve our energy problem - the bigger challenge will be food. "Maybe they'll synthesise food. I don't know. Synthesising food is not some mad visionary idea; you can buy it in Tesco's, in the form of Quorn. It's not that good, but people buy it. You can live on it." But he fears we won't invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects "about 80%" of the world's population to be wiped out by 2100. Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, he says. "But this is the real thing."

Faced with two versions of the future - Kyoto's preventative action and Lovelock's apocalypse - who are we to believe? Some critics have suggested Lovelock's readiness to concede the fight against climate change owes more to old age than science: "People who say that about me haven't reached my age," he says laughing.

But when I ask if he attributes the conflicting predictions to differences in scientific understanding or personality, he says: "Personality." There's more than a hint of the controversialist in his work, and it seems an unlikely coincidence that Lovelock became convinced of the irreversibility of climate change in 2004, at the very point when the international consensus was coming round to the need for urgent action. Aren't his theories at least partly driven by a fondness for heresy? "Not a bit! Not a bit! All I want is a quiet life! But I can't help noticing when things happen, when you go out and find something. People don't like it because it upsets their ideas."

But the suspicion seems confirmed when I ask if he's found it rewarding to see many of his climate change warnings endorsed by the IPCC. "Oh no! In fact, I'm writing another book now, I'm about a third of the way into it, to try and take the next steps ahead."

Interviewers often remark upon the discrepancy between Lovelock's predictions of doom, and his good humour. "Well I'm cheerful!" he says, smiling. "I'm an optimist. It's going to happen." Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, he explains, when "we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn't know what to do about it". But once the second world war was under way, "everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do, it was one long holiday ... so when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose - that's what people want."

At moments I wonder about Lovelock's credentials as a prophet. Sometimes he seems less clear-eyed with scientific vision than disposed to see the version of the future his prejudices are looking for. A socialist as a young man, he now favours market forces, and it's not clear whether his politics are the child or the father of his science. His hostility to renewable energy, for example, gets expressed in strikingly Eurosceptic terms of irritation with subsidies and bureaucrats. But then, when he talks about the Earth - or Gaia - it is in the purest scientific terms all.

"There have been seven disasters since humans came on the earth, very similar to the one that's just about to happen. I think these events keep separating the wheat from the chaff. And eventually we'll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly. That's the source of my optimism." What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: "Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan."


Ice, ice, baby

Land of 10,000 lakes is now the land of one thick ice sheet. KARE-TV reported that ice is unusually thick in Minnesota this winter, and it is killing the fish. On some lakes, that thick ice sheet, and snow cover have proved to be a double-whammy for the fish population. The DNR says that blocks sunlight, affects photosynthesis, and robs fish of oxygen. So-called winterkill can then occur.

So, rather than leave the fish to die, the DNR temporarily lifted the limits on more than 30 lakes this winter. Anglers can catch as many fish as they want. "They would die anyway, might as well have an ability to use these fish," said Roy Johannes, DNR Fisheries Program Consultant.

But hey, this cannot be happening. Al Gore said the scientific debate is over. The world is suffering from Global Warming. Now if we could just convince the dead fish.



EU industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen is pushing for EU leaders at their summit next week to agree that energy intensive industries should have a special status when it comes to the bloc's pollution-reducing emissions trading scheme (ETS). German daily Handelsblatt reports that Mr Verheugen next week, during the 13-14 March summit, will argue that industries due to be heaviest hit by the emissions scheme - a system that was tightened up at the beginning of the year - should be exempted.

Mr Verhuegen's position threatens to run into opposition from within the commission itself, with President Jose Manuel Barroso and environment commissioner Stavros Dimas recently indicating that a decision on possible exceptions from the emissions system should only be taken in 2011. Under the ETS, permits to emit carbon dioxide are traded between companies with those polluting less, able to sell their pollution credits to industries that pollute more. Particularly energy-intensive industries include the chemical, steel, cement and paper industries.

Mr Verheugen told Handelsblatt that EU leaders next week should send out a very clear signal on the issue. "Energy intensive sectors need a clear, binding undertaking so that they stay in Europe and do not have to stop their development plans," said the commissioner.

Mr Barroso has previously argued for waiting to make a decision on exemptions in case there is a worldwide climate change agreement - negotiations on this are to start next year - that would require industries beyond the EU to lower carbon dioxide emissions as well. They argue that in this case, the EU's energy-intensive industries would not be disadvantaged, so would not need to be exempted. But Mr Verheugen says that if such industries do not know where they stand now, then they will move outside the EU.



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


7 March, 2008

Global Warming: Is It Really a Crisis?

By John R. Lott, Jr., writing on Fox News

John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all promise massive new regulations that will cost trillions of dollars to combat global warming. McCain says that it will be his first task if he wins the presidency. After consulting with Al Gore, Obama feels the problem is so imminent that it is not even really possible to wait until he becomes president. Ironically, this political unanimity is occurring as global temperatures have been cooling dramatically over the last decade.

Global temperatures have now largely eliminated most of the one degree Celsius warming that had previously occurred over the last 100 years. Hundreds of climate scientists have warned that there is not significant man-made global warming. A conference in New York on Monday and Tuesday this week will bring 100 scientists together to warn that the there is no man-made global warming crisis. Yet, we just keep on piling on more and more regulations without asking hard questions about whether they are justified.

New mileage per gallon regulations were signed into law last year that will mandate cars get 35 MPG. The rules will make us poorer, forcing people to buy products that aren't otherwise the best suited for them. More people will die because lighter cars are less safe, but we are told this is all worth it largely because of global warming. But much of what gets passed is arbitrary. Was there anything scientific about picking 35 MPG instead of, say, 30 MPG other than the desire to do more? And how do these regulations fit in with all the gasoline taxes we have that are already reducing gas use? To see if all this makes any sense there are really four questions that all have to be answered "yes."

1) Are global temperatures rising? Surely, they were rising from the late 1970s to 1998, but "there has been no net global warming since 1998." Indeed, the more recent numbers show that there is now evidence of significant cooling.

2) But supposing that the answer to the first question is "yes," is mankind responsible for a significant and noticeable portion of an increase in temperatures? Mankind is responsible for just a fraction of one percent of the effect from greenhouse gases, and greenhouse gases are not responsible for most of what causes warming (e.g., the Sun). Over 100 leading climate scientists from around the world signed a letter in December stating: "significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming." In December a list was also released of another 400 scientists who questioned the general notion of significant manmade global warming.

3) If the answer to both preceding questions is "yes," is an increase temperature changes "bad"? That answer is hardly obvious. Even the UN's original draft stated that an increase in temperature of up to two degrees Celsius would be good for many regions of the globe. Higher temperatures could increase ocean levels by between seven inches and two feet over the next 100 years. Although some blame global warming for seemingly everything, according to others higher temperatures will increase the amount of land that we can use to grow food, it will improve people's health, and increase biological diversity.

4) Finally, let's assume that the answer to all three previous questions is "yes." Does that mean we need more regulations and taxes? No, that is still not clear. If we believe that man-made global warming is "bad," we still don't want to eliminate all carbon emissions. Having no cars, no air conditioning, or no electricity would presumably be much worse than anything people are claiming from global warming. You want to pick a tax that just discourages carbon emissions to the point where the cost of global warming is greater than that of cutting emissions. Too little of a tax can be "bad" because we would produce greenhouse gases when their costs were greater than the benefits. But too much of a tax also makes us poorer because we won't be getting the benefits from cars or electricity even when the benefits exceed the costs that they would produce from global warming.

What is often ignored in the debate over global warming is that we already have very substantial taxes on gasoline, averaging 46 cents per gallon in the US. Even if one believes that gasoline use should be restricted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the question is whether our taxes are already restricting use "too much" or "not enough." But simply saying that carbon dioxide emissions are bad isn't enough.

In fact, William Nordhaus, an economics professor at Yale and former member of President Carter's Council of Economic Advisors, puts the "right" level of gasoline taxes at around 10 cents a gallon today, reaching 16 cents per gallon in 2015. Nordhaus' analysis assumes that the answers to the first three questions are "yes." If anything, while gasoline taxes are partially used for such things as building roads, it seems quite plausible that, even accepting Nordhaus' assumptions, current gasoline taxes are much too high to deal with the harm from global warming.

However good the intentions, the debate over global warming is much more complicated than simply saying that the world is getting warmer. It is too bad that these questions won't be getting a real debate this election. The irony is that those who sell themselves as being so caring aren't careful enough to investigate the impact of their regulations.


A cautious keynote address at NYC anti-warming conference

The Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change kicked off this evening at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan. Joseph Bast, president of the Institute, began by announcing that the meeting of 500 participants had attracted more than 200 scientists, economists, and other policy analysts to address questions that he thinks have been insufficiently scrutinized by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to Bast, those questions include: (1) how reliable are the climate data; (2) how much of global warming is natural and how much is man-made; (3) how reliable are climate computer models; and (4) is reducing greenhouse gas emissions the best or only way to address climate change?

Heartland Institute senior policy analyst, James Taylor, told the participants that the organizers had invited many of the prominent "alarmists" to present their views at the conference. "Not a single one would come to speak," Taylor said.

The keynote speaker after the gala dinner was University of Virginia climatologist and Cato Institute Senior Environmental Fellow, Patrick Michaels. His talk was titled, "Global Warming's Convenient Facts." Michaels began by telling the audience, "Global warming is real and people have something to do with it." He also noted that one should not care a whit about the fact that humans are causing temperatures to increase. Rather, one should care how much the increase is likely to be.

Michaels pointed out that the surface records show average global temperatures increasing at a steady rate of +0.17 degrees centigrade per decade since 1977. He also hastened to put the kibosh on recent assertions that "global warming stopped in 1998." While global average temperatures have been essentially flat since 1998, Michaels argued that natural variations in the climate mask any increases due to greenhouse gases. In particular, cooler waters in the Pacific ("La Nina") and lower solar activity have conspired to drop average global temperatures. When these trends reverse, average global temperatures will rapidly rise to reveal the established long term man-made warming trend of +0.17 degrees centigrade per decade. Michaels warned against succumbing to the temptation to cite current flattened global temperatures as evidence against man-made global warming.

Michaels then turned to various climate change puzzles. Is Antarctica melting, he asked? Exhibit A in the Antarctica warming story is the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula. However, as Michaels showed, the peninsula is a very small area of the southern continent and most of Antarctica shows no warming trend. In fact, the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (4AR), released in 2007, found that "current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting." Michaels sardonically noted that former Vice President Al Gore did not say that sea level would rise by 20 feet in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth; he just showed animations of such a sea-level rise.

What about Greenland? Michaels displayed temperature records showing that Greenland's temperatures had been higher in the earlier part of the 20th century. In particular he cited a 2006 study by Danish researchers who reported, "The warmest year in the extended Greenland temperature record is 1941, while the 1930s and 1940s are the warmest decades." Michaels suggested that Greenland was losing about 25 cubic miles of ice annually. He further noted that there are about 690,000 cubic miles of ice locked up in Greenland's ice cap. At that rate of melting, Greenland's ice cap would shrink by less than 0.4 percent over the next century. According to recent reports, Greenland's ice cap is now losing about 57 cubic miles of ice annually. If that rate were sustained over the next 100 years, a little over 0.8 percent of the ice cap would melt away into the oceans.

Michaels also talked about the recent steep reduction in summer Arctic sea ice. However, he pointed to research by UCLA biological geographer Glen MacDonald and his colleagues who found that the Eurasian tree line reached as far as the shores of the Arctic Ocean 9,000 to 7,000 years ago. Why? Because "the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5 to 7.0 celsius warmer than modern [ones]." This implies considerably reduced Arctic sea ice cover lasting for centuries in the past. Michaels noted in passing that polar bears survived that warmer period. Although Michaels did not mention it (one can't throw everything into one talk, after all), expanding boreal forests would darken the earth's surface which could in turn accelerate Arctic warming.

Michaels ended by asking, "How much will it warm?" He suggested that the constant rate of +0.17 degrees centigrade per decade is likely. What does he think we should do about that warming? Michaels worries that regulatory responses that aim to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions now will slow economic growth and technological progress, making future generations poorer and less able to address the challenges of man-made climate change.


All Climate Predictions uncertain: Climate Models Reviled

I spent the second day of the Heartland Institute's International Climate Change Conference listening to presentations in the climatology track. This means that I missed all of the presentations on paleoclimatology, the politics of climate change, the economics of climate change, and the impacts of climate change, not to mention the four different documentaries questioning climate change alarmism.

News flash: Climate skeptics don't agree among themselves about what, if anything, is going on with the world's climate. Occasionally there was something of a camp-meeting atmosphere among participants. It is clear that some feel victimized by those who are promoting the idea that man-made global warming is a big problem requiring immediate action. In any case, the climate skeptics began their day early with well-attended breakfast presentations starting at 7:00 a.m. One of the breakfast presenters was University of Guelph environmental economist Ross McKitrick. McKitrick and statistician Stephen McIntyre are the duo that pointed out the flaws in the famous "hockey stick" reconstruction of historical climate data by climatologist Michael Mann. The "hockey stick" purported to show that the 20th century was the warmest century in 1,000 years. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) featured it as evidence for climate change prominently in its Third Assessment Report.

In 2006, a National Research Council report dealing with controversy concluded that it was "plausible" that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer in the 20th century than for any comparable period in the last 1,000 years. However, McKitrick and Ross were more or less vindicated when the NRC report added tellingly that "substantial uncertainties" in the data undermined confidence in any assessment of temperature changes prior to the year 1600 which just happened to have been near the nadir of the Little Ice Age. Furthermore, the NRC noted, "Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that 'the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium' because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales."

Over breakfast, McKitrick presented recently published work in the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) showing that the surface temperature dataset are seriously contaminated by extraneous factors. Basically, climatologists try to take into account effects like urbanization, industrialization, and other land use changes and adjust temperature data accordingly to reveal the actual temperature trends. McKitrick tested the hypothesis that all these surface processes had been correctly filtered out which would imply that their effect on temperature data would be zero. He reported to the audience that this was not so. It turns out that the richer the country, the higher the temperature. McKitrick estimates that properly accounting for these non-climatic socioeconomic effects would cut "the estimated 1980-2002 global average temperature trend over land by about half."

Naturally such a conclusion has not gone unnoticed by those scientists concerned about the dangers of man-made global warming. McKitrick says that he has in fact run further tests to take into account their criticisms and asked to publish his additional results as a reply in the JGR. However, the editor told him that since no one had sent in a critique, there was no reason to publish a reply. McKitrick said that he has asked one of his chief critics to write up his critique and submit it, so that he could reply in the peer-reviewed literature.

So after breakfast, I settled into the room where the climatology track took place. A good bit of the climatology track was devoted to critiquing the general circulation climate models (GCMs) For example, University of Rochester physicist David Douglass presented the results of his recent study that compared the outputs of 22 different climate models with observational temperature data in the tropical troposphere. According to Douglass, the models show that tropical troposphere should warm as much as 3 times faster than surface. However, when this result is checked against observational temperature data from satellites and weather balloons, it turns out the surface and troposphere warm at about the same rate. Thus, Douglass concludes, greenhouse gases must be having only a minor impact on global temperature trends. Naturally, this study is controversial.

One of the more remarkable performances was by Australian entrepreneur David C. Archibald during one of the afternoon panels. Archibald is described in the conference materials as "a scientist operating in the fields of cancer research, climate science, and oil exploration." He also appears to have business interests in some oil fields in Australia. In any case, Archibald made it very clear that he is a big believer in the idea that climate change is primarily driven by the sun. Archibald's basic theory is that when the sun's magnetic field strength drops there are fewer sunspots which reduce the amount of particles ejected as the solar wind. Less solar wind allows more galactic cosmic rays to enter the Earth's atmosphere. Archibald is here relying on studies by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark which find that cosmic rays do produce cloud condensation nuclei which then might create low level clouds that reflect more sunlight back into space thus making the Earth colder.

Archibald predicts that the next solar cycle, Cycle 24, will produce a weak magnetic field which means that more cosmic rays will enter the atmosphere to create clouds and thus cool the earth. Actually, a 2007 NASA scientific panel was evenly split on the strong/weak prediction for Cycle 24. However, many researchers expect that Cycle 25 may be one the weakest in centuries. Archibald ended by boldly predicting that the world will see average temperatures drop by -2.2 degrees centigrade in the coming decade. That's more than three times the amount of warming the world has experienced over the last century. He also predicted as a consequence that the growing seasons in the United States would be shortened by a total of four weeks, dramatically reducing food production.

So as I puzzled over these presentations, it seems to me that we're being offered three different sets of predictions. First, there's the IPCC prediction that the next couple of decades should warm up at a rate of +0.2 degrees centigrade per decade (which is not all that different from climatologist Patrick Michael's rate of +0.17 degrees per decade.) Interestingly, as I've mentioned many times before, the U.K.'s Hadley Centre is predicting that average global temperatures in 2014 will be +0.3 degrees warmer than they were in 2004. Second, there are the climate skeptics who do not believe that warming will continue and expect a bit of cooling. And for those of an apocalyptic frame of mind, they have Archibald's -2.2 degrees of cooling over the next decade.

Finally, one of the more disquieting presentations was by retired TV meteorologist Anthony Watts. Part of Watts' training back when he was getting his degree in 1970s was to construct a Stevenson screen in which to shelter weather instruments. When he was putting it together his hands got covered in whitewash. He complained to his professor and suggested that he paint it with latex paint instead. His professor objected that whitewash had been used since 1892 and new paints would change the way the instruments functioned and possibly bias the data they collected. The U.S. Weather Bureau changed paints in the late 1970s.

With time on his hands, a retired Watts decided to run a back yard test with Stevenson screens using whitewash, white latex paint, unpainted wood and an aspirated temperature shield. He measured for several months, but typical among his results was one day in August when he found that the bare screen registered a maximum daytime temperature of 98.47 degrees, the latex screen was 97.74 degrees, the whitewashed one was 96.94 and the aspirated temperature shield reported 95.03 degrees. Watts decided to check to see how the Stevenson screens housing nearby weather stations that were part of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) had been painted. What Watts discovered was much more disturbing-many USHCN weather stations were deplorably placed near parking lots, air conditioning vents, under shade trees, at sewage treatment plants, and so forth.

Watts then proceeded to show the audience slide after slide of badly, even absurdly, sited weather stations. Watts has now created a website of volunteers who are working to identify and audit the siting of all USHCN weather stations. The results are reported at (regrettably down for maintenance at the moment. But for 50 examples of badly sited stations, go here.) So far Watts' volunteers have reported 502 of the 1221 stations in the U.S., and only 13 percent of the network so far conforms to the National Weather Service's own best practices manual. This is shocking when one considers that these are the same surface stations that climatologists rely upon to detect temperature trends.


NY Climate Conference: Journey to the Center of Warming Sanity

If you rely solely on the mainstream media to keep informed, you may not have heard that the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change concluded in New York City on Tuesday. And if you have heard anything -- this being primarily a forum of skeptics -- it was likely of a last gasp effort by "flat-Earthers" sponsored by right-wingers in the pockets of big-oil to breathe life into their dying warming denial agenda. Well, having just returned from the 3 day event, I'm happy to report that the struggle against the ravages of warming alarmism is not only alive, but healthier than ever.

Granting a long overdue forum to noted dissenting scientists, economists and policy experts from around the world, the Heartland Institute-sponsored symposium at the Marriott Marquis offered welcomed reasoned analysis as alternative to last December's hysterical circus which was Bali. It also served as the perfect launch point for a long-awaited un-IPCC report -- Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate: Summary for Policymakers of the Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

Compiling the work of over 20 prominent fellow researchers, editor Fred Singer's NIPCC report distinguishes itself from the recent IPCC Fourth Assessment (AR4) and its predecessors in that it was not pre-programmed to "support the hypotheses of anthropogenic warming (AGW) and the control of greenhouse gases." Instead, the nearly 50 page document is a non-political authoritative rebuttal to the multi-government controlled IPCC's "errors and outright falsehoods" regarding warming's measurement, likely drivers, and overall impact.

And its ultimate conclusion of "natural causes and a moderate warming trend with beneficial effects for humanity and wildlife" set the perfect framework for speakers and panelists - many of whom contributed to the NIPCC -- to elaborate on the summit's "Global warming is not a crisis" theme.

While Mainstream Media Ignored, Alarmist Propaganda Machine Attacked

Even before the first mention was made of activists and media misrepresenting current climate science while completely ignoring the serious inaccuracies in virtually all IPCC documents at Sunday's opening dinner, alarmist groups were busy marginalizing the event., and Greenpeace's Kert Davies -- who actually attended -- dubbed it "Denial-a-Palooza," and painted it as a desperate "final battle" in a war that's been long won by their side. Gloating over pending carbon regulations and collaborating GOP politicians, alarm-leader Davies asks:
"Just what do these denial professionals think of the likes of turncoats Walmart, General Electric, GM, Alcoa, Fed-Ex, Coca-Cola, Bank of America to name a few, who have acknowledged the threat, and either endorsed regulatory approaches or and taken measures to shift investment and business practices?"
Perhaps had Davies taken some time off from hijacking press members in the hallway to recycle-to-death his "I'm the skunk at the garden party" line, and actually attended a panel or two, he would have heard Steve Milloy's unsurprising response to that question -- Follow the MONEY. That's right, during a Monday afternoon political session, the founder of explained GE's double-dipping ability to manufacture and sell windmills while receiving government subsidies for doing so. And how, under proposed cap-and-trade plans, companies like Alcoa and DOW will be eligible for retroactive carbon credits for emission abatements they've accomplished in the past. Oh, and who do you suppose owns the exchange where these carbon credits will be traded? Can you spell Goldman Sachs?

Fuel refined from what these greenies don't understand about business could cleanly power the planet for years. As usual, our friends in the mainstream dutifully dispensed their duties as well. Covering the event for the New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin writes:
"One challenge they faced was that even within their own ranks, the group - among them government and university scientists, antiregulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members -- displayed a dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate."
Challenge, Andrew? Hearing cogent discussion and widely diverse idea-exchanges in contrast to the monotonous "settled science" IPCC-composed group-speak -- the compulsory soundtrack of previous climate conferences -- far from being a challenge, quickly reaffirmed which side wanted at the truth. As panel member Michael R Fox wrote back in 2006:
"When Michael Crichton said that `Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled,' he was right. When it comes to the natural sciences consensus is not science, and science is not consensus."
Revkin closed his attempted hatchet-job with an amazingly low-rent observation:
"The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so."
This was a gratuitous attempt to suggest that few of the participants were actually men of science. Of course, had he opened a program or even journeyed to a few of Monday's 20 panels he would realized that there were, in fact, over 100 in attendance, specializing in everything from climatology to geology to meteorology to physics. In fact, on the final day over 60 scientists found the time to come forward for the commemorative photo. Nice try.

Besides, the conference didn't focus exclusively on rebuking the junk science of AGW. While tracks one and two featured experts in paleoclimatology and climatology, respectively, the remaining three explored the impacts, economics and politics of warming itself and, moreover, the left's hysterical response to it.

Let's Get One Thing Settled -- The Science is NOT

There were a total of 32 discussions between the opening shredding of temperature records and biased recording mechanisms offered by Prof. Robert Balling and Ross McKitrick and the closing session's critique of media bias by ABC News correspondent John Stossel. Of those, 11 were purely devoted to science and another 8 studied impacts, which were often scientifically inclusive.

If I have any complaint at all about the conference it is only that with 5 sessions running concurrently, one was constantly forced to make the difficult decision of which to attend. That said, moving about as best I could landed me in the midst of many fascinating forums.

I heard Christopher Monckton recall the consequences of Hitler's eugenics programs, Stalin's lyceum movement, Mao's "great leap backward," and the World Health Organization's DDT ban to conclude that it "kills people if you get the science wrong." And he attributed the current AGW scare story to the "same people" arguably responsible for 40 million children dying from malaria by demagoguing DDT:
"It's the international left, it's the media wanting another scare story, it's teachers wanting to seem relevant ... who sense that they can advance their causes, collectively, together, by getting behind this nonsense."
Lord Mockton feels that the public will eventually become aware that the activists do, indeed, have the science all wrong and that "once the penny drops -- that will be the end of this scare too." The former policy advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher predicts we're not far from that point. I wonder.

Moving up two floors I found Dennis Avery pleading that we "don't burn food" by mandating biofuels in a misguided and futile effort to control atmospheric CO2 levels. Singer, Avery's coauthor of the fabulous Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, then spoke briefly about the NIPCC report which he would officially debut in his address to that day's plenary lunch session. Next, J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School discussed the impracticalities and pitfalls of warming-induced polar bear population fluctuation forecasts, particularly as they relate to green attempts to have the bears declared an endangered species. More on that later.

In the next session, astrophysicist and geoscientist Willie Soon made an extremely compelling argument that "CO2 is not in charge of all things weather and climate." And Professor Howard Hayden managed a big laugh when he lambasted IPCC reliance on computer models with the words "Garbage in - Gospel out."

Afterwards, Craig Loehle stepped up to the podium to discuss his recently well-received research into non-tree ring proxies. Computing mean temperature anomaly history from eighteen 2000 year-long data sets of 6 different types, Loehle constructed a graph which suggests that mean temperatures between 800 and 1300 A.D (a.k.a the Medieval Warm Period) were approximately 0.3C warmer than 20th century values. This, of course, stands in complete incongruity to the already discredited hockey stick graph (MBH98 -- Michael Mann et al.) highlighted in Al Gore's movie and prominently featured in the UN's alarming 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report.

Loehle also demonstrated how his reconstruction fit quite nicely into the 1500 year cycle proposed by Singer and Avery and then elicited a few laughs by adding, "Fred Singer is helping me with this and that should guarantee that I never get it published." Funny, yes -- but sadder yet.

Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, I only managed to catch the tail end of meteorologist Anthony Watts' presentation. The founder of has been reporting irregularities in the housings and locations of USHCN weather stations - from which virtually all agencies derive their data -- for quite some time. As I entered, the screen snapped continuous slides of stations placed near AC vents, parking lots, under shady trees, atop sun-soaked asphalt -- you name it. While some were actually funny - all were deeply disturbing.

My final climatology lesson came Tuesday morning from energy expert Richard S. Courtney who presenting a rather passionate analysis of the carbon cycle - specifically its "natural sequestration process [which] can easily cope with human emitted CO2."

Other science presenters time didn't allow me hear were CO2 expert Craig Idso, marine geologist Bob Carter, climate scientist David Archibald, Dr. Timothy Ball, professor Tim Patterson, meteorological researcher William Gray, climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer and too many more to possibly list. But I'd certainly heard more than enough to understand that minds much greater than those from which the words "the debate is over" sloppily spout know well that it is not.

Green Policy Future -- I fear you more than any science I have seen

I apologize to Dickens for the section heading, but given November's very possible Washington realignment, settling the science may be the least of our worries.

My foray into the conference's politics track began with David Henderson discussing how once UN pressured governments signed on to the IPCC CO2 hysteria, "received opinion" swayed the public to believe that the science was settled; AGW was, indeed, a threat; and that immediate action must be taken. The academic economist stressed that people drafting IPCC reports"are not policy neutral, they're not meant to be -- they're policy makers." And those running the IPCC "are those already convinced so they can't imagine any other conclusion."

Shifting to insanity of a more local nature, former EDF member John Charles told fascinating tales of the business extortive and often ludicrous means by which Portland, OR has attempted to earn the title "America's greenest city." Then came Steve Milloy, whose eye-opening greed-based explanation of just how we find ourselves at the apex of declaring CO2 a toxic chemical in spite of the concept of it driving climate change being "hogwash" I've already acknowledged.

Next, director of Climate Strategies Watch Paul Chesser gave a dizzying presentation on the shady relationship between the Center for Climate Strategies, a self-proclaimed technical advisory service organization claiming no specific policy advocacy, and the environmental advocacy group Pennsylvania Environment Council. Mystery fans curious about how alarmist money is driving legislation are encouraged to visit Paul's fascinating site and delve into this Chandleresque web of eco-deception and policy peddling intrigue.

Benny Peiser, social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University and editor of the excellent CCnet, addressed an impacts session following an interesting but time overrunning Hurricanes and Global Warming presentation by expert Stan Goldenberg. In his abbreviated podium appearance, Peiser addressed the human condition aspects of the debate. Granted, he says, probability is not on the side of recent Nobel laureate Gore -- who, by the way declined an invitation to speak at the conference.

Nonetheless, let's not minimize or ridicule the public anxiety caused by the headlines from alarmists who constantly declare an absolutely worst case scenario as likelihood. After all, asks Peiser, what if, as CO2 continues to rise, temperatures follow? Or, current foretelling of a possible new Little Ice Age -- the last one caused mass starvation in Europe -- should prove to be right? Listening to his real concerns about these anthropological impacts and the tripling of energy needs should China and India reach a modern lifestyle in the next 40 years certainly moves one's mind nearer the center of the debate. That is, until you're reminded of what the alarmists are planning.

Which I quickly was at Tuesday morning's final political forum. For openers, CEI senior fellow Marlo Lewis painted a harrowing picture of an America in which CO2 had been declared a pollutant by the EPA. He warned of an extension of Clean Air Act section 165 (preventing significant deterioration of air quality) to limit building and expansion permits for hotels, restaurants or any structure using natural gas for heating or cooking. He then coined the phrase "policy terrorism" to describe potential EPA extortion -- accept cap and trade or we'll blow up your economy. Nice.

Dr. Michael R. Fox then pointed out how lessons learned by the nuclear industry -- after its assault at the hands of "energy illiterate" activists -- must be appreciated in dealing with the current attack by "climate illiterates."

Finally, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works communications director took the helm. While the Bush Administration likely will not, last year's wrongly decided Supreme Court opinion has given future (read that Democrat) EPAs the power to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, warns Marc Morano. Furthermore, the decision was likely based on the AR4 SPM, which was written by not thousands, but rather 52 hand-selected scientists. Morano wonders whether knowledge of the "over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called `consensus' on man-made global warming" might have swayed the court's majority opinion in another direction. As do I. He then reminded us of the global Carbon tax urged by a panel of UN experts at Bali. And of the words of MIT climate scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen:
"Controlling Carbon is a bureaucrat's dream. If you control carbon you control life."
As an example of just how scary green policy may soon become -- remember Scott Armstrong's polar bear concerns? Here are Morano's:
"If polar bears are listed under the Endangered Species Act, then someone running a lawnmower in Miami could, theoretically, be cited for endangering the polar bear."
Earlier that morning, the president of the Czech Republic, Hon. Vaclav Klaus, received a standing ovation when he declared Europe's emission reduction goals impossible to meet without lowering populations or creating widespread poverty.

So, they're wrong on the science. They're wrong on the solutions. And, implementing their wrong solutions will impede freedom, retard growth and, ultimately, destroy economies. All while changing global mean temperatures not one single degree. Not one. As I hopped on the train headed for home, it struck me -- I may well have just left the only place on Earth where walked, however briefly, more sane-thinkers on the subject than not. The chill the thought sent up my spine is not completely gone.


Plastic bag bans absurd

Comment from Miranda Devine in Australia

Plastic bags are under siege, pilloried globally as a menace to the environment and a symbol of man's conspicuous consumption, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Without plastic bags we would all buy less, goes the thinking. But, of course, we won't. Hence you have the ludicrous situation at Bunnings where a customer buys a small, but nonetheless unwieldy bag of potting mix (in dirty plastic wrapping), a tape measure, a paint-sample pot, marker pens, pest oil and a bottle of Thrive, and is expected to carry it all out of the store in her arms, thus making filthy her white shirt, because Bunnings is a good environmental citizen and no longer provides plastic bags, or only reluctantly and for 10 cents a piece.

Australia's chief bag-slayer is our Environment Minister, the lantern-jawed former rock god Peter Garrett, who has little of substance left in his portfolio after the meaty bits were handed to Penny Wong. But his caged activist persona is just perfect for the kind of empty symbolism which has marked the Rudd Government's first 100 days. When it comes to evil Japanese whalers and plastic bags, Pete's your man. His first big act in office has been to declare bags would be banned or taxed into oblivion by year's end, and he has convened a summit of the nation's environment ministers next month to achieve that end. Jumping the queue on Sunday was South Australia's Premier, Mike Rann, who announced a ban on bags from next year. "I am urging all states to follow this important step in ridding our environment of these bags that contribute to greenhouse gases, clog up landfill, litter our streets and streams as well as kill sea life."

All very virtuous-sounding, except none of it is based on fact. The Productivity Commission did a cost-benefit analysis in 2006 on the merits or otherwise of plastic bags, and found they comprise just 2 per cent of litter and it was not certain if they damaged animals. The commission claimed plastic bags may be eco-friendly in solid landfill, because of their "stabilising qualities, leachate minimisation and minimising [of] greenhouse-gas emissions". Three-quarters of us recycle the bags as bin-liners, pooper-scoopers or carry bags, thus confining stuff that might otherwise become litter.

But, as usual, green hysteria obscures the truth. For instance, Planet Ark's founder, Jon Dee, was quoted in 2006 saying he had been "inundated" with calls from farmers whose calves had died after swallowing plastic bags. But the National Farmers Federation has never heard of such a thing, a spokesman said yesterday. Nor has the Cattle Council of Australia had a single report.

A 2002 Newfoundland study of 100,000 marine animals killed each year, which is widely cited by green groups as proof of the evils of plastic bags, turns out to have been wildly misquoted. The deaths were actually attributed to fishing nets. So ban fishing nets. And since cigarette butts comprise almost half of Clean Up Australia's rubbish collections, why not ban cigarettes instead of plastic bags? Unlike bags, fags are not useful, and there would be the long-term benefit of improved health.

In an attempt to fend off draconian bans, retailers have been getting stingy with plastic bags and making bucketloads on green imported Chinese faux-enviro-bags. We can live with that, but what is intolerable is the fact that so many plastic bags have become so flimsy they are next to useless for anything heavier than a Paddlepop. At my local shop an irate women recently marched in to demand a new bottle of soft drink after the one she had just bought fell through a hole in the bag and smashed all over the floor of the fish-and-chips store two doors up. Whose fault is it that the bag was a disaster, what was the customer's duty of care, and who should compensate the poor fish-and-chips shop owner for his sticky floor? Such are the great questions thrown up by the looming ban on plastic bags.

There is nothing about banning plastic bags that makes sense, yet it is a global craze, latched onto by lazy governments desperate to appear green. The tragedy is that while the ban will do little for the environment, it will ruin Australian businesses which make and recycle the bags. The largest manufacturer, Melbourne's Detmark Poly Bags, makes almost all the Australian checkout bags used by retailers, including Woolworths. Detmark, a 25-year-old private, Australian-owned company worth $15 million to $20 million, with about 30 workers, will be "just wiped out" if the Government's plastic bag ban is enforced, its managing director, Malcolm Davidson, said yesterday.

He points out the ethylene gas which is turned into ethylene pellets from which he makes his bags, is a byproduct of natural gas from the Bass Strait, piped to a processing plant in Melbourne. "If we didn't use the gas they'd have to burn it off", hardly a Gaia-friendly solution. Repeat Plastics Australia (Replas) is another successful Australian-owned company that will be hurt by the ban, since the fewer plastic bags available for recycling, the higher the price of the raw product. It turns plastic bags into everything from horse feeders to jetty planks, park benches to bollards.

"The plastic bag is a perfect product," said the company's national marketing manager, Mark Jacobsen. "It's 100 per cent recoverable, 100 per cent recyclable, cheap, practical. It would have to be one of the best products ever invented . The public is being hoodwinked into thinking plastic bags are bad . when the problem is [some people] are not disposing of them properly."

There is now such a shortage of waste plastic for recycling, he says prices have doubled in the past 18 months. "We are crying out for plastic," he says. "This has put the recycling industry back 50 years. How illogical can you get?"

As for the thick green so-called eco bag, which Garrett has described as "canvas", it also is a plastic bag, made of polypropylene. Each is the equivalent of 1000 of the original polyethylene bags, Jacobsen says. And "no one wants to recycle them," as the plastic requires a higher temperature to melt. The bags rip and soil like any other bag, despite the hype, and at some point they must be disposed of. They might not do much for marine animals, but someone is making a lot of money out of them.



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6 March, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Prompts Climate Change Debate

Dust free atmosphere may be responsible for up to .36 F rise in global temps. One more thing that is not properly accounted for in the "models"

Anyone who saw the lunar eclipse last month likely noted that it was relatively bright, with the darkened moon illuminated by ghostly red light. Now that same light is leading some scientists to questions about recent climate change data, according to New Scientist.

A relatively bright eclipse means that the Earth's atmosphere is comparatively free of volcanic dust, and that relatively large amounts of sunlight are being refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. Last week's was rated a 3 on a scale of 0 to 4, meaning that it was very bright indeed. Nor is this the first time - for the last dozen years, eclipses have been relatively luminous, as a result of few dust-spewing eruptions.

Scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder are drawing some controversial conclusions from those bright lunar surfaces, however. They say that the lack of observed dust in the atmosphere over the past 12 years could be responsible for as much as a .1 to .2 degree Celsius rise (about .18 to .36 degrees Fahrenheit) in the average temperature on Earth since the 1960s. That certainly wouldn't account for the entire range of observed temperature shifts (the average temperature in that time has risen by about .6 Celsius, or 1.08 Fahrenheit degrees) - but if true, it could complicate global climate change analyses.

Other scientists say this idea doesn't hold water. New Scientists quotes one of the scientists on the UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as saying that their recent report, which attributed virtually all recent warming to man made greenhouse gases, had taken the issue of volcanic dust into account. In fact, the IPCC scientists said, haze levels have been slightly higher over the past 40 years compared to the previous 20 years, so the overall volcano-related temperature trend should have been towards cooling.



Not all Leftists are totally credulous. Below is an excerpt from a Leftist physicist. From what he sees, he concludes that global warming is a red herring to divert attention from real problems

Before `climate chaos' became cliche, many scientists advanced evidence for detected amounts of global average Earth surface temperature increases occurring in the post-industrial age. These reports, taken as a whole, were the main original catalysts towards constructing the global warming myth, so it is useful to critically examine their validity.

It was no easy task to arrive at the most cited original estimated rate of increase of the mean global surface temperature of 0.5 C in 100 years. As with any evaluation of a global spatio-temporal average, it involved elaborate and unreliable grid size dependent averages. In addition, it involved removal of outlying data, complex corrections for historical differences in measurement methods, measurement distributions, and measurement frequencies, and complex normalisations of different data sets - for example, land based and sea based measurements and the use of different temperature proxies that are in turn dependent on approximate calibration models. Even for modern thermometer readings in a given year, the very real problem of defining a robust and useful global spatio-temporal average Earth-surface temperature is not solved, and is itself an active area of research.

This means that determining an average of a quantity (Earth surface temperature) that is everywhere different and continuously changing with time at every point, using measurements at discrete times and places (weather stations), is virtually impossible; in that the resulting number is highly sensitive to the chosen extrapolation method(s) needed to calculate (or rather approximate) the average.

Averaging problems aside, many tenuous approximations must be made in order to arrive at any of the reported final global average temperature curves. For example, air temperature thermometers on ocean-going ships have been positioned at increasing heights as the sizes of ships have increased in recent history. Since temperature decreases with increasing altitude, this altitude effect must be corrected. The estimates are uncertain and can change the calculated global warming by as much as 0.5 C, thereby removing the originally reported effect entirely.

Similarly, surface ocean temperatures were first measured by drawing water up to the ship decks in cloth buckets and later in wooden buckets. Such buckets allow heat exchange in different amounts, thereby changing the measured temperature. This must be corrected by various estimates of sizes and types of buckets. These estimates are uncertain and can again change the resulting final calculated global warming value by an amount comparable to the 0.5 C value. There are a dozen or so similar corrections that must be applied, each one able to significantly alter the outcome.

In wanting to go further back in time, the technical problems are magnified. For example, when one uses a temperature proxy, such as the most popular tree ring proxy, instead of a physical thermometer, one has the significant problem of calibrating the proxy. With tree rings from a given preferred species of tree, there are all kinds of unavoidable artefacts related to wood density, wood water content, wood petrifaction processes, season duration effects, forest fire effects, extra-temperature biotic stress effects (such as recurring insect infestations), etc. Each proxy has its own calibration and preservation problems that are not fully understood.

The reported temperature curves should therefore be seen as tentative suggestions that the authors hope will catalyze more study and debate, not reliable results that one should use in guiding management practice or in deducing actual planetary trends. In addition, the original temperature or proxy data is usually not available to other research scientists who could critically examine the data treatment methods; nor are the data treatment methods spelled out in enough detail. Instead, the same massaged data is reproduced from report to report rather than re-examined.

The most recent thermometer measurements have their own special problems, not the least of which is urban warming, due to urban sprawl, which locally affects weather station mean temperatures and wind patterns: Temperatures locally change because local surroundings change. Most weather monitoring stations are located, for example, near airports which, in turn, are near expanding cities.

As a general rule in science, if an effect is barely detectable, requires dubious data treatment methods, and is sensitive to those data treatment methods and to other approximations, then it is not worth arguing over or interpreting and should not be used in further deductions or extrapolations. The same is true in attempting to establish causal relationships.


Weather Channel Founder Blasts Network; Claims It Is 'Telling Us What to Think'

TWC founder and global warming skeptic advocates suing Al Gore to expose 'the fraud of global warming.'

The Weather Channel has lost its way, according to John Coleman, who founded the channel in 1982. Coleman told an audience at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change on March 3 in New York that he is highly critical of global warming alarmism. "The Weather Channel had great promise, and that's all gone now because they've made every mistake in the book on what they've done and how they've done it and it's very sad," Coleman said. "It's now for sale and there's a new owner of The Weather Channel will be announced - several billion dollars having changed hands in the near future. Let's hope the new owners can recapture the vision and stop reporting the traffic, telling us what to think and start giving us useful weather information."

The Weather Channel has been an outlet for global warming alarmism. In December 2006, The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen argued on her blog that weathercasters who had doubts about human influence on global warming should be punished with decertification by the American Meteorological Society.

Coleman also told the audience his strategy for exposing what he called "the fraud of global warming." He advocated suing those who sell carbon credits, which would force global warming alarmists to give a more honest account of the policies they propose.

"[I] have a feeling this is the opening," Coleman said. "If the lawyers will take the case - sue the people who sell carbon credits. That includes Al Gore. That lawsuit would get so much publicity, so much media attention. And as the experts went to the media stand to testify, I feel like that could become the vehicle to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming."

Earlier at the conference Lord Christopher Monckton, a policy adviser to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told an audience that the science will eventually prevail and the "scare" of global warming will go away. He also said the courts were a good avenue to show the science.


The World Has Plenty of Oil

Many energy analysts view the ongoing waltz of crude prices with the mystical $100 mark -- notwithstanding the dollar's anemia -- as another sign of the beginning of the end for the oil era. "[A]t the furthest out, it will be a crisis in 2008 to 2012," declares Matthew Simmons, the most vocal voice among the "neo-peak-oil" club. Tempering this pessimism only slightly is the viewpoint gaining ground among many industry leaders, who argue that daily production by 2030 of 100 million barrels will be difficult. In fact, we are nowhere close to reaching a peak in global oil supplies

Given a set of assumptions, forecasting the peak-oil-point -- defined as the onset of global production decline -- is a relatively trivial problem. Four primary factors will pinpoint its exact timing. The trivial becomes far more complex because the four factors -- resources in place (how many barrels initially underground), recovery efficiency (what percentage is ultimately recoverable), rate of consumption, and state of depletion at peak (how empty is the global tank when decline kicks in) -- are inherently uncertain.

- What are the global resources in place? Estimates vary. But approximately six to eight trillion barrels each for conventional and unconventional oil resources (shale oil, tar sands, extra heavy oil) represent probable figures -- inclusive of future discoveries. As a matter of context, the globe has consumed only one out of a grand total of 12 to 16 trillion barrels underground.

- What percentage of global resources is ultimately recoverable? The industry recovers an average of only one out of three barrels of conventional resources underground and considerably less for the unconventional.

This benchmark, established over the past century, is poised to change upward. Modern science and unfolding technologies will, in all likelihood, double recovery efficiencies. Even a 10% gain in extraction efficiency on a global scale will unlock 1.2 to 1.6 trillion barrels of extra resources -- an additional 50-year supply at current consumption rates.

The impact of modern oil extraction techniques is already evident across the globe. Abqaiq and Ghawar, two of the flagship oil fields of Saudi Arabia, are well on their way to recover at least two out of three barrels underground -- in the process raising recovery expectations for the remainder of the Kingdom's oil assets, which account for one quarter of world reserves.

Are the lessons and successes of Ghawar transferable to the countless struggling fields around the world -- most conspicuously in Venezuela, Mexico, Iran or the former Soviet Union -- where irreversible declines in production are mistakenly accepted as the norm and in fact fuel the "neo-peak-oil" alarmism? The answer is a definitive yes.

Hundred-dollar oil will provide a clear incentive for reinvigorating fields and unlocking extra barrels through the use of new technologies. The consequences for emerging oil-rich regions such as Iraq can be far more rewarding. By 2040 the country's production and reserves might potentially rival those of Saudi Arabia.

Paradoxically, high crude prices may temporarily mask the inefficiencies of others, which may still remain profitable despite continuing to use 1960-vintage production methods. But modernism will inevitably prevail: The national oil companies that hold over 90% of the earth's conventional oil endowment will be pressed to adopt new and better technologies.

- What will be the average rate of crude consumption between now and peak oil? Current daily global consumption stands around 86 million barrels, with projected annual increases ranging from 0% to 2% depending on various economic outlooks. Thus average consumption levels ranging from 90 to 110 million barrels represent a reasonable bracket. Any economic slowdown -- as intimated by the recent tremors in the global equity markets -- will favor the lower end of this spectrum.

This is not to suggest that global supply capacity will grow steadily unimpeded by bottlenecks -- manpower, access, resource nationalism, legacy issues, logistical constraints, etc. -- within the energy equation. However, near-term obstacles do not determine the global supply ceiling at 2030 or 2050. Market forces, given the benefit of time and the burgeoning mobility of technology and innovation across borders, will tame transitional obstacles.

- When will peak oil arrive? This widely accepted tipping point -- 50% of ultimately recoverable resources consumed -- is largely a tribute to King Hubbert, a distinguished Shell geologist who predicted the peak oil point for the U.S. lower 48 states. While his timing was very good (he forecast 1968 versus 1970 in fact), he underestimated peak daily production (9.5 million barrels actual versus eight million estimated).

But modern extraction methods will undoubtedly stretch Hubbert's "50% assumption," which was based on Sputnik-era technologies. Even a modest shift -- to 55% of recoverable resources consumed -- will delay the onset by 20-25 years. Where do reasonable assumptions surrounding peak oil lead us? My view, subjective and imprecise, points to a period between 2045 and 2067 as the most likely outcome.

Cambridge Energy Associates forecasts the global daily liquids production to rise to 115 million barrels by 2017 versus 86 million at present. Instead of a sharp peak per Hubbert's model, an undulating, multi-decade long plateau production era sets in -- i.e., no sudden-death ending.

The world is not running out of oil anytime soon. A gradual transitioning on the global scale away from a fossil-based energy system may in fact happen during the 21st century. The root causes, however, will most likely have less to do with lack of supplies and far more with superior alternatives. The overused observation that "the Stone Age did not end due to a lack of stones" may in fact find its match.

The solutions to global energy needs require an intelligent integration of environmental, geopolitical and technical perspectives each with its own subsets of complexity. On one of these -- the oil supply component -- the news is positive. Sufficient liquid crude supplies do exist to sustain production rates at or near 100 million barrels per day almost to the end of this century.

Technology matters. The benefits of scientific advancement observable in the production of better mobile phones, TVs and life-extending pharmaceuticals will not, somehow, bypass the extraction of usable oil resources. To argue otherwise distracts from a focused debate on what the correct energy-policy priorities should be, both for the United States and the world community at large.


Cool And The Gang

Funny thing about ice: It melts in summer and thickens in winter. And according to Gilles Kangis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice service in Ottawa, this Arctic winter has been so severe that the continent's allegedly vanishing ice is 10 to 20 centimeters thicker than it was at this time a year ago. Polar bear Knut, shown here snapping at a child at the Berlin Zoo, is no longer so cuddly. But at least the ice floes that supposedly have been stranding his fellow bears in the Arctic are thickening up this winter.

Polar bear Knut, shown below snapping at a child at the Berlin Zoo, is no longer so cuddly. But at least the ice floes that supposedly have been stranding his fellow bears in the Arctic are thickening up this winter.

Recent satellite images, moreover, show the polar ice cap is at near-normal coverage levels, according to Josefino Comiso, a senior research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

This winter has been particularly severe. The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. The average temperature in January "was 0.3 (degrees) F cooler than the 1901-2000 average," the NCDC says.

Ontario and Quebec have experienced major snow and ice storms. In the first two weeks of February, as Canada's National Post reports, Toronto got 79 centimeters of snow, "smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950."

This is a consequence of what we recently commented on: The sun, the greatest influence on earth's climate, seems to be entering an unusually quiet cycle of limited sunspot activity. As Kenneth Tapping of Canada's National Research Council warns, we may be in for severely cold weather if sunspot activity doesn't pick up.

Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." The last time the sun was this quiet, Earth suffered the Little Ice Age, which lasted five centuries and ended in 1850. The winter at Valley Forge, a famous part of history, occurred during this period.

It's a good time, therefore, for some of the best climate scientists in the world to be gathering in New York City - setting for the Al Gore-promoted doomsday flick "The Day After Tomorrow" - for the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Heartland Institute.

More than 550 climate scientists, economists and public policy experts are at March 2-4 event, their very presence shattering Gore's myth of a warming "consensus" and a debate that is over. Yet because of the media's embrace of Gore's crusade, this may be one of the few places you read about the conference.

The keynoter, Dr. Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute and the University of Virginia, debunked claims of "unprecedented" melting of Arctic ice. He showed how Arctic temperatures were warmer during the 1930s and that the vast majority of Antarctica is cooling.

President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic is scheduled to speak Tuesday. Klaus, who knows what it is to live under a mindless tyranny, thinks he knows the motives of warm-mongers like Gore. He sees an eerie similarity between communism and what he calls the global warming "religion." In the June 14 Financial Times he wrote: "As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning." If Marx and Lenin were alive today, they'd be environmentalists.



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


5 March, 2008

A polar bear with attitude

Not so cuddly. Story here

Green radicals blamed for home arsons

The old Leftist politics of envy with a Green shirt on

ENVIRONMENTAL activists have been accused of setting fire to four new homes in an upmarket Seattle suburb in an act of 'domestic terrorism'. "There were no reported injuries in the three-alarm blaze that started around 4am local time Monday,'' Snohomish County fire department official Rick Eastman said. "Some of the houses were still under construction.''

The multimillion-dollar homes went up in flames in the Street of Dreams development near Woodinville, in northwest Washington state. Local media reported that the fire chief found signs with the initials of the Earth Liberation Front at the scene, and explosives were reportedly used to start the blaze. Mr Eastman declined to provide details about the suspected criminal origin of the fires, pending a statement by the county sheriff's office due later.

Fox News reported that the FBI was investigating the fire as a "domestic terrorism act''. The loosely organised radical environmental group has been accused by US authorities of using terror tactics in several arson attacks in western states to drive home their message on the damage being caused to the environment.


Cold Water on `Global Warming'

By Thomas Sowell

It has almost become something of a joke when some "global warming" conference has to be cancelled because of a snowstorm or bitterly cold weather. But stampedes and hysteria are no joke - and creating stampedes and hysteria has become a major activity of those hyping a global-warming "crisis." They mobilize like-minded people from a variety of occupations, call them all "scientists" and then claim that "all" the experts agree on a global-warming crisis. Their biggest argument is that there is no argument.

A whole cottage industry has sprung up among people who get grants, government agencies who get appropriations, politicians who get publicity, and the perpetually indignant who get something new to be indignant about. It gives teachers something to talk about in school instead of teaching. Those who bother to check the facts often find that not all those who are called scientists are really scientists and not all of those who are scientists are specialists in climate. But who bothers to check facts these days?

A new and very different conference on global warming will be held in New York City, under the sponsorship of the Heartland Institute, on March 2nd to March 4th - weather permitting. It is called an "International Conference on Climate Change" that will examine the question "Global Warming: Crisis or Scam?" Among those present will be professors of climatology, along with scientists in other fields and people from other professions. They come from universities in England, Hungary, and Australia, as well as from the United States and Canada, and include among other dignitaries the president of the Czech Republic, Vclav Klaus. All told, there will be 98 speakers and 400 participants.

The theme of the conference is that "there is no scientific consensus on the causes or likely consequences of global warming." Many of the participants in this conference are people who have already expressed skepticism about either the prevailing explanations of current climate change or the dire predictions about future climate change. These include authors of such books as Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, and Shattered Consensus, edited by Patrick J. Michaels.

This will be one of the rare opportunities for the media to hear the other side of the story - for those old-fashioned journalists who still believe that their job is to inform the public, rather than promote an agenda.

Several films will be featured at the conference - including The Great Global Warming Swindle, a British television program that is now available on DVD in the United States. It is a devastating debunking of the current "global warming" hysteria.

Nobody denies that there is such a thing as a greenhouse effect. If there were not, the side of the planet facing away from the sun would be freezing every night. There is not even a lot of controversy over temperature readings. What is fundamentally at issue are the explanations, implications, and extrapolations of these temperature readings.

The party line of those who say that we are heading for a global warming crisis of epic proportions is that human activities generating carbon dioxide are key factors responsible for the warming that has taken place in recent times. The problem with this reasoning is that the temperatures rose first and then the carbon dioxide levels rose. Some scientists say that the warming created the increased carbon dioxide, rather than vice versa. Many natural factors, including variations in the amount of heat put out by the sun, can cause the earth to heat or cool.

The bigger problem is that this has long since become a crusade rather than an exercise in evidence or logic. Too many people are too committed to risk it all on a roll of the dice, which is what turning to empirical evidence is. Those who have a big stake in global-warming hysteria are unlikely to show up at the conference in New York, and unfortunately that includes much of the media.


Research of Hundreds More Scientists Supports a Natural 1,500-Year Climate Cycle

The co-authors of the best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years today released a second list of more than 400 peer-reviewed scientists who have recently found physical evidence of the long, natural climate cycle -- bringing the total of such authors to more than 700.

Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute and S. Fred Singer of the Science in Environmental Policy Project presented the new list of scientists at the Heartland conference of man-made warming skeptics in New York City.

The Singer-Avery book assembled the historic and physical evidence of the long, moderate climate cycle -- including the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming and six previous global warmings since the last Ice Age. For example, Suzanne Carbotte of New York's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory used side-scanning sonar to locate long-dead fossil oyster beds -- which were active in a warmer Hudson River 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago, and 6,000 years ago. (Carbotte, S., 2004, Geo-Marine Letters, Vol. 24.)

"Most of our modern warming occurred before 1940," said Avery, "before much human-emitted CO2. The net warming since 1940 is a miniscule 0.2 degree C -- with no warming at all in the last nine years. The Greenhouse Theory can't explain these realities, but the 1,500 year cycle does." "The warmings have been the good times, for both humans and wild species," said Singer, professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of Virginia. "The world today has more vegetation, and a richer diversity of birds, bears, butterflies, and lichens than the planet had during the 550 years of the Little Ice Age. The cold times gave humanity famine, bubonic plague, fiercer storms, and clouded skies. People today don't understand their climate blessings."

The 1,500-year climate cycle was initially found in the first long ice cores scientists brought up in Greenland and Antarctica in the 1980s. Avery notes the original discoverers won the Tyler Prize ("the environmental Nobel") in 1996 "but now nobody mentions them." The cycle's evidence has also been found in such sources as seabed sediments, cave stalagmites, fossil pollen and ancient Chinese court records. Dozens of other researchers have also found links between the 1,500-year cycle and solar variations recorded in the sunspot index.

"We have known for 400 years about the strong correlation between sunspots and the earth's temperatures," says Singer. "There is no correlation between our temperatures and CO2."

Avery and Singer published an earlier list (Sept. 12, 2007) including more than 300 peer-reviewed scientists -- most cited in their book -- who had published evidence of the long climate cycle in such prestigious journals as Science, Nature and Climate Dynamics. The new list includes mostly peer-reviewed scientists who have published since the book was completed, cited both alphabetically and with their research studies, at


Britain: Turn your nose up at eco-snobs

What was it, this frisson that passed between the young woman behind the counter at Pret A Manger and me? It wasn't flirtation, exactly. It was more conspiratorial than that. A knowing look. A social judgment shared. As she asked me if I wanted a plastic bag for my two items - a (wild) salmon sandwich and a banana - the man at the head of the queue next to mine was asked the same question by another assistant. He had a sandwich and an apple. The point is, I said no. He said yes. That was when the look was exchanged

That, I am ashamed to admit, was the moment I felt superior, if only by one degree, if only for a second. The man had committed a faux pas. He had transgressed an unwritten ethical code. He had fallen foul of the new morality, which actually, if you think about it, is also the new snobbery. It is apparent everywhere. In a restaurant the other night our companions asked us if we wanted sparkling water or whether we were happy with a jug of tap. The clue to the correct answer was in the word "happy". We went with the tap. It wasn't that we were being cheap - but we probably were being a little smug. My wife and I are paid-up members of the enlightened middle classes, you see. Our consciousnesses have been raised. We are E, the modern equivalent of U.

Just as Nancy Mitford divided society into the upper classes and the aspiring middle classes - that is, into U and Non-U - so society is being divided into the environmentally aware and environmentally unaware, or E and Non-E. It satisfies a need we seem to have to judge one another. The modern equivalent of saying "toilet", "serviette" or "pardon" is leaving your television on stand-by, driving a Chelsea tractor [SUV], arriving at Waitrose [a supermarket that believes in "Corporate Social Responsibility"] without your own heavy-duty carrier bags, popping into Starbucks without your own reusable mug, walking past the shelves selling organic, Fairtrade and free-range, or flying long-haul when you don't really need to (and without offsetting your carbon footprint). I tell you, it's a social minefield out there.

Even going to Glastonbury [A mostly hippy festival which is supposed to be "spiritual"] has become Non-E. I know - that surprises me, too. I thought Glastonbury was the ultimate in environmental chic, a demonstration that you suckle at the teat of Mother Earth, that you are in touch with your inner solstice. But no - for the bien pensants, Glastonbury is ruled out this year. And this comes straight from the top: Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead. Why? Because it doesn't have "an adequate public transport infrastructure in place". Radiohead, he added in an article in the Sun on Thursday, "are doing everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment".

Hmm. Could this be the moment when the backlash starts? It is, after all, a scientifically verifiable fact there is nothing in this world more annoying than being lectured by a pop star. According to this premise, the blame for the Iraq war rests squarely on the shoulders of Ms Dynamite. Had she not argued in March 2003 the invasion should not be allowed to happen, it wouldn't have happened. Her annoying intervention was, for George W Bush and Tony Blair, the tipping point.

Being harangued by a newspaper comes a close second. The Independent has been banging the environmental drum for a few years now - ever since its editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner, had lunch with Laurie David, Hollywood's richest and most glamorous eco-warrior, the woman who holds "eco-salons" for Leonardo Di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie et al. But at least the Independent?'s heart is in the right place.

More disturbing is the come-lately arrival on the eco-worthy scene of the Daily Mail. About five years ago that paper's standard response to an eco story was merciless ridicule. Last week it dedicated its front page to a campaign to stop us using plastic bags. Perhaps its canny editor had tested the air and knew that Sainsbury's and Tesco were about to announce plans to reduce plastic bags by a billion a year anyway. Hmm, again.

Being lectured by a posh person comes third. I wonder how much longer the green revolution took to filter into the mainstream because the Prince of Wales was leading it. Don't get me wrong, I think he is a visionary, a true philosopher prince. But given that the other two leading figures in the green movement, the Eton-educated Jonathon Porritt and the Stowe-educated George Monbiot, are also pretty posh, there may have been some inverted snobbery in the slowness of the eco uptake.

On the other hand, perhaps in some subliminal way this association of greenness with poshness explains the current vogue for going green among the aspiring middle classes. David Cameron (Eton-educated, of course, and for once this seems relevant to the discussion) has been canny in the way he has exploited this fashion.

I hope there isn't a backlash, by the way. I'm all for recycling, sustainability, diversity, lowering carbon emissions and everything. But I do think the eco-awareness game has to be played more subtly than it is being played at the moment. When the BSE scare was at its height, there were those contrarians among us who made a point of ordering rare beef as a gesture of defiance. Others deliberately wore fur when that became the cause celebre.

When councils start preaching at us, that really winds us up. If people were allowed to use recycling bins when they needed to, I reckon they would. But we resent being treated like children and told we can't have collections every week because we don't know what's best for us.

And how galling it must be for my parents' generation to be told not to waste things when they have lived through rationing and know all about the benefits of frugality. If there is one thing the British hate more than having their environment needlessly destroyed, overheated or squandered, it is being preached at by busybodies, puritans and snobs.

The eco-snobs are the worst. It is not enough they get to feel better about themselves for doing the right thing environmentally; they have to make someone else feel worse. Make them feel small, vulgar, immoral. I caught myself doing it in that queue the other day. And shame on me for that.


Ethanol and water don't mix: New reasons to be suspicious of ethanol

OFFICIALS in Tampa, Florida, got a surprise recently when a local firm building the state's first ethanol-production factory put in a request for 400,000 gallons (1.5m litres) a day of city water. The request by US Envirofuels would make the facility one of the city's top ten water consumers overnight, and the company plans to double its size. Florida is suffering from a prolonged drought. Rivers and lakes are at record lows and residents wonder where the extra water will come from.

They are not alone. A backlash against the federally financed biofuels boom is growing around the country, and "water could be the Achilles heel" of ethanol, said a report by the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

The number of ethanol factories has almost tripled in the past eight years from 50 to about 140. A further 60 or so are under construction. In 2007 President George Bush signed legislation requiring a fivefold increase in biofuels production, to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

This is controversial for several reasons. There are doubts about how green ethanol really is (some say the production process uses almost as much energy as it produces). Some argue that using farmland for ethanol pushes up food prices internationally (world wheat prices rose 25% this week alone, perhaps as a side-effect of America's ethanol programme). But one of the least-known but biggest worries is ethanol's extravagant use of water.

A typical ethanol factory producing 50m gallons of biofuels a year needs about 500 gallons of water a minute. Most of that goes into the boiling and cooling process, which is similar to making beer. Some water is lost through evaporation in the cooling tower and in waste discharge. All this is putting a heavy burden on aquifers in some corn-growing areas.

Residents went to court in Missouri to halt a $165m facility being built by Gulfstream Bioflex Energy LLC which was projected to draw 1.3m gallons of water every day from the Ozark aquifer. Projects are being challenged in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and in central Illinois, where eight ethanol facilities are situated over the Mahomet aquifer. Demand for corn is such that more land is also being ploughed up in drier regions of the Great Plains states to the west of the corn belt, where irrigation in required, increasing water demand further.

The good news is that ethanol plants are becoming more efficient. They now use about half as much water per gallon of ethanol as they did a decade ago. New technology might be able to halve the amount of water again, says Mike Fatigati, vice president of Delta-T Corp, a Virginia company which has designed a system that does not discharge any waste water. But others are sceptical. "There are things you can close loop [ie, recycle efficiently] and things you can't," says Paul Greene, a senior director for biofuels with Siemens Water Technologies, designers of the water-purification technology used in ethanol factories. Perhaps ethanol just isn't as bio-friendly as it looks.



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


4 March, 2008

Global cooling predictions

An email to Marc Morano from Don Easterbrook below. Easterbrook is an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University. His bio is here. His email is

What prompted me to send you some additional material was Revkin's NY Times article in which he

(1) quotes a bunch of CO2 dogmatists as saying the cooling is just a minor blip and we'll be back headed for toast very soon, and

(2) although he quotes you, he doesn't quote any scientists who have good data that what we're seeing is not just weather, but rather a fully expected change to a global cooling mode. So I sent you a bunch of data that I thought might be useful in responding to the global cooling deniers, namely:

1. We've been on a predicted cooling trend since 2002 (see above curve). The average of the four main temperature measuring methods is slightly cooler since 2002 (except for a brief el Nino interuption) and record breaking cooling this winter. The argument that this is too short a time period to be meanful would be valid were it not for the fact that this cooling exactly fits the pattern of timing of warm/cool cycles over the past 400 years and was predicted (see publications I sent earlier).

2. We are entering a solar cycle of much reduced sun spots, very similar to that which accompanied the change from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age, which virtually all scientists agree was caused by solar variation. Thus, we seem to be headed for cooler temperatures as a result of reduced solar irradiance.

3. Sea surface temperatures in the NE Pacific mirror the atmospheric observations of cooling since 2002.

4. Some glaciers are slowing their rate of retreat in response to the past 6 years of cooling. (They aren't readvancing yet because it takes awhile for a turnaround.

So what is the significance of the present globally icy winter and slight cooling for the past 6 years? By itself, it's weather and arguably not statistically important. However, when considered in the light of the past 6-year cooling trend, the continuation of that pattern is important because if we are to believe the IPCC's prediction of a 1o F warming by 2011, that will require warming of almost 1o F in the next three years!

The IPCC recasts its predictions every year to match actual conditions so they appear to stay `on-track.' However, they made finite predictions some years ago and if IPCC is to remain credible, those predictions need to be accountable.

In a nutshell, in 2001, I put my reputation on the line and published my predictions for entering a global cooling cycle about 2007 (plus or minus 3-5 years), based on past glacial, ice core, and other data. As right now, my prediction seems to be right on target and what we would expect from the past climatic record, but the IPCC prediction is getting farther and farther off the mark.

With the apparent solar cooling cycle upon us, we have a ready explanation for global warming and cooling. If the present cooling trend continues, the IPCC reports will have been the biggest farce in the history of science. Anyway, I wanted to provide you with real data to substantiate the concept that we have entered a period of real global cooling, not just a cold winter.


A very recent Journal abstract below speaks for itself:

Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change

By: Timothy Searchinger et al.

Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.

Science 29 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 - 1240

Snow disaster leaves 1.6 mln people frostbitten in NW China province

Severe snow disasters have left 1.65 million people snowblind and frostbitten, 500,000 livestock and wildlife dead and 3.1 million others on verge of starvation in Tibetan prefectures of northwestern Qinghai Province. Since October last year, consecutive low temperature had gripped the province. The temperature plunged to minus 36.3 degrees centigrade, the record lowest in January in the province, said the provincial meteorological bureau.

In Yushu, Guoluo and Huangnan Tibet Autonomous Prefectures, most of the grassland was covered by snow, usually 16 to 32 cm thick, which had brought great losses to local animal husbandry.

In the disaster-stricken prefectures, 130,000 people had run out of fuels, 350,000 people in need of food and 110,000 others short of warm clothes or quilts, said the provincial government. Currently, the province's task was to evacuate 11,000 people of 2,000 herdsmen households for the local conditions were not fit to live any longer. Qinghai has allocated 16.85 million yuan for disaster relief but still in shortage of 134 million yuan.

Winter storms have also plagued southern China since mid-January, leading to widespread traffic jams, structural collapses, blackouts and crop losses in 19 provinces, leaving 129 people dead and causing 151.65 billion yuan of losses, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.


Something else that is not in the "models"

Claiming to model earth's climate in our present state of ignorance about it is a vast conceit

CHICAGO: Biological organisms play a significant role in the formation of rain and snow, according to a study released yesterday by the journal Science. The discovery of these organisms and their importance in the water cycle could help researchers improve climate forecasts and better understand the relationship between the biosphere and climate, the authors concluded. They could also be used to bring rain to dry areas, said lead author Brent Christner of Louisiana State University.

Scientists have long known that the ice crystals in clouds that become rain or snow need to cling to some kind of particle, called ice nucleators, in order to form in temperatures above -40C. But they did not realise, until now, that the most active particles involved in this process were living ones, Dr Christner said. "Every snow and ice sample we've looked at, we found biological ice nucleators," he said. "Here's a component that has been completely ignored to date."

Biological ice nucleators were discovered about 40 years ago by researchers trying to determine why only some plants were damaged by frost. They discovered that the plants that froze were covered in bacterial plant pathogens that are able to capture moisture in the air and turn it into ice at temperatures as warm as -2C.

Ice nucleators such as dust and soot can capture and freeze the moisture only at temperatures below -10C.


Europe mandates wasteful fuel use by cars

So much for energy-saving!

Motorists will be hit by up to 160 British pounds more in fuel costs because of a "ludicrous" European directive forcing them to drive with their lights on all day. Campaigners say the new rules will make the roads more dangerous for motorcyclists and will lead to more deaths. Britain opposed the measure but was unable to block it because a majority of other EU nations were in favour.

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick admitted this week that the rules, which will come into force in 2011 and relate to new cars, would lead to annual fuel consumption rising by 5 per cent. According to AA figures, for the average family-sized car, driving the average 8,770 miles a year, this would increase fuel costs by 68 pounds a year at today's prices. That is based on a car doing 31 miles per gallon. But some models do only 13mpg, meaning the increase could be as much as 160 a year. Heavy goods vehicles would see costs shoot up by 260 a year, based on the average 8.1mpg rate.

Campaigners say the ruling, which will be in force from Lapland in the north to Cyprus in the south, will harm the environment by wasting fuel. Britain opposed the directive but was unable to prevent European transport ministers approving it, because transport measures do not require unanimous backing by EU member states. Daytime-running lights were made compulsory in Scandinavian countries in the late 1970s - which is why Swedish-built Volvos always have their lights on. In 2006, Austria, Croatia and the Czech Republic became the first countries outside northern Europe to follow suit. Daytime lights are now used in 14 states. A study by Dutch researchers found they could save 5,500 deaths and 155,000 injuries across Europe.

Greg Knight, Tory MP for East Yorkshire, said: "This idea was being pushed by Scandinavian countries and it's absolutely ludicrous that it should be imposed in a blanket fashion across Europe. "The UK does not suffer from the short hours of daylight as in northern Europe, and places like Spain certainly don't. All the green groups are worried about the environment - surely this will make it worse. "There are also fears it will harm road safety."

The proposal was opposed by Stephen Ladyman, who was transport minister during earlier discussions on it in Europe. Last night Mr Ladyman, who is now a backbencher, said: "This directive will kill a lot of motorcyclists. They use daytime lights to make them easier to see, but if cars are using them as well, motorbikes will just blur into the background. "This is only being brought in because Germany and Austria don't want to have proper speed limits on autobahns, so they think this will be a good road safety measure."

It had been feared that all cars would be covered by the rules, meaning that those not fitted with daytime running lamps would have had to drive around with dipped headlights. But European ministers backed off from this proposal. Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "Daytime-running lights offer a significant safety advantage, particularly for pedestrians trying to spot moving cars through a line of parked vehicles. "However, motorcyclists are very worried that other motorists will no longer be able to pick them out from other traffic.

"The extra carbon dioxide emissions from all cars having to turn on their headlights during the day was a major concern when daytime-running lights were first suggested in Europe. "However, that threat has been diminished by restricting the measure to new cars only, many of which have energy-saving LED lights for driving in daylight."


A Total Crock of Doo-Doo!

A few weeks back I noted in my column that when times get tough, Americans will stop worrying about whether polar bears have enough ice and start asking whether those white, furry critters are edible. That comment caused quite a stir, and I would like to thank everyone, in particular the folks from Alaska, for the great recipes they forwarded-"Bear Claw Cordon Bleu" for instance.

A smaller number of folks were offended by my bear remarks. They considered them a veiled swipe at their fellow global warming zealots. My only regret is that they thought my swipe was . . . veiled. I guess I should have taken a cue from General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz who recently told a group of reporters that, in his opinion, global warming is a "total crock of ****." Nothing veiled about that.

And, despite efforts by the climate change mob to silence Mr. Lutz, the man from Detroit refused to back down. News coverage of Mr. Lutz's politically incorrect "crock-of-doo-doo" declaration caused me to wonder just how many American business executives harbor the same opinion about global warming, but are too cowardly to utter the words in public? How many parrot the environmental slogans du jour and spout platitudes about corporate social responsibility because they would rather appease the activists than fight to protect their companies and shareholders from the scourge of eco-socialism?

I will be keen to watch these corporate Neville Chamberlains squirm when man-made global warming takes its place in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category "Biggest Fraud Perpetrated on Mankind." The squirming may commence sooner than later. Apparently Mother Nature hasn't been influenced by the "we're-all-going-to-fry" doomsayers. According to a column published this week in Canada's National Post,

* Snow cover over North America, much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966;

* The average temperature in January was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average;

* China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century;

* The Artic Sea ice that had melted to its lowest levels on record . . . is back and, according to the Canadian Ice Service, "is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year;"

* Respected scientists from Canada and Russia are now predicting a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.

The author of the National Post column, Lorne Gunter, noted, "It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades. But if environmentalists and environmental reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmists are being a tad premature."

The alarmists are likely to become really alarmed when they read about the International Conference On Climate Change that will begin deliberations in New York City tomorrow. More than 400 scientists, economists and experts are scheduled to attend the three-day event organized by the Heartland Institute for the purpose of challenging the claim that global warming is a "crisis." According to the sponsors, some 19,000 American scientists have signed a petition saying global warming is probably natural and not a crisis-so much for the often touted consensus that the global warming lobby keeps yapping about.

It's time for some business group to create a petition for skeptical corporate executives to sign if they question the validity of manmade global warming. The petition could be called the Crock of Doo-Doo Declaration in honor of Bob Lutz. I would bet good money that someday signatories to the petition will be hailed as business leaders who had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the eco-evangelists and reject their sermon that to save the planet the economy must be destroyed.

If the global warming juggernaut isn't sidetracked soon, I fear we will all be feasting on Bear Claw Cordon Bleu.



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


3 March, 2008

Climate Skeptics Seize on Cold Spell

In the article below, the NYT covers the present skeptical conference in NYC. The Green/Left are outraged at even this cautious coverage. See Comment 9 on the NYT blog, for instance

The world has seen some extraordinary winter conditions in both hemispheres over the past year: snow in Johannesburg last June and in Baghdad in January, Arctic sea ice returning with a vengeance after a record retreat last summer, paralyzing blizzards in China, and a sharp drop in the globe's average temperature. It is no wonder that some scientists, opinion writers, political operatives and other people who challenge warnings about dangerous human-caused global warming have jumped on this as a teachable moment.

"Earth's `Fever' Breaks: Global COOLING Currently Under Way," read a blog post and news release on Wednesday from Marc Morano, the communications director for the Republican minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

So what is happening? According to a host of climate experts, including some who question the extent and risks of global warming, it is mostly good old-fashioned weather, along with a cold kick from the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is in its La Nia phase for a few more months, a year after it was in the opposite warm El Nio pattern.

If anything else is afoot - like some cooling related to sunspot cycles or slow shifts in ocean and atmospheric patterns that can influence temperatures - an array of scientists who have staked out differing positions on the overall threat from global warming agree that there is no way to pinpoint whether such a new force is at work.

Many scientists also say that the cool spell in no way undermines the enormous body of evidence pointing to a warming world with disrupted weather patterns, less ice and rising seas should heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and forests continue to accumulate in the air. "The current downturn is not very unusual," said Carl Mears, a scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a private research group in Santa Rosa, Calif., that has been using satellite data to track global temperature and whose findings have been held out as reliable by a variety of climate experts. He pointed to similar drops in 1988, 1991-92, and 1998, but with a long-term warming trend clear nonetheless. "Temperatures are very likely to recover after the La Nia event is over," he said.

Mr. Morano, in an e-mail message, was undaunted, saying turnabout is fair play: "Fair is fair. Noting (not hyping) an unusually harsh global winter is merely pointing out the obvious. Dissenters of a man-made `climate crisis' are using the reality of this record-breaking winter to expose the silly warming alarmism that the news media and some scientists have been ceaselessly promoting for decades."

More clucking about the cold is likely over the next several days. The Heartland Institute, a public policy research group in Chicago opposed to regulatory approaches to environmental problems, is holding a conference in Times Square on Monday and Tuesday aimed at exploring questions about the cause and dangers of climate change.

The event will convene an array of scientists, economists, statisticians and libertarian commentators holding a dizzying range of views on the changing climate - from those who see a human influence but think it is not dangerous, to others who say global warming is a hoax, the sun's fault or beneficial. Many attendees say it is the dawn of a new paradigm. But many climate scientists and environmental campaigners say it is the skeptics' last stand.

Michael E. Schlesinger, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, said that any focus on the last few months or years as evidence undermining the established theory that accumulating greenhouse gases are making the world warmer was, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, a harmful distraction. Discerning a human influence on climate, he said, "involves finding a signal in a noisy background." He added, "The only way to do this within our noisy climate system is to average over a sufficient number of years that the noise is greatly diminished, thereby revealing the signal. This means that one cannot look at any single year and know whether what one is seeing is the signal or the noise or both the signal and the noise."

The shifts in the extent and thickness of sea ice in the Arctic (where ice has retreated significantly in recent summers) and Antarctic (where the area of floating sea ice has grown lately) are similarly hard to attribute to particular influences.

Interviews and e-mail exchanges with half a dozen polar climate and ice experts last week produced a rough consensus: Even with the extensive refreezing of Arctic waters in the deep chill of the sunless boreal winter, the fresh-formed ice remains far thinner than the yards-thick, years-old ice that dominated the region until the 1990s. That means the odds of having vast stretches of open water next summer remain high, many Arctic experts said.

"Climate skeptics typically take a few small pieces of the puzzle to debunk global warming, and ignore the whole picture that the larger science community sees by looking at all the pieces," said Ignatius G. Rigor, a climate scientist at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington in Seattle. He said the argument for a growing human influence on climate laid out in last year's reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or I.P.C.C., was supported by evidence from many fields. "I will admit that we do not have all the pieces," Dr. Rigor said, "but as the I.P.C.C. reports, the preponderance of evidence suggests that global warming is real." As for the Arctic, he said, "Yes, this year's winter ice extent is higher than last year's, but it is still lower than the long-term mean." Dr. Rigor said next summer's ice retreat, despite the regrowth of thin fresh-formed ice now, could still surpass last year's, when nearly all of the Arctic Ocean between Alaska and Siberia was open water.

Some scientists who strongly disagree with each other on the extent of warming coming in this century, and on what to do about it, agreed that it was important not to be tempted to overinterpret short-term swings in climate, either hot or cold. Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist and commentator with the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, has long chided environmentalists and the media for overstating connections between extreme weather and human-caused warming. (He is on the program at the skeptics' conference.) But Dr. Michaels said that those now trumpeting global cooling should beware of doing the same thing, saying that the "predictable distortion" of extreme weather "goes in both directions."

Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan who has spoken out about the need to reduce greenhouse gases, disagrees with Dr. Michaels on many issues, but concurred on this point. "When I get called by CNN to comment on a big summer storm or a drought or something, I give the same answer I give a guy who asks about a blizzard," Dr. Schmidt said. "It's all in the long-term trends. Weather isn't going to go away because of climate change. There is this desire to explain everything that we see in terms of something you think you understand, whether that's the next ice age coming or global warming."


WSJ writer wonders if the skeptics have friends in high places:

There's snow in Baghdad, and global temperatures have seen their biggest one-year change-in this case, downward-in recorded history. So is global warming kaput?Cooler weather has the blogosphere alight with speculation about the climate's real changes. Short-term temperature moves fire up both camps. From Planet Gore:
Hopefully this will cool the hysteria in the U.S. Congress and parliaments around the world so that we can understand the science of our climate before we pursue policies that could wreck our economy and quality of life
Environmental Defense says one month does not a trend make:
Global warming is a process that occurs over decades. It can't be proven or disproven by a single month's temperature
There are theories for all tastes. Daily Tech started it all, arguing that last year's nippy weather "wipes out a century of warming." Energy Outlook pored through the data and points at the sea. Maybe it's the sun? Environmental Economics did the heavy lifting, parsed all the sunspot data from Goddard, and concluded that's not to blame:
The current downturn in temperatures may be caused by a valley in the sunspot cycle. But that doesn't mean that global cooling is taking place. It just means that temperatures are likely to be more variable until sunspot activity increases again
Whether it's sunspots, La Nina, or something else altogether, the timing couldn't be better for the Heartland Institute, set to host a global warming skeptics powow Monday on Broadway. Friends in high places?


"Droughts" as an excuse for bureaucracy

Once again, for the umpteenth time this month, I arrive at work soaking wet. Just getting from the car to the front door of the Mises Institute is like going through the rinse cycle - and umbrellas just aren't my thing. What's striking is how this weather pattern follows a year of dire warnings from government officials about the deadly drought that is destroying the region, as you can easily see from the government's own US Drought Assessment maps.

Actually, these are interesting maps. They give the impression that the whole of the nation is a parched land that vacillates between persistent drought and improving droughts. Nowhere is listed as "soaked" or "just the right amount of rain." And if you reflect on government announcements of these things, all places seem to fall into one of three categories: catastrophic flooding, catastrophic drought, or forgettable.

Some years ago, the head of the local bureaucracy in charge of the distribution of water was quoted in the newspaper along these lines: "If these conditions persist, rationing will certainly become necessary." If these conditions persist? That's quite the assumption. We could say during the next rainfall: "If these conditions persist, it will become necessary for everyone to build an ark." Conditions never persist. They change. Bureaucrats really hate that.

One suspects that these same people love droughts. Droughts give them power, not just over the aggregate use of water. They enjoy pressing people on the smallest details of life. They get to tell you that you must take short showers. They tell you that you must flush less. They impose a profound sense of guilt on your for watering the basil growing in your window box.

Droughts can turn the most innocent public employee into the moral equivalent of a Gestapo agent, issuing dictates and imposing fines, ferreting out the water thieves, all in the name of the public interest.

Droughts turn neighbor against neighbor, and force the whole of everyone into the criminal class, reduced to sneaking around at night to water tomato plants. Droughts make everyone feel dependent on the state. We must read their rules, such as, "Even-numbered houses may water their lawns from 4am to 6am, Monday, Thursday, and Sunday." So rain, rain, go away. That's their theme.

Bureaucrat International has a common feature: loathing of "consumerism." Whereas people want to have choice over how they spend their money, bureaucrats want us to suffer constantly, and be intensely aware of what we use, trusting not the price system to determine our consumption patterns but rather obey regulations and strictures.

Note that no drought ever officially ends. The papers are packed with warnings of impending doom during the worst of it. But when the torrents of rain come - and they invariably do, eventually - there is no press release that says something along the lines of: "Praise Be to God, the drought is over. Use as much water as you are willing to pay for!" Never, never, never. They never say this. They would rather that we carry with us some sense that the drought is never really over, since, after all, it could come again.

The core of the problem here has nothing to do with rain and changing weather patterns. The weather has in fact been changing since the dawn of time. What creates the problem is public ownership of the means of production and the utterly irrational system under which the price doesn't change regardless of availability. There is no real profitability here. Nor are there losses. So there is no economic calculation going on. Prices are determined by extra-market indicators.

Think of the difference with the market system. Every day we are enticed to consume every product you can imagine: cars, celery, computers, anything. There is constant calibrating of supply and demand. If anyone attempts to overprice a product and make profits, another entrepreneur sweeps in to offer the same for less and draw profits away. Innovation is everywhere, so that supplies are required to adopt the latest thing in order to stay afloat. No profits are permanent. They are always and everywhere threatened. These days, this happens almost overnight.

Now think of the difference with public water markets, in which the theme is always: you are using too much. Interesting isn't it? Why is this? It's because the market is not being allowed to work. This has nothing to do with the product in question. If you doubt it, make a visit to your local grocery and the bottled water section in particular. There are vast numbers of choices, with each supplier begging you to consume. But in public water markets, they demand that you conserve. State ownership and management of the means of production are the key reason. Privatize - completely privatize - the supply of water and a change would emerge overnight.

People immediately respond that this is a crazy idea. Streams, lakes, reservoirs, and water towers can't be owned privately! But is that really so? There are many cases of partial privatization on record, though as this entry suggest, the mandates are extreme. No doubt that there are efficiency gains that come with contracting out and privatized but regulated markets. The best solution is the same one that applies to all of the areas of life that are considered public goods, from trash collection and disposal to schools and defense: the government should get out of the business entirely.

Talk about opposition. Labor unions go bonkers when presented with the idea. Bureaucrats do too. Even religious groups have gotten in on the act. See, for example, the growing movement of Nuns Against Bottled Water. Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are circulating pledges for people to sign that foreswear drinking bottled water. These people claim that we shouldn't have to pay for what should be a free gift from God. But, oddly, these same people don't seem to have a problem with people's paying of the government's water bill.

Look, it's not complicated: drought is another name for shortage. Government is capable of creating a shortage in any good through bureaucratic management. Prices do not respond to supply and demand, and a lack of innovation characterizes production. We see this in schooling, mails, defense, courts, and every other area in which government enjoys a monopoly. It shouldn't surprise us that the same is true in water provision. Instead of blaming Mother Nature and the consumer, the water commissioners should look closer to home to see why everyone is required to live in fear and is reduced to doing rain dances to keep the water gods happy.


Here Come the Green Car-Jackers

No amount of energy efficiency will ever do the trick -- the only way to save the planet is to surrender your car altogether. That's the conclusion reached by a group of Australian energy experts from last week's partial release of Professor Ross Garnaut's long-awaited climate change report. You may recall that this was the very analysis Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told last year's Bali conference he must await before embracing specific targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Well, the wait is over, the cherry-picked facts are in and the hysteria is in full bloom. As reported by The Age:
"Based on the latest science, the report warns that the world is speeding towards more dangerous levels of climate change than previously thought, levels that are a byproduct of increasing carbon dioxide emissions that are a consequence of unexpectedly high growth in the world economy, particularly China. This, [Garnaut] suggests, renders the Bali framework for tackling climate change inadequate and means that emission cuts will have to be deeper, and sooner. If nothing is done, it will be to the greater cost to Australia, and the world."
Deeper and sooner seem to be the trend of late, as does the magic number 450 as the threshold we dare not cross. But, based on the latest science? And they refer to anthropogenic global warming skeptics as the deniers? For the record, here's the latest science.
Following a rapid rise between 1978 and 1998 corresponding to exceptionally high solar activity, global temperatures were flat between 1998 and 2006 and the planet has just experienced its coldest January in 15 years. China is suffering through its coldest winter in 100 years, the same winter which saw the first snow ever recorded falling on Baghdad. Antarctic ice is currently at record levels. New Englanders are digging out nonstop from record snowfall. And similar signs of a cooling trend are being reported worldwide.
Adding empirical measurement to scientific observation, intrepid Meteorologist Anthony Watts recently compiled the results of four "major well respected indicators" to arrive at a global average temperature drop between January 2007 and January 2008 of 0.6405C. That figure represents the single fastest temperature change ever recorded in either direction.

And even though all of these "cooling" indicators coincide quite neatly with recently diminished solar activity, the Big Green Scare Machine continues its mission to control world economies by fomenting blind hysteria about manmade atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Okay, that last part was part science, part analysis.

Nonetheless, Monash University Associate Professor Damon Honnery takes Garnaut's warning to limit carbon dioxide emissions to 450 parts per million (ppm) in order to achieve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by mid century, very seriously. "The car is doomed," he explained to
"People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking."
Really? But surely motoring around in one of those cute little politically-correct greenie-adored hybrid cars would still be eco-dandy, right? Not so fast, warns the professor:
"Our calculations show that not even the best combination of fuel efficiency, hybrid and electric cars, alternative fuels and car pooling could provide the reductions needed to meet the 2050 targets for avoiding dangerous climatic change."
But what about all those smug faces I'd see leering up at me from the seats of their Prius's - weren't they already doing their part to save the world from me and my SUV? Are these selfless earth-savers to now be told that the sacrifices that the UN, Greenpeace and other fellow greenies worldwide insisted they accept were ultimately for eco-naught?

And what of us non-suckers? Granted, some of these initiatives may ultimately pay off in consumer savings and "energy independence" down the road, but surely these are matters best left to market forces, not group-think fiat.

And yet we all pay for the disastrously wasteful "carbon debt" consequences of ill-planned eco-schemes the likes of ethanol initiatives. Didn't recent studies predict that the release of carbon through conversion of forests, grasslands, and food cropland into biofuel cropland may take decades or, perhaps, centuries to offset through biofuel usage? What's the point if they'll soon want our keys, too? And then there's that little matter of food shortages in developing nations caused by governments coercing farmers to grow biofuel crops rather than food in the interest of greed and green geopolitics.

Of course, if they really want our hand before we've even offered a finger, even green believers should wonder when they might come for the arm. Might a similarly duplicitous incremental bait-and-switch be in play with regard to electric plants or other supposed GHG producers? After all, the report repeats the tired dogma of blaming global warming on "unexpectedly high growth in the world economy." Mightn't carbon taxes, cap-and-trade exchanges and forced investment in currently non-existent carbon capture-and-sequestration also be intentionally designed to fail, in favor of even harsher regulation and socialistic control?

Fear not, you say, for they're obviously targeting cars because citizens have a slew of alternate modes of transportation available - right? Did I neglect to mention that Honnery's colleague, Dr Patrick Moriarty, asserts that even a "near-total shift from the private car to public transport" would still not represent sufficient sacrifice? No, says he, in order to meet the emission targets recommended by Garnaut, we'll also need to put the kibosh on air travel:
"An overseas trip might become a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than an annual event."
So then, suppose in a media-induced effort to save the planet from the ravages of global warming, you dutifully went out and traded that old gas guzzler for a fuel efficient vehicle, then further lowered your all-important "carbon footprint" by joining a car pool. You then happily switched to energy-saving appliances and light bulbs and resigned yourself to leading a happy, responsible, green life. But now, despite continued data suggesting a sustained downward trend in global temperatures as atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, you learn that your efforts were simply not good enough. You need to do more. You need to give up your car and essentially forget about world travel.

And maybe that's enough - for now. You still buying this? Wake up, greenies -- you're being used as well-meaning pawns by those who have neither your nor your planet's best interest at heart.


Increased Hurricane Losses Due to More People, Wealth Along Coastlines, Not Stronger Storms

And NOAA says it so it must be right: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects."

A team of scientists have found that the economic damages from hurricanes have increased in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S. coastlines, and not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes.

"We found that although some decades were quieter and less damaging in the U.S. and others had more land-falling hurricanes and more damage, the economic costs of land-falling hurricanes have steadily increased over time," said Chris Landsea, one of the researchers as well as the science and operations officer at NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami. "There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts."

In a newly published paper in Natural Hazards Review, the researchers also found that economic hurricane damage in the U.S. has been doubling every 10 to 15 years. If more people continue to move to the hurricane-prone coastline, future economic hurricane losses may be far greater than previously thought. "Unless action is taken to address the growing concentration of people and property in coastal hurricane areas, the damage will increase by a great deal as more people and infrastructure inhabit these coastal locations," said Landsea.

The Natural Hazards Review paper, "Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900-2005," was written by Roger A. Pielke Jr. (University of Colorado), Joel Gratz (ICAT Managers, Inc.), Chris Landsea, Douglas Collins (Tillinghast-Towers Perrin), Mark A. Saunders (University College London), and Rade Musulin (Aon Re Australia).

The team used two different approaches, which gave similar results, to estimate the economic damages of historical hurricanes if they were to strike today, building upon the work published originally by Landsea and Pielke in 1998, and by Collins and Lowe in 2001. Both methods used changes in inflation and wealth at the national level. The first method utilized population increases at the county coastal level, while the second used changes in housing units at the county coastal level.

The results illustrate the effects of the tremendous pace of growth in vulnerable hurricane areas. If the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane were to hit today, the study estimated it would cause the largest losses at $140 billion to $157 billion, with Hurricane Katrina second on the list at $81 billion.

The team concludes that potential damage from storms - currently about $10 billion yearly - is growing at a rate that may place severe burdens on exposed communities, and that avoiding huge losses will require a change in the rate of population growth in coastal areas, major improvements in construction standards, or other mitigation actions.



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


2 March, 2008

Greenies now abandoning "consensus"

Now that it is clear that there IS no consensus. See the Greenie article immediately below. Note that there is no mention of any scientific fact in the article even though the article is supposed to be about "taking on global warming deniers". Abusing people as "schmucks" is their level of sophistication. And their "work in progress" by Kevin Grandia seems to be the development of further "ad hominem" abuse!

Joe Romm has an excellent piece over on Salon taking on global warming deniers. It contains some good advice on ways not to feed denialist fires, specifically, when it comes to using terms like "consensus":
One of the most serious results of the overuse of the term "consensus" in the public discussion of global warming is that it creates a simple strategy for doubters to confuse the public, the press and politicians: Simply come up with as long a list as you can of scientists who dispute the theory. After all, such disagreement is prima facie proof that no consensus of opinion exists.
This is the sort of tactic we saw in December when James Inhofe's minions released a list of 400 "prominent scientists" who dispute claims about man-made climate change. A number of them were neither prominent nor scientists. Others actually only disagree about the specifics of the rate and impact of climate change -- not whether it's happening or man-made. But as Romm points out, it's not about "consensus of opinion" -- it's about data and science and scientific conclusions, and needs to be framed as such. And what that data shows is actually worse than the latest "consensus" reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This reflects the progression we've seen in the global warming denier crowd. First, they said global warming wasn't happening. Then they acknowledged it was happening, but swore it wasn't man-made. Then they conceded it was happening and manmade, but doing something about it was just "too costly." And now that most Americans understand of how costly it would be to not take action on climate change, they've resorted to disputing whether scientists are actually in agreement on what's happening to the planet, and pulling out all kinds of bunk arguments to support that idea. Which is precisely why talking about it as "consensus" is problematic. They'll always be able to dig up some folks to disprove that everyone's agreed.

Romm's piece is especially appropriate this week, as the famed ExxonMobil and Philip Morris-lovers at the Heartland Institute bring together as many denialist schmucks as they can dig up for an International Conference on Climate Change in New York, with under the theme "Global Warming: Crisis or Scam?" The event is meant to solidify their denialist message and garner some good press, which they'll probably get. But any examination of the "luminaries" they've invited to speak shows how desperate their attempts at arguing against science have become. (Kevin Grandia is working on a reference list on the conference speakers.) I'd feel bad for them for cobbling together such a pitiful group, except for the fact that they'll probably get plenty of uncritical press out of the whole deal.


Those who live in glass houses....

The Green/Left specialization in attempted character assassination that we see exempified above would seem rather unwise. It invites retaliation. And retaliation is not difficult, as the background of some of their own people is not very inspiring of trust or of any confidence in impartiality. Tim Ball notes:

Kevin Grandia is the writer at Desmogblog which spends its time in personal attacks on people rather than discussing the issues. Despite this a recent article by Mike De Souza claimed Desmogblog was a climate blog. De Souza, although identified as a reporter for a newspaper provides a steady flow of articles in support of the David Suzuki Foundation and the work of Desmogblog.

The Blog itself was formed by James Hoggan owner of a public relations company that has as a client the David Suzuki Foundation and alternative energy companies including Ballard Fuel cells. If there is no conflict there consider that he is has been on the Board of the David Suzuki Foundation and is currently Chair.

Hoggan set up Desmogblog and hired Kevin Grandia to run the operation. Grandia was formerly an assistant to a Canadian Liberal Party Cabinet minister who lost his seat in the last election. Grandia was thus available. He will list the usual pieces of inaccuracy, innuendo and smears that typify his style and the site he runs, but then he has no choice because he cannot and will not debate the science.

And who is trying to muddy the climate debate? All I am seeking is a debate. It's the same as them calling me a climate change denier when my entire career has involved educating people to how much and how often climate changes.

And Iain Murray notes

Note this quote from the Desmogblog site:
The DeSmogBlog team is especially grateful to our benefactor John Lefebvre, a lawyer, internet entrepreneur and past-president of NETeller, a firm that has been providing secure online transactions since 1999. John has been outspoken, uncompromising and courageous in challenging those who would muddy the climate change debate, and he has enabled and inspired the same standard on the blog
Mr Lefebvre is a past President of NETeller because he is currently awaiting sentencing, having pled guilty to federal money-laundering charges. As it happens, I think the application of those laws to his activities were an example of government overreach, but can you imagine the outcry from the enviros if someone on our side was in the same situation?

But now that the Green/Left have lost "consensus" as an argument, abuse is all they have left as a way of reponding when the many gaping holes in the global warming theory are pointed out -- so abuse is what they will continue with, I guess. Honesty would be too much to expect -- JR


The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, scheduled for March 2-4 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, has been sold out. Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, said: "We have literally been overwhelmed with the response and interest of people from all parts of the world wanting to attend this one-of-a-kind conference."

Bast said recent surveys and online petitions show thousands of scientists, economists, and public policy experts believe modern global warming is primarily natural (not man-made) and likely to be very moderate.

Conference organizers had hoped for 300 to 400 attendees, but more than 500 people have already registered, beyond the capacity of the meeting rooms reserved for the event, Bast said.

Media registration also has been brisk, and complimentary media registration from March 2-4 is still open. Media representatives can register at the MEDIA REGISTRATION BOOTH on the 5th floor of the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway during the conference or in advance by contacting Harriette Johnson, Heartland's media relations manager, at 312/377-4000 or email

The following national advertisement on the conference listing some participating speakers appeared in Wednesday's New York Times and Washington Times.

A complete program for the event, including schedule, bios for nearly 100 speakers, and descriptions of more than 50 cosponsoring organizations, is available here



What is it about the Today programme (BBC Radio 4)? After all, it is supposed to be the thinking person's introduction to the news of the day. But, at 07.21 minutes into the programme this morning, their correspondent shadowing the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband [amazingly given as `Milliband' at the Today web site], on his trip to China blithely blathered the phrase: "to stop climate change" [you can listen in here, at 07.20 minutes into the 06.00 - 06.30 slot - after today, select `Thursday'].

What a nonsense! Whether you believe in `global warming', or not, the one thing on which we can all agree is that humans can never stop climate change. We may be able to influence it, or to modify it, but we can never, never "stop" it. Indeed, because climate is the most complex, coupled, non-linear, semi-chaotic system known, we can't even manage it predictably. Still, I am sure we will all revel in the sight John Humphrys battling solar sun spots, Sarah Montague honing the geometry of the Earth, James Naughtie capping volcanoes, Carolyn Quinn creating fluffy clouds, and Ed Stourton deflecting the ocean currents.

It really is time that the producers of Today expunged from the programme such thinking and sloppy language about climate change, especially as Radio 4 regards itself as a cut above the other more `popular' BBC outlets. Yet, interestingly, a far more critical (and, I might add, fun) approach is often found on Radio 2, witness Jeremy Vine's lovely interview yesterday with the weatherman, John Ketley, who was hilarious about `global warming' and climate change being blamed for everything, even for football managers losing their jobs [you can listen in here, starting at 12.30 minutes into the recording*]. Mind you, I wouldn't put it beyond the Today lot to try (although poor old `sport' does tend to be a tad looked down on by its more lofty presenters).

Unfortunately, too much of Today simply repeats what The Times commentator, David Aaronovitch, has brilliantly termed the `Intelligentsia Default Position', or IDP. Sadly, of course, this does not mean that it is either intelligent or even meaningful.

More here


Europe's metal and paper industries may be given free emission allowances during the post-2013 phase of the EU carbon market, the Commission indicated in two communications announced this week. Brussels is hoping to prevent energy-intensive sectors from fleeing the EU as the bloc's carbon market becomes tighter.

Background: The Commission on 23 January announced plans to beef up the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). But the proposals delayed making a decision over which industries could benefit from either free CO2 emission allowances or a tax on imports from competitors operating in countries with less costly environmental rules.

Preventing 'carbon leakage': "It is not in the interest of the European Union that in the future production moves to countries with less strict emissions limits," the Commission notes in its communication in support of the metals sector, announced on 25 February.

The EU executive is waiting on the outcome of ongoing international climate change negotiations, launched in Bali in December 2007, and has abstained from giving a clear 'yes or no' answer to questions about how Europe's energy-intensive industries could be protected in the event that the climate talks fail to produce a global deal under which competiting producers in third countries would be subject to EU-style emissions caps.

EU industries are complaining that the lack of certainty is affecting business decisions, and have stepped up warnings about the potential for 'carbon leakage', meaning the relocation of energy intensive factories and jobs beyond the EU's borders.

In the absence of a clear industry protection framework, the Commission is making public assurances. "We should support them in this effort through a policy framework which allows this important sector to remain competitive, while contributing to our ambitious climate change and energy policies," EU Industry Commissioner Gnther Verheugen said in a 27 February press release announcing the Commission's communication on forest-based industries.

Verheugen made similar assurances to the metals sector, which "must be able to compete on a level playing field with their global competitors," he said.


Wind power shows its dismal form in Texas

This is a truism: Wind power is unavailable when it is very hot or very cold. The reason is that extremes of temperature in winter and summer occur when there is a stationary high and when there is a stationary high the wind does not blow. We can put it another way: The only reliable thing about wind power is that you know it will not be there when you really need it.

A significant event occurred this month and like so many significant events it had to happen in Texas. For the first time, major power cuts were suddenly implemented because of a drop in the wind. Since the birth of Number Watch it has been going on about the insanity of energy policy (see for example, Power Mad) with reminders on roughly an annual basis that power cuts are inevitable and that people are going to die. The Texas incident is just a small taster of what is to come, but the frenetic erection of those modern religious icons, wind turbines, means that successive incidents can be expected to get worse.

The least stupid way of utilising wind power is to pump water up hills. At least the energy is then available when you need it. But religion never had much to do with common sense.



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1 March, 2008

Unwrapping the EU Climate Package

Report from the straight-shooting Roger Helmer, MEP

I attended a European Policy Centre Breakfast Meeting on Feb 28th with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. It was well attended with about 300 there: I sat at the top table with the Commissioner. He spent some time "unwrapping the EU Climate Package". When I had a chance to put a question, I spoke as follows:
"Is the Commission aware that 1998 was the hottest year in recent history, and that climate change now seems to have stalled? Is it aware that new data in recent days from four highly respected meteorological institutes shows that in recent months average global temperatures have dropped dramatically, far outside the range of recent years? Is the Commission aware of the exceptional snow-fall in China, in the Middle East, in parts of the USA?" (I could see that the American Ambassador, Boyden Grey, also at the top table, was following my question with interest). "Does the Commission know that sea ice cover in the Antarctic is currently the highest since records began? You may say that these are anomalies against the trend, but we seem to have an awful lot of anomalies and not very much trend.

"Isn't it true that we are relying on predictions from computer models which are increasingly at odds with reality, and that based on those predictions we are putting in place policies which will do huge damage to European economies, and impoverish our grandchildren?".
The guy from the WWF booed. Commissioner Dimas muttered a long reply which contained a lot about the IPCC and the Stern report, nothing at all about the actual climate data .


Viscount Monckton comments:

And a footnote on sea ice. Two months ago there was no sea ice south of Greenland. Today my jet flew over the North Atlantic about 400 nm south of the south cape of Greenland, and there was sea ice as far as the eye could see, extending all the way to Newfoundland. This hasn't been seen for many years. A very strong La Nina indeed, helped along by the eerily-prolonged solar minimum. An excellent moment to be holding a climate conference that raises serious questions about the predictions of the Forces of Darkness.


Phew! It looks like I'm not in the pay of Exxon-Mobil after all! What will the Green/Left do without their "Big Oil" bogeyman? Easy answer: Facts don't matter to them anyhow so they will still claim that Big Oil is behind climate atheism

There's new evidence the oil industry is getting juiced about "clean energy": It's asking the federal government for more mandates and subsidies to make it fly. A new report from Cambridge Energy Research Associates lays out a bullish stance on everything from renewable energy to carbon capture and storage. The CERA report reflects a view that has been developing within mainstream industry for more than a year. But it's a significant marker, because CERA, a prominent Boston-based energy consultancy, is as close as it gets to a proxy for conventional wisdom within Big Oil.

The CERA report says climate-change concerns pose "the first serious challenge" to the dominance of fossil fuels since the dawn of the Industrial Age. It cites a "growing consensus in scientific and public policy circles of the impact of traditional hydrocarbon-based energy in driving up carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere, potentially altering the world's climate patterns." And it calculates an increase in capital investment in "renewable clean energy" that "far surpasses anything that has been done in the past." To wit: Such investment hit $66 billion worldwide during 2006, about double the amount in 2004. That number, CERA says, doesn't include spending on nuclear or hydroelectric power, or on carbon capture and storage.

CERA is hardly arguing that the era of fossil-fuels is ending. A strong opponent of the notion that global oil supply is peaking, the firm notes that fossil fuels are likely to continue to provide the vast majority of global energy for at least the next quarter century. Most analysts agree.

What CERA is saying is that this new-energy market, while small, should get more government help to grow. Traditionally, oil companies have often argued that the fact that renewable energy depends on government mandates and subsidies means it's little more than an expensive dalliance. The CERA report also notes these technologies wouldn't be around without government fiats and handouts. But then it argues for more of both.

"Putting a price on CO2 emissions, setting mandates, and providing subsidies all work to kick-start and sustain many clean energy technologies," CERA says in its report, the findings of which CERA released publicly this month. The goal, CERA says, should be to structure subsidies so they ensure "that these technologies get off the drawing board and are able to wean themselves from the support" as they grow. How to do that will be big debate. But it's a different debate than the traditional one: whether the government should push clean-energy technologies in the first place.



By Andrew Bolt

What a sweet gesture from Trinity Grammar - to pull out its air conditioners and make its students sweat for the planet. But the big question now with all such useless gestures to "save" us from global warming is: Are the Chinese watching? Are they remotely impressed by our suffering? Or isn't it time we realised - after reading last week's Garnaut report - that China is now big enough to decide the future of the planet on its own, regardless of how many whites go red?

Folks, get over this white man's burden thing. China is now in charge. It will set the world's temperature. ... China will in this century emerge a superpower to at least rival the United States, and to certainly bury Europe. As for India, it's frantically trying to make sure it won't be overshadowed by its great rival and neighbour.

That is why, as Garnaut notes: "All developing countries . . . continue to reject binding targets." Bluntly: China says no. It's done the maths and figured it will be better off warmer and richer than cooler and poorer. Too bad if the world really does warm a bit from its gases - by 2050 China will be so rich it could put air-conditioning in every Chinese house to beat the heat, so what's the fuss?

Of course, the Garnaut report doesn't put the case as brutally as that. Garnaut himself is there to preach the gospel, not despair. He still wants us to make impossible sacrifices, suggesting we cut our emissions by 2050 by as much as 90 per cent. That's crazy stuff, given our emissions are predicted by the Rudd Government to in fact soar to 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020, despite all the money state and federal governments have spent on stopping land-clearing, cutting power use, promoting low-energy housing and funding useless wind farms.

But if even we can't slash our own emissions, faster-growing China will know it most certainly cannot cut its own, even if it wanted to. Its roaring growth is fuelled by the building of a new coal-fired power station every week, and there is not the slightest chance it will stop building those gassy stations for years yet. No, China figures it can live with the warm, so we'd best get used to it too. The Chinese are in charge, and not even the sweat from the brow of a Trinity boy will persuade them to take their slippers off the accelerator.



I heartily recommend an excoriating piece from Melanie Phillips on her ever-stimulating Spectator blog: `World Saved! (Again)'. Having reviewed the fact that much of the Earth has been experiencing the coldest winter for many decades, Melanie then makes a seminal observation about serious bias in the British media, highlighting a classic case of Foucault's excluded voices, if ever there were one:
"... because here's the strangest thing. Apart from a couple of lonely newspaper pieces, virtually none of this dramatic news has been reported. The world has no idea that it is no longer doomed to fry but maybe should invest instead in some thermals and start emitting more heat. The Chief Scientist has not said anything about it. The Royal Society has not said anything about it. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and Sir John Houghton and Sir Jonathan Porritt and the Today programme have not been heard to say anything about it."
Indeed, the silence has been deafening - it is as if all the telephone lines are down in the freeze. And, it is no good coming back at Melanie to declare that "this is only weather", or "just one winter", a point well-addressed in Canada's National Post (`Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age', February 25):
"OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades. But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature."
Just so - "sauce for the goose", and all that. And, boy has it been cold! Here is The Daily Tech (`Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling', February 26) on our precipitate plunge into ice and snow:
"Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile - the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

... The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C - a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down."
In addition, of course, the `lost' sea-ice has returned, as (`Global Warming? New Data Shows Ice Is Back', February 19) reports:
"Are the world's ice caps melting because of climate change, or are the reports just a lot of scare mongering by the advocates of the global warming theory?

Scare mongering appears to be the case, according to reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that reveal that almost all the allegedly `lost' ice has come back. A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels.

... there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than usual, challenging the global warming crusaders and buttressing arguments of skeptics who deny that the world is undergoing global warming."
So here is the rub. The dramatic lack of reportage on all this, especially in the UK, betrays so much about our failing journalism under the exclusive dominance of hegemonic myths. We joke about 1984, but I sometimes wonder.

Yet, thank goodness for the web. As it was with the invention of printing, this is the new liberator, helping us to break the dangerous hegemonies that seek to enslave our minds and lives. But now, alternative voices can no longer be suppressed by a weakened and often compliant media, trendy editors, or media magnates. Writing in The Times (February 26), David Aaronovitch gave a name to the potential threat from these sources. He called it the Intelligentsia Default Position, or IDP.

Melanie Phillips, and all writers and bloggers like her, are a brave voice for freedom in a world where too many who should know much, much better are seeking to exclude inconvenient truths and facts, but, above all, to shut down the voice of reason. We must not let this happen. Indeed, we must challenge the often self-satisfied and glib IDP at every turn.


Global cooling good for Australia's ski resorts too

Note that it was SUMMER when the above picture was taken a day or two ago

The final day of summer in the Snowy Mountains has taken on a wintry chill after snow fell last night at the ski resorts of Perisher Blue and Thredbo. A light dusting of snow blanketed the NSW ski resorts overnight as temperatures dropped to a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celcius at Perisher and minus 3 degrees at Thredbo. Intermittent light snow flurries continued to fall into the morning on Mount Perisher.

Weather forecasters are already predicting a bumper snow season for 2008, according to resort management. Temperatures are expected to remain low with persistent precipitation throughout winter. "We have barely had a summer this year," said Gary Grant, Perisher Blue's general manager of marketing. "It's felt as though it's remained cold since the end of the 2007 season, apart from a few warm days, there air has always had a nip in it."



AUSTRALIA will meet its Kyoto Protocol emissions targets but greenhouse pollution is growing, mainly due to heavy reliance on coal for electricity. A report from the Federal Government's Department of Climate Change shows that although the rate of growth is slowing, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are likely to increase by 20 per cent by 2020.

The Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, said the figures were good for the country, and showed a cut in expected emissions: "[The analysis] shows that the Rudd Government's policies, such as increasing the use of renewable energy, will trigger much greater emissions reductions in the longer term than had been forecast in 2006 under the previous government." The analysis said emissions would have grown faster under the previous government's policies, rising by 27 per cent by 2020.



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